When I look around, I see so many wonderful qualities in others that I try to incorporate into my own self.
For example, my friend Angela once said, “People pray for strength. I pray that bad (stuff) doesn’t happen to me.”
I loved that. I am inspired by her attitude. While I can’t become Angela, I try to incorporate her approach into my life view.
Last Monday, my mother-in-law (a surfer) took my younger son surfing, and he wanted me to go along and watch. I was thrilled to be invited, and beyond excited that I could actually go.
This is not his favorite video from the day, but it is one of mine.
You can briefly see him paddling, then popping up onto the board. He keeps his balance, gives two thumbs up and then, at the end, falls off the board. But my favorite part – he emerges all smiles and heads back out for another go.
When things don’t go as I plan, hope or expect, I don’t pop right back up and I certainly don’t rebound with big smiles. Mostly, I get annoyed and try to force it to be my way.
It is easy for me to say, “But THIS (whatever “this” is that I am trying to do) is more important / has greater consequences, etc.” than surfing.
Then I remember a later run he did, where he fell off the surfboard in a wave and, when he got out, told me, “That was really scary. It looked like the fin was coming right into my face.” That would be an important and big consequence. But even following that near-hit, he wasn’t discouraged. His smiles quickly returned and, after a brief break, ran back into the water with his surfboard.
In the meantime, the opening between heaven and earth continues to draw the people I love. This past week, my “chemo buddy” Julie said good-bye to this world and hello to the next.
Julie and I were diagnosed within months of each other, then connected through mutual friends.
We had much in common, including being close in age. We discussed treatments and side effects as well as mothering two young children and having a good marriage in the midst of all this. We eventually had the same oncologist and sometimes even the same chemo days.
As anyone with cancer knows, disease path is variable. Initially, mine looked curable and hers looked quite advanced. In fact, the doctors didn’t give her much time. But 6½ years after her diagnosis, she was still here, a testament to her strong will to endure incredibly difficult medical treatments and her strong faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, her memorial service emphasized her love and devotion to Jesus, which was present in everything she did.
Me, I sort of have an arm’s length relationship to Jesus. I have lots of questions about where he fits into the whole picture. I’m totally into the saints and spirit entities, the Holy Spirit seems to be everywhere in my life, and I’m crazy about God. So all that felt like enough for me.
But I was inspired by Julie and her service, and I decided to be open to the possibility. What do I need to do, to have what she had?
Of course, if you ask a question, the answer appears. The next day, I went to Mass and got this from the Gospel reading:
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”
Hmmm, that answer came faster than I expected. This path is certainly not what I would have chosen for myself, and I resisted for a long time. But now I think I understand that my life might not be what I set out to create. All I can do is step into what is in front of me, even if it often feels like this:
I try to incorporate Angela’s ability to aim high and focus on what I want. When it is apparent that I won’t be getting my way, then I hope I can let go and ride whatever wave is carrying me. And if I fall, I want to emerge smiling and ready to go again. And maybe, just maybe, I can follow his lead, even if I can’t figure it out.
Thank you for always encouraging me – it lifts me up and gets me going. Thank you for being such an amazing, incredible role model in so many ways. Your life and the way you live it creates energy and more life in others and in me. I send that love and energy back out to you.