"Accept what you cannot change and courage to change the things you can." I learned the Serenity Prayer as a child and this deliberative practice that is centered around perspective, acceptance, and choice remains to be one of my most effective tools for maintaining a healthy and balanced life. It has empowered me to develop the resiliency to endure chronic illness, grief, and trauma. More importantly, it has allowed me to have healthier relationships. Some days, I excel at this practice and other days require tremendous effort. I'm grateful for my God who freely gives grace and love to us so I may offer both to myself and others. As grace and love are both within personal control, even on the bad days. I wrote the reflection below after a bad day in our CO-OP outreach in 2015. Although life has significantly changed since then, the practice remains the same.
February 5, 2015
Today, was three weeks since Amy was healed and passed on and Tuesday was 2 weeks since losing Darren. I spent the morning at our CO-OP serving those experiencing food insecurity and thinking of how the best way to help yourself is to help others. I spent the late morning and all afternoon dealing with my stolen iPhone that disappeared half way through the CO-OP hours. It was seriously a situation of wondering what I have done lately to upset Karma after yelling "Fu**ing Sh*t!". My phone had a plethora of work information, music, and most importantly pictures of Amy, Darren, and our wedding. I had not updated it since before they both passed.
I know who most likely is the thief and also know their judgment was clouded by their drug addiction. I know that my iPhone is now located in the heroin hub of downtown Bakersfield where it would be dangerous to track down without police assistance. I know that I have to forgive them and continue helping them get sober if they ask for it. After we deal with this stolen iPhone of course.
Jay and I joke about how our roles leading the CO-OP and Youth Group are both blessings and massive curses to us as we handle losing my sister and one of our best friends within 5 days of each other. I’m throwing this phone incident into the pile too. It is a blessing because of the grace, support, and prayers of our phenomenal community. A curse because we now have to practice what we preach rather than completely losing it as we want to. Our mantra with both groups is that although we cannot control everything that happens to us, we do control how we react. Accept what you cannot change and change the things you can.
We choose to face our grief head on. We choose to acknowledge our anger and depression and then handle our emotions accordingly. We are choosing to find peace with the fact that Amy and Darren are both now fully healed and at peace. We can choose to make proactive and positive decisions to honor their lives with our health and actions. We can choose to forgive and let go of negative emotions. We are intentionally loving other humans and animals with the equal respect they deserve. We are continuously giving thanks and praise for our time with two incredible human beings even though it wasn't nearly as much time as we would like. Sometimes it is very difficult to put one foot in front of the other after losing loved one but we have to because we are all still here.
Sometimes life sucks but you can choose how you react to it. It is hard for me to convey my appreciation for the continued love and support. It is because of the kindness of others that we are able to get through the past month.