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Life’s tough – deal with it

Do you know your first audible memory? The first sound you can remember hearing?

I know mine. It’s the sound of words. It’s the sound of my Aunt Beth saying, “Life’s tough. Deal with it.”

I was 3 or 4 years old and at my grandparents’ house. Beth was a teenager still living at home. I was having a fit to get in her room and play with her 8-tracks.

She didn’t want me wrecking the joint, so she ran me off. I can still see her standing in the doorway about to shut it. I can still hear her say, “Life’s tough. Deal with it.”

Truer words were never spoken. They were a sign of things to come – for both of us.

Beth’s warning was followed by her example. Throughout my life I have seen her deal with the hardships standing in her path.

Life was tough when she was married to an alcoholic. She dealt with it by getting herself and her children out of that situation.

Life was tough when she was suddenly a single mother with three mouths to feed. She dealt with it by working multiple jobs to take care of them.

Life was tough in 2018 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She dealt with it by giving it over to, and getting closer to, God.

I understood the “Life’s tough” part early on in life. It took me a lot longer to learn to “Deal with it.”

Some people cope by bottling up their emotions and pressing on. I tried that early on but learned no matter how long you suppress something, it will still pop up – often in ways and places that only make things tougher.

Later on, I thought I could be one of those people who copes using exercise.

At the end of that effort, I learned changing the outside did not change the inside. I was 80 pounds lighter, but the weight of the world was still on my shoulders. I had new pants and the same old problems.

Psychology failed me. Substances failed me. Songwriting failed me.

After years of trying every way I knew how to “deal with it,” I came to the same conclusion she did. I had to give it over to, and get closer to, God. My moment of surrender was the moment I decided life was too tough for me to handle on my own.

Life is still tough, but since then, God continues to shape me and show me how to get through things I never thought I could face.

This fall, life is tough for Beth again. Her cancer has returned, but the Lord has never left her.

Once again, she is leading by example. It’s an inspiration to see her. Her battle is a blessing to behold.

I’m watching her fight.

I’m watching her faith grow.

I’m watching her deal with it.

I’m watching God deal with it.

Stults is a performing songwriter from Russellville.

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