Saturday, December 6, 2014

When It's Hard

A couple of months ago my daughters had a piano recital. They had practiced hard and played beautifully, and afterward received many compliments. I have to say it's quite rewarding to hear people say that they found pleasure in something your child has done.

What they didn't see was the kicking, screaming, fighting, and fussing that went into getting these young ladies to play of their own free will. Shirts are no longer stained with tears, and the financial sacrifice is not obvious. Each month when we evaluated our tight budget piano was never allowed to be cut, and I am so thankful that we pressed on.

So much of what we see is just the finished product, you know?  We don't see the work that goes into the music that eventually comes out.

Sometimes I look at friends and think that their lives look so easy, or I think "I can't wait to get where they are."  We can't see the heart break that others have gone through, the months or maybe even years when they thought they wouldn't make it, or the days when they wish they could just quit.

It's only now that I'm older, and my children are older, that I see that when it's hard is just when when we need to dig in. 

I didn't know it when I was literally dragging a screaming child to the van, but there would be a pay off for my tenacity and that kid's hard work.  I was just trying to make it to the next thing.  My goal was just for them to take piano lessons. Later, my goal was more focused: I wanted my daughters to be able to work their way through college, to have the choice of being at home mothers while still providing income, and I wanted them to understand that sacrifice is always worth it.

I was blessed with a teacher who encouraged me when I was ready to throw in the towel, who kept the girls going when learning piano was much more difficult than they anticipated, and with girls who decided that they wanted it enough to work extra hard. My daughters have dyslexia, so when I say that they had to work extra hard at learning piano, that is no joke. To hear them play now, though, makes those uphill battle days completely worth it.

That's the catch about Hard Times - they're just hard. Hard Times can cloud your emotions and make you feel that there is nothing beyond what you're living in, especially when you're young. There were days, when I was younger and my children were small, that I thought bedtime should occur at about 5:30 and the thought of feeding them one more meal might just break me. (Seriously, they always need food.)

Now that I have teenagers all parents of young children treat me like I've grabbed the brass ring, like I'm 'there' in that place that parents of toddlers dream of. "They're so polite," they say, or "They're so helpful!"  Yes, these things are true but they, and I, can also be surly, rude, disobedient, and stressful. No one can see the nights I went to bed crying for thinking I was doing it all wrong, or the apologies I had to issue after completely losing my temper.  No one can hear one of my kids screaming that they hate me, or that I am 'the worst mother EVER', or see the piles of laundry and dishes I had to wade through to get where we are now. The work that went into getting my people to where they are is not immediately evident, unless you count my gray hair.

Hard Times mean Hard Work, it means digging in and spending time on your knees. Hard Times mean sleepless nights, long days, endless questions, mismatched socks, and stray shoes. Hard Times means dying to self and making Jesus your BFF. Hard Times mean getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Hard Times means having faith that there is a better future than you can possibly imagine, yet being joyful in the difficult present.

Whatever Hard Time is occurring in your life, be it marriage, parenting, work, or one of those deep, distressing inner struggles, know that God, the Creator of the universe, is on your side, that He has a plan, and that He understands sacrifice. Your tears count. Your work counts. The payoff may be on the other side of eternity, but it will come.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, 
but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest 
of righteousness and peace for those who
have been trained by it.

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms
and weak knees. Make level paths
for your feet, so that the lame may not 
be disabled, but rather healed.
 Hebrews 12: 11-12


  1. Made me tear up, Kara. Thank you for this beautifully written and brutally honest confession. I love it. Miss you! Barbara Josenhans

  2. Love reading your powerful words! Miss you guys!
    Marti Bailey

  3. How very true! Beautiful post x