Two of Miller’s Laws are #1. When you’re mine, you’re mine forever. #2. My kids will always be “My Kids” regardless of their chronological age. These “laws” are an integral part of my relationships with them, because I make it clear to all of them that there is at least ONE adult in their lives who cares about them unconditionally and there is no “Expiration Date”. These “laws” are final and absolute; kids cannot argue them away, behave badly to make them go away, nothing… I make it clear that these “laws” are MY choice, and they have to live with them.
I bring this up because one of My Kids (who is now in her mid-20s) posted a quote on her Facebook page that resonated with me and reminded me of another quote from a book I used to teach with my 8th graders. My kiddo posted a quote from Joyce Meyer who stated, “I love my enemies because they made me who I am.”
This quote requires great wisdom, and I am so proud that one of my kids has been able to break herself away from “high school” attitudes and grow into such a wonderful young woman. The quote is similar to another quote from a book, Newberry Award Winner Karen Hesse’s, Out of the Dust. The story focuses on a teenage girl (named Billie Jo because her dad wanted a boy) between the ages of thirteen and fifteen while the book takes place in the panhandle of Oklahoma right in the middle of the Great Depression, and even worse for her neighbors and her, the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. The story is set in fictional Joyce City, but all of the other events, facts and places mentioned in the book are real. Hesse wrote the book in free verse poetry (like many of her other books), and a reader just interested in the plot line—which is compelling enough—can breeze through it in a couple of hours.
However, when studying the book, its imagery, its symbolism, its characterization… Out of the Dust is SO much more. Billie Jo endures trials many of us cannot even imagine, far beyond dealing with the complications of the Dust Bowl. She even tries to leave the situation, but [SPOILER ALERT!] she realizes she belongs back home with her father. As the novel ends and Billie Jo’s life moves on along with her father’s life, Billie Jo makes a profound observation for any 15-year-old: “I am because of the dust.” The dust represents ALL of the unfortunate realities of Billie Jo’s past, but she is finally able to recognize them not with resentment, but with appreciation that she would not be the person she is without those difficult experiences. What 15-year-old do you know who has that kind of insight?
Thus my pride at my kiddo’s post of Joyce Meyer’s quote, because it is an indication that my kiddo gets it—a perspective that some adults never achieve: Look upon the misfortunes in your past as gifts, because they made you who you are today.