Several years ago, my dear friend, Kalli, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She faced her diagnosis with courage and a smile. Treatment after treatment of chemotherapy was required, but that never stopped her from smiling or from serving others. Her motto was, "What can I do for you?" and every time she went for her treatment, she took gift cards to pass out to others who found their diagnosis discouraging in order to brighten their day.
As the years progressed, so did her cancer. It was moving through other organs until it was no longer possible for her to heal. Still, she was smiling to the end and asking with her bald head and puffy cheeks, "What can I do for you?" from the confinement of her hospital room. Last year, Kalli passed away leaving her husband and two young children behind.
You may feel Kalli's story is a sad one since it ended with her death.
But Kalli's story is truly beautiful because she lived.
We will all die at the end of our story.
But what is of greatest importance is how we live.
Sometimes, God will place difficult chapters in our story that will be hard to get through and make us want to quit. There will be pain, sorrow, sadness and suffering and at times we will cry ourselves to sleep at night. But we must remember God knows best, and in those most trying of times we must rely on him.
In my own life, when I hit those chapters that are painful, there are certain things I try to remember that help me get through those difficult moments. Some of those coping strategies, I've taken directly out of Kalli's own storybook.
First, I remember that a chapter is a chapter, not the entire book
Chapters come to an end, and a new one begins. The pain may be strong in the chapter you're living, but time and a willingness to move forward will help. The further you move into your story, the more God will heal your soul.
Second, I remember I am not the author
Even though I have the ability to choose, I do not have the ability to decide what happens. I cannot bring a loved one back from the dead nor heal my child from an illness. I can't stop a drunk driver or make choices for anyone else but myself. No amount of worry is going to change what God has already planned, and if I accept his will, he will comfort me when I need him.
Third, I remember that every story has ups and downs
There has to be good and bad in every story in order for growth to happen. Part of this life is about gaining experience. If I always take the easy way out, then I will never receive the growth necessary for me to return to my Heavenly Father. At times, there is going to be wind and waves, but just like a ship out at sea, both the wind and the waves are necessary to take us to our destination.
Fourth, when my story's a tough one to read, I try to remember to step away from my own story and into the story of another.
Kalli was the perfect example of this. Rather than dwell on her own circumstances, she looked around at others to help. She was an inspiration for others going through similar experiences, and for those of us who were experiencing far less. At Kalli's funeral, they passed out magnets with her motto, "What can I do for you?" I have adopted that motto as my own, so should you. When your story is tough, ask what you can do for others. It's the best way to get your mind and heart in a better place.
Fifth, I try to never forget my smile
. Of course, there are days when it's tough, but a smile can go a long way when it comes to helping you to walk through a tough chapter. Laughter is even better medicine. Try to cheerfully do all you can then stand still and let God do the rest. He's promised you he will. Not only will your smile help your own mood, but it will be contagious and allow others to find inspiration through you.
Sixth, I try to remember I am not alone
When life is overwhelming, many of us have the tendency to lock ourselves in a dark room and suffer in silence. This is not a healthy way to deal with your pain. God has sent so many people into your life who are just a phone call away. Never forget there are people who love you and want to be a part of your story. Stories would be incredibly boring if they only included one character. Fill your story with others.
And finally, I remember to live
I remember that life is a gift. No matter how painful it may be at times, it is always a blessing to be alive. I remember to love, to laugh, to kiss my husband and hug my children and to tell my family I love them. I remember to spend time with my friends and share goodness because this life is full of small moments that we can't ever get back again. And, above all, I remember to thank God every day of my life for giving me a brand new day to do it all over again.
God is a loving God, and I believe he sends us people like Kalli to help us recognize those things in life that are most important. Kalli's story helps us see how to follow God's plan gracefully, even when his plan is painful so that when God's plan requires you and me to do something painful, we can remember her story and live.