Have you ever had really hard times and when you look back at those times, you can find either good or funny memories?
When I was a single mom, in college full-time, with no money, I had an old beater green car. It was really high mileage, full of rust but still dependable for the most part. When my son was two years old, he washed that car. He had seen me do it not long before. Except when I did it, I had the windows shut! He didn’t.
Where was I you might ask while my two-year-old is washing the car? I don’t remember, maybe getting clothes off the line, putting them on the line, cutting grass, making a meal, hard to say. But certainly, I was busier than I should have been that as a two-year-old, he could wash the car all by himself.
Well, that poor car was wet! The carpet in the back, even though I dried it out as much as I could, got so stinky I had to pull it out. And behold! The floorboards had rusted clear through. There were holes about 6 inches in circumference on both sides. Now what? No money. Live with it.
I used to joke that we had the Flintstone car. We could put our feet down on the ground and make it run. Not really, of course but the humor helped me cope with a junker car that wasn’t really safe for my kids to ride in. I worried about something coming up off the road and hitting one of the kids. They didn’t. Instead, they threw peanuts out those holes as I drove. I didn’t know that until later but they thought those holes were great. They literally watched the road pass at their feet.
One day we went to leave for school and daycare but were delayed several minutes by the little chipmunk that had taken residence in the back window of the car sometime during the night. Funniest Home Video’s, they should have been there as we screamed and danced around while we tried to get that little furry thing to leave.
At the time I worried about how I would be able to keep that old car running long enough to finish college and get a job. I got so I hated that car because every breakdown was financial quicksand for us. Yet, now we all look back at that car with fond memories and chuckles.
I know a vehicle is not the most serious problem to have in our world. Back then, living in poverty, trying to improve our lives, that car was our connection to both family and education. It was critical to us.
This past year my siblings and I lost both of our parents, 6 months and 1 week apart. This year has been one of the hardest ever for me, I’m guessing my siblings would say the same. In the midst of such hard times, we have built some great memories as well.
Singing Amazing Grace to my mom in the hospital, seeing tears come from the eyes of the woman I loved most in the world, that’s a memory I will treasure forever that came out of hard times. Spending five days straight with my siblings and dying parent each time, those are wonderful memories of adult children coming together with one purpose, to walk with our parents on their journey home.
The laughter, the tears, all shared with the deepest love imaginable. When I feel alone in my grief, I picture all the hugs we gave each other as we spent those last days with first Dad and then Mom. Then I remember that I’m not alone.
Hard times so often give us the best memories. If you are in the midst of a hard time, whether it’s something straightforward like a vehicle that won’t run, or tragic like the death of a loved one, look for those moments that will be your best memories. They are likely there for you as they were for us.
Those moments are the ones that make the hard times survivable while in them. And they warm your heart years later. Search them out. Hold them close. I believe with all of my heart that God always brings good out of the bad. And I believe those special moments are some of the best good.
What are your best memories that came out of hard times? Remember them and enjoy them. Take them out periodically and let them heal your heart. Thank you Lord for bringing good even in the bad.