THIS TOO, SHALL PASS
When things are bad, remember:
It won’t always be this way.
Take one day at a time.
When things are good, remember:
It won’t always be this way.
Enjoy every great moment.
— Doe Zantamata
When I began my first real job as an adult, my boss would frequently say, “This, too, shall pass.” It became one of my favorite reminders when things got stressful. Over the years, it has served me well.
After twenty-plus years of chronic stressful situations, I have learned it is very true that everything really does eventually pass. While our lives may not ever be the same afterwards (sometimes they are better!), there is always a nugget of gold to be mined from each event.
What can I learn from this experience?
Sometimes we get so caught up in the busyness of life that we need a catastrophic event of sorts to sort of “knock us in the head”. We are brought up short, caught off guard, and sent reeling with the impact. At the time, it is painful. It feels as if life as we know it is over. We wonder, “How am I ever going to survive this?” Other times, the “event” was immensely pleasurable, making our hearts soar with love and joy. We can’t believe this has happened. We can’t believe we’ve been so lucky. (Remember the butterflies associated with spending your first “date” with the man of your dreams or hearing that you received the promotion you’ve been hoping for forever?) Whatever the experience, there is always something to learn.
What can I be grateful for in this moment?
With catastrophic events, it isn’t always easy to be grateful initially. The grief and disbelief keep us pretty focused on the hardships ahead. Once the initial shock wears off, however, we may be able to broaden our thinking.
A few years ago, one of my daughter’s was having health issues. I received a call at work from her doctor saying they wanted to do further testing … that she might not ever have children … that she might have a “syndrome”. My initial feeling was that the room was spinning. My heart sank, my mind starting thinking worse-case scenarios (She’ll never have kids? Is it my fault?), and I was heartbroken (for both her and me). Shortly thereafter, however, the following thoughts broke through my devastation: Wait a minute. This doctor doesn’t know anything at this point. She is just speculating. God is in control here. He has held my daughter in the palm of His hand since the day she was born. I am trusting HIM. Just because she may never experience pregnancy herself doesn’t mean she will never be a mother.
As the days passed, and my daughter had the recommended testing, it turned out the syndrome the doctor suspected was a false alarm, and there is nothing to suggest she will have difficulty with pregnancy. The doctor made a poor judgment call in alarming us before the fact.
In the interim, during the unbearable waiting, I prayed; and I contacted some of my best prayer warriors to ask them to pray. Prayer is a powerful thing. Until you’ve tried it and experienced it for yourself, you may not realize that. (On a side note, if you have not yet seen the movie War Room by the Kendrick Brothers, please go see it. It is such a wonderful movie!)
What is really important to me and do I need to make some adjustments?
My father always taught our family that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes catastrophic events are allowed in our lives to make us reassess our lives and figure out what is really important. After some serious soul searching, I discovered that in the big huge scheme of things, whether or not my daughter could have children one day really isn’t a “big” thing. It’s more important to me that she is happy, that her overall health is good, and she finds meaning and purpose in her life.
When my son was six years old, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. We were told the news the same day that the doctor suspected my youngest daughter might have TB. It was not a good day. My son was crying that he didn’t want to go to the hospital; my daughter was crying because she felt crummy from pneumonia (turns out she did not have the TB the x-ray alluded to). For a while that day, life as we knew it, stopped. For the next week, my husband and I lived at the hospital with our son while I learned how to care for his needs in a whole different way. (My husband has Type 1 diabetes as well, so he and my son were fine to come home sooner; but it was important that I know how to care for him, so they had us stay longer.) While my son adjusted to four insulin injections a day and at least as many finger pokes, I adjusted to giving the injections and learning how to monitor food portions and carb/protein/fat ratios. Life was never the same … not bad, just different and with more responsibility.
There were days that followed where I felt sorry for myself and our family; but the beauty of spending time at Children’s Hospital-Boston was that all around us were parents and children who, while tiptoeing through landmines of cancer and debilitating diseases, were making their way through it with smiles and grace. It put a whole new perspective on things. I didn’t have to contend with wheelchairs and IVs and ports, lengthy hospital stays, or the prospect of death; I simply had to make some minor adjustments. I’ve found that everything in life is all a matter of perspective.
In every experience we encounter in life, there is always something to learn. We learn how to think differently, how to put things into proper perspective, how to be grateful, and how to become resilient. We learn what is really important, and we discover what we are made of. We learn what is worth fighting for and what we need to let go of. We learn that life is worth living and people are worth loving. We learn that we can’t do it alone.
We still have bad days at our house, when life gets overwhelming and the responsibilities weigh us down, but amidst it all, we remember … THIS, TOO, SHALL PASS.
Walking in gratefulness …