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Either a Prison or a Beautiful Haven
Have you noticed that there are shining examples of both visible & “invisible” heroes that received the honour of becoming inspirations to millions of people through climbing profound obstacles? Have you also had the experience of being in the company of people who choose to find flaws in absolutely everything that they think, talk about or are a part of? What sets these 2 diverse groups of people apart? Both groups may be going through challenges yet one group chooses to take that difficulty & bring about some form of goodness from it. I applaud champions who choose to do something amazing, kind & loving with his or her profound suffering. And honestly, when it comes to folks who see the glass empty no matter what, even I find that I have a point at which I choose to spend less time in their company because they have drained their glass & mine too. Have you too had that experience? I am not about enabling misery in the form of encouraging endless complaining for the sake of complaining. For sure, I have an endless amount of compassion & I hang in there in situations that many people declare they would have run away from ions ago. At some point though if a person seems to thrive on staying in chosen drama as a form of negative attention seeking behaviour no matter how many life rings I give them, then I have come to realize that it is a situation that is not going to change unless the other person decides to change. Do we sometimes end up being stuck in quick sand with a person who is mean spirited or chaos junkies whether life is going well for them otherwise? We each answer that question for ourselves. When I answer that question I realize that I have come a long way & have a long way to go. There have been times when I have found myself in situations where an individual will be so caught up in continuing personal misery that they just want to pull me into the quick sand of misery with them & that they have no intention of making an effort to change anything for the better. They do want company though. I have had to ask myself when this happens if I am truly doing this person a favour by being a companion to the quicksand misery. If the person wants help & is showing through his or her actions that they are trying to get out of the situation then that is one thing & it is quite another if the person is in essence using another person in the spirit that “misery loves company” or worse as a form of enabling endless drama. Please do not get me wrong…I am in no way referring to situations where someone is going through depression. That is entirely different. Instead, I am referring to people who try to keep others caught up in their negative cycles of drama for the sake of selfishness & mean-spiritedness. On the flip side of things, courage& joy, deserve company too. And people who truly need true help most definitely deserve company beyond words.
If you have type 1 & you hear someone who has pretty great health go on & on about how horrible of a cold that they have, it may at times be difficult to muster up much sympathy for that person’s situation. You & I may be thinking that of course it is no fun for anyone to get a cold yet there are so many things that are more difficult than a simple cold & after all an end does come to the cold as well. There are folks out there that battle things way beyond colds & when those people get a cold on top of this, then it can become a near emergency. Admittedly, my patience is not high for complaints about colds if that is all that the person has to deal with. I felt this way before I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes & the feeling has been magnified for the last almost 7 years living with diabetes. My belief is that I can choose to let anything in life crush me or I can lift the weight of the struggle in a way that it strengthens me. It is a daily decision. It is hard. It is some days an uphill battle. It is difficult & it is right & will always be the choice that I make daily no matter what. Are you right there beside me on that attitude?
I don’t want to leave a legacy of being a moaner & groaner but rather a person of strength, humour, sensitivity, compassion & love. It is as simple as that. Some days I will ask myself the question of what if today were my last day on earth? I ask myself how I would live it & how I would treat those around me, what would matter & what would be complete nonsense. We each wake up each morning & we just have each breath of that day & nothing is guaranteed. That is a sobering thought.
Recently, I had one of the most precious moments with our oldest son right after I had gotten home. As a mom I have wondered sometimes how the heck to connect with our teenaged son. He is a creative, humourous, incredibly intelligent young man. Trying to engage him in conversation many times over the past couple of years has been a challenge. Between the grunts or one word answers, I wondered if I was going about this new phase of teenage-hood parenting correctly.(whatever that would look like) And basically I thought that I am not very good at connecting with teenagers. A couple of months ago I was reminded vividly that often as parents we forget that our children are always watching us. They watch us in our homes, with others, in different situations and in ways that we do not realize. They hear what we say & they really really see what we are doing. As I walked into our home last night, our oldest son looked me in the eye with such presence & said that he wanted to share something with me right away. He explained that his class had been assigned a writing piece on the topic of who their life’s hero is. He handed the completed writing piece to me & my eyes filled with tears. He wrote about his mom & how he gets his strength from a mom who is strong, always there for him cheering him on in an eccentrically enthusiastic way & who chooses to win even on the bad days with diabetes. There are no words to describe how loving this writing piece is & a treasure of the heart. My heart’s hope is that our sons are strengthened & know always that no matter what happens in their lives that they can choose strength vs defeat. That’s my hope for all the Dear Hearts in my life & for you too.
