We have a small pond on our property and, of course, we have ducks. It is fascinating to watch them as they gracefully glide across the water. But underneath the surface, their tiny web feet are frantically paddling in order to propel themselves forward.
Photo Courtesy of Lisa Ann Hughes Photography
And so it is with life. We are all so busy, dashing from place to place as we take pride in our ability to multitask. The goal is to make it all look effortless to the casual observer, to portray a sense of calm to the world, but let’s face it: most of us as paddling as fast as we can, and often, failing miserably at getting anywhere.
Truthfully, we are spread thin, pulled in many different directions. And as a result, we are more stressed than previous generations, even though we have a multitude of gadgets and labor-saving devices at our disposal. We want more, do more, need more and the consequences have been dire, taking its toll on our physical and emotional health. Trust me on this.
But sometimes, we encounter a metaphorical speed bump, forcing us to slow down and notice the roses we never have the time to stop and smell. Cancer was mine.
My illness has brought me some surprising gifts, as crazy as that sounds. It has forced me to be still, to control the need to be constantly doing something. On most chemo days, being productive simply meant taking a shower and making myself a ham sandwich. Most tasks just took more energy than I could muster, so I focused on other things. More important ones. I found myself spiritually tied to the rhythms of life instead of the business that distracts. And I have learned some important lessons along the way that I think are worth sharing.
We don’t realize our own strength until it is tested.
When we must learn to walk the tightrope that spans the great gully, we hope our legs will hold us, that outstretched arms will keep us in balance, as we desperately try not to fall. And arriving at the other side, we develop a better sense of who we are, which gives us the resolve to become who we are meant to be.
Ultimately, illness threatens us physically and emotionally as the consequences loom large. But in a fragile state of being, as our minds spin over all we can possibly lose, we learn that who and what we are cannot be taken away, not by disease or by fear. And no, not even by death.
We don’t know the limitless love of our Creator until He hears our pleas and reaches out with a comforting hand to heal.
But that reassurance comes to us in unexpected ways. Sure, it is miraculous when the pain subsides, but an even bigger miracle occurs when the heart and mind are filled with peace. When calm enters with every breath, bathing the spirit with the light of love and hope, the mind and body begin to relax. Ultimately, the anxiety slowly fades away until there is nothing left but pure faith and a serenity that belies all understanding. And yes, God’s most precious gift is that beautiful.
We don’t always grasp what is instead of what we want it to be.
We waste so much of our lives guarding that which we have no control over, the things that aren’t really ours anyway. We worry about job titles, community positions, amassed wealth, acquired things, superficial beauty but truthfully, none of that is real. Or important. When we stop compromising, stop believing that any of those things are significant enough to garner our full attention, then, we set ourselves free. You see, when you wonder if you will have a tomorrow, you focus on the importance of today and what really matters. And when you are stripped of all that you believe is important, bowing low before the throne of God, you see that most of what you held onto so tightly is simply an illusion. Love is the answer to every question, every riddle that torments your soul. And when you are sick, really sick, you readily discover who truly loves you. Yes, it is that simple.
Let’s face it: life experiences are always instructive, some more than others. The key is in choosing what to do with what we learn. Such moments have the power to change us, altering how we view life, which, in turn, can set us on a new path of discovery. I have come to understand that we repeat what we do not learn. That idea gives me pause. So I intend to be a good student.