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Being resilient and giving grace

I’m a family-first guy. Aside from work, I plan my life around my family. I look forward to watching my kids participate in their activities, to involving us all in mundane tasks like cleaning and grocery shopping and dreaming of our next adventure together.

I try to be all in on my kids because I understand the window of them living under my roof is relatively small.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle with parenting. Life is full of hundreds of daily decisions – most of them small, but all of them impactful in some ways. And since we’ve moved to a new state far away from our safety net of family and friends, these decisions seem amplified.

What activity should we sign the girls up for? How much is too much? How do we keep our kids reading and make sure they are reaching their academic ability? What steps do we need to take to help our kids meet friends their own age? What church should we go to? How often should we go back to Michigan to see family and friends?

The list goes on and on.

And I will have to admit, at times I have felt like I am failing them. I think it is probably from some sort of subconscious feeling about packing them up and moving to somewhere new. Perhaps I feel bad upending their routine, and I want this experience to be a positive one for them. I want this move to have been a no-doubt-about-it 100 percent slam dunk success for all four of us.

That’s not life, and while everything is generally good with us, we have been forced to persevere through simultaneously missing parts of our old life while trying to fit in with the people in our new one.

I have a word attached to my computer monitor in my office. It’s part of a challenge to myself that I started this month – I want to have a word to focus on that helps center me and get me thinking positively. I’ve decided to share it with my staff in a monthly email.

The word I chose is resiliency.

Defined, it means: “the capacity to recover from difficulties; toughness.” I think that is a perfect way to describe children – if nothing else, they are resilient.

Thinking about resiliency helps me approach my fears in a new way. Yes, I am trying to do right for my family. No, I won’t make every decision correctly. And because they are resilient, they will be OK. This experience is all part of them growing into functioning, problem-solving adults.

Resiliency leads me to quite possibly what next month’s word will be – grace.

I need to give myself grace and understand that God has things in control and that he led me down this Ohio-bound path. I need to give my wife and kids grace when they struggle, just as they do when I struggle. Before I moved, my mom gave us some outstanding advice: “You are all going to have your moments, but that is all part of the process.”

It also means giving grace to others out there, which most of us would agree is something we should all work on. I have long been a fan of the concept of relaxing criticism of other people as no one can walk in another’s shoes. Sharp-tongued criticism comes most often from a lack of understanding.

You never know who is standing next to you in line – someone with a family member dealing with a gut-wrenching diagnosis, somebody who is stressed because their paycheck just won’t stretch far enough or perhaps just a guy who is new to this land and is trying to figure it all out.

Living with resilience and grace are two things I am working on as I embrace the challenges and triumphs of this new adventure.

Jeremy Speer is the publisher of The Advertiser-Tribune. He can be reached at jspeer@advertiser-tribune.com.

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