My family is very private. Well, we are private like most families about struggles and sickness. I grew up always thinking everything was ok, and even in marriage I would sweep many things under the “proverbial” rug. The problem is that the rug would get so large that my true feelings would eventually surface.
One of my favorite books is by Jim Collins called “From Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap …and Some Don’t”
In the book he interviewed Admiral Jim Stockdale, who was the highest ranking US Officer in the Hanoi Hilton Prison Camp during the Vietnam War. Shot down over North Vietnam. Tortured over 20 times during his 8 years in prison. He had no prisoners rights, no set release date, and no certainty he would come out alive to his wife.
Jim asked the Admiral the question “Who didn’t make it out?”
”Oh, that’s easy” he said. “The optimists”.
“Oh, they were the ones who said, “We’re going to be out by Christmas.” And Christmas would come and Christmas would go. Then they would say “we’re going to be out by Easter”. And Easter would come and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”
Another long pause, and more walking. Then he turned to Collins and said, “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
For the last two years, my father has been in and out of the hospital having multiple surgeries, and as I write this blog I am sitting in the hospital ICU waiting room. I have not given up on him, but last night I faced the harsh reality that he won’t be here much longer. After visiting his room I know he doesn’t want to live like this. I needed time alone after all my family and visitors left to have my harsh reality check. It was a catharsis for me.
What harsh realities are you facing now and how will you handle them?