Saturday, November 29, 2014

Lost Sheep and Cancer

My daughter's  post as her husband sufffers and dies of cancer and my reply:

Some times in the middle of the night are the hardest for me… After I do Ed's meds and get him taken care of my mind wanders…

Sometimes y'all say I'm strong and I feel very weak…

Sometimes I mourn Ed and my relationship and our love story…

Sometimes the tears run down my face and I don't think I can go on one more moment…

Sometimes I want to grab Ed up and run away (far away)

Even through all of these things I get up the next day and carry on…

I do it for Ed… I do it for our love…

It's just not easy and I am not strong I am just a woman who loves her husband and wants what's best for him…

A long response, but it comes from the depths of my soul and reflects a lifetime of struggle.
A person who does not suffer is not strong.  A person who does not feel is not strong.  It takes no strength to go on doing what you enjoy, or what is, at worst, boring.  

A strong person suffers and despairs, tries and fails, yet keeps on struggling.

Simon and Garfinkel's song declares:

In the clearing stands a boxer,
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev'ry glove that laid him down
And cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame,
"I am leaving, I am leaving."
But the fighter still remains

He still remains, not because of his injuries or his failures.  He remains in spite of them, because he is strong. He could run and hide.  Instead he stays and fights the good fight.

Remember the post below from your philosophy class?  What it says about courage is true of strength.  There is no strength in doing things you enjoy and which are easy.  Strength is in struggle and in carrying on when you suffer.

Who is braver? The person who never fears anything or the person who overcomes his fear? Shakespeare said, "The coward dies a thousand deaths. The brave man dies but once." This is a very common attitude and it's very foolish. The idea that man who is brave is never afraid makes no sense at all. Bravery consists of going ahead when you are afraid. If a person ever existed who was never afraid of anything, he had no courage at all. He didn't need any. Also, he had some kind of severe brain damage.

Remember Aristotle's Golden Mean between cowardice and excessive courage. The person with no fear at all would be about as excessive as possible.

Imagine you go to a petting zoo and in one area there's a snake. Are you very brave if you walk up and pet it, when you have no fear of snakes and even enjoy their company? Of course not.

But an old friend of mine, Barbara Hamilton, was once teaching her class of special needs students. One of our bus drivers brought in his huge pet boa constrictor to show to the children. Barbara was absolutely terrified of snakes, but didn't say so because she didn't want to teach the children to share her fear. Since she looked so calm, the driver showed the children how nice snakes were by putting the snake on her lap and wrapping it up around her neck. She showed no sign of her fear.

The next day she couldn't come to work because she had broken out in hives as result of her absolute terror. She was brave. Although terrified, she would not show that fear because she didn't want to teach the children to be afraid.

The driver was not being brave, he was enjoying his pet.

The Gospels say:

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.  Luke 15:7 KJV

Is it not surely true that there is more joy and respect for those who suffer, yet carry on than there is for those who never suffered and which needed no strength?

We justly respect the man who serves by doing his job supporting the troops back home where there is no violence, but we only give medals to men who suffer and struggle and despair, but keep fighting on in combat.

It is better not to suffer, but if you do suffer, it takes courage to go on every day in the face of it.  It takes great courage.  It takes great strength.

You have both.

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