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I knelt on the carpet in my bedroom, sifting through a cardboard box full of memorabilia. Papers, greeting cards from holidays past, school glue, a couple old journals, and a wooden model plane. The model plane. I pick it up, tears welling in my eyes as I note its precise details. It has five square, gray windows painted onto its sides, and a neat round base, so smoothly and glossily finished. The plane’s maker had paid incredible attention to detail, as evidenced by the fact that each brush stroke was perfectly aligned, nothing out of place or messy at all. I sigh and brush away tears as I place it back in the dusty box that’s been in the far corner of my room for too long now. I try to stuff down the painful pictures my mind is seeing, hoping that again packing away the model plane will allow me to also again pack away my painful and choppy past.

Funny thing, memories. The unpleasant ones always come to fore so unexpectedly, sweeping over you with all the grace and comfort of a hundred foot high wave crashing over a canoe. And the pleasant ones… well they are as elusive as an ice cream truck in December. Yes memories are an odd bunch. Funny thing, how even one terrible childhood occurrence can overshadow years of good happenings. And if the equation is inverted, the one or two good memories cannot be recollected – no matter how hard I may try. Yet somehow the hard, tearstained ones are always at the edge of my consciousness.

But as I close my eyes and listen to the barking of the neighbor’s dog, and hear the honking of a flock of geese flying overhead, I reflect on the love and peace I have now. I can’t help but think that love is stronger than hate, good stronger than bad (pardon my use of cliches…). Maybe the good memories really are more powerful. No, they’re not so easily recalled some days… but I think instances of love in our lives are much, much more powerful than instances of hate or tragedy, in terms of what shapes us. Really the choice is ours. Will we allow the heartache, the trials, to make us bitter and wary? Or will we allow them to aid us in better appreciating the love and light that is around us?

My dream of having a family and mothering a large brood of children one day raises another question. What will my children choose? When a friend backstabs them, when a schoolmate bullies them, when a grandparent dies, will my offspring be shaped by the negativity of the ending, or the positivity of the journey? The truth is that no parent can spare their child from heartache and loss. Sooner or later our children will experience such things, in all their raw, painful power. Our job as parents (I speak as a future parent, not a present one) is to help our children see the light, feel the love, and cling to the hope in life, rather than being blinded by the sorrows.

If we are to properly equip the next generation for such a lifestyle, we have to take the lead and live that way ourselves. We cannot allow ourselves to hold onto bitterness. And why would we, when bitterness walls us off from the beautiful garden of God’s Love? BItterness leaves us empty and in darkness. It is a useless thing, that we need to surrender for our own good and for our children’s good.