I listened to a friend describe his week. Death in the extended family, a new stage-4 cancer discovery with another extended family member, conflict, uncertainty in his residence, and a job search uncertainties were the bullet points. How does one describe the content in any one of them, much less all? From my perspective, what could I say?
“I cannot imagine how you are feeling.”
At the time I was thinking something quite differently. While your bullets maybe different than his or mine, I understand how overwhelming life can be. I know this was not a competition. I could only hope that I did not make his life any more difficult.
“I hope I can help. There is enough pain and stress in life without anyone of us adding more to the pile.”
As we talked, I wondered if there was any reminder that I could leave him with. At the time I did not realize that I was paraphrasing Paul’s advice generations earlier; “give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.” (1 Corinthians 16.14)
“My only two cents is that you and I need to resolute; always acting with intentional compassion and love. Do this, and the best of life will follow.”
I do not think I was insightful. I see my response as one born from a desperate grasp on Hope. I was not sure how much I could help, but my fear of what might happen if either of us gave up was tangible. Giving up always gives birth to ugliness and despair. One may not always win, but one can always strive to make things better.
I have come to realize that my heroes have all gone through life’s worst. Even more than the traits of leadership, courage, and discipline, I am beginning to see that it was their endurance that I admire most. Each struggled against impossible odds. They did not do it because they believed it would bring great glory. They did it because they were alive and wanted to live with compassion and love.