Fighting for Your Life!

I am 44 years old.  I am looking back on my life thus far and I have to tell's pretty amazing.  I am amazed that I survived being the youngest in a family of 8.  There were so many kids in such a little house, not to mention the lack of food, clothing, and punishments we had to endure, oh my God.  All of us children not only survived, we all became productive citizens and descent people.  And the homework that had to be done, my mother only had a 6th grade education, my father went a little bit further but then he joined the Army, got his apprentice degree, and even a real estate license.

My dad worked for 40 years in a sweat shop only to  have his pension stolen just a few years before his retirement.  My mom worked cutting hair in our basement and later worked in the cafeteria at the public high school we attended so that she and my dad could have health benefits when they retired.  It was an incredible work ethic to behold.

I had a bunch of friends in our neighborhood.  On the street I grew up on we had 500 kids!  Some of those people I still keep in contact with, but I don't make any great effort.  Why not?  Well life hit me.  My parents couldn't afford to send us to college so we were forced to take menial jobs as secretaries or typewriter sales.  One day, when I was in my early 20's, I decided to apply for a job answering the phones at a bank.  When I went in to apply for the job they told me that they don't hire anyone without a degree.  Can you believe that?!  You needed a degree to answer the phone.  Something I did about 100 times a day in my house!  That was the moment that I decided I was going to get my degree even if it killed me, which it almost did.

I started going to school at night, then I got married and had a baby.  I took a year or two off but eventually I got a job at Nestle which paid for college tuition.  I worked there for 10 years and during that time I received my degree and had another baby.  I was 30 years old by the time it was all said and done, so who had time to keep up with old friends?

Looking back on the situation, I probably wouldn't have changed a thing.  I admired myself for having stick-to-it-iveness. I just watched the movie Precious and it reminded me of how hard things can be for some people.  I had it pretty easy compared to Precious, but still, I have always felt like I have had to fight for everything.  For me, things don't come so easy, but for my kids they do.  I think it is better to have adversity and challenges in life, it builds character.  For those of you who know me, you know what a character I am!

As I am getting older, I am starting to think that fighting for everything isn't the answer.  As kids we fought for the last pork chop on the table, as a teen I fought to drive the car, as a young adult I fought to go to school, in my 30's I fought for respect, and in my 40's I fought for injustices, (and to stay awake!)  I'm tired.  I'm burnt out, and I'm not so interested in fighting the good fight anymore.  Is there something wrong with me?  I just think it might be someone else's responsibility to fight for what's good and right.

When I started doing mission work in El Salvador I was full of excitement and anticipation, but you would not even believe the road blocks that were thrown in my path!  I used to lie awake at night and think, "All I'm trying to do is a little good, why is it so hard?"  I grew tired of helping people too.  The only thing that kept me going was the thought of seeing one little person suffer because "I was tired."  When I thought about the real reason for helping the poor I stayed with it.  I didn't do it because I thought I was changing world, or the country, or even a village.  I did it because I thought it would make one person's life better.

A good friend of mine I had once said to me, "keep fighting the good fight, Joyce."  I listened to him.  I felt he knew what was best for me.  Today, that very same person has made it almost impossible for me to continue to help.    But God finds a way.  Whenever one door closes He opens another.  I do not feel discouraged or hopeless.  I feel at peace.  The Bible says that God wants us to be happy.  He created us so that we can live abundantly, which I do.  Even though I am only 44, I have lived a lifetime.  I have no idea what my 50's or 60's will hold, but I sure hope it doesn't involve fighting for anything.  Maybe I'll have to fight for my life, maybe I'll have to fight for my kid's life, maybe I'll have to fight for my rights.  I really don't know, but I sure hope God's promise to be happy and live abundantly continues well into my 80's.  There is nothing worse than feeling worthless.


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