The negative experiences that shape our lives…

Good morning, friends! I’ve missed you all! I’ve been ridiculously busy lately, and my morning time (my usual writing time) has been replaced by devotion and prayer time to prepare me for my busy days.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how our negative experiences are the ones that often shape us the most.

My sister came to visit over the weekend. For her birthday, her husband arranged club seats at the Pittsburg Steelers game for her and a friend, and paid to fly her home to visit family. She had never seen our studio, so we planned a visit. Since it was her birthday, I surprised her by inviting her friends to the studio to have a “paint party”. Our paint instructor led the class and ten or so of her long time friends came. Some of these girls were childhood friends that we’ve know for decades. Most of them live relatively local to us but Shannon, who now lives in Kentucky, stayed with us for the weekend as well.

We stayed up late each night talking about families and reminiscing about high school. During the discussion we talked about mutual friends and friends of friends, one in particular stirred up visceral feelings for Shannon. She said, “ I really can’t stand ___________, but I should really thank her. Truly, she shaped my life.”

Puzzled, we were all intrigued as she began to recount a memory from thirty-some years ago, when she was in middle school. A group of her “friends” were gathered in the hallway on the second floor of our junior high school, talking about the upcoming yearly trip to the amusement park near our town. At that time, it was cool to get matching shirts or outfits to wear on that day, and this group of girls were making their plans for the outfits and the trip. One of the girls, a particularly snobby, stuck up, nasty girl, said, “I don’t really want Shannon to come. Her family is so poor and she’s always mooching off of everyone” and didn’t realize that Shannon was right behind her.

Shannon’s parents were divorced and she and her three siblings lived with her mom, who had a job working evenings in the prison. Her mother did the best she could to provide but didn’t have a lot extra.

The words stung Shannon, but what she did with them was amazing. She said, “I got myself a career making decent money, and raised my children to never, ever treat anyone like that”. When her children would go out with friends, Shannon would always slip them an extra $20 and tell them that if any of them couldn’t afford a snack or a drink or whatever they were doing that they were to pay for it without saying a word, careful that they never looked down own anyone for not having money.

Shannon used that experience to make a difference in her kids’ lives and impact others along the way. I was sure to pass this story on to my youngest daughter, who is still in high school, to show her first, that sometimes the words we say about people leave lasting impressions on them, good or bad..second, to show her a real life example of using a negative experience to shape someone else’s life.

Thank you, Shannon, for the life lesson. It was great to reminisce.

Be blessed today, my friends!