We Are All Piñatas

At times, life batters and beats us like we are the human equivalent of a piñata.

Life Can Hit Hard

Job loss. The stick whacks us.

Divorce. Another smack.

Fear. Swat.

Uncertainty. K-pow.

Loss. Bang, bang.

Death. Pop pop pop.

Grief. Bash.

The only guarantee life delivers is that we will all experience the dark night of the soul, times of unbearable pain, hours of sorrow.

What Goes In…

Those trials reveal what’s inside of us. If anger, hate, bitterness, and resentment spill out of us when we are hit, our human sides spill out.

If you emerge from [prison] with thoughts of hatred and of wrath against mankind, you are deserving of pity…

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, the Bishop speaking to a recently released convict

Comes Out

About 30 years ago, Greg and Erin, newlyweds, drove together excitedly talking about the new jobs they had just accepted to teach at a college in rural Wisconsin. Their conversation was interrupted when a drunk driver hit their car, launching Erin into the air and onto the road where she died moments later in her husband’s arms.

Greg and Erin were my friends. I attended high school with Erin and grad school with Greg. My immediate reaction when I heard the news–what spilled out of me–was rage, anger, hatred, and complete shock.

That wasn’t Greg’s response. Within hours after his wife’s death, Greg went to the jail where the drunk driver was being held. Police didn’t want to let him near the prisoner, believing that Greg may try to kill the man. But Greg hadn’t gone to the jail to vent his rage.

Greg visited the drunk driver to offer him forgiveness and to pray with him. He held the man’s hand through the cell and told him that he loved him, that he forgave him, and that God would forgive him, too, were he to ask.

When Greg got hit by one of the most tragic events one can suffer in life, what spilled out of him was forgiveness, love, and unimaginable kindness.

…[I]f you emerge with thoughts of good-will and of peace, you are more worthy than any one of us.

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, the Bishop continuing his thought as he spoke to the recently released convict

What Have You Been Filling Up On?

Like a piñata, when you get hit, what’s inside spills out. If you have been filling yourself with resentment, bitterness, and darkness, that’s what will come out of you when life delivers a blow. But if patience, forgiveness, love, and kindness spill out, it shows that you’ve been filling yourself with the same.

Getting hit isn’t optional: we all get smacked. How we respond is not only up to us, but it changes us and those around us for the better.

When I lost my mother over the holidays, life whacked me. When I lost my nephew three weeks later, life cracked me again. Finally back home from funerals and memorial services, I pray that whatever came out of me when I spoke to others showed traces of grace, hope, and love instead of rage, hopelessness, and resentment.

What spills out of you when life hits you hard?



4 Comments Add yours

  1. Jill Steiner says:

    this really hit home for me. Thanks for sharing

    1. Thanks, Jill. I’m glad. We are all connected by these sad shared experiences.

  2. Lia Mote says:

    Scott, so sorry for your loss. Heart-wrenching. I remember getting the call about sweet Erin. Thank you for sharing this. Greg never mentioned the part about going to the prison,

    Praying for you and thankful for these words that remind me to input goodness and mercy.

  3. Greg says:

    Scott, Rena shared this post with me and we were sorry to hear about your mother and nephew. We know the Lord has taken you through some deep waters, especially the loss of your daughter, and we want you to know we are praying for you for grace and comfort. I’m grateful for your words concerning the time when the Lord took Erin home. Thank you. But I would like to confess that there was nothing good about my response to that trial that came from inside me, except what the Lord himself put there. I was and still am intensely aware of my own frailty, and he was doing gracious work in me at that time that is all to his glory. I love what a professor I had at Erskine Seminary said several years ago when I told him how much I appreciated his visible trust in the Lord and sweet spirit even while his wife was battling cancer. He responded to me by alluding to 2 Cor 4:7 (“we have this treasure in jars of clay”) and told me that if there is anything good that I see in him it is merely the life of Christ shining out through the cracks. Christ himself was not immune to pain and suffering but embraced even the cross with grace and hope. I pray that he continues to produce in me those same virtues. He has taught me that understanding him and how he chooses to work in my life is not a prerequisite to loving and trusting him. Thanks again for your kind words. We’re praying for you!

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