Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What and How

I've had a record number of visits from my dad's siblings in the last week. First his brother Gene came to visit, and on Monday his sister Janella and her husband Ron came to town. I'm feeling a bit spoiled.

Janella is my godmother and has been a great influence in my life throughout the years. She is married now, but was previously a presentation sister and when I first came to college she was employed at St. Stephen's, the Catholic student center at UNI. It was so nice, my freshman year of college, to have that familiar face a short walk away whenever I needed a little piece of home. At the start of my sophomore year she left St. Stephen's, and the country, to do missionary work in Bolivia.

When she left I was healthy and active, and I felt somewhat unstoppable. It was during the second semester of my junior year that my physical problems began, and it was at that time I received a letter she sent from Bolivia. I hadn't been struggling long and wasn't yet facing the bigger hurdles that were to come. But in that letter she wrote a very simple sentence that would serve me well in the coming years. She told me she had learned in her life that the question "why" never led to answers. She tried to ask herself "what" and "how" - and the answers to those questions usually led her in the right direction.

That was it... she didn't explain it or go into detail, but it stuck with me. And it's something I have followed myself. I don't find the "whys" of my life to be helpful. I don't know why I am sick and in pain, and I don't think I ever will. Nor do I need to. I guess I like to think that somehow, when I was a spirit in heaven, God showed me my life and all that it would entail. I imagine looking at the good, the bad and how both affected the people around me. I like to think that I saw all this and said yes. Yes, I will take all of the bad with all of the good and serve a purpose.

Maybe it's a far-fetched notion, but can you imagine if that is how it works? If I said "yes" to this life, then the question of why things happen is irrelevant. If I said "yes" to this, it was because God saw a purpose in my life and how it would unfold in a greater plan. What more of a reason do I need for living than that?

Don't get me wrong. When the difficult stuff happens I get sad and discouraged and frustrated - I just don't sit in it for long because I don't want to miss what's in store for me next. My only real fear in life is that I have a purpose to fulfill, and if I'm not paying attention or I'm busy wallowing I'll miss it. That's where the "what" and "how" questions come into play. What needs to be done? And how can I contribute? For the record, I don't achieve this perfectly every day. It's a goal that I pay attention to. The more I pay attention, the more I notice around me and the easier it becomes to pay attention again the next day.

So, if you wonder what gets me through the day, that's it. Believing that the difficult things are just as important to my purpose as the easy things, and how I choose to deal with both affects more than just myself. Believing that I was put here for a purpose, even if I never know exactly what it is or why it happens. Trusting completely that I am living to fulfill even what I don't understand. That doesn't just get me through the day... it makes me treasure every moment of my life.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully put, Sara! My life hasn't gone the way I thought it would either. "Why?" is the impossible question to answer, but the future oriented "How?" and "What?" that is the key. Janella is a wise woman. I still can't believe that I've never met her after all these years of knowing you. I feel like I know her.