Following my latest post, I would like to elaborate a little on the sea glass analogy – how the process of roughing it we all go through in life will, ideally, smooth our prickly edges, sand down any uncomfortable bumps, and turn a tossed-off shard of glass into something new and beautiful.
This doesn’t happen, however, without the waves hurling and swirling the piece of glass, throwing it against the sand and rocks at the bottom of the sea.
Again and again. You can bet it isn’t always comfortable. You can bet it hurts.
When we just start out in life, we tend to be very optimistic, very driven, a bit naive, and extremely opinionated (a typical example is teens looking down on their parents and thinking they are so much cleverer and understand things so much better). This also, naturally, makes us a little unforgiving.
That’s why I love old people. They’ve seen it all. They have a much more balanced view on life. They have the wisdom that only comes with experience.
In my case, the opinionated thing manifested most strongly in the family model I yearned for: wife at home, homeschooling the dozen children and baking bread. Husband working diligently to provide for the family. Everyone enjoying the mutual fruit of these labors in harmony, peace, love, and respect.
You know what, I still happen to think it’s a really, really good model and it’s absolutely wonderful when it works. I envy people for whom it did. But though I did always nominally acknowledge it might NOT work, I was a little in denial of how often it actually doesn’t.
That’s why, when we were hit with a period of unemployment, then another, and another, then lost our house and a humongous sum of money – all due to decisions in which I had little to no say – I got myself sick with worry and stress.
My thought process at that time went like this: “It shouldn’t be this way! My husband should be more diligent about providing for the family! He should be more careful with money! The people who owe him money should step up and repay the debt! It isn’t fair!”
Let me tell you something, it can drive you crazy, thinking and talking about things others should and MUST be doing differently, while you can do little to nothing to influence them. It makes you feel small, helpless, and anxious, not to mention resentful and bitter.
To make matters worse, for a long, long time I was held back from even attempting to improve the situation by my own misguided beliefs: that by offering constructive advice, let alone actively attempting to earn money for the family, I would be humiliating my husband and expressing my distrust in his leadership. I refused to acknowledge that my husband was just a man, with fallible thinking just like mine, and that ALL of us sometimes need a tug in the opposite direction to balance us out.
That’s the true meaning of the “ezer k’negdo”, by the way: it’s usually translated into English as “helpmate”, but it’s so much more than that. It’s “k’negdo”, meaning, on the opposite side. The wife who is a perfect submissive helpmate that enables her husband’s failings is not much of a helpmate at all. The REAL helpmate gets on the other side of the seesaw to throw her weight there and get things moving. She offers balance!
So as I wore myself down with anxiety, I wasn’t really a piece of sea glass yet. I was just a prickly shard stranded on a rock somewhere, crying about how life wasn’t going the way it was supposed to. At some point, however, I realized I have two choices: I could either retain my nature as the sharp glass shard by being stuck on that rock and getting nowhere, or…
… I could roll with the waves and let the water and sand smooth me out.
I could rant and rave about how my husband should try harder to find a job, or I could look at employment options myself.
I could grumble about the way my husband managed the family finances (pouring money into risky ventures, lending to untrustworthy people who never repaid the debt, etc), or I could become more proactive about managing my own bank account (I always had my own, but for many years it just sat inactively).
I could keep being inflexible, stubborn and unforgiving, or I could learn some kindness, maturity and humility and realize that sometimes, things just don’t work quite the way we want them to.
I made the choice. I jumped into the waves and let them start shaping me into a lovely, smooth piece of sea glass.
Today, I live in a safe, comfortable place where my children and I have all necessary facilities within walking distance. I still garden, bake and raise chickens, but I also work and pay the bills. I have accepted the fact that I can’t expect anyone, not even my husband, to take care of me, because I choose to be a mature adult woman rather than a woman-child held hostage by her own beliefs.
I have also realized I actually like the piece of sea glass, smoothed and rounded at the edges by the waves and coarse sand it had had to endure, much better than the original glass shard, which was pretty and flashy but would cut anyone who came too close. Oh, and it was much more brittle than it realized, too.
Is my journey done? I sincerely hope not! Life is a dynamic thing. I can only try my best to move upward.
4 thoughts on “The sea glass journey”
Well written, and understood. I suppose for a great many of us, life is nothing like we had hoped and dreamed. We were quite young (ages 27 and 29 when all our dreams ground to a crushing halt and we simply had to find a way to survive…yes, we had to walk away from the home we had built with the help of friends and kin…when you loose something you built from the ground up, in the place you had hoped to live the rest of your life out, you are at ground level). Nothing, to this day, aside from small things in a day, go as planned and we surely are not living where we had hoped to be by now (Israel eventually became another goal…and at our age and health, likely we never will now). So we are left now with just our hopes for the next life. But it is ok. We live in a rented apt for those 55+ and over…so it is quiet and restful…and that is not a small gift!! It is most beautiful here in the Northwest (USA)…green is a lovely color…and the climate is as close to perfect as probably one can find. We are near 1 of our children and another maybe to move here ere long…and 2 of our 7 grandkids. The rest are far away on the East Coast. So much of life we are simply left to accept the best we can. I think you are MOST wise to have your own account!!! I have had one for some years…my parents would put in money from time to time…and then after they died, I had an inheritance (not rich…but enough to give me more choices…and indeed I am grateful for that!!) I think often the trials of this life might be for some benefit to us ourselves…but often they are for others…either related to us…or non-kin. I do hope to pass those tests well…indeed I have been crushed so many times. I read once that a beautiful rose smells so nice…but not unless the petals are crushed does the most intense aroma flow out. So my dear friend, you are indeed giving off the most amazing perfume!! One day your children should arise and call you blessed and themselves blessed that you are their mother!!
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Thank you so much for your kind words and wise perspective, Elizabeth. The validation really means a lot ♥
I have followed you since just after my marriage nearly 13yrs ago! This post spoke too me so much. I’ve just had a similar journey over the past two or so years realising I’m the one who will need to work and support our family while my husband stays home and does the schooling. It was so hard to give up on my dream of being home with my daughter. And I fought my husband because all I could see was the things he wasn’t doing like I would. I have slowly come to see where I am is better. I love my job and studies and I love seeing my daughter grow a special relationship with her daddy. And yes I have come to see he will do things differently but it’s not necessarly wrong!! But it was a long journey to get here. I hope I’m like a piece of sea glass now. Better for the challenges. In fact I might head to the beach this weekend and look for some sea glass to remind me of my journey.
Thank you Anna xx
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I’m so glad to hear this, Amy. Sometimes we just have to roll with it and let go of our ideas on how things were “supposed” to be. Feel free to drop me a PM if you want to chat ☺