This past week will likely go down as one of the busiest of the year for me. And while I met deadlines, fulfilled obligations, gave my time, and even got some laundry done, I was writing this post in my head. There are three other drafts saved, but nothing quite seemed to say what I wanted. I hope this one is a keeper.
Twice last week a not commonly used word came up in conversation. First at lunch with a friend, she was telling me how a speaker at a Christian event encouraged the attendees to love fiercely. My friend just so happened to have a family situation that provided an opportunity to love fiercely, so she felt the timing was more than consequence.
The next day I learned that a young girl named Josie has a brain tumor. A family we know, had been given the kind of life altering news that no one wants to hear. This news has weighed heavy on my heart in the days since. Her parents describe their daughter as little, but fierce. There was that word again. And Josie has been fierce. She has embraced her situation as an adventure and not complained once. Amazing when bravery comes in a small package. Her parents have shown unwavering faith. It always amazes me – when something happens that brings you to your knees and faith is strengthened, rather than questioned.
The outpouring of support for this family has been a beautiful example of loving fiercely. Meals cooked, gift cards purchased, and care packages delivered. A Facebook group formed, signs decorated and t-shirts made. A song written. And most importantly an abundance of prayer. Our community has rallied and it is heartwarming.
It makes me wonder two things. Would my faith be as strong if I were in their shoes? Would I succumb to unspeakable what ifs or could I be an example of strength and courage? Could I take the words of my life verse to heart?
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
The second thing I wonder is why we wait to love fiercely? We can accomplish so much right before a deadline. The home improvements completed before a graduation open house, the work finished prior to going on a vacation, and the house cleaning just before guests arrive are all fine examples. Not all of us, but a good portion of us need deadlines to put ourselves in motion. I am one of those people who appreciates the motivation of a deadline. Having people over ensures our black dining room table gets dusted. Work deadlines ensure I write marketing newsletters rather than blog posts. But why is it we all too often treat life and love the same way? It isn’t until you’ve heard bad news that you realize just how good things were. It isn’t until the days are numbered that they are lived to the fullest. Shame on all of us who are procrastinating.
I’ve been working on living with gratitude and intention. Despite the fact that I think I’m doing a pretty good job of it, hearing this type of news makes me yet again reevaluate. All I can think is how as a parent in this situation nothing else would matter. The work deadlines would be trivial. The laundry wrinkling in the dryer, the molding grapes in the fridge, the unfinished to do list – none of it would matter. All that would matter is loving fiercely.
Author Brene Brown put it this way, “To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees – these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But, I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude and grace.”
I’m learning this too. Let’s join Josey in living and loving fiercely. Today is Josie’s tenth birthday and it will be spent having surgery to remove the tumor. I ask that you pray for her.