When someone we love is facing a hard vs. easy fork in the road, we might think enabling them to take the easy road is more loving, but the hard road could be the most loving of all.
The summer before my sophomore year of college my parents were struggling and couldn’t help me. My parents and I discussed it, and I decided to ask my grandfather for some money. It took a lot for me to go ask him. I knew he had it, but I felt weird asking him for it.
His answer was no. I don’t remember much explanation other than he felt it would be better for me if I took care of it myself. I was upset, hurt and embarrassed. But that passed.
Hard Work Pays Off
I went back to college and got an on-call job in the university food services. I cleaned tables, scooped icecream, fried eggs, washed dishes… wherever they needed me, that’s what I did. Then one day a man from the main food services office came to me while I was wiping down a dirty table.
He said, “I’m looking at your employment records and see you are in a computer major. I need someone who is good with computers in the office. Would you like to come work there?”
I heartily agreed and in a short period of time, he gave me the task of creating a cost analysis database for all the food they made and sold in the university. This was 1986-88 when computers were still in their infancy. Database design for PC’s was cutting edge.
I was able to create practical applications in real-world business while taking my Information Management classes. My boss let me set my own hours and work as much as the university allowed (20 hrs/week during Fall/Winter and 40 hrs/week in the summer).
That knowledge came in handy a decade later when I created IdeaMarketers.com (the first article directory on the web). A friend taught me Cold Fusion and gave me some starter code and I was able to program that database driven web site.
As I look back now at my grandfather’s decision not to loan me that money, I am grateful. I got out of college with only a $1250 student loan (which I used to purchase a Tandy computer) and worked my way through college doing something I loved. That experience set the stage for creating a web site that fed my family for many years and enabled me to meet some of the most influential, talented and brilliant minds.
I wonder how different my life would have been if my grandfather had said yes.
How often do we have something difficult happen in our lives, and we’re confused, angry or hurt? Then, when we look back later, we realize that had we not gone through what we did, we wouldn’t have grown in important ways. Had grandparents, parents, life, God or even our enemies not allowed us to go through difficult things, we wouldn’t have had the great experience that we had.
Challenge is an equally as important part of love as support.