If you or your kids have not read, The Jupiter Chronicles, there is a poem that I place at the beginning of each one that hints of a theme in that particular book. It doesn’t necessarily set the tone for that book but if there’s an underlying message this would be it. I want to stress that it doesn’t set the tone especially after reading this one. Here’s the one that will be placed at the beginning of book four:
A bitter cup on bended knee,
should welcome wrought of stormy sea.
To choose and see the hidden plot,
and sharpen sword and shield of thought.
So what does it all mean?
There’s no getting around it. We will have tough times. We can run from it, try to hope it away or strive to achieve a place in our lives void of trouble but in the end, it will find you. As a boy, a teenager and a man, I’ve wasted time wishing trouble away instead of asking for the strength to go through the fire. There are fires that I’ve never walked through. Cancer or loss of a child included. Those are unimaginable horrors that I will not try and tackle here or insult those who have experienced these by giving reason to them. But there are others that I have. Divorced parents, physical, mental and emotional abuse can be counted among them. Through all of those things, I now realize that there was a mistake that I had been making all along.
I tried with all my soul to wish them away.
I’m not one that believes that God punishes us. But I have (especially now) come to believe that hardships are used for our good. I used to hear the word “discipline” and automatically thought it meant punishment. But I was wrong. Hardship means discipline. Discipline means character. Character yields faith. And faith yields strength.
Strength to do what? To encourage others.
There is the hidden plot. The reasons for the bad things that we do not see that we wonder whether if they are there. Yes, there is evil in the world. But as hard as it is sometimes, we have to decide to lean on the architect of our lives and come out of the fire stronger than before. We must drink the bitter cup on the bended knee of humility and not portend to know all. That is the case for human suffering. Do I enjoy it? Um, no!
I know that poem sounds dark but it’s how you choose to look at it. It’s how we choose to perceive our struggles that determines our outcome. I’m not sitting here writing this as if I have it all together. I do not. I fail every day. But I’ve come to believe that I can better teach my child through my struggles and failures than through my successes in peacetime.
And I’ve already seen how she is stronger for it.
Oh and don’t worry. The book as a whole is not dark or depressing. There will be a lot of fun and silly moments. But at the heart will be an underlying “prodding” of sorts to change how we perceive hardship.
Leonardo Ramirez is an author of Science Fiction and Fantasy. He is also a husband, father and a 4th degree Black Belt in American Karate as well as a brown belt in American Bushido Kenjutsu which is the study of the Katana sword. You can visit his website, Science Fiction for the Human Condition at Leonardoverse.com. His books are available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retailers.