Kittredge: Was THAT So Difficult?

Dec 26, 2016

When I was eighteen I dropped out of college before the first day of classes. I was working as a reader at Random House, a job I figured Radcliffe graduates would envy, and I didn’t want to give it up. When I told my parents my decision, they yawned and said, “Don’t worry; you’ll go when you want to.”

Twenty years, two husbands (the second remains close at hand!) and five children later, I needed God, decided to enter the ministry but realized with a jolt, “Shoot! I forgot to go to college!” Remember that part? Graduate schools require a BA.

Thanks to Vermont College’s adult degree program, and an incredibly supportive family, I got my BA and Master of Divinity. Once a week I put the kids on the bus, drove to Boston for an afternoon and evening class, took a nap and headed home at 2am - not something I'd likely do now. All in all, it took ten years because, with five kids at home, I went part-time. In the beginning it felt overwhelming - like chopping down a California Redwood with a Swiss Army knife. But when it was over, I looked back and thought with a shrug, “That was a speed bump.”

Because it was so worth it.

Likewise, if, after all the radiation, chemotherapy and surgery, you’re declared cancer free, then yes, it was hard but worth it.

This isn’t always true. When, for instance, the shroud of past abuse continues to cloud light from your heart and your soul, the answer can be a resounding “Very hard! It was hard then and sometimes, alas, even harder now.”

But hard isn’t necessarily bad; unfortunately, I’ve yet to learn something really worthwhile easily. All we can do is pick up our Swiss Army knives and whittle away, in the wild and crazy faith that healing rays of light will shine through the forest of our lives.

Editor's Note: Once a year we host a brunch at which commentators are invited to present essays on a single theme - that we record to sample later on the air. In response to this year's Commentator Brunch on the theme "Was THAT So Difficult?" commentator Susan Cooke Kittredge observed that a great challenge may bring a great reward. You can find the complete 2016 Brunch audio here.