Last week, I wrote about one particular day in my life when a cancer diagnosis rocked my world. After posting it, I began to think about other major events that can bring about change—meeting a new love interest, a wedding, the birth of a child, landing the perfect job, the ideal vacation, etc.
A cancer diagnosis usually produces a negative response, while these happy occasions conjure up images of joys and blessings. Who wouldn’t want their dreams to come true?
My friend Ted was a successful lawyer who loved books. His dream was to open a bookstore and share his love of books. I think he imagined days filled with like-minded book-lovers discussing ideas, books and authors. He could picture a customer’s joy when he (Ted) was able to help find the perfect book for that person. With a passion for books and enough money from his law practice, he retired from law and built a bookstore in Oregon.
One day, a friend of mine in Ireland was lamenting that he could not find a particular book about the river where he fished in County Cork. It was long out-of-print, but my friend was desperate to get a copy for his fishing partner. I asked Ted if he could help, and he gladly accepted the challenge. It did not take him long to find a copy of this obscure book at a used bookstore in England. My Irish friend was thrilled, as was his fishing partner when he received the book. I think that before he opened the store, Ted imagined these were the kinds of moments that would fill the days of a bookstore owner.
Unfortunately, running a business involves many more mundane tasks, and Ted would often call to discuss some aspect of his day that had not gone as he planned. “Remember,” I would say as gently as possible, “you are living your dream.”
Even when our dreams come true, when we land the perfect job or take the ideal vacation or meet Mr. or Ms. Right, every moment of every day is not bliss. Life is full of ups and downs, and finding balance is essential—not holding on too tightly to either the joys or the sorrows.
St. Paul wrote, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:12-13)
To be content with and grateful for what is—not just the happy times, but also the difficult, heartbreaking times—requires the strength and grace that Jesus offers. Any day can bring news that can rock my world, and I can feel like a weeble wobble that tilts off kilter.
Daily prayer reminds me that I am in God’s hands, and God will help me find balance. I am grateful.