I was walking my usual exercise route when one of my neighbors who I had not seen in a while came out of her house. She stopped abruptly and took a double take and said: “Oh My! What’s wrong? You’ve lost a lot of weight. I almost didn’t recognize you”. To which I laughed and replied, “I have been working with a nutritionist and have lost about 34 lbs. and I’m feeling great”.
She said that was remarkable and thought for sure I was sick. I laughed again and said, “No it was intentional”. She then proceeded to tell me that I needed new bras because as old women we tend to have sagging breasts and don’t support our breasts enough. I smiled and told her I had 16 more pounds to go and would indeed be investing in a new “harnesses” when I reached my goal weight.
As I continued on my morning walk, I was impacted by the negativity of that conversation. Why do we assume the worst, seeing only what is still wrong or needs “fixing”? Can we not celebrate what is good and accept that life is a process to enjoy, learn and grow?
And regarding “the girls”, frankly, they have been heading south of the border since my late twenties. After nursing a child, a lumpectomy, breast lymphedema, and open heart surgery I admit “the girls” aren’t looking too good. While I do my best with what is available on the market, harnessing them requires a breast crane that hasn’t been invented yet. Any ideas? And that’s not the only thing heading south. My eyelids need clothes pins to keep them open, I have bat wings for arms (I prefer to see them as angel wings), and the skin on my body looks like I have been gift wrapped in crepe paper. It’s both fascinating and frightening. But considering the alternative to all that has transpired I’m okay with the landscape.
I feel God blessed me with this conversation because it got me to thinking about how attitude affects our living and whether or not I spend too much time looking at the beasts in my life. I must admit that I tend to be critical and have often spent time licking my wounds, and seeing the “have nots”. But if I dwell only on the negative in my life than I lose the ability to see the good things that are often present among the strife. Friends, a church home, a husband of 41 years, and a happily married daughter who is married to a man I consider a son and two adorable grandsons; all remind me daily of the blessings of the cycle of life and living. If I dwell on the negative it threatens to rule my heart, color my world grey and deaden my soul. It also threatens to color the world of people I come in contact with. It is my choice as to how I act and react in this life. I choose to be a survivor, a child of Christ, God’s instrument, making my way to eternity leaning on my faith and Christ to show me the way. I choose not to see the mudslides and avalanches in my life as a negative or as permanent but more as fertilizer and compost in which to survive, grow, and even thrive. It is what is needed to make dry soil turn into a lush lawn in which to work, play and rest. It is what I need to make the beauty in my life stand out all the more. It’s not what has been done to me; it’s what I have been able to do and who I have become because of what has happened in my life.
My “take away” from this conversation is not to adopt the negativity my neighbor offered me that day. Rather, I prayed for God to change her heart so that she might see less of the beasts in life and more of the beauty that surrounds her. If you are like my neighbor, I pray that through God you begin to see the plethora of positives amidst the myriad of life’s mayhem. Seek out the gifts God presents throughout your day-a balmy breeze in the midst of Florida summer, a sunrise or sunset, the spontaneous hug of a child, a co-workers help on a project, or the kindness of a stranger. When you start looking for them, you will find them. Beauty brings vibrant color to your world; and the beasts begin to fade to grey-scale.
Yes, life can be both beastly and beautiful. May God give us grace and gratitude to see them both.