The 4th of July, is a time for us to count our blessings, celebrate our independence and thank all those who fought for our independence.
I was thinking this weekend about something Sara wrote about the American Dream…”When we think of the American Dream we typically think about how we can better our circumstances. Our paychecks. Our house. Our car. Our status. Our appearance. And we think those things will bring happiness because we assume that the neighbor down the street who has all of these things, and appears to be happy, really is.
What we can’t see is behind their closed doors. And we certainly can’t see into their hearts.”
My sister Janette came to visit this weekend. It had been quite a while since I had seen her and I wanted so badly to be able to show her around, go out to lunch and shopping. Create memories of fun and laughter. There were 4th of July celebrations and ball games to attend.
And all I could do was rest.
I had my fifth of twelve weekly chemo treatments right before she came, and now that the treatments are weekly, I find that I am able to do less and less. My body is week, it hurts, my stomach is nauseous and I’m tired.
I thought a lot about Sara…If I was feeling this way, she had to feel so much worse on a daily basis and especially during Holidays.
“We are not put on earth merely to satisfy our desires, to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. We are here to be changed, to be made more like God in order to prepare us for a lifetime with him.” ~Philip Yancey
My perspective shifted when I remembered the above quote that Sara talked about from Philip Yancey. Whether we like it or not, sometimes being changed means living through painful circumstances.
On the surface, I wanted so badly to partake in all the events that came along with the Holiday because in my mind, it would create the memories that I envisioned for my sister and I. Sara is gone and I want to create all of what I am missing out with Sara, with my sister Janette. I have learned through losing dad and Sara so quickly, that life can be short.
Sara once again spoke to me when I was feeling down and frustrated. She reminded me of all the “I” statements in what “I” was wanting. What I need to do, is look beyond the surface of my own life and see how I can be shaped and formed and changed into images of Him.
Instead of fighting my body and lamenting on the fact that I couldn’t create the fun and laughter of a 4th of July Holiday, God made us both slow down so we could just be together. We don’t get to see each other very often because of our busy lives, so maybe it was more important for us to be together instead do together. After all, God did make us human beings, not human doings.
Sara reminded me that “through the hardest times in life, I need to stay open enough to learn that Control is an illusion. Life will do with me what it pleases, my circumstances will change, my pain will fluctuate, my health will alter at will, and the only thing I can do is stay open to letting God change me in those circumstances.
God used the circumstance of Sara’s life to help her grow and change her heart. He is doing the same for me. And more often than not, being changed hurts.
We are here to be changed, to be made more like God in order to prepare us for a lifetime with him.
Sara taught us that the only thing we can control is whether or not we open our heart. Open it to embrace our circumstances. Open it to be who He needs us to be in the here and now rather than assume happiness can come from the “if only…” and “when we get…” Open it enough to let Him in and change us here so we can be with Him there.”
When it comes down to it, I want what He wants. So, I am counting my blessings even when Life Hurts.