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Begin Identifying Your Strengths Of Character

We met Kayla and Kent at the first of three installments. A couple nearing retirement ages face a dual blow of respective job layoffs. The Coronavirus had forced them to survive financially on Social Security, plus some savings. Residents of Pennsylvania, they had not yet received unemployment benefits. Kayla worked as a desk clerk. Kent worked as a restaurant cook. Both places shut down. They spoke proudly of raising two capable children who completed college on scholarships. Both were living independently. Kayla and Kent purchased a camper for prospective travel to national parks. Both carried Medicare insurance, which covered some, not all, medical expenses. The “future looked bleak,” said Kent. Kayla had been exhibiting anxiety in response to their current state.

Welcome back, Kayla and Kent. Kayla, your courage in your first session demonstrated some state of vulnerability. Kent described some sleep and appetite changes in response to job and income transitions. Both of you were laid off following Covid-19 shutdowns. You cried while explaining your current, near retirement plan; a great plan that was interrupted through no fault of your own. Additionally, unemployment benefits weren’t arriving. Money is tight. Given your age of 67, what skills related to survival might you call upon to aid in facing this plight? You can begin by identifying your strengths of character.

“I must tell you that I left feeling drained. Kent and I have a great marriage. You talked about vulnerability. Yes, I’ve been feeling exactly vulnerable. I physically and emotionally feel weakened by this unplanned life change. Kent and I have been through a lot in our lives together. When you say to identify my strengths, at first, I laughed this offas psycho-babble. Oh, my God, may I be real honest?” (I nod for her to proceed). “First thing’s first. We are a mixed race couple. I’m a black African American woman. I married a Caucasian man with European roots. We’ve faced racial injustice in our home town. I feel it in my job. We raised two great mixed-race kids. We provided not only financially, but also with the fundamentals of living in a racially divisive world. I refuse to shy away from living my life. I love Kent for the richness of heart that he brings to our family. So I guess, that’s strength? If so, how can it apply to our financial struggles?”

You know, Kayla, you’ve woven over time a powerful strength of character. I can only imagine your place you niche in a world racially divided. Somehow, you weaved your path for you and your family through the divide. Only you and Kent can look upon your history together. What you faced, how you overcame the plight, raised two children to be independent and to reach retirement age. Kent, what strengths can you identify that may enable you to work your way through this current state?

“Well, for one thing, I married Kayla for who she is. Nevertheless, facing criticism and harsh judgments from others off and on stirred many emotions. No matter the heaviness, I refused to allow other’s racial injustices to damage my spirit. Maybe I ‘ m speaking about determination. Y es, determination. One o f our kids once said that our planet Earth spins on its axis. That’s kind of tough for me to imagine, but you know, maybe liken to Earth, I, too, am spinning on myaxis.” KaylaturnstofaceKent,” spinningonyour axis? You’re funny Kent. It’s tough for me to imagine. Ha!” “You see, Sir, that’s some ofwhat I was. I’m determined to be in this marriage that has dealt with hardships. Laughter has helped me a lot. Kayla makes me belly-laugh. I’m determined to ride out this stage of our life with love that never sways.” Kent and Kayla embrace.

Finances are tight; bills arrive. How might your identified strengths be helpful during this crisis? The two of you have faced racial injustices. You Kayla refused to shy away. Kent, you are determined to face this crisis and not let it knock you off your axis. What do you understand to be other identified strengths? Think about this suggestion. You appear to be healthy. How you been positive with the Covid-19?

“No,” Kayla states. God bless us. We’re following medical guidelines. We quarantined for weeks and ordered groceries on-line. I’m concerned about our food budget. We started to garden, to bake bread, and to watch our diet. We don’t do take-outs. Kent is a cook and he shines in the kitchen. He concocts good food. So, yeah, we’re pretty healthy and have gone out to shop when needed. We can and freeze foods. We pick fruits grown nearby. We walk together after dinner. We listen to some news. We listen to upbeat music and occasionally hit the dance floor in our living room.”

That’s great…survival skills. You’ve got to call upon them in a crisis. What about your children, how are they doing folks? “We call every couple of days. They live a couple of towns away. They are married and both have one child. We certainly miss them all. We send little care packages for the family. They are both working from home. They are generous. They both want to help us but we refuse their financial help.” Why I ask.

“Well…” Kent says, “We’re supposed to help them, not the reverse. They are good people. Guess we did well raising them, Kayla.” (She smiles). “Oh, oh! Maybe that’s a weakness on our part. I never thought about it. Maybe I’m too stubborn and proud to accept help from them. They can afford to help us. Yeah, maybe I’ve been too proud.” “Maybe you have, Kent” says Kayla.

You know, folks, you’ve referenced family several times. Despite racial injustices, you’ve successfully overcome obstacles to raise two great children now on their own. They’re doing it in part due to foundational strengths you both provided. Money doesn’t need to be a big deal when the love of family holds true. Their generosity I wonder…where that strength of character is rooted? You’ve taught them well. Maybe you can discuss their offering as an act of love, especially during this crisis. In crisis is when people really show up.

Kent, you can still be proud; yet, accepting money as a gift of love in kindness in one of a myriad of fashion. Imagine how your strengths and love for each other has influenced your children and their values. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

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