Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Tough Knocks

It is human nature to want to spare those we love from experiencing pain. We yearn to teach others, especially young people, the lessons we have learned in order to spare them the pain and tough lessons we've had to go through.

It rarely works.

Everyone has their path. All people have to learn the lessons that are theirs to learn. There are no shortcuts. There is no way around it.

I have been spending time with a lot of young people recently.

One young man, a relative of mine, has spent some time staying with me and working for me this summer. This week, as a treat, we took a hike together.

He and I had been arguing, for quite some time, about the proper footwear for hiking. He wanted to wear strap on sandals. I wanted him to wear solid tennis shoes. I, personally, wear hiking boots.

The trails I hike are rocky and steep. It is dangerous to wear open toed shoes. I knew that strap on sandals would be a disaster.

Finally, I gave up. I decided to let him make his own footwear choice. He chose his sandals.

After an hour of hiking, he had scraped skin off of his feet where the straps were rubbing. It was a long hike up and back down with painful open wounds!

He knew that I was right. All my words had meant nothing. Some blisters and open sores got the message across in a way that my lecturing never could.

He was interested in getting some good hiking boots at the end of the day!

There was no way, in words, that I could have taught him what he learned in that one, painful, experience.

Sometimes, we have to let those around us go through incredible pain. It is excruciating to watch. We want to swoop in. We want to rescue them. We want to show them the way out.

If someone doesn't want to listen, or follow our advice, there is nothing we can do to make them. Sometimes the hard knocks in life are the only way we learn.

It is actually a loving act to allow those we love to learn their own lessons, their way, in their own time. Sometimes our attempts at 'helping' actually interfere with the process. We might even make the suffering last longer than it needs to!

Let the learning begin!