Life’s the Teacher

train tracks two kids

“Truth cannot be borrowed. It can only be experienced.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

One of the hardest things to endure is watching a loved one suffer and being unable to teach them the life lessons we’ve learned.

We’ve all been there, and we all end up pulling our hair out in utter frustration when our best efforts fall flat. If only that exasperating spouse, friend, child or whomever would just cooperate. In Brandt’s case, the loved one is his sister.

“Her list of bad choices keeps growing,” he said. “She’s adrift—led by her whims and desires. She dropped out of college but assured us all that she’ll try again later. I wish I could believe her.”  Click here to read Brandt’s full story.

Situations like Brandt’s—that are beyond our control—humble us. Not only are we faced with the truth of our powerlessness, but with the understanding that life itself is the teacher. Knowing that fact, however, doesn’t make it any easier to endure. We’re left with a form of grief that we resist absorbing.

It takes courage to let go, and it takes courage to feel the grief that follows. It’s far easier to fight, push or get angry.

It also takes courage to keep our heart intact and resist pulling away in judgment. Though, in some cases we have to pull away because remaining connected would prove detrimental psychologically or physically.

But that’s not true of Brandt and his sister. He can and should continue to be closely connected as a caring and supportive presence in her life. And it’s from that space, ironically, that he can influence the most. I remember asking him: “Just where do you think Kylie would be without you as her foundation and anchor?”

Yes, we can advise, and even shout warnings when it seems appropriate, but the other person is ultimately the one in charge of the path they choose.

Only through our own mistakes and heartache do we develop the muscle and the insight to direct our lives wisely. Another person cannot give that to us.

However, they can stand beside us with understanding acceptance. That’s powerful!

Names are changed to honor client confidentiality.


Filed under Contemplations, General Interest, Get Free, Parenting

6 responses to “Life’s the Teacher

  1. Alissa Wilbanks

    Oh boy! This is something I have regularly been through on both ends. When someone tries to tell me I’m making a mistake and pushes hard on their opinion I push back harder and try to kindly say f@&k off. Sometimes they are right and sometimes they are wrong. I don’t mind someone expressing a little concern but it should be left at that. People learn better by making their own mistakes, even if it’s going to be a tough road it needs to be ok. I think it’s great advice to just be there for them depending on the situation. Life is full of mistakes but I’ve learned my biggest lessons with them and I wouldn’t change any of it.

  2. The situation is extremely difficult when a loved one is involved. You watch destructive anger fuel their life. It is the most difficult thing to live through and not throw someone out. When one has no love for themselves, it is not accepted from another either.

  3. Jennifer

    What a universal frustation! I’m quite sure that I have many, many pearls of wisdom that my kids just poo-poo away because I’m MOM. It is hard to see them hurt and struggle but I think with the lessons they learn I just may be learning too. As strange as it seems, times have changed and it’s different for them. I mean it wasn’t THAT long ago that I was a teenager, right? Don’t tell them, but they just might have some pearls of wisdom of their own. 😉

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