Yesterday, I had a funny thing happen, in the midst of thinking about those I know who are holding on through stumblings, including me, that reminded me of something we know, but sometimes forget.
My son really likes Gatorade. A lot. I don’t often let him have it because of all the sugar. When he gets to have it, he is very happy. Yesterday was one of those times. Helping me with a few errands, I told him he could pick out a drink.
“What would you like to get?”
Quite happy and determined he walked to the drinks and right over to the sports drinks, found the Gatorade and looked at all the rows, thoughtful. He looked up and down, side to side. Then he carefully opened the cooler door and selected the same one he always gets – red. He carried that bottle with pride to the cart he had already told me he needed to push. He placed it into where it would be “safe,” after looking over the sport bottle top it had admiringly. He took the money from me to hand to the cashier at checkout and carried that bottle of Gatorade out to the car with the wide smile he is known for and a genuine look of deep appreciation. He noted to me how he was going to really like drinking it and thanked me. I caught the smile from him with ease. His smile has a way of travelling to other people’s faces.
He climbed into his seat, buckled himself in and held his Gatorade before him. His. Gatorade. With all his challenges, so happy about a drink.
While I put the rest of our purchases in the back seat, he set to work on the cap. He twisted it. The seal broke. He pulled the sport top up. He leaned his head back and…he brought it down, confused. Twisted the cap again, pulled up harder than before. Leaned back his head and…he brought it down, yet again confused. Only somewhat aware he was having trouble with it, I climbed in.
“Open it? Help me please.”
It was another chance for me to make him smile. I leaned back to the get the bottle from him with confidence. I twisted and pulled and leaned back to test it. Nothing was coming out. I studied it and turned it around, pulling and twisting. Testing. Hmmmm…..
“There’s a thing on it under the cap,” he said.
But I had not thought of that. So I took off the cap peeled off the seal easily. The cap went back on smoothly. The Gatorade flowed. He smiled. I backed up the car.
I laughed at myself twisting and pulling that cap with force, as if that is what it needed and certainly I COULD do. All it took was a different approach that required little effort.
Obviously, this story does not intrigue me for its informative nature of how to hydrate. How many times have all of us been twisting and pulling at a cap in our life, seeking the relief, when it was not going to go that way? It was going to take a different approach, and, to get there, often a moment of pause or voice of reason. And it is actually not that unusual for it to come from some place we don’t expect or in a situation that we don’t see coming.
I think of that first refreshing sip he took like the moment (okay there are usually a lot of them because we are a stubborn crew, us humans)…moments that we have clarity. It doesn’t mean it is the last time we will seek it or try to force it out of a way it is not coming, but we see something in ourselves and our places that makes sense.
And with this Gatorade story I thought about the people I had been holding in my heart and about that they…we will get the sip. And I felt like God was telling me to offer this potential bottle of Gatorade, so to speak.
During challenges, I have heard all the statements from loved ones about not defining myself by circumstances and how I am a strong and incredible person. I would gather you have heard some of the same. I am not unaware of my qualities, but in the mirror alone, it was often failure and rejection that looked back at me. Being reminded of our greatness sometimes does not ease the blow of what it feels has been lost.
Maybe despite the odds or maybe because of them, I have re-found myself in unexpected places and found that relief can sometimes come without all of the twisting and pulling, so to speak. I have my moments of feeling pretty good and my moments of curling up and feeling low. Yeah, healing and overcoming the questions are definitely easier said than done. Sometimes we make poor choices trying to find our way out of some of those confused places in our minds. There are leap pads we sometimes can’t see when we are in the fog of the swamp. I have been truly blessed with some key people in my life that are willing to lovingly tap me in the head with the flashlight if shining it doesn’t help.
I have learned a couple of lessons helpful for me.
First, when making choices, if I choose a path that was not a deliberate path of selfishness or with a to disregard humanity, I can feel comfort that even if it does not work out the way that I would hope, or if I realize there was another possibility, I should dismiss regret (as much as possible).
Second, when faced with overcoming disappointment and looking to hope, it is important to not look at a specific outcome I want as the answer to that. Nothing should come before our ultimate fullness in faith. When we place too much importance on the things that we really have no control over to bring us “happiness”, we surrender our ability to find peace in our faith.
While I write this, it does not mean I have perfected it or even come close. I am working on it, though. It leads me to strive for what feels right and not just feels temporarily good. That is a lifetime effort.