Life's Seasons Speaks

Good or Bad? Hard to Say. We'll See.

July 13, 2022 Tina Episode 68
Life's Seasons Speaks
Good or Bad? Hard to Say. We'll See.
Show Notes Transcript

Good or Bad.  Hard to Say.  We'll See

As we continue to look at our stories and the importance of having them, sharing them, and listening to them being told by others, today we look at our inclination to make judgements as to whether a story is GOOD or BAD.  And we don't mean the abilities of a storyteller to keep us engaged.  We mean the plot.  The content.  The story itself.

Listen in as Tina explains that labelling stories as  "GOOD" or "BAD" really just makes for an incomplete story.  Tina shares a few pages from her own life  and takes us on a journey through some good and some bad as an example of how fluid life is - too fluid to label … and certainly not concrete enough to label as the END of the story.

This is a special episode for her boys and their dad.

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Last week we talked about the fact that we all have stories… and they deserve to be told.  We also talked about how we all have the ability to listen to a story.  This allows another to feel heard, and that fights feelings of loneliness, which very much affects our mental health.  If you didn’t get a chance to listen to it yet, please do that, because I’d love for you to hear the invitation to send your stories to us.

But also, within that episode, we talked about how we sometimes don’t share our stories because we don’t think they are interesting enough.  They don’t compare to the suffering we know of in someone else’s story.  Or they aren’t heavy enough to be valid.  Not funny enough to be entertaining.  We shy away from telling our ordinary stories which are still our stories, needing to be read.

And since that episode, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we make these judgements of our stories not being “something” enough to be shared… and it got me wondering about another judgment we tend to make about our stories – the stories of our lives, and it’s this… This story is good.  Or this story is bad.

And I’m not talking about the storyteller’s ability to keep us engaged.  I’m talking about the content.  The matter within.  The plot.  I’m talking about the news we are receiving when we listen.  We tend to judge what we are hearing as good news or bad news.

And all of that took me to remembering an old parable I heard years ago.  And I’m so glad it crossed my mind again because I love it and I think it’s worth sharing.  Maybe you’ve heard it.  If you have, I’m sure you’ll be happy to have the reminder too.

The parable is about an old farmer and his son.  And it goes like this.

A farmer and his son had a beloved horse who helped the family earn a living. This horse was essential to them being able to farm.  But one day, the horse got loose and ran away.

The neighbors heard the news and went to the farmer and his son and exclaimed, “Your horse ran away, that’s terrible news!” 

The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not.  Hard to say.  We’ll see.”

A few days later, the horse returned home, leading a herd of wild horses back to the farm as well. 

The neighbors hearing this, returned to the famer and his son and shouted out, “Your horse has returned, and brought several horses home with him. What great news!” 

The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not.  Hard to say.  We’ll see.”

 Later that week, the farmer’s son was trying to break one of the wild horses and it threw him to the ground, breaking his leg. 

The neighbors went to the farmer and cried, “We heard that your son broke his leg, what awful news!” 

 The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not.  Hard to say.  We’ll see.”

 A few weeks later, soldiers from the national army marched through the area, recruiting for the army. They saw that the farmer’s son had a broken leg, so they did not take the farmer’s son.

The neighbors again returned shouting to the farmer, “Your boy is spared, what tremendous news!” 

 To which the farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. Hard to say.  We’ll see.”

 Does that story get you reflecting at all?  It sure does for me.  I can think of so many instances in my life, and within the stories I’ve heard, where I’ve been the neighbors.  

I’ve decided, based on the moment at hand, that I was receiving a GOOD or BAD news story.

And I’m learning a lot more lately, that really, in the moment… It’s hard to say.

It can feel good.  Or feel bad.  In fact, it can feel both good and bad in the same moment, but to determine whether it is good or bad, I think I’d have to possess more powers, that I just don’t have.  Like knowing the future.

Just like the farmer, it makes more sense to reserve judgement of what it is, even if it FEELS a certain way, so we can watch it play out and see what happens and where it all might go.

But I think this parable is about more than just learning to wait to see how things turn out, and it is certainly not about looking on the bright side, but it’s more about how eager we can be to put a label on a situation.

