Thursday, May 10, 2012

"To be, or not to be"

"To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more...."

Hamlet begs this age old question in Ac 3, Scene 1.  You may ask, "What does this have to do with the price of tea in China?" 

In terms of life, we do not have a choice to be brought into this world.  Our parents, with miraculous help from our Creator God, decided to give us this blessed opportunity.  Therefore, as long as we are living on this earth, we do have a choice -- we actually have a few options:  flourish in our blessed existence, dread every day of our miserable lives, or some hybridization of both.  Our lives here on earth can be beautiful, if only we consciously seize this opportunity.

I miss my daughter.  Caroline Grace would be 5 months old next week!  5 months!!  I can't believe it's been that long.  She never got the chance to live a day in this world.  In many ways, I am thankful for this because our world can be a cruel, wicked place to live.  But in other ways, I naturally wish that she was here.

Since she is not here and I am, I have a choice to make:  to be blessed or not to be blessed.  The expected reaction is for me to be depressed, down, and out.  Let's be, I'm not jumping for joy that she is gone.  But I am not depressed she is gone either.  In fact, I choose to perceive her loss as a blessing.  I know it probably seems crazy for me to say that "losing her is the best thing that has ever happened to me."  However, I can honestly say this.  When we lost her, I could have chosen not to be blessed.  It would have been easy to remain miserable, dwelling on what is not here.  I could have become a member of "anencephaly parent groups," talking about my loss on a daily or weekly basis.  I could carry her photograph around in my wallet, constantly reminding me that she is not here with me.  There are many other ways I could choose to dwell on the negative.

However, these choices are not a blessing.  In fact, I see them as obstacles that stand in my way of reaping the benefits of a blessed life.  Losing my daughter brought a very sincere, realistic perspective to my life.  God revealed to me that Caroline was a gift.  And He took her from me to teach me that life is so much more precious than I realize.  Losing Caroline forced me to appreciate life as a miracle.  He gave her and took her so that I could learn to love Him more.  And to love my wife more.  And to love LIFE more!  How refreshing it is to wake up everyday! smell the aromas of spring, to actually stop and smell the roses.  We say this all the time.  But have you ever actually stopped walking, driving, running, etc. and walked up to a rose bush to smell the flowers?  Try it!!  I wonder we say it all the time!!  Slow down in this rat race!  Figure out what really matters in your day to day these things and do not fill your day with things that rob you of a blessing.  Nothing in this life is more important than those things that are eternal -- our relationship with Jesus Christ is the ONLY thing that we will take with us when we leave this world.  And Jesus wants us to appreciate the life He gave us!  Smell the flowers.  Star gaze at night.  Take a long walk on the beach.  Drive the speed limit and enjoy the scenery.  Put down your iPhone for a few seconds and read your wife's face as intently as you were just reading your Facebook page.  Love her!  Take a few moments this weekend and hug your kids.  Tell them that they are a special miracle from God -- because they are!!  Tell them how special they are!  Especially this weekend, as Mother's Day approaches.  We are all children of the King!  We are all blessed to be living each day.

Life is what we make of it.  When we are faced with troubled times, we can let it get us down and beat us up.  Or we can push through, persevere, and gain character.  We can move mountains.  And have a positive influence in this world.  Or we can continue racing through this life...but what does this do for us?  More money, more time, more what?  More stress?  More deadlines?  Less friends?  Less time with family?  Less time with God?  I have learned to live my life with more purpose than ever before.  I have stripped away some of the garbage in my life so that I can take the time to appreciate life more.  We gave up cable TV.  I gave up Coke and sweet tea (I tried to give up coffee...22 days later, this proved to be an epic failure, as I am now convinced coffee is almost as necessary as the air I breathe! :-)  I think my wife would agree that I am a happier person WITH coffee than without!).  I drink more water.  I have read a few books.  We have donated money to provide clean water to children in Africa.  I sat down and hand wrote a letter to my mom.  I planted new flowers and removed all of the weeds.   

I have chosen to view my loss as a blessing.  My life is so much more enjoyable now.  I thank God for waking me up to realize how much I took for granted.  And I know I will see Caroline Grace in Heaven when I leave this earth.  Then, I will be REALLY blessed!