At the recommendation of a bookstore manager, I picked up a book the other day. I recognized the author’s last name as the maiden name of one of my church youth group leaders. Turns out, not only was the author the mother of my youth group leader, but my former leader had been instrumental in editing that book for publication. I really enjoyed the book and marked several passages to delve into further on MamaBlogga.
How many times have I told my tantruming toddler, “Life is rough—and then you die”? At least a few. But is this something I really want him to internalize?
Marilynne Todd Linford takes aim at this popular teaching in her book We Are Sisters:
To say that life is difficult or suffering or filled with unyielding despair is as erroneous as saying life is easy, carefree, or filled with continual bliss. (132)
Yes, life is rough, but it trivializes all life to say that all of life is suffering. I make no secret that I think that motherhood is difficult. (Frankly, anyone who thinks otherwise is probably crazy or should be having (more) kids, because they’re obviously doing better than I am with my one.) But, like life, motherhood isn’t endless drudgery (at least once a baby can start responding to you, in my opinion) and pain.
Life is not just rough. Unlike C-3PO, we are not made to suffer. While some suffering is our lot in life, it’s not the be-all and end-all of our existence. After all, as the Apostle John quoted Jesus Christ, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Does it matter, then, if you think life is difficult? Yes, because it is a half-truth, and by acting on a false foundation we build on shifting sands. When you realize that life is not difficult but made up of opposing forces, the precious gift of agency becomes even more crucial. (133)
Yes, life is sometimes rough, but I need to remember that we can choose to look at the positive or dwell on the negative—and dwelling on the negative aspects of life won’t bring happiness. I need to remember to highlight the good things in my son’s life—and mine.