“If you were to die today, what would others say about you?
What was in you that was beautiful, that was Christlike, that helped others to pray better?
Face yourself, with Jesus at your side, and do not be satisfied with just any answer.”
Mother Teresa from her book of Essential Wisdom.
What is in you? Inside your heart and soul. The place that holds your deepest thoughts, regrets, pains, suffering and joy.
Today is Thanksgiving and I am sitting here at my computer writing this at 4:45 am with tears running down my face. So why can’t I sleep and why am I sitting here writing when I should be resting before this long day? Because I’m heartbroken. Something has broken my heart and I feel like lashing out, taking revenge, spewing hateful words and trying to shake sense into some people. But, I can’t and I won’t because I need to set a good example for my children and try to be Christlike. My girls need to know their Mother is someone who always tries to do the right thing even though it might be the most painful thing in the world. The process of trying to be beautiful inside is the hardest thing in the world. It is a constant challenge and something you need to think about all day, everyday. And how do we know if we are doing the right thing? I don’t know? I look to God for guidance but his answer isn’t always clear to me.
Sometimes I do something I imagine will be greeted with affection and yet just the opposite happens. Was my assessment wrong, were my intentions misguided? Was I really trying to show love or was I lying to myself and really doing something I knew would cause another to be angry?
This is something I really struggle with because I have no control over other people and that is the hardest lesson in the world. Learning can be painful and you would think after taking care of Tiara for 16 years I would have learned that other people’s actions are out of my control, but I haven’t. I haven’t because when I couldn’t get a doctor to do what I thought was best for Tiara, I wouldn’t stop pleading until she got what I thought she needed or I would change my course of action. Their actions were out of my control, so I would go around them. Find another doctor, nurse, teacher, therapist, caretaker to help me help Tiara. This always worked.
As I grieve the loss of Tiara, I am reminded that she made me who I am today. And for that, I am truly grateful and thankful on this day. Her 16 years on this Earth was a gift. Her love, her violence, her seizures, her hospital visits, her inability to adapt to situations, places or certain people constantly taught me what life is all about. Finding that place in your heart to show compassion, patience, unconditional love and acceptance. She made me a better mother, wife and person. Without her I may have ended up like so many people I see in our society. People who only focus on the external aspects of life. I may have never learned to have compassion for those who are different than me. I could have turned angry, bitter and worst of all, jealous. I despise jealously more than any other emotion. I think it is the root of all evil, I avoid it at all costs.
I was challenged daily taking care of Tiara, but I refused to give up. Taking care of her was beyond hard and I still don’t know how I did it at times but what I do know is she put me on the path to making my heart beautiful. I still have so much work to do but because of her I know it is the reason for living. What is my biggest challenge is trying to make my heart beautiful? Accepting what is beyond my control.
I know I can’t control others actions and it isn’t my job to control others, but how do I stop trying? When I see someone doing something I know is harmful and painful to others yet I can’t make them see it from my point of view, what do I do? Do I give up? Accepting I can’t change people’s thoughts and values feels like giving up. This concept is very confusing for me.
I spend time reading the Bible each day trying to figure out how to live this life. How to do better. How to be a person of character so when I do die, I will find myself next to Tiara, not wishing I could make my way to her. Once we die, that’s it. We have no more time to fix anything.
I read this passage about love often because it reminds me of what love truly means. People are always saying ” I love you” but do they really love you?
Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
As I read this passage again, I know I don’t always love according to this definition. I keep records of being wronged. I try to forgive and forget and just when I think I have succeeded the thoughts pop back up. And I have to keep trying to extinguish them.
Do I always demand my own way from those I hold dear to me? Probably. “My own way” meaning, I expect honesty, integrity, kindness, compassion and overall good character from those I hold dear. So you see I am a character perfectionist, which isn’t good. It’s not my job to judge other people’s character except when determining who I want have in my life. Because ultimately who you spend your time with reflects who are you and what you value. So for that reason we do have to make some judgements.
So my hope for you today is you will be patient, kind, and compassionate as you get on the road to visit your family and friends. That you will remember we are all learning and far from perfect so when someone acts bad or inappropriate at your Thanksgiving celebration remember, we don’t know what it is like to walk in their shoes. We don’t know what it feels like to be them. Maybe it is really hard? Maybe they need help? Always try show empathy for others because then you will be on the path to truly loving.