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Monday, November 30, 2015

Hope and Courage

The reason I felt compelled to start a blog was for two reasons: I wanted to put out in the world who I authentically was, my real self. And I wanted families to know they are not alone in their struggles.

Every Christmas season, I would send our Christmas cards to friends and family far and wide. My glowing children would be beaming on the front of a picture-perfect card, sending merry wishes and holiday hopes. This one snap shot of our life was not accurate, and I felt like I was perpetrating a cover up about what our insane life is really like on a daily basis. Yes, once in a while, our life is picture-perfect. For one millisecond here or there. For instance, last night Ben and Jonah were doing their funniest Michael Jackson impressions, with a "Ben and Jonah twist." It was hilarious. I couldn't stop cracking up. They were doing this as Ella was carefully putting her last ornament on the tree. Ella, who begged to dye the tips of her hair pink yesterday (To be like an American Girl doll she adores. Of course I couldn't refuse because how cute is that?) and looked so beautiful, thoughtfully hanging her last ornament. But most of the time it is fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants-total-chaos. I love holiday cards for the same reason I love Facebook: You can see a snapshot of what life might be like if you lived in a movie. These aren't real life moments, these are "What We Could Be Like If Everyone Cooperated And Took A Shower And Smiled At Exactly The Same Time And Didn't Try To Kill Each Other For A Split Second" pictures of our lives.

When I was young, we lived in Africa. In pretty much the bush of Africa. I grew up with extreme poverty all around me. While I had all of my needs met, African children all around me did not always have their basic needs provided for. I have always felt a sort of world consciousness. I remember being very young and crying myself to sleep many nights because I felt the weight of the world's grief and need on my shoulders. I could feel the sorrow, the unfairness, the need of those less fortunate. I still feel that weight. As idealistic and naive as it sounds, I wish I could help the entire world fix all our problems. Hunger, poverty, violence, war, loss, illness...I wish I could fix it all. I often feel powerless and insignificant in such a big, needy world. What can I do alone? Silly naive me, I can't fix the world's hurts.

But what if I could? Just one person at a time, just little by little. I won't be able to fix all the world's wounds, but I can always strive to help in any way I can. I was reminded of this over the weekend.

We have several family members who are very ill. One of these family members reached out to me, and I was so honored and humbled to be someone that she wanted to support her. There isn't much I can do to actually help her, except just keep letting her know I understand a smidgen of what she is going through. And that I am always here for her. And how I love her. And remind her how many many people all around the world are sending their healing energy and love to her family.

I started thinking about all the people who have reached out to me from far and wide since I started my blog. It's pretty incredible! I am constantly amazed, humbled, and honored to be able to share our story with people just so that they know they are not alone in their struggles. Just so they know that you can hang on to hope even in the darkest times. Old friends, new friends, people I haven't seen or spoken to in 30 years, people I saw yesterday--they all have a yearning to connect and to know they are not alone in this Crazy we call life. If I can make even just one person feel a small bit more understood or comfortable, I'm changing the world. I am always taken aback when someone says they read my blog, or were touched by what I wrote, or the same thing happened to them. I am honored and humbled. And I just feel love. I know, naive and idealistic. But that's just me. It's the way I've always been and will be until I'm a hundred and two. (I may become bitter and grumpy when I reach 103. Just warning you all.) 

When you reach out to me, it takes courage. And it helps me remember I am not alone either. My soul feels the worries of those around me who struggle, and those far away in third world countries who struggle. But my heart feels enormous bursts of love and gratitude for everyone who touches my life. I am thankful and blessed by every single person who crosses my path each day.

A friend remarked the other day "You just love everyone, don't you?" I stopped for a second to consider, because I never thought about that before. But then I said yes! Yes I do! Ok, some people irritate the crap out of me, I admit it. Putzy drivers, mean people, people who don't understand my kids, ventriloquists...but most everyone else I do love. The world needs more love.

Alex bought me a sweater this weekend that says "Let your love shine." That is totally my motto. When I saw that sweater, I knew I'd just have to wear it every day for the rest of my life. When I'm 104, you can bury me in it. It'll be threadbare, but that's ok. 

In my old age, I've realized it's ok to be who I am. It's ok to be idealistic and naive. Because isn't the world better served by love than by cynicism? I never told anyone that I used to cry because I can physically feel the sadness of the world. I haven't told anyone that sometimes I cry because I can feel the fear and stress of family members and friends who are sick, or struggling with special needs, or scared, or suffering. I know my tears don't do anything to help anyone. But with my tears come silent prayers for healing, wholeness, love, peace. Peace for the mamas I know who are struggling in so many ways. Peace for little ones who are sick or have disabilities. My tears and prayers are a deep yearning for healing in the world. 

Sometimes all I can do is be here for someone. To let them know I understand, and they are not alone. Sometimes all I can do is hold them in my heart and love them. Tragedy happens to us all, it happens every day all around the world. But you can't be defined by tragedy. You must be defined by the hope and courage that carry you through the tragedy. Sometimes hope and courage come easy. Other times you have to claw and cling to any shred of hope and courage you can find, and fight with all your might to hang on. But at least you're still hanging on. It may not be pretty and Christmas-card-worthy, but you're hanging on to hope and courage however you can, and that's what is important.

Here's to being naive and idealistic and loving everyone and healing the world one small act of kindness at a time. It's just the way I roll. 

At least until I'm 102.

1 comment:

Full Spectrum Mama said...

Cried through this whole post. I grew up partly in Panama in a very similar situation and i, too, feel the sadness so strongly. As i am on the spectrum, I've learned that I have to create boundaries just to function. But i still wouldn't give up my "naive" idealism!!!!
I have a feeling that, though you may be cranky at 103 for a brief moment, you'll spend 104 back to your dear self, and maybe with a little bonus of mild euphoria...
Thanks and love,