Years ago, when I was going through some issues with my family, I went to my mentor. He shared a story that has stuck with me since.
He began by telling me how much he loved tomatoes. This seemed strange to me & I wondered what that had to do with my family problems, but I trusted him, so I listened. He went on and on about how he fixed his tomatoes, what foods he ate them with, etc.
Then he told me that the tomatoes he bought in the grocery store were pretty good. He knew they were grown in a greenhouse. Because they were protected from the harsh sun and wind, and storms that were common in the town where we lived, they were nice and red and round – and they seldom had any other marks on them because they were also protected from insects and other varmints.
At that point, he began to brag about the tomatoes he grew in his own garden. They grew out in his back yard, had to weather the storms and the hot sun and wind that we often experienced during our Kansas summers. Those tomatoes were not always perfectly round, and they often had spots from the small animals eating on them. But their color was a much richer color of red and they were so much more juicy and flavorful.
What he was telling me is that sometimes life sucks. (That’s a clinical term). We all have to face the elements of our particular environment.
We aren’t usually able to protect ourselves or our loved ones from going through the sucky part of life. We try sometimes – by helping too much when someone we care about is having a problem that they could (or need to) handle themselves. Or we keep ourselves so busy (or drink or get involved in some other compulsive behavior) so we don’t have to feel the pain of some loss in our own lives.
Even if we do manage to prevent ourselves or loved ones from going through the problem, it will come up again – and we (or they) will be less prepared than if we had begun to develop the skills we needed the first time.
But if we do allow life to unfold as it is, face it head on and realize we don’t have to orchestrate it, we’ll learn valuable lessons and develop our emotional muscles so that the next time, we’ll not only be more aware and ready to deal – it might not hurt as much as it did before.
And when we get through it, we’ll have a strength, a sense of accomplishment, and a confidence that will lead to a higher level of peace. (Going through that part of life might look a little chaotic at times, and not as “pretty” or controlled as it looks from the outside when we manage to avoid it. But the colors will be much more vivid and the taste, juicier and more full of flavor!!)
So embrace all of life – the good flavors – and the sucky stuff.