Adversity and the Human Spirit

Being a Mommy isn’t always easy, even under the “best” of circumstances. I am guilty of taking things for granted. Not being grateful enough. Not saying Thank You enough. Being critical of my “life” because I feel “fat” today or my “hair sucks” and I don’t feel like doing the dishes or laundry because I’ve let it pile up and now it seems insurmountable. These are the times when I think about Rachel, Mindy, and Amanda.

I’m gonna skip ahead and tell you how this post ends. Some people get sick and some die. It’s not happy or funny or anything else I typically like to post about. But you can only learn so much from happy things. There aren’t any cat videos or 90’s nostalgia lists that remind you how truly, miraculously resilient we are as human beings, or inspire you to examine your own kind of faith and what it means to you. So with that in mind, you may proceed.

You might have your own versions of Rachel, Mindy and Amanda in your life; women you know who are living through unimaginable heartbreak. It’s never easy to read about people you know living out your worst nightmares right in front of you. It feels too close for comfort. Like letting a long shiny pin get within striking distance of your balloon. I’d selfishly rather not feel sad and just bury my head in the sand drinking white wine and watching Real Housewives. I’d selfishly rather read about other, far away people I don’t know because they only exist in my mind for as long as I have my People Magazine open. When I was in college I took a literature course called Adversity and the Human Spirit about the miraculous way people survive through all kinds of…(I want to say the s-word here but it sounds rather indelicate so I’ll let you pick your own word). The holocaust. Chernobyl. Vietnam. They seem so far away. The stories were told and wrapped up neatly in books with a first page and a last page. Rachel and Mindy and Amanda are still in the middle of their stories. There’s nothing to wrap up because none of us know what’s going to happen next. Part of me wants to FLIP OUT. Like just set something on fire at the injustice that such terrible things happen to good people. But when I let that kind of chaos into my brain, I am no longer honoring the gift that these women have given us by sharing their stories. These words are gifts reminding us that even in the darkest times, life is still worth living.

The first time I read Rachel’s blog The Story of Audrey about the loss of her daughter, I almost couldn’t believe it was real. It’s like my brain wouldn’t process it. When I moved to Oklahoma as a kid, Rachel was the FIRST person who made me feel welcome. She was so kind and I’ve never forgotten it. Her perspective on faith and the meaning of her daughter’s short but powerful life is one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever read.

The first time I met Mindy was at a Tri Delta Alumnae event. I confessed that I was newly pregnant and she told me all about her two little boys and their tickle fights. I specifically remember thinking it was obvious how head-over-heels she was for her kids. You may remember her profoundly composed press conference after she was pushed into the national spotlight when her father and son were shot, chosen at random by a gunman outside the Jewish Community Center here in Johnson County. She has created something positive through her organization Faith Wins.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that Amanda from Cocktails & Chemo is one of my best friends in the world. I am constantly in awe of her strength as she raises a baby and cares for her husband (my college buddy) who has been battling cancer since shortly before their wedding.

So I invite you to read their stories, in their own words and let yourself be sad. And uncomfortable. And probably scared. But then take these stories in the spirit with which they have been given and be grateful that there are strong women out there raising strong, happy children. If you’re inspired to help someone, do it. Make things count. Say you’re sorry if you need to. Say I love you if you mean to. Be kind. Forgive. Let things go that don’t really matter.


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