Monday, August 27, 2007

Acceptance of Struggle

I had friends a few years back, Roger and Peggy. Peggy suffered a stroke that greatly affected her speech, including her verbal mental processing, and her ability to walk. I had known her pre-stroke, and when I came back on vacation from Japan (this was in 1996), I went out for lunch with them. Roger made a lasting impression on me with how he was both extremely loving of his greatly-handicapped wife (compared with her former self, at least), and how he was also very upfront with how her limitations affected him. I can still hear him say to her, as we exited the restaurant, "You walk too slow for me." It seems like a cold comment in print, but he said it in such a way that conveyed his passionate love for her, his acceptance of her limitations, and his acceptance of himself as different from her. It was an amazing comment to do all of that.

I'm in the middle of a situation in life that brings Roger's comment to mind again and again. I've written about my social struggles, my way of social processing. I perceive that, although I truly have come to accept my limitations in this regard and welcome the opportunity to work through them (and work it IS), I also perceive that those I am with while I do this are made uncomfortable to a degree by witnessing my hard work.

How often with children as they are struggling to learn something, do we jump in and either over-coach them, or do it for them or otherwise tell them they don't have to struggle. It is hard to watch someone struggle with something. It makes us struggle ourselves. We feel responsible for their difficulty, and no one likes to make someone else suffer.

But I know that the only way I can master something is by struggling through. We come to expect seeing only the polished from those who lead (and in this growing thing for me, I am in a position of leadership, of a choir). We derive our security from leaders, and probably as such leaders feel like they have to exude a sense of "having it together" that isn't real.

This is an unfinished thought, as it is an unfinished process.

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