No way out but through…

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No way out but through…

I’m in an odd stage of life. My parents and their peers, these people who have loved me so well, are, I hate to say it, coming to the end of their life. My phone calls with my parents have, for years now, included this dialogue: “Remember Mr. So-and-so? He passed away last week.” It got to the point where I wasn’t really sure how to reply even. Some of these folks are dearly beloved by my sister and me but some of them carried just a vague impression of a business-like man-in-a-suit or prim-and-vaguely-disapproving-woman and beyond, “I’m really sorry,” or “that’s sad,” I had run out of original and compassionate things to say. Fast-forward to 2013 and I have somehow become part of the process, not just a bystander on the phone. My dear friend lost her dearly-loved grandmother at the end of the year. Another friend lost her mom in January. The wonderful man who drove our carpool for my entire school career had a debilitating stroke in January. My favorite uncle passed away in March. These are not anomalies. These are the people that a few years ago I would have said, “They lived for 80 years. They lived a good life.” But now I am aghast at my flippant and casual response. And as I look at the coming days and weeks and months, perhaps years, I realize that we are in for a difficult few years. And there is no way out but through.

One of my life rules is that I don’t want to criticize or even, in this case, write about something hard without finding some kind of redemption…some lesson learned, some strategy to recommend, some comfort to share…which is why this has been on my mind for months without ever writing about it. There’s enough hard stuff in the world without me piling on and saying it’s going to be hard so get ready. There is, in fact, some value to that simple exercise I think but it is not the source of hope or learning I feel committed to. So I haven’t written. I’ve just thought about it and wondered what in the world “getting ready” would even look like. How does one do that? Are other 44 year old’s intrinsically “ready” to be the oldest?

So while I don’t have all the answers, (honestly, don’t even have the answers I need!) here is what I do have: a quote from the book, The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown. (An excellent and quick read, incidentally.)

There is one guarantee: If we’re not practicing gratitude and allowing ourselves to know joy, we are missing out on the two things that will actually sustain us during the inevitable hard times.

So while there is still no way out but through, there is an action I can take now for those unavoidable hard-things in my not-so-distant future: I can embrace joy and practice gratitude now so they are fully developed habits by the time I am in the midst of those hard times.

What about you? What are the hard situations you face and how do you prepare for them? Are there intentional and purposeful ways that you pursue joy and practice gratitude? How about you parental types? Are these habits you’re building into your family lives? I’d love to hear what you do!

 

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2 responses »

  1. This song comes to mind…. if I can attach the actual song to an email I’ll send it to you! 🙂 We heard Carolyn tell this story in person and it was so awesome! I hope I can post all of this on here but if it works, be sure to read the bottom where she explains why/how she wrote this song! I LOVE THIS!!!! 🙂

    Carolyn Arends – Getting Ready For Glory!

    She’s had 80-some years, most of them good
    But she’s not gonna be here much longer
    Now the body gets weak like she knew it would
    But the Spirit just keeps getting stronger
    She’s got her Bible and hymn book beside her
    She’s storing those psalms and old songs up inside her

    She’s getting ready, she’s getting ready
    She’s getting ready for glory
    She’s getting ready, she’s getting ready
    She’s getting ready for glory

    She knows all of the verses to How Great Thou Art
    And her soul, it doth magnify often
    And she’s gonna keep learning the Scriptures by heart
    Till the day she is laid in her coffin
    She wants to be sure when the angels come take her
    That she’s got some greetings for meeting her Maker

    Chorus

    She will tell us if we’ll only listen
    It’s not about dying, it’s all about living
    And whether you’re young or the end’s getting near
    There’s just one reason why God has us here

    We’re getting ready, we’re getting ready
    We’re getting ready for glory
    We’re getting ready, we’re getting ready
    We’re getting ready for glory

    We’ll sing it by heart…How Great Thou Art
    Until the day we see your face…

    C 2004 Songs of Peer, Ltd / Mr. Marley’s Music (ASCAP)

    About the Song

    A couple of years ago I had the extreme pleasure of touring Canada with two of my heroes – Steve Bell and Bob Bennett. They are both such great songwriters and storytellers, I was beside myself with admiration and inspiration the whole time.

    One night, in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Steve was about to sing an old hymn, and by way of introduction he told a story about his grandmother. He explained that once, during a visit with her, it occurred to him that most days (when she didn’t have company) she must be spending a lot of time by herself. He started to feel bad about that, I guess, because he asked her, “Gee, Nanny, what are you doing with your time these days?”

    She replied that she was actually quite busy, learning as many Psalms and great old hymns as possible, preparing for Glory.

    I was blown away by her answer and couldn’t stop thinking about how right she had it – that however much time any of us have left, we should be busy doing “our homework”, getting ready for the life that is to come. All the way home on a plane to Vancouver the next day, that story kept running through my brain, and pretty soon a song started to develop.

    I tried to stop the song, of course – everyone knows you don’t steal another songwriter’s grandmother! But the song wouldn’t go away, and by the time we landed it was done. I emailed Steve and explained what happened asked if I could, um, borrow his grandmother. He very graciously said that I could.

    A particular thrill was having Steve and his daughter record the song for their own project (available at http://www.stevebell.com). My version features a group of good friends on the final Choruses – including some of the fine folks of Blue Mountain Baptist, with whom I gather any given Sunday that I’m home.

  2. Mrs. Laui,
    Thank you for sharing a beautiful song. Just yesterday I asked my youngest daughter to hold me accountable to health and the Word as I age. I will share this song with her.

    Nancy,
    Gratitude comes freely when I read good text from friends like you and when I hang with my short people. A midst daily tasks and in tough conversation I can forget the Way.

    Many blessings to you and to your friend Mrs. Laui today.

    Love,
    Jana

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