By Gray Bostick
Well here we are, at the end of another year and it’s Christmas already!
Christmas, that magical, special time of the year, when music and lights and excitement—especially for the little ones—fills the air. It’s Santa and Rudolph and Hallmark movies and cards and carols and shopping and laughing at The Griswolds and enjoying friends and family. A time of sharing and caring and thanking and appreciating. You know, just being human; just being you.
It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.
But perhaps even beyond the actual religious “reason for the season,” in real-life terms, Christmas is also much more than a time of joyful exhilaration and fervor about the gleeful aspects of the holiday, but also a time for something possibly more important: personal introspection…a look back, a chance to reflect upon the past year—or more, and assess where you are in your life.
We were given the absolutely greatest gift a couple thousand years ago–but another gift given by our Creator was the ability to think. And we fail Him if we fail to do so. And while there’s comfort in the promise of Jeremiah 29:11—“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”—given the trials and tribulations of modern life, it’s our nature as His children to worry and fret—often about the unimportant. But all too frequently we each have very valid concerns and suffer personal tragedy and loss at times.
Life can change. Fast. And forever.
But the important part is not in the challenge or adversary being faced, but, instead, in how you face it.
This isn’t about me and involves relatively minor matters anyway, so I wont bore you, but, as an example, back in 2014 I had to have some December surgery to remove mastoid bone behind my deafened right ear to help manage symptoms of Meniere’s disease—vertigo attacks, migraines, 24/7 tinnitus, balance issues, etc—because there’s currently no cure for Meniere’s. OK, I rationalized…a bad deal, for sure, but it could’ve been worse, so, while I was unable to continue to work and earn a living, I adapted, set new goals and set course on my “new” reality.
Then this year a May appointment to check a shoulder injury turned into September radiation for tumors on my hip and shoulder and I’m about to start my fifth round of chemotherapy for Multiple myeloma, a regimen that may continue for the rest of my life as there is currently no cure for that type cancer either.
That’s a wake-up call—that keeps waking you up.
But therein also lies the twist of lime: it also offers opportunity to learn, to grow from adversity, to prove that NOTHING is greater than the Human Spirit. Life’s not about playing good cards well; it’s about playing a bad hand the best you can. So, deal ’em out.
And I tell you that about me only to tell you this: Cancer can do whatever it wants. But, personally, I’m moving forward; cancer is no longer relevant to the remainder of my plans for the future. It’s a non-factor…let the chips fall how and when and where they may; I’m gonna live my life. Now, I’m not special, nor brave or bold…I just got angry that something seemingly beyond my control was controlling my life. And that had to stop.
You want a piece of me, cancer? You want to take things away? Well, good luck with that, because I’m adding a few acts to the show.
Case in point…I’m notoriously known as a sloth-like shopper when seeking something special—and painfully ponderous at the point of actual purchase—it’s actually taken me three months to settle on a pair of simple athletic shoes before; I know; it’s sad—but after nearly a half-century of consideration, Judy finally tired of my talk and, thanks to an early delivery by Santa’s prettiest elf, I now own a guitar. Fifty-years late, maybe…but I’ve got one. And I’ve almost got calluses on my left-hand fingertips since it came in last Wednesday. And I’m just getting started. I can hardly walk by the thing without picking it up.
Next up: songs. Then that book I’ve been promising Judy I’d write.
Take that, ya malignant malinger cancer. Next time be careful who you pick a fight with.
My point is that I truly believe that man only maintains his momentum and strength as he’s moving forward toward a goal of some sort, and that there is no challenge more daring than the challenge to improve yourself. And the bigger the challenge—and the higher you set the bar in response, the greater the opportunity for growth.
While we will always face trying times—and each of us invariably will, nearly daily, each one will also be an opportunity to build your strength, character and faith. Challenges are a part of life and can keep it as interesting as heart-breaking, and overcoming them can make life more meaningful and help you realize who you really are. Or, if the shoe fits, who you might want to seek to become.
I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions; why wait until January 1 to change that what’s been identified on December 21? Why hesitate? Don’t delay; start today. When life gets harder, dare yourself to become stronger. Don’t look to limit challenges, but to instead challenge your limits. Don’t get bitter, get better. Be your biggest critic and find ways to be a better person today than you were yesterday.
Your attitude the one single thing that you do have total control over. Make it bright and positive, where everybody wins.
It’s Christmas…share the Love.