There have been several times I’ve almost written another post. Sometimes it’s because a phrase catches my ear and I think “that could have been one of Stephanie’s blog titles.” Other times, I look at my last post and feel it’s been far too long, and feel that I have an obligation to write so that people will get the email saying there’s a new post and be reminded of Stephanie and the faith, hope and love that she shared. But as you can tell from the sparsity of my posts, the thoughts don’t often make it to paper (well, in this case, to the interwebs). I also want to make sure that my posts have meaning and purpose behind them like Stephanie’s did, and aren’t just my babbling thoughts.
Anyway, today I was going through my office, tidying up papers and books and other junk and sorting through what I need to hold on to and what I can part with. It’s much easier at this point to do that with my stuff than it is with Stephanie’s, so I figured this was a start. As I was going through bags and folders of papers, I found a plastic bag with a bunch of footnotes in them. Not like a documentation foot note, but a piece of paper cut into the shape of a foot. There were probably about a hundred, and I immediately remembered what they were from. When Stephanie and I were newly weds, she would pack my lunch for me before I left for work, and she often wrote a note in my lunch for me. It was one of her ways of showing me that she loved me. Some were funny and some were serious, but all of them were encouraging and full of love. I enjoyed reading over every single one of them today and thinking about what was happening in the days she gave me those notes. I once again went down a rabbit hole thinking about how much life has changed from being a newlywed, to having a daughter, to Stephanie’s diagnosis and death, and then learning to continue to live after that. To say the last couple years have been a struggle would be an understatement. My life right now, personally, professionally, and spiritually, is completely different than how I would have predicted it just over two years ago. And while my feet are more under me than 18 months ago, a lot of it is still chaotic and confusing and complicated. But one of her notes that she wrote me after a tough week really hit home today:
Remember to keep pushing forward no matter what and the end will be glorious. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
I couldn’t tell you now what I was struggling with that week, or even what week exactly it was. But applying that to my life today, to this minute, it’s probably more relevant now than it was then. I certainly have many challenges facing me in my life today. But I also have many blessings. And regardless of whether I’m personally having a good day or a rough day, what’s important is to keep going. Keep striving to turn the best out of every situation, no matter how complicated or unfair or difficult. Life isn’t easy, and living in and regretting the past isn’t going to help us get anywhere. That’s not to say we can’t grieve and be sad or feel sorry for ourselves for the circumstances we find ourselves in. But if we are stuck in that state of mind and stop trying to push forward, that’s where we get in trouble. It doesn’t mean we have to finish the marathon today, or tomorrow, or even in 69 years. But moving a step, a foot, an inch: the effort to continue forward is what we can’t be without.
This week is Holy Week. If you haven’t meditated on the stations of the cross this Lent, I would encourage you to do so this week, particularly by Good Friday. If your church isn’t holding one, you can simply search them online or watch this short video, although I would encourage you to pause at each station to consider what Jesus was going through and what it must have been like for Him, his mother, the apostles, Simon, and anyone who witnessed it.
As Jesus carried His cross to the place He was crucified, I can only imagine the pain and agony He was in. How each step must have radiated the pain through every gash in His skin. Yet he continued forward, a step at a time. If Jesus could do that then, even knowing what reaching the end of the path meant for Him, surely we can continue, no matter how difficult the struggle, to keep pushing forward as well. His case is obviously an extreme one, but it also reminds us whatever struggles or difficulties we’re going through, it could always be worse. And because He went through that for us and because of God’s grace, we have the chance to have God’s glory revealed to us when our time on earth comes, as I have not doubt Stephanie is experiencing now.
It’s crazy to me how a little note Stephanie wrote to put in my lunch over six years ago can have so much relevance to my life today. I miss you, Beautiful, and I love you.