This has been one of my favorite quotes since my life took a detour decades ago. I learned, first-hand, how tragedy has a way of bringing you to your knees while showing you how strong you can be.
In the midst of intense grief, I was focused on just one thing: being fully immersed in getting through my days without falling apart every moment. It was the most present I had ever been.
And it happened again when cancer struck.
My life was narrowed down to the basics: cancer treatments, rest, friends, and work. The rest became inconsequential as I focused on becoming well again, working at my job every chance I could to keep my financial head above water, being with friends when I felt up to it, and resting as much as I needed to.
Just tonight as I was driving around town running errands, I felt immensely grateful for being able to fill up my tank of gas and buy groceries without worrying about how much money I have in the bank. I am reminded often how some people in my circle live paycheck-to-paycheck so I don't take my ability to spend money lightly.
I felt grateful for having the stamina and energy to run into several stores while someone in my life has been newly-diagnosed with cancer, and another friend will be finding out this week if she will be facing the same fate.
My life is full and busy and alive. I move through my work days with barely a moment to sit down, I rush home to get to yoga on time, I eat on the run and I have so much energy, it's hard to imagine that cancer had ever slowed me down.
And while I wouldn't wish cancer on my worst enemy, I do believe that experiencing a difficult life event brings so much growth and too many goodies to ignore. I don't pity the person who has to face any tragic event, though I do offer bucket loads of empathy and help. I will sit in the trenches with anyone who needs a friend, some company, or a shoulder to cry on.
But I don't usually wish the tragedy to bid adieu because I know, in so many ways, how a tragic event shows you what you're made of. It crushes you, brings you to your knees, then slowly lifts you up until you're able to see yourself for the truth of who you are.
You are made powerful. You are made strong. You are made to conquer and live, really live.
And each time my life has brought me to my knees, I have been grateful for the opportunity to become more of myself again.
And while I am full of gratitude that my life is big and busy, I also miss the simplicity of my life when I was wholly present on just a few simple things.
I also miss the closeness and intimacy I felt with God. In '96, I felt His presence in my home, in my heart, and in my life. He was uber-present and real.
When cancer showed up just shy of two years ago, I looked high and low for him again, but was disappointed to realize that I was alone in my experience of cancer. It wasn't until I looked around, day after day, and saw how friends, family, co-workers, and strangers kept showing up for me as I healed.
It was only then that I recognized God again. He'd been there all along, vibrantly showing himself in the smiles, hugs, meals, tears and comfort my tribe had been providing for me while I was healing.