This is an editorial written by my sister-in-law, who is editor, publisher, reporter, typesetter, graphic designer and delivery person at the Courier Times in Sutherland, our hometown weekly newspaper. It's not available online, but please feel free to subscribe! PO Box 367, Sutherland NE 69165.
It is a very timely bit of wisdom, as many of us face devastating floods, killer tornadoes, the overwhelming oil spill and personal tragedies.
Retired Methodist Bishop Ernest A. Fitzgerald is quoted as having said, "The real winners are not those at the top, but those who have come the farthest over the toughest roads."
I love living in the country. I enjoy waking up early in the morning to what sounds like a chorus of a thousand frogs singing after a heavy spring rain. I love the early morning twitter of birds as they sing their praises of the new day. I love having to stop for a delicate little hen pheasant and soft fuzzy chicks as they cross the road or to behold the magnificence of an elk herd like the one I saw crossing over the road on the railroad trestle last week. It is truly a blessed life that we enjoy in this little part of the world, yet it is not without it's bumps in the road.
Last week's heavy rains were a reminder for me that it doesn't take much to cause some major bumps in our roads and that our lives are just about as susceptible to circumstance as those roads.
Most of you reading this don't live on unpaved country roads that regularly challenge even the most experienced country driver, but perhaps you have experienced some bumps on the road of life.
While my road may be bogged down with eight or nine inches of mud at times, maybe your road has been bogged down with illness, financial disaster, or trouble in your personal relationships.
While I may be traveling along and suddenly come upon a large washed out hole in the road and have to carefully navigate around it, perhaps you have had some 'washed out' hazards on your road of life.
Yet, once in a while, the road seems without blemish, pleasant, smooth, and a pleasure to drive. It is those moments that are almost surprising, both on country roads and also on the road of life.
I submit to you that a life devoid of the challenges of a few 'bumps in the road' is indeed a boring one. It is the bumps in the road that teach us the greatest lessons and cause us to build strengths of mind and soul. It is the hazards in the road that teach us how to be both cautious and courageous. It is the deep mud in the road that teaches us how to navigate carefully and apply extra effort when the times are tough.
It has been my experience that usually the toughest roads to drive also have the most beautiful scenery, and so it is with life. A live that is truly rewarding is a life lived well in spite of the bumps in the road.
Who among us doesn't admire the person who has faced great personal challenges and refused to stop and feel sorry for themselves. Conversely, there is little to admire about the person who was 'born with a silver spoon in their mouth' and has accomplished very little with their vast resources.
At a recent graduation ceremony, I heard one young man after another speak of their greatest school memory as a football game in which they defeated the existing state champion team. All that hard work in practice - even on the days when they didn't feel like it, even when they thought they could go no further, even when they had done it wrong over and over and had to keep trying so they could learn how to get it right - had paid off in a win they would never forget.
Perhaps your life feels like a lot of hard work and practice right now. Perhaps you've done it wrong more than you've done it right. Perhaps your road is bumpier than normal. Perhaps you imagine that your prayers stop at the ceiling. Remember Bishop Fitzgerald's words, "The real winners are... those who have come the farthest over the toughest roads." Remember that victory is only found in the challenge, and remember to enjoy the ride.
Thanks for stopping by. I hope your road is smooth and dry as you enjoy coffee this morning.