But life doesn’t fit so neatly into marked boxes or named files.  To tell a story that is good or bad, would be incomplete.  To hear a story as good or bad, would be an injustice to the remaining chapters yet to be told.

How do we tell or listen to a story without making decisions like this then?

Well, we stay curious.  We stay engaged.  We keep listening.

We say, maybe, maybe not.  Hard to say… we’ll see.  We keep wanting to see more.  Hear more.  Follow where this goes from here.  It’s about being connected to the story, knowing the story is still unfolding and we want to keep listening.

Let’s just take one character from the story of my life and read from some of my pages that include him.  

It’s my ex-husband.  Now, if you were going to start making quick decisions on whether this is a good story or not… you may decide it must be bad, because I used the word ex-husband.  Well, that would be an incomplete story.

As I read from these pages, determined to be like the farmer, I’d have to say that my ex-husband and I got pregnant not too long into our relationship together.  And at the moment people, or the neighbors if we were following in the steps of the parable, said “oh, that’s bad news – you’re too young – you don’t even know if you were going to stay together – you had no plans for a baby at this stage of life”, but the truth was, “maybe, maybe not.  Hard to say.  We’ll see”.

We decided to get married while I was still pregnant and give this family idea a real try.  Again, the neighbors said, “that’s a terrible reason to get married – you’re not ready for marriage – this will never last”.

Maybe, maybe not.  Hard to say.  We’ll see.

We got married and some months later we gave birth to an amazing, gorgeous baby boy who would become the center of our universe.

And neighbors gathered round and said “he’s perfect, he’s so beautiful, you guys are blessed.  Surely this is what it will take to pull life together for you and set your young path straight”.  And again, the truth was, “maybe, maybe not.  Hard to say.  We’ll see.

My ex-husband and I loved each other.  And we frustrated each other.  And we loved each other.  Not unlike many couples where each individual is full of hurts, and hard histories, and dark stories of our own before we even knew each other.

We both had unhealthy ways of trying to manage our own pain, caused before we even met, by a tough world and the experiences within it.  He did things to cope with his hurt that hurt me.  I did things to cope with my hurt that hurt him.

And we really did look at our life together and often think, this is bad news, our life together is bad news… until we saw the big brown eyes of a little boy full of love, energy, and beef jerky of course.  His favorite.

We would look at him, a product of this bad news relationship, and think, he… HE is such good news.

In the midst of a lot of bad decisions between us, I had an affair.  And all the neighbors, from far and wide, said - This is bad.  Bad news.  Nothing good can come from this.  This is the end of that relationship between those two.

If only someone somewhere would have said, “maybe, maybe not.  Hard to say.  We’ll see”.

And I got pregnant within this affair.  I talk in more detail about this part of my story in an episode called “I’m a Big Deal”.

And the pregnancy sealed the judgement of many readers of my story.  They slammed the book shut, proclaiming, “bad news.  Bad news indeed”.  And not just her story – but her.  She is bad news.

But months later, a tiny little gem lay in a hospital incubator.  Born early but born determined (and that has never changed), this little baby boy lay on display as my ex-husband held this baby’s brother up to the glass so they could meet.

Where are the readers of our story now?  What have they to say?  Well, no one knew what to say.  This is bizarre.  An ex taking his son to meet his new little brother?  A baby born to his wife, but not his.

Is this good news or bad news?  That is definitely hard to say.  I guess we’ll see.

Living separately now, I was to leave the hospital and go home, to my home, with my new little baby.  My older son Shale was free to go back and forth between his father and I as he pleased.  No visitation schedule.  He needed us both at any time.

But it wouldn’t be safe for my baby and I to head home alone.  Life was not safe at that time.  Due to this affair, my life was a mess.

So, my baby Jesse and I headed to the campground, to the family trailer, with my ex and our son, Shale.

This surely can’t be good news.  How does this work?

And over the next bit of time spent together, I got stronger, recovering from giving birth, as the bond got stronger between a man and a baby, he had no part in creating.

Well, that’s good news, isn’t it?  And it was.  My son deserved the love that my ex-husband had an abundance of.  This man loved children.  He noticed them.  He spoke to them and played with them and made them feel seen, and important.  

