I am watching people do some very hard things.
Victor Frankle in his work Man's Search for Meaning writes about his experiences as a prisoner/worker/emaciated form of himself in the hideous World War II concentration camps. The fact that anyone should survive the hell of a concentration camp led to some very deep and profound reflections by Frankle, so much that he poured over the memories and actions of his fellow men.
Why? How is it that people made it out alive?
And not even the strongest able bodied men, in fact those men sometimes were the first to die under the grueling circumstances.
Frankle found that truly, the core of surviving was how one CHOOSES to react to the suffering. The freedom to change his outside environment was gone, but it was the freedom of his mind that saved him. Hope and purpose, finding a reason to live...to find a son who was safe in another country or to finish a work, a book perhaps...finding something, someone, every day to live for...this kept men alive. There is meaning in suffering and that is...we can rise to it, because we are people of hope.
Yes, we can do hard things.
In fact, the way those concentration camps ended were because of other men choosing to do something hard. We can thank people like the father of the British electrician who came to our home two days ago. Colin said his father was a veteran of Normandy.
I almost felt like saying..."Wow...you mean, he did that hard thing on the beach that day in France?"
And if you read about Normandy, the toe hold that got the Allied ground forces into France, it was the efforts of small groups, INDIVIDUAL men, acting on there own. Fighting. Determined to keep TRYING. Acting and CHOOSING to act without knowing the big picture of the battle and if others were acting too. They just kept going.
Yes, we can do hard things.
But, thankfully, most of our troubles, our challenges and crosses do not come in the form of an Auschwitz or Normandy...and we have much to be grateful for!
And yet, it all still feels hard, what we are given....
I will give examples! Yes that's what I'll do!
The first summer, really first year, at the Coast Guard Academy was pretty miserable. I remember the days feeling so very very long, literally living hour to hour, exhausted, your body hurting, and just scared to death of getting yelled at by an upperclassman. Long days and yet it went by fast, you blink and are suddenly married to another cadet three weeks after graduating.
You and your spouse sometimes run into classmates as the Coast Guard sends you all around the country, and there is this unspoken bond, when you see your shipmates again, that goes something like, "Hey! It's my buddy Dave! We did that hard thing together in the Summer of 2000."
And it is clicking for me...OH! You mean not only can you do hard things...but WE can do hard things TOGETHER.
And it is by doing hard things together, where relationships are strengthened!
That is marriage!
Marriage. Yes I did marry a young officer with spanking new shoulder boards on his white formal dress uniform. Fast forward and that brings me to my last day in the Coast Guard nine years after that swearing in as a swab and I started my life as a stay-at-home mom to three little girls under the age of four. And all of a sudden...I felt the same exhaustion and hour to hour living I had felt as a young college student...only it was a different kind of hard!
I had spent so much time as a young working mom waiting to finally be with my littles only to be thrown into a life I had no idea how to do with them!
I remember loving (and this is still so true) when Justin came home to our dear sweet chaotic family. Sometimes I just needed Justin home. He was always just as tired as I was and I still needed to get dinner on the table and bathe people or clean ______, or you name it! But there is something about being with that man who made a vow before God that he was going to do the hard things with me!
And here we are...those same girls helping out as big sisters.
Growth happens when God throws these moments and experiences into our lives and we LIVE them. We can surprise others, even ourselves, when we come out of it all still standing. Standing..with eyes looking hopefully up to the stars..the stance of a man with hope...just as Dante walked out of hell.
When I think of my own hard works I have done, I am a bit humbled by the hard that is sent to others. I worry though that feeling humbled by how my hard rates next to another's is very self centered of me. We are missing the point of relationship if we think it is just about sizing ourselves up against each other (thank you social media for a new way to do this).
So...see here...what I am coming to understand is that God allows others to sometimes feel safe enough to share their cross so that we ourselves can witness the incredible and mind blowing resilience of man. So that we can see with faith eyes that mystery called GRACE.
Witness to what she is doing...and be in awe.
I think of St Veronica wiping the bloody, sweat stained, face of Our Lord during His hard work. It was His to do.
Noone could do that work for Him.
I wonder in that second of the moment that His Holy face touched that cloth. Was there relief for You Lord? Ever? I don't think there was physical relief...
Or was it more that someone saw and was creative enough and in the moment enough Lord to do something for you, when the Spirit said...move! Go! And just by trying to give relief You know really couldn't be given...did you feel love? In Veronica's try did you feel loved? You might have thought noone saw Your unrecognizable Face, but someone did.
And maybe the wiping of the face was more of just saying...I see the hard work you are doing. I cannot bear any of this for you...but I can show, by this smallest of small gestures, that I see your hard work.
I see the hard thing you are doing friend.
But more importantly...He sees.