If I had to name the top 10 most influential people in my adult life, there is one person who would certainly be at the top of the list. She was a spiritual mentor, a life coach, an encourager (this word flags as misspelled, but I like it so it stays), and a partner in my creative endeavors.
She was a pastor at a church that I used to attend. As our relationship developed, she learned that I was an artist – although at that time I was just somebody who made stuff. She started sharing her sermon plans with me and I started to create art that illustrated the sermon. Some of it was pretty bad, but she hung it on the wall anyway. Eventually, it got better and she hung that too.
Sometimes she would come to me with a sermon and verse and we would find that I had already started the canvas that went with it.
I would sit and draw her sermons on Sundays. It’s how I learned that art is my form of worship…a lesson that I still value today. I did a complete book of sermon drawings for her. When I visited her a month or so ago, I saw that it sits on her hearth along with some other things that she treasures.
We rarely see each other any more as we live on opposite side of Austin. Though our lives no longer intersect as they once did something interesting is starting to happen.
I faithfully read her postings on Caring Bridge as she chronicles her experiences with metastatic Stage IV colon cancer. Lately, her posts are becoming more and more applicable and relative to my life – just as her sermons often seemed to be written just for me.
A couple of days ago she wrote something that inspired my post, “Doors”, which turned out to be one of the most popular things I’ve ever written here. Don’t worry, I’m not going to get a “big head”. By popular, I mean that more than 10 people read it. It’s all relative, right. I favor quality over quantity any day.
Today, she wrote about going through the interview process to try and get selected for a clinical trial of a new treatment. Although our situations are totally different and I would never try to compare my struggles with hers – when I read the words she had written about being overwhelmed, I could identify with her completely.
First, it put the circumstances of my life right now in perspective. I’ve reminded myself that the problems that I am facing are manageable and most likely solvable. The challenges to come are not insurmountable.
Second, her words helped me gain my footing again. She wrote that “sometimes people who are overwhelmed don’t do anything because they can’t do everything.”
She added that we should “acknowledge it (the situation) , pray, and just do one thing at a time.”
I can do that. I can acknowledge that while my situation could be worse, it’s still hard and I’m both tired and overwhelmed. And while I can’t do everything, I can do something.
So here’s what I accomplished today:
- I went to work
- I visited my sister in I.C.U and initiated a discussion about what her discharge plan might need to look like
- I spent time with my husband although I did forget to make his lunch
- We started planning what needs to be done to fix our second bathroom so that it is easily accessible for my sister as her recovery continues – I did not figure out how to pay for said renovations – that would be too much for today and would lead to feeling overwhelmed again.
- I am committing to filling one bag with trash as I begin to catch-up on housework. Some (most) of it will just have to wait.
- I took a short walk in an effort to get back to walking two miles a day so that I can lose the weight I have gained. A long walk just couldn’t happen. That’s okay.
- My daughter and I are going to do one math lesson as we work on getting caught up. It won’t solve the problem, but it’s something.
- I am going to sit and prepare the bag of worn out T-shirts into strips for my rug as I watch a stupid T.V. show and allow myself to rest. Oh, and by the way…here’s my efforts so far. Barret, the dork dog seems to like it just fine.
Perhaps most importantly, she reminded me that I’m not alone. I have friends that are thinking of and praying for me. I have people that I can call on if I need to (even if I’m too stubborn to admit that I need help).
Just because people are no longer physically present in our lives doesn’t mean that the lessons we learned from them, or the experiences we shared with them aren’t still valuable resources that we can draw from when we need to. Special people who have once been in our lives never really leave us. They become a part of us…often the best part.