My thoughts go to 2 examples of people who showed strength with their life stories with incredible struggles. Both of these individuals have changed our world for the beautiful. One gentleman you will be very aware of & the other, you may or may not have heard of. There is a gigantic list of inspirational champions to choose from. Today though, let’s think about these 2 heroes. Both heroes fought for something way beyond themselves, for gifts that the world would have always. Each man looked at his struggle with champions’ eyes. You will be very familiar with Nelson Mandela & his story. Do you find that you love his quotes & that they are timeless? He took his eyes off of himself & onto the mission to free others. While he was imprisoned, he did not let his mind become a prisoner, nor did he ever lose hope & he prepared himself to climb the barriers & obstacles as full of hope on the first day of imprisonment until his mission was finally realized. He was a hero of strength, courage & selflessness. Through his choices, he changed the future in a beautiful way. A second gentleman that lived his mission with strength & courage was Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan. This hero of a man was also imprisoned physically. Spiritually, he remained free for the 13 years that his physical incarceration lasted. I often find myself reminding myself that I am blessed to live in a geographic area that celebrates freedom…of speech, of political & religious freedoms. This was not the case when Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan was travelling to become a new Bishop to Saigon Vietnam in 1975. The people of Vietnam were hungry for spiritual encouragement we are taught through the book, “The Road of Hope.” Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan found ways to write to the Vietnamese people & fill them with hope & love while he was in prison. He took his eyes off of himself always & placed them on the good of the people of his land. He was imprisoned physically yet spiritually free, filled with hope & continued to provide spiritual nourishment to the people. Contained in one of his writings, he said, “the most impenetrable barrier is not a fortress or an electric fence, it is indifference.” We sometimes hear the complaints of people for the sake of complaining & other times statements or actions of indifference. It may be that both of these things take away strength if we let it. Indifference can be as insidious as thinking or saying that yes there is a problem that needs attention & action yet someone else can figure it out because we have our own problems. It is easy to cave in on ourselves any day of the week & we may say to ourselves that if we are going through a struggle big or small that we have the right to not reach out to others. My experience is though that when I choose to reach out in love to someone else & take my eyes off of myself that I can literally feel the strength building up. Then I use this strength to build more strength. A mind stretching quote by Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan that has strengthened me many times over is, “Peace depends on victory, and victory depends on struggle. If you desire peace, you will have to fight continuously.” When I think of peace, I also think of joy & meaning. If we value peace then we may find that the answer to the question we may ask ourselves why it is that we are going through a struggle may be that we are strong. We don’t have a struggle I believe due to anything that we did or did not do in the case of type 1 diabetes. We do not however ever need to choose to be prisoners of type 1. If it becomes a road towards further strength in other areas in our lives that we give away then we win every time. I cannot imagine being physically imprisoned & there is no way that I would choose to allow myself to imprison myself with thoughts that steal my strength away from me. My heart’s hope is that you find this to be true for you as well.
As I think of the folks out there that for reasons only known to them that are choosing to stay in the quick sand of complaining for the sake of complaining while enjoying great health, I find myself coming up with a new response. I choose to drop the exasperation or biting my tongue or the “come on” that is in the bubble captain above my head at times. Instead, I will either hand folks that have chosen to remain caved in on themselves even with countless offers of help, something new. The plan is to either answer with a description of either Nelson Mandela, Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan or Viktor Frankl. These were all gentleman who were all physically imprisoned yet indescribably free. They struggled, they made a beautiful difference in the world. They each chose strength.
My heart’s hope for you is that you have a huge number of profoundly impactful & beautiful champions who take their struggles, turn them into strength & that strength goes out into the world. Better still, may that person of strength be you!
Smiles, Saundie :)
May you cross paths with champions all week long. Next Monday's writing is "You Be You & I Will Be Me." :D