Your toughest experience can be your best lesson.
I learned this when my husband, Jonny, and I combined our six children—three boys and three girls all under the age of eleven—into one blended family.
I had the hardest time with my stepson who, at the time, had serious ear infections causing partial deafness and serious ADHD. I really tried hard with him. I prayed that I could use the challenge as a lesson in my spiritual journey.
What’s the spiritual lesson? I kept asking myself. What can you learn? And oh, I kept praying that I’d find it.
A few years into our relationship, after making a lot of effort, things startedgetting better with my stepson, whom I nicknamed Izzy. That was when I met a woman who had just become a step-mom to two boys, one of whom she didn’t get along with. I shared my experience with Izzy and told her that I hoped she could look for the spiritual things she could learn about herself. She said, “Oh, I’m not spiritual at all…we just don’t get along and that’s that.”
It’s been about ten years since that conversation. Her relationship with her stepson got worse. My relationship with Izzy has only gotten better. We had our rough spots but I looked for things I could do to improve things within myself. Like being more patient, being a better listener, doing things that he liked and not things I necessarily liked, and loving unconditionally, without any guarantee I’d get anything back in return. I had to learn to be less me to be more me. To be the best me I could be. I learned to make sure I was taking care of myself and that way I could take care of him.
If someone had asked me at first, I would have wanted to change him. But I learned of course the twist on the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the courage to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s ME.”
So there you have it. True love now grows when we’re willing to just give it out. We can do the things we have to do with grace and love by being grateful for all we have. It’s a miracle because we can make a conscious decision to love. We really can.