Life is a Story

I just had a conversation this morning with a dear friend that is going through some difficult times. She made an error in judgment and her life changed in the blink of an eye. There will be short and long term repercussions, none of which will be pleasant.

Yesterday, I asked a friend how she was doing. She said her life “was in shambles”. She has a three year old daughter and is seven months pregnant. Her husband has decided he doesn’t want to be married anymore.

I received a phone call this week from the parent of a student to tell me about a diagnosis of a rare form of cancer, just 200 cases per year. Surgery is scheduled over spring break.

I believe that we may not be able to control what happens to us, but we can control how we react to it. It’s a lesson I’ve learned through some of the challenging times I’ve faced. It’s a truth that is reinforced every day as I experience more of life.

I know people that are negative, angry, judgmental and pessimistic. They fall in to victim mode when faced with adversity, blaming others and wallowing in self pity. They usually are not very successful at getting through the challenge because they are too busy feeling sorry for themselves and trying to find someone to blame. They flail away, digging themselves deeper and deeper into a hole. Frankly they are not very pleasant to be around because they want to bring those around them down to their negative level. I make a conscious effort to stay away from them; I don’t like the environment they choose to live in. And it is a choice.

We all know that there are going to be some bumps in our road, some unpleasant twists and turns in our life journey. We will experience agony and ecstasy, tragedy and joy in our lives. Now, maybe we try to hide this fact from ourselves, but the truth is bad things happen to good people. Sometimes we contribute to the occurrence, sometimes it just seems to pop out of nowhere.

Resiliency is the ability to cope with those things. It’s our ability to bounce back after being knocked down.

If you have been reading my blogs, you know about my friend Benita. She died a few weeks ago after battling cancer for five very long years. And this woman did battle; she fought the cancer with chemo, radiation, surgery. She stayed alive when the doctors told her it was not possible. She was a warrior in the truest definition of the word. She faced pain and hopelessness every day, every moment. Yet she continued to be positive and optimistic.

She didn’t fall into victim based thinking. She accepted the diagnosis, which she couldn’t control. And then she proceeded to deal with the challenge in a positive and optimistic way. Not to say she didn’t get down and depressed at times, but she didn’t stay there.

Benita lived a life in those last few years that inspired hundreds of people.

A friend lost all of her financial resources last year because of the economy and tough job market, battled cancer before that and went through a divorce. But she continued to look for ways to help others less fortunate. She is now working with the Make a Wish Foundation, a perfect fit. What a story she has to tell.

Things happen. We may not know why at the time, but later someone walks into your life with the same challenge, and you tell them your story. So what is your story going to be? Are you going to say “I totally fell apart, curled up into a fetal position and quit?” Or, are you going to be able to talk about the process. Acknowledge that it was tough, that you had some down times, but gritted your teeth and pulled through. Use your experience to teach and help others.

That is what our life is…a story. And while some parts of the plot may be a surprise, we do control the dialogue.

7 Comments on “Life is a Story

  1. God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.

    Nicely done Ms. Ray.
    The last paragraph is the whole purpose for others to share their experiences so that maybe someone else won’t have to got through tough times.

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  2. You, are an incredible woman, one I have the privledge of calling my sister, friend and mentor… I admire you and all you have been thorugh and all you do to share and inspire. Thank you for believing in me… Thank you for you…. Beautifully written… YOU ROCK.

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  3. Thanks for sharing your deepest self. Your words of wisdom will make a difference in some folks lives who choose to read it and follow what you have said. My cup is half full or more full most every day – life’s too short to live it any other way!

    Thanks for sharing what was on your heart.

    Vicki

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  4. Thank you for this wisdom. It reminds me of the admonition of Pastor John Piper when he tells us not to waste our life, our cancer, etc…

    It also reminds me of the words of Job: The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

    I pray that when trials come in life, that we will worship God and give Him all the glory, and that His Grace will be sufficient enough for us.

