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As I'm closing in on sixty, I'm finding that more of my friends are experiencing significant medical issues. I'm becoming increasingly aware of the need to take care of, and pay attention to, my body. I'm acutely aware that we shouldn't take our health for granted. It doesn't take much to throw bodily functions out of whack! I am trying to watch what I eat, and am making an intentional effort to exercise more, in order to postpone all the ailments I can! I recently saw this quote:
"Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it."
This quote reminds me that our attitude determines how we experience everything, and we CHOOSE our own attitudes! It also reminds me that sometimes our trials are meant to shape us and "prune" us. If we don't have some trials, we'll miss out on a lot of lessons! I'm trying to approach every situation with humor, and I'm finding that I'm laughing at myself a lot!
Praying to be fearless, and to conquer pain, are bold and scary prayers! I'm sure we'd all rather pray for protection and no pain, instead of praying about how to face danger and deal with pain! However, once we find ourselves in situations we cannot change quickly, we will be better served by considering how to deal with our circumstances, instead of whining, or railing against them!
I shared the Tagore's quote with my friend, Sheila, who is facing her FOURTH bout of cancer. The quote spoke to her, too. Sheila wrote of the quote, "I like this. Let me be FEARLESS!!!"
Although we can't control everything that happens to us, we can decide that we won't allow negative circumstances to cause us to react negatively! We need to determine positive steps we can take, in every situation, and move forward, one step at a time.
My high school classmate, Steve, had a heart attack, which required a stent, last week. When I reached him by phone 4 days later, his attitude epitomized what I hope mine would be, should I find myself facing similar circumstances!
Steve was positive, optimistic, and doing what he could to get better. He accepted his temporary restrictions, and physical limitations, as necessary for his progress. I felt confident enough about Steve's decisiveness, and prognosis of a complete recovery, that I jokingly told him he'd "better not die on me, because we're having our class reunion at your place in September."
He replied, "If I die, just prop me up by the juke box, and party on!" That seemed fearless to me as well! He was extremely grateful that his wife had recognized that the severity of his symptoms required immediate help. Steve was marveling that he'd been transported by "Life Flight" to have emergency surgery for a stent, when he'd been feeling "perfectly fine," and eating lunch, just prior to the episode. Steve was facing all kinds of restrictions on his activities, but Steve was not focusing on anything negative. He was remaining positive, and looking forward!
Over and over, I've seen friends overcome dire prognoses, to live longer, healthier, and happier lives than anyone could imagine, because of their faith in God's Sovereignty over their situations. My friends didn't let the way things appeared affect their faith that their circumstances were part of God's plans. Those optimistic friends believed that regardless of how bleak things seemed, God could turn things around! Time and again, God performed miracles! Even in situations when no miracles were forthcoming, my positive and "fearless" friends experienced more peace and less pain, than less positive friends.
Let's start practicing for our "old age," as well as for Eternity! Let's live each day with a sense of gratitude for our blessings, and let's look for the blessings in every circumstance! Let's approach our "problems" with ideas for solutions, instead of letting our problems overwhelm us. Let's try to always have hope! Let's be sure we follow Reinhold Niebuhr's Serenity Prayer, to "Accept the things !/we cannot change, and change the things I/we can!"
Let's take it a step beyond choosing to have attitudes that are positive and grateful. Let's purposefully pursue, and spread, joy and laughter! After all, laughter is purportedly great medicine, and, it's contagious! May our upbeat attitudes create an epidemic of joy and laughter, that infects everyone around us!