Monday afternoon when I landed in the doctor’s office with walking pneumonia I had a serious case of the blues. Waiting at the pharmacy for my prescriptions I began to question whether I’d make it to any of the graduation activities on tap later in the week. Mother’s Day and Confirmation Sunday were also in the mix and I’d made commitments for both. On top of that I had a “To Do” list a mile long. The penny I found on the way out did little to encourage me. I didn’t trust God for much beyond my next breath.
I already felt fragile before I got sick. The last few months have been a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. My friend Angela described it best when she said, “Holy cow Kären, do you think you could handle anything more?” No was my answer, but God seemed to have a different one. When I actually did make it to church on Sunday and saw her behind me I had to laugh.
Equally as ironic was the scripture chosen for the day by the kids. It was Proverbs 31—The Wife of Noble Character. A classic choice for Mother’s Day but when it was being read, I caught Angela rolling her eyes and had to bite my tongue so I didn’t laugh again. Yeah right, we’re both thinking that’s not me. As a mother any nobility you might have feels like its false when you’re constantly battling to get ahead.
I left church equally as weary as when I arrived. A few minutes later I when I found 31 cents I thought God was mocking me when I’m sure He was trying to encourage me. My Mother tried to do the same all through the week. She insisted every day, “You’ll make it—you always do,” but I shook my head in disbelief. My friends offered the same encouragement but I couldn’t hear it. Not this time. I kept telling myself. I think God has given me more than I can handle.
When the orchestra played Pomp and Circumstance and Luke passed me in his cap and gown I finally had to admit I had made it. How I got from Monday to Sunday though felt as miraculous as him graduating from high school. Just like I couldn’t figure out how I’d managed to tackle the week sick, I couldn’t remember how we got from “Luke won’t be able to be in regular classes,” to graduating with honors.
I knew God was the biggest part of the equation but what about the rest? Even with time to reflect during the ceremony I still felt like I was in a time warp. None of the explanations in my head stuck until I mentioned one of the slides the speaker had shown. It was a picture taken ten years ago for the newspaper that had one of the classes’ graduates in it. I couldn’t believe the speaker was so lucky to have such a great illustration on hand. When I commented on this my husband said,
“That was the best picture of the night. I loved that slide. It’s you. You’re a climber just like that little girl.”
His tone was so endearing. You could hear how much he appreciated this about me. He was complimenting me and encouraging me all at once. Every word said to cheer me on through the week finally found a place to stick in my heart. I realized that it was people’s faith in not just God that sustained me but faith in how God made me that kept me going.
It finally dawned on me that to be a climber you don’t have to necessarily believe you can make it to the top you just have to believe there’s something worth trying for. While I don’t have a lot of faith in my resilience I do have faith that there are fences worth climbing. I am like the girl in the picture. If I think there’s a better perspective I want it.
The trouble when you’re dragging is that it takes more energy than you have to believe in what God can do. You also don’t think you’re efforts are very inspiring. My husband re-framed the picture for me. I realized there’s nobility in surviving as much as there is in thriving. What distinguishes us is not the outcome but the effort. In spirit that is the Proverbs 31 woman. She believes that something is worth reaching for whether or not she believes she can get it.
Thirteen years ago it wasn’t my faith that set in motion an effort to make graduating from high school possible for Luke. It was another Karen—Mrs. Karen Skoog. I was so tired and overwhelmed at the time I couldn’t believe it was a goal within reach. However, because she saw the potential I agreed to give it a try. From that day on through all the ups and downs I’m convinced it hasn’t been my faith that has supported Luke nearly as much as the faith of others. I’ve just been willing to try. If that means I get an “A” for effort I’ll take it but only because I know it was the people in the stands cheering us both on, that got me to top of the fence to see him graduate.
*JUCO picture courtesy of Chris Thomlinson @ The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel