Aug 31

We’ve all heard the saying “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade,” right? We also all know how sometimes life takes you unexpected places. That’s kind of how our summer unfolded. We dubbed it “The Summer of Lemons”.

It really wasn’t a catastrophic event that came our way, but instead a measure of disappointments, hurts, letdowns and events that gave us pause as we tried to readjust our tarnished halos (and pride).

Don’t get me wrong though, there were also many memory making days this summer and captured photos of life as a family of seven just doing our thing. Boy, did we cross off fun things on our bucket list! Sprinkled within though were some days where I thanked God for nowhere to run, no one to taxi and no appointments to get to.

But the lemons…What did we learn?

We learned that apart, we may not have the courage to face struggles head-on, but together, we link arms, rally behind our team and do our best. We discovered that sometimes our expectations of others, even family we love, can lead to them disappointing us. Hurt and misunderstanding are commonplace, even in family. I found myself coaching my kids along many times over these recent months asking them how they will choose to handle defeat and obstacles. Will it be our stumbling block or our stepping stone?

Even more so I found that as the adult and mom who knows this is life and how we learn these valuable lessons is by walking through them, it’s hard to do that while gently leading your child at the same time. I am human and I am also a “mama bear.” I will fight for my young, but I also want to encourage them to learn how to love, defend and fight for truth along with goodness on their own.

And then, when we thought perhaps many of summer’s lessons had already been dispensed, our eyes were opened and we had another hurt we could not keep from our children. The grand jury report in Pennsylvania was released, opening wide a gaping wound of hurt of at least 1,000 children who had been abused by clergy in the last 70 years. To stand in front of our teens to tell them the truth about hurting people, innocent souls, violated lives, of kids just like them at the hands of priests, much like the same men we have taught our children to respect and pray for, it was not what we expected to encounter this summer. But then those children never expected what they received either. We chose to respond to our teens by giving them honest answers, having discussions and providing them with the information and resources that helped us discern how to respond. We chose to fast and pray to make reparation for the abusers, the ones who mishandled it and those who hid it. We decided to still cling to faith and hope in a Church that has some important work still to be done.

It’s so easy to want to throw in the towel, call it a day and hole up in our safe home and comfortable routines when adversity strikes and life’s lessons are a bit more difficult than we anticipated. We aren’t called to do that, but instead to take an active role in our Church, families, home and our lives.

We were so blessed this summer. We are all healthy and thriving. I wasn’t spending my days at the bedside of a sick parent or child. I didn’t watch my child die and face heart-wrenching, devastating pain and grief. God didn’t ask that of me this summer. He asked me to be faithful. He called our family to be light in darkness, to be the good, cling to Him and one another, serve with gladness and fight for justice.

I’m not sure that I did well squeezing those lemons and making lemonade, but we did learn how to tastefully use lemon zest this summer and get in a good dose of vitamin C.

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the Perpetual Posters page.

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