We got back together and tried to make a family out of these boys and each other.  And this was not another man’s baby to Jeremy.  This was his son.  And to my son, that was his dad.

Well, that’s good news.  But would I have allowed that to happen if I knew we were just going to end up divorcing?  Or would I have thought the divorce was bad news so let’s not have them bond only to break the family apart anyways?

I honestly don’t know.  I do know this though, if I had been able to see ahead and decide the divorce was bad news and prevented that bond… that would have been bad news.  Because Jesse has always been his son.  Jeremy was always his dad.  Even after the divorce.  And that was good news.

If I had been able to see ahead to the divorce and labelled it as bad news, I would not have tried again in this family attempt we made and lost the chance for us to know we will always love each other, even if we can’t be married well, and I would have lost the future years of our friendship.  Which was invaluable to me and our boys.  Our friendship was good news – even though we went through bad news to find the beauty in it.

But that doesn’t mean the divorce was good news either.  Divorce always brings pain and grief and hardships in some ways for everyone involved.

The ability for us to say that we will always love each other, not romantically, not physically, but emotionally, was great news.  But it took many parts of our story, many of what we would call bad parts, to get there.

Would I have stayed so emotionally connected if I knew we were going to lose Jeremy at such a young age?  Because Jeremy died just two years ago.

Because I have to tell you that losing Jeremy - That was bad news.  That was bad news for so so many of us.  His partner, his family, friends, his sons, and myself.  We all saw this as bad news.

It remains bad news.  There is no way to take receiving the news of a loved one dying and say maybe it’s good news, maybe it’s bad news.  Hard to say.  We’ll see.

No.  Getting that news was getting bad news.

And this can be where we feel like the story is complete.  Done.  Finished.  We could say that the story ended with bad news. That there is no continuing this story from here.  It ended with bad news and that’s all there is to it.

Well, there is no way to turn Jeremy’s passing into good news.  It wasn’t.  It never will be.

But it is still incomplete if I stop there.

Jeremy still has a story.  To be told.  And to be heard.  And that will happen in different ways.

Every time I see the boys laugh, or act in love, hug someone, hug me, notice a child, and play with them and make them feel important… I see Jeremy.  I see his story still unfolding.  And that is good news.

Someday, these boys may have children of their own.  And the genes are strong in my ex-husbands’ family.  I know I will literally see Jeremy in any child Shale may have.  The love is so strong in Jeremy’s family as well.  I will see Jeremy loving all over any grandkids I may have, through his family.

I will see traits of Jeremy as Jesse throws his little one in the air, or wrestles with them, or throws a ball, or cuddles on the couch.  Whether the boys remember back that far or not… they got all of that from their dad.

His physical ability to walk this earth with them, is complete.  But he has left much in them.  His story will continue.

Even as after the divorce, I would see Jeremy in the boys… sometimes I would think that’s bad news lol.  But there were and are so many characteristics where I get to look and see Jeremy and say, “that’s good news”.

But to decide at any point along the journey, then, and even now, that our life was good or bad, would be an incomplete story.

There is so much healing, and freedom, in learning to say, “maybe, maybe not.  Hard to say.  We’ll see”.

So next time you don’t get that job, or do get that job… have a relationship work out, or have a relationship end… or have your horse run away, 

Try to refrain from deciding if this is good news or bad news.  Because honestly, it might be.  It might not be.  It’s hard to say, because the story isn’t done yet.

Your story isn’t done yet.

It will keep being written across the pages of your life.  And every sentence will matter.

Keep writing it.  Keep letting it unfold.  And keep reading it to others.

And in the meantime, keep reading each other’s stories too.  Not searching for the good or the bad.  But for the “we’ll see”.

“We’ll see” can become exciting.  It can also become our hope in the midst of the pages that read like nothing but bad news.  “We’ll see” says it’s not over yet.  And the story doesn’t end here.  My story doesn’t end here.  My loved one’s story does not end here.

This story is incomplete.

Until next time guys, remember how much you and your story matters.  

And we’ll meet right back here again next week.  Goodbye for now.  We’ll speak again soon.