It's Valentine’s Day...Don't Take The Bait
People say all the time, “I don’t know how you do it.” They want to know how one thrives in the midst of facing an all consuming diagnosis that radically reorients your world. My answer is straightforward. It is all about that voice that is running in the background of your mind. It is incredibly powerful, shaping your life, personality and mental toughness. That voice will make you or break you...especially in the midst of an ongoing sadness you can’t control. It can make your heart cold and your soul bitter. But it doesn’t have to. So here is my answer to how I “do it.”
I stay away from the “why” questions. Those drive people crazy. Those are the unanswerable ones. That question is a trap. Don’t take the bait. Walk away.
I stay away from the "what if" questions. Those make you live as if life has sliding doors. It does not. An alternate version of your life does not exist. This is your portion. For better or worse, it is your unique, never to happen again, precious life.
I prefer to lean into the “what is the lesson here" questions. Those questions make people wiser. Those make people beautiful on the inside. Savoring the lesson that is embedded in every hardship makes people able to see patterns of redemption and providence in an imperfect and disease ridden world.
So we have to practice getting that voice under control. Tell it who is boss. Tell it how to process the world. Teach it to see the lessons; the beauty of life that is right before your eyes. Train your mind to focus on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable. If anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about these things.
This will not save you from the deep emotional agony that comes with loss. This will not prevent the lump in your throat and the tears that spill out at the most unexpected moments. It will help you cope with the reality that sometimes things are out of your control. After years of getting that voice in check and focusing your mind and heart on all those excellent things, you will surprise yourself with stamina and emotional wealth. You’ll feel a heart that is (more often than not) filled with gratitude and joy...even at moments bursting with love. A heart that is full of all those praiseworthy things has little room for the dark demons of self-pity.
And the very best news of all is we do not have to do this alone. For the stunning truth is this: the One who is Love is there to rejoice over us with singing; to welcome us to the banquet table of abundance as His beloved. Only He can give you a new heart… a new spirit within you. Even in the reality of life’s stinging pain, He can remove your heart of stone and give you a beautiful and generous heart of flesh.
On this day of love may you feel cherished. May you feel alive from your head to your toes. May your heart of flesh be so full of love that it spills out blessings on all those you know.
No matter the diagnosis. No matter the heartbreaking unknowns.
Today and every day, step out in love.
Happy Valentine’s Day.