Why Bother Learning From the Experienced?

                                    Why Bother Learning From the Experienced?

Although it has been said that experience is the best teacher, I would like to rephrase that particular statement. I agree that we do learn from our experiences, yet I wonder if learning from the experienced, is a better way to master a skill. 

Remembering Mary

I once had a friend named Mary. She was at least twice my age. I met her when I was in the throes of raising teenagers. She, on the other hand, was a widow. Her children were grown and her grandchildren were teenagers. I met Mary at church and even though there was a great age gap between us, we were drawn toward friendship.

Mary lived in the neighborhood and welcomed my random drop in visits. Morning, afternoon or evening, whenever I rang her doorbell, her front door always opened wide to me. She would clap her hands, and smile. Not only did she love having company, she most always had time to sit and visit. Sometimes we plopped in her comfy living room chairs propping our feet on the coffee table. Other times we ate cold sandwiches and drank iced tea at the dining room table. If I visited on a Saturday morning, we took our coffee to the back porch swing and sat, admiring the view of the distant mountains while sipping our steaming cups of espresso. I counted on Mary to make room for me in her life and whenever I showed up at her doorstep, she did exactly that. 

What I liked most about Mary was that no matter the particular trial I told her I was enduring with my teens, she could enlighten me with one of her stories. Experiences with her own children gave her a treasure trove of wisdom that she generously and willingly shared with me. Already well versed in the ways of adolescents, she knew the ropes well. 

Her well grounded and respectable adult children had once been teenagers too, she told me. She also assured me that all adolescents have similar characteristics. They think they know it all, use selective hearing and show great disdain for any adult who tries sharing an inkling of common sense with them. With a wide knowing grin, she related, “Your sons are not acting out of the ordinary, but they are calling for extraordinary love and patience from you.” How right she was.

Mary was a well seasoned mother and lived to tell of her trials of training up her own youths. With great fondness, she could look back at the season she had once lived through and offer her perception to another mom of teens. Listening to Mary helped me to skip out on  attendance at the school of hard knocks. Instead, I gleaned the skillful wisdom of someone with experience.

Why bother learning from the experienced. As a novice, it might be worth connecting with the well versed. We just may find them to be better tutors than just the experience.

Why Bother Sharing Your Affliction?

Why Bother Sharing Your Affliction?

None of us are exempt from heartaches, sadness or sorrow. In my small circle of friends, family and coworkers, long term illness, caring for aging parents, death, cancer, depression, chronic pain and estrangement from children are a few of the sorrows we share. 

Some type of hardship eventually finds all of us and for a season, we will feel the pain of trouble we never imagined would ever happen to us. These misfortunes have a way of changing, rearranging and sometimes even claiming our very lives, but no matter the affliction, none of us need to suffer alone.

Consolation

I know from experience that receiving consolation in the midst of personal misery is never easy. In the thick of heartache, even the most genuine consoling words can sound out of place and hard to believe. How does anyone else really know how I feel? How does anyone else know my sorrow will not last forever? 

Isolating, blockading and hardening oneself against the discomfort of our sadness might feel much more natural than receiving anyone’s soothing words, yet being alone in one’s misery is by far the worst place to put ourselves. Admitting our heartache to someone else is an admittance of our frailty, and makes us vulnerable. But attempting to remain stoic while under duress is a hard front for anyone to uphold.

When a tragedy strikes, it is difficult to accept it as our new reality. Adversity though, does not wait for an invitation. Hardships never worry about whether or not they will be welcomed when they arrive. Afflictions and catastrophes simply show up, mostly when we least expect them to. 

But, they are not something we can wish away, ignore or hide from. Instead, the best thing we can do is learn how to live alongside and with our sorrow. Equally important is to remember that we don’t have to do it alone. 

Within my small group of friends, family and coworkers lies a deep pool of consolation and wisdom from which I can draw from. Since we’ve all been touched by some affliction or another, and we’ve all felt heartache, this is the very group from which my consolation will come.  

People whose hearts have been broken and mended are the people whom the afflicted identify with. Those with hearts that were once heavy with anguish and are now strengthened are the very ones whose words offer genuine assurance. Those who have been through the fire of suffering are really the only ones who can give support to those who feel the sting of their distress. No one else can carry our grief, but the burden of grief is made lighter when shared. 

Why bother sharing your affliction? It is worth sharing afflictions with those who have also been afflicted. For they are the ones who can offer us consolation.