Today’s daily devotion from Brennan Manning’s Reflections for Ragamuffins couldn’t have possibly hit me more directly than it did today:
Concretely, abandonment to the will of God consists of finding his purpose for you in all the people, events, and circumstances you encounter. If God tears up your beautiful game plan and leads you into a valley instead of onto a mountaintop, it is because he wants you to discover his plan, which is more beautiful than anything you or I could have dreamed up. The response of trust is “Thank you, Jesus,” even if it is said through clenched teeth.
Looking back, now, on the journey that I endured as the primary caregiver for my dad during his two year battle with brain cancer, it is much easier to identify many of the moments along the way when I could’ve made a better decision or taken a different course of action than I did at the time. The common thread woven through each of those moments was my own constant subconscious desire to achieve some level of relief from the constant flow of pressure, fear, and anxiety that I was experiencing each day. Had I been less preoccupied with my own discomfort, I could’ve better provided for the needs of my dad during the darkest days of his life. Thankfully, and the grace of God, I’m confident in saying that my Dad was able to experience a notable level of support from myself, as well as others around him, despite my faults. But, if I had been less preoccupied with my own plans to put out the brush fires that I thought were most important, from my perspective at the time, I would’ve likely been able to comfort and shield him more from the pain that he was experiencing.
I’ve come to this realization this morning because, all too frequently, the issue of being too absorbed in my own personal sense of what I deserve at a given moment continues to plague the life that I think I ought to be able to live. Its far too easy for me, in a given moment, to get hung up on a moment or a particular incident and, in doing so, lose sight of the big picture and react in a manner that undermines the grace that has been shown to me by my friends, my family, and my God.
The lesson learned here, in simple terms, is to, first and foremost, trust God, but, also to count my blessings, always love others the way I would want to be loved, and to not take the people in my life for granted. Perhaps, by His grace, this can be the new constant thread running through the moments that make up the days of my life.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Your journey with your dad was incredible in my view as an outsider looking in. There are not many men out there that are willing to give of themselves like you did to help your dad through his end of life health issues and obstacles. We all want to do more, or at least that is how I think we should all feel. Unfortunately we don’t always know what more is, as we are pushing through those very difficult years,
months, days, hours and minutes.
I also know you have a wonderful and dedicated wife that was right by your side doing everything that she could do as she was trying to press on with her own education, which by the way, was totally amazing to me how she was doing all that she was doing. Of course, I know and you have told me on many occasions, how supportive and helpful your in-laws were along that journey.
As a friend of yours, I know myself and others that I have talked with, that I / they often felt as though my/their hands were tied and I didn’t know how to best support you and your family through that very difficult time in all of your lives. But, I do know that the most important thing is that we were all doing what we thought was right and following through with our God given gifts by taking care of each other by loving our neighbors as ourselves. And, of course along the way, learning and remembering how valuable time and life really are in all of our lives.