catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 2, Num 12 :: 2003.06.06 — 2003.06.19


The hard parts

We are working on printing in kindergarten. For some of the children, this is fun. They have the motor control, the eye-hand coordination and the confidence to trace the lines and curves into meaningful symbols. I was helping one boy who was not one of these students and he was trying valiantly to force his shaky fingers around the pencil and then to move it with the proper pressure along the dotted lines. The straight line went okay but before he tried the curvy line he stopped, looked at me and said, "This is the hard part."

I always cringe a bit when adults and older siblings wax poetic to children about the fun and wonders of kindergarten. It is a great place and most students remember it fondly. But it is not a perfect place of fun and with no work or frustration. There are terribly difficult things that children have to do in kindergarten and it would be wrong to sugar-coat them. Leaving your comfortable home and learning to take care of your outdoor clothes, your lunch kit and discovering that there are twenty other ways to look at something is not easy. These children are still developing muscle tone and neurological pathways, so printing and remembering the alphabet and numbers can be really difficult. Death touches these children deeply, even if it is a pet or elderly relative. We should never minimize or romanticize the struggles and challenges of those younger than we are. Pain is real in kindergarten.

But that's how it is in all of life. There are always hard parts, no matter how much we long for perfection, safety and peace. No matter how hard we try to supply all our material wants let alone needs, we can never be sure that there will be no hard parts. Illness, loss, anger, disagreement, brokeness are all a part of our lives no matter what we do. There is always a hard part.

So do we despair? Build walls around ourselves and our children to provide shelter from all the hurts in the world? Try to manipulate events so that we are shielded from discomfort and pain? How can we? Many hurts come from inside ourselves. We cannot shy away from the hard parts and we should never try to. Not in kindergarten, not in junior high, not when we are adults.

We are called to enjoy the many blessings we are given and should never seek pain. But neither can we assume we can organize all of life to be pain-free for ourselves and especially for our children. What a burden we place on them if we do not teach them that hard parts will always be a part of our lives. We need to give them the tools to face the hard parts: faith and dependence on our Lord, a willingness to seek help, the ability to share our pain and to share in hurts of others.

On a personal side, last year was one of the hardest parts of life I have ever faced. I struggled through my pain and weakness and tried to shield others from it until I could no longer go on. But in that dark time, I experienced so many points of light and comfort. Do I ever want to face that again? Of course not. I have learned many lessons but the greatest is that incredible blessings await those who have the courage and the faith to walk through the hard parts.

Take faith. Follow the steps of our Lord. Study and meditate on his Word for the hard parts in your life. And teach your children early on how to deal with hard parts of theirs.

Discussion topic: I can't go on

The author of the story found it necessary last year to leave her classroom mid-year when personal sorrow threatened to overwhelm her. Have you experienced this type of situation? How did you deal with it? What resources or advice can you offer for those who are currently suffering a dark period in their lives?

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