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  5. So Mrs. Ray I’m glad you sent this to me, and here’s what I have to say.

    Life is a story and your correct you can’t just give up when times get tough because you get NO WHERE! I know this because I was recently floored with some crazy stuff and decided I was going to give up, and the truth is I did for sometime but then my TRUE friends and family where there!

    I have really been bogged down with mock trial and church things and family matters! Here’s what I think if you (meaning people in general not just mrs. Ray) have a friend, family, employ, boss, or any other close person has a problem we should all no matter what should step in and do everything we can!

    So I agree Mrs. Ray let’s grit our teeth, “suck it up,” remember things, and HELP others get through things, and let’s all be understanding even if its not something we truly want to do because you never know what others are going through!

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  6. Well, i was going to wait to say this when (God willing) Asher has earned his first degree black belt, but maybe it’s better here…because, even though he knows this, maybe it wouldn’t be the best time to remind him on graduation night…..
    Asher is in Taekwondo, basically because it was one of the first new choices i made as a way of coping with his father’s death. Asher was 2 yrs and 10 months old when his Dad ended his own life. At that moment, mine and Asher’s lives changed forever. First, everything that we knew and did ended and everything was black and dark, with no idea or vision of the future, of what our lives were supposed to be like or would be like. I couldn’t do any of the same things we did before because the reminders of Ben where too much to bear, the void was too obvious. So, i felt i needed to start Asher in something that had no reminders of things we did together as a family. Ben always liked martial arts movies, and in fact, Brandon Lee (Bruce Lee’s son), and Bruce were his favorites. Also, I wanted to enroll Asher in something where there would be good role models, especially male role models, and good lessons, where he would learn mental discipline. And finally, i wanted him to have something to do that i would not also be involved in (sorry Ms. Ray). I had a feeling that i would (now) probably be an even more overprotective, overbearing mother, and that he would NEED something that was totally his. So, 10 weeks after Ben died, i enrolled Asher in the local Parks and Rec Taekwondo classes. Asher was 3 years old. In fact, the sparring gear he still wears today, Master Lewis purchased for him then, because he was sparring right away (i hv video of Asher sparring at 3!).
    Anyway, eight months after Ben died, i lost my job (could it get much worse?), so more major life changes… Now, among many other things, i couldn’t afford to commute 45 mins each way to Taekwondo classes. The following year we moved half way across the country to Little Rock, where i knew 1 person, because i was offered a position at the Children’s Hospital. Asher and I met Ms. Ray at the first school Asher went to. The following January (2008), after a year and a half break, I re-enrolled Asher in Taekwondo at LRMA. The rest of the story you know.
    So, when i cry each time Ms. Ray says, “on behalf of LRMA and the staff, we are proud to present you with a _______ belt”, it’s more than just an amazing personal achievement for Asher. It’s also another step for both of us in this new life that we are trying to live – another step beyond the darkness of grief and coping with loss, and in a way, it’s a spiritual connection with his Dad through his father’s love for martial arts.

    After testing Thurs night, when we got home, Asher had a little crying jag about missing his Daddy (it usually manifests itself at times when there is something major happening, and so last week we had about 3 nights of “Ben moments”). But this time, he asked me why i don’t do TKD with him? After a few moments of reflecting upon all the families that graduated, together; and Ms. Goff’s story about her journey WITH her sons in TKD, I realized where the question came from. So, i told him that i wanted him to have something that was all his own, and that this (his involvement with TKD) was all about him, that it was his spotlight and that i had my time with excelling in my chosen sport (swimming) when i was younger. He accepted my answer, but only with a promise that as soon as i can work it out logistically, that i start back into my sport (silly me, i mentioned to him that i could join Master’s Swimming if i wanted to do my sport!). So, anyway, that’s why i choose to stay in the bleachers.

    This is our story of the last 4.5 years of trials, tribulations, shattered lives and coping. I hope it helps someone. Thanks for opening the door, Ms. Ray.
    lisa

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