As a child of divorce, I have dealt with many tough situations in my life. I am one of three girls so my mom had to work hard to take care of us. And money was always tight. As a result, my sisters and I didn’t have the trendy clothes and new cars most of our peers did, and we weren’t able to do some of the things our friends were able to do with their families.
My mom worked long hours, so we spent most of our time with friends and neighbors. But when summertime came, we flew to a small town on the coast of Maine to stay with our closest relatives — our grandparents. In fact, all our relatives lived there — aunts, uncles, cousins on every side, great-grandparents, all of them.
The time we spent in Maine was quite different than the life we had in Alabama. Our days in Alabama consisted of spending the night and hanging out with friends from school and “cruising” through town.
Sometimes, though, I felt as if I didn’t fit in simply because of the things I didn’t have. And my family looked very different than many of my friend’s families.
In contrast, summers in Maine were spent fishing, swimming, picking blueberries, eating cucumber sandwiches and drinking hot tea with my Nannie in the afternoons. I remember riding in the back of Grampa’s truck to go fishing on the weekends, hanging on for dear life.
Such a simple time back then. A seemingly untroubled childhood in Maine existed in the midst of a difficult one in Alabama. The problems were still there, but summers in Maine made that part of my life disappear.
So what was the difference? Why did life seem so carefree in Maine? I believe the difference was the focus I had on the simple things in life. I didn’t view it that way as a child of course, but my life in Maine was so very simple. While there, I didn’t think about the clothes and car I didn’t have. I was more focused on enjoying nature and spending time with family. Those are some of the best memories I have in my life and have helped shape who I am today.
When difficult times come now, I try to remember the lesson I learned as a child — focus on the simple things because they are truly the best things. It doesn’t make the difficulties disappear, but it does change my perspective so I can deal with them in better ways.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Phil. 4:8).