Grace Through the Storms
As the month of October is coming to an end I can’t help but reflect on all that has happened in the last two years. You see, two years ago on October 18, 2012, we lost my mother-in-law to lung cancer. She was diagnosed in April of that year and had spent the last six months of her life in and out of hospitals. As one of her caregivers, I got to witness something extraordinary — the grace that someone can have when faced with unfathomable circumstances.
Fast forward to October 18, 2013, on the one-year anniversary of her passing, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I remember sitting in the doctor’s office and hearing them say “Yeah, I see this type of thing all the time and a majority of the time it is nothing, but do you see this little pen dot there? That pen dot concerns me so we will need to do further testing, but I don’t think you have anything to worry about.” Little did they know that the storms that were once stirring at sea were about to come crashing onto my shore of life like a raging hurricane, all because of something as small as a pen dot.
I admit that when I started this journey that I would be that person, that woman that was strong, that despite the obstacles that lay before her would look into the eyes of the unknown without blinking and bolt into its darkness. I would be the woman that handles everything with grace and confidence as if this pesky disease was nothing more than a flittering gnat that could be swiped away at the draw of a hand. I would be a gladiator of sorts, inspiring others to be bold, be relentless and take no prisoners. Well I’m not going to lie, I am far from being THAT woman. Instead I am human.
I wasn’t as diplomatic in this process as I thought I would have been as I was practically being dragged kicking and screaming to my treatments. Threatening my doctors that I was going to quit after the side effects of each treatment got worse. Thank god they didn’t let me. I found myself shying away from the forces of the unknown that stared me down, hoping they would pass me over giving me more time to gather my strength to fight again. I got knocked down, beat up and have the scars to show, but I kept standing because I knew that even though this disease seems like a giant, all it really is are all my fears bundled together. I also knew that if I stand up to it long enough it will eventually start to lose its power and its force, it will dissipate from pure exhaustion of fighting a fight it will never win. A fight against the power of the human spirit.
I may not have been as diplomatic as I would have liked, I may have thrown myself a few pity parties here and there, but there was one thing that helped me maintain my confidence and my courage no matter what happened. That one thing was HANDLE EVERYTHING WITH GRACE.
Grace was my anchor that gave me the stability I needed to be able to go with the flow of whatever was going on, to not get caught up in the “what ifs” and just be in the moment. It is very easy for our circumstances to cause us to drift as their waves of difficulties batter us back and forth, much like a ship stuck at sea. If we are not careful they can cause us to let go of those things that matter most to us, to our hopes and to our dreams until one day they are no longer there. I was determined to hold on.
“The safest thing to do when we get into a storm is to drop our anchors and just be still.” –Rick Warren
How handling everything with Grace changed my life:
Courage: I now understand what courage really is, that it isn’t about not being afraid, real courage is being afraid but still moving forward.
Humility: It taught me the value of humility and learning to lean on others. I’ve always been the one that others have leaned on and even the strongest oak upon the weight of all it bears will fall to the ground if there is nothing there to hold it up. My faith, my family, my friends are what keep me grounded and keep me standing tall.
Take it slow: It taught me the value of taking one day at a time. There will always be trouble ahead, but focusing on tomorrow can cause you to miss all that is wonderful about this day, the only day we know we have. My pastor once said that there is a difference between being busy and being hurried. Being busy is having a lot of things to get done, being hurried is a condition of the soul that reveals itself as unrest and anxiety. Sometimes we go straight into action as our will and our minds move us faster than our soul can react. If you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed maybe it’s because your soul is telling you “you are moving too fast-wait for me”.
Staying present: You see we are all telling ourselves a story and we allow that to become our reality. If we stop comparing our present moment to the past or to the future, then our present moment is perfect.
Find value in the little things: It taught me the value in the little things in life, like a walk in the sunshine, a simple laugh that comes from the belly, waking up from a good night’s sleep without any pain, being able to enjoy a good meal without worrying whether it will make me sick, enjoying a banana split with my husband, sweet kisses from my kitten and someone there to say “everything is going to be alright, I’m here for you.”
The most important lesson that handling everything with grace taught me is that “We are not a victim of our circumstances, but rather we are a victim of our mindset.”
Our happiness is a choice that we make for ourselves. We often times find ourselves stuck in old patterns and habits. Bronnie Ware portrays in her book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying the overwhelming regret of the decisions they made or didn’t make that let them to a life of un-fulfillment.
“The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”
As I move forward towards my dreams I vow to myself to never take another day for granted and to always grace through the storms. Here is my vow that I publicly profess:
“I, Kathy Roman, take this life, to live in its fullest, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”
Kathy Roman, Director of Dreams
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