Saturday, May 1, 2010

Retreat...Sans Spew!

Just getting back after our ladies' church retreat. Like I shared previously, I had a spot in the itinerary as a speaker. I'm so NOT the public speaking type. SO not. But I made it through without spewing, which is a new and fantastic accomplishment!

The topic was "Perseverance Through Faith". Piece o' cake. Okay, not really. Because let's be honest, it's easier to give up, or to have a fecal attitude, or to seek things that will take the pain away - if only for a moment or five. It's hard to always "persevere". Sometimes, it's downright exhausting. But it's necessary. Otherwise, we run the risk of getting on our own nerves.

In this anxiety-riddled speech, I talked about how a person really doesn't need faith to persevere. I was that way for 27 years, so I can totally relate. I felt like I could take on any challenge...all by myself. And then came something like MS. Well, that's something I failed at taking on sans God. Epic fail, to be exact. But accepting the gift that God has given us in Christ, and that's really all it is, right? Simply accepting it? It takes all the pressure off of me. If I allow it to, which is the hard part.

The analogy I wanted to make at the retreat (but didn't, 'cause I forgot and was trying not to spew) relates to learning to drive.

I remember driving with Dad, who found it helpful to yell at me as I nervously navigated the town's narrowest streets. He'd yell, "LOOK AT ALL THESE CARS, YOU'RE TOO CLOSE, MOVE OVER! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? MOVE!" Most times I got in the car with Dad, my stomach would churn, heart would race, and eyes would be focused on everything around me. Good times!

But then, I'd drive with Mom. I remember the time I was 16 and we were going to the shore. She decided to put me behind the wheel. What was she, nuts? I was white-knuckling all the way to NJ, but playing it cool. I remember seeing the construction signs on the highway. 1500ft...1000ft...500ft...oh my! And then I saw them. Cement barriers! Insert theme music from Psycho! Collective scream! "EEEEK!"

They formed a one lane cattle shoot for what seemed like miles. I felt sick and thought I'd pass out or, at the very least, would slam up against them repeatedly, in a side to side motion, until Mom and I were essentially driving on a rolling frame that WAS a '79 Olds Cutlass BEFORE we entered the cement maze of death. Mom asked what was wrong and I told her I was afraid I'd hit the barriers. I'll never forget what she said..."oh, those? Psht. You don't even look at those. Just keep looking straight ahead. You won't hit them. If you just keep looking straight ahead, you won't even notice them". I still think of that discussion, even though the chances of wiping out the right side of my car are much greater now. The true "straight ahead" and my brain's version differ by about 3"...

Dare I get spiritual on Mom's statement? Could I not think of my circumstances as those cement barriers? When I focus on them, I run the risk of making quite a mess of things. Once I come through the Trial Du Jour, I might be dented and like, take the equivalent of a face shot from an airbag. But if I look straight ahead...well, you get the picture. {{{Thanks, Mom}}}

Persevering through faith means you don't hit the wall, 'cause you're not the one driving. And a beautiful thing!

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