"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade."
Life really can throw a sour punch our way from time to time. Recently I have discovered life can throw grenades too! And while this quote has served me well in the past as a great reminder to make the most of troubling times, I recently have doubted its weight. In the past few months, my family has been hit with some shattering circumstances. Perhaps I felt as though "making lemonade" just wasn't going to cut it.
Something more substantial comes to mind:
"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil..."
But I have come to realise, these quotes both illustrate essentially the same thing.
Life can be excruciating. It can suck the breath out of you, then kick you while you are down. It is in these moments, in the "darkest valleys" that we can make one of two choices. We can either stay down and focus on our problems, or we can get back up, and take ACTION. Be that making lemonade or fearing no evil, it is all about the call to action!
Two months after my Grandfather passed away in May this year, I found out that his wife -my beautiful Nan- has cancer, with a matter of months left. About two weeks later, on what seemed like just a normal afternoon, the phone rang. Mum was on the other end, and I just knew something wasn't right. I was sort of expecting bad news after all that had happened. She then tells me that my two-year-old niece -Evie- has cancer also. Screaming into the phone, crying out in disbelief, I was broken from it all, and inconsolable for a while after the phone call ended. I had lost my will to get back up after such a huge blow... I just didn't have the strength to push back the darkness. It was closing in all around me, and I could hardly breathe.
A normal response to a horrific situation, yes... But not the sort of place you want to stay in. Right then, I could easily see myself sliding down the slippery slope to depression. But I was pleasantly surprised with what I chose to do in the face of such gruelling details! It took me some time to find my feet, but once I did, I felt something rise up inside. I was reminded that sometimes you need to do MORE than just recite a positive saying to help lift you out of the funk. Sometimes it takes a little faith and some fight in your spirit, to push back the darkness.
It takes ACTION.
After my tear-drenched pillow dried and I felt the numbness slightly start to fade, I shook off the debris from the blast, and set myself in motion. Everyday I see myself putting on the armour, ready to go to battle. And it is the small things I find myself doing that make the biggest difference to my own ability to cope and how I contribute to the fight. It is the way I make myself available to the family for support and practical help. It is the way I pray when I am in my own home, feeling broken and withered. It is the way I speak out against the darkness, so I don't feel defeated. It is the way I put on my running shoes and don't come back until I feel peace, to help relieve the stress and anxiety. It is the way I count every blessing, to find the joy when I need to re-energise and recoup. It is the way I try to stay emotionally consistent for my husband, and give him the space he needs after he attends to my brokenness... Although I am still working on that one.
And the most important thing I have learnt over the years, is to never try to do it in your own strength. Gather the army to fight with you. Stir up your faith and bring the power of the support of many into the situation. I now have over 100 people on an email list, all of whom want to be updated on Evie, to pray for and support the family.
Two weeks into Evie's diagnosis, I still feel crippled, my heart physically aches and at times I don't know how to escape the dark feelings in those moments. But it isn't long before I start shuffling my feet, and winding my arm up for the punch. It is ok to fight while you are beaten down. It is ok to fight with tears streaming down your face. In fact, it is in those moments that your passion takes you further than you thought possible.
It is about squeezing more out of yourself. More out of life. You know there is more, you have to believe there is more. Find the hope and hold on. Do what it takes to be the best you can be in the worst conditions. And in order to be fit for the fight, you have to take care of yourself. You have to be more than you are in this moment. But you can only do that if you reach for more.
I have discovered I want to be the sort of person who can take the hit, fall down, get back up and never be the same. There are lessons to learn in every hardship, and character building opportunities in every dark valley. I am learning that we all have what it takes, as long as we are willing. The years of hard work towards renewing my mind, finding self-respect, cultivating a genuine love for myself and those around me, and working on my character is a testament to that. You never know when you'll need the result of all your hard work in the fire of life. And it isn't until you are walking through that fire that you have any idea what it feels like, and what sort of sacrifices it requires.
Our family is now on a long road through the fire. We won't have it easy over the next two years, but we are all willing to do what it takes. No matter what the outcome, our faith will see us through. And we will believe the best is yet to come.
Be inspired for MORE!
Love Heids Xx