On the Unsolved Mystery Show they had a story about one of those orphans on an Orphan Train who was shipped out west to see families interested in adoption. This orphan never found a family interested in adopting him. He made his way to adulthood through foster care, but then sought out what he had lost. He found love, got married, and had many children. His original family was so troubled that when he was sent out on the train, he decided to look at it as an adventure. Life was an adventure for him.
Personally, I know other people who had trouble in their younger lives, but came through in flying colors because of the effort they put into it. Sure, there were times when they cried on their pillow and suffered through things, but they never allowed themselves to become a victim in their own minds. And somehow that is key.
Sometimes it just takes one mature adult to show a child some love and they can work through it. In Baseball’s Winning Ways author J. D. Thorne mentions Babe Ruth’s remarkable story. As a young boy Ruth was sent by his parents to live in an orphanage. For Ruth it was Brother Matthias Boutlier a 6’6″ giant Religious Brother who took Ruth under his wing. And it make all the difference for Ruth.
Patrick McCaskey wrote about the billionaire pizza king, Tom Monaghan, in our Sports and Faith: More Stories of the Devoted and the Devout who like Ruth was sent to live in a Catholic Orphanage. Spending 6 years at the orphanage, he was inspired by Sister Berarda, a Polish nun.
Ruth and Monaghan lived through extreme cases of misery, but there was something inside of them that pushed them towards great success. In cases like these it is easy to understand that some people suffer through misery when young and sometimes suffer through life as well, but I mention it because these stories of success are helpful.
Sometimes, we’ve taken to making a mountain out of so many molehills these days. Most everyone has had some teacher who didn’t seem to like them; lost a contest because of something unfair; lived with a grumpy brother or sister; and much more. Some people make these things their life stories. Most of us should appreciate that these annoyances aren’t the same as overcoming a life-threatening illness; being seriously wounded in the service; living with an irresponsible parent, fighting fires or trying to keep order in the most dangerous neighborhoods.
There is a problem with so many people talking about overcoming adversities when their problems are so typical. After hearing so many stories it’s hard to really believe them or feel deeply about any of them. We become immune. And when we become immune, we become unteachable and have nothing to learn from them.
Image: Babe Ruth from Bain Collection, Library of Congress