By Kimberly Schulterman
There comes a point in the life of every young woman when she must deal with “the grown-up stuff.” Often, this stuff is exciting, like a first home, first furniture purchase, first day at a “real” job, etc. But sometimes, it’s neither new nor exciting. Sometimes, it’s just the tough facts of life that now you must bear as an adult.
My new husband and I (getting to use that phrase is another exciting first) recently got the bad news that a member of his immediate family has cancer. More tests are needed, but chemo is scheduled to begin next week. Chemo?! Naturally, my concern is for the whole family, but the person to whom my heart really goes out is Husband’s youngest sister, who is now 19 and a sophomore in college. She’s about to learn what it really means to deal with the grown-up stuff.
When I was very young, my uncle was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Seven years later, when I was in high school, he finally passed away. Those seven years were brutal for the whole family, and I saw firsthand how very difficult it was for everybody. But it really wasn’t that difficult for me. My parents wouldn’t let me go to the hospital to see him at his worst. My grandma wouldn’t talk about it around me. My older cousins would hardly acknowledge it if I was there; it became the white elephant in the room that no one wanted to mention. Every once in a while, I’d get a snippet of grief or pain, but it didn’t pervade my world like I think it did for my grandma, father and cousins. I was protected from it by virtue of being a teenager. There’s no one to shelter me now, though.
My dad always said, “A wise man will learn from his mistakes. But the wiser man will learn from somebody else’s mistakes!” In this scenario, nobody has made a mistake. But if you extend the adage to grief, you’ve got something. If I can learn something of the meaning of life – something about myself, my family, about death – from watching someone else grieve instead of experiencing it myself, I suppose I’ve come out ahead.
Part of being an adult is dealing with the tough stuff. It isn’t fun, but it’s important to do correctly. Learning to function amidst adversity, struggle through obstacles and control your emotions when they want to spill out everywhere is part of maturing into a gracious, strong young woman.
What’s the alternative? The alternative is the stuff of sitcoms or Dr. Phil episodes. Certainly, there are a lot of women letting their emotions spill out everywhere as they cave to adversity. But as a woman of God, that’s not your calling. And in the words of the Apostle Paul, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1). Your calling as a Christian young woman is to live with grace, and this means realizing that God is the God of even your emotions. Give your pain, struggles, fears and frustrations to the Father in prayer, and then have faith that all things happen in His plan. When life gives you grown-up situations, remember Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”