Saturday, April 10, 2010

Life and the Unexpected

It seems lately that most of my best laid plans for a day's work are thwarted.  Take, for instance, a couple of weeks ago....I woke up, planned the day as usual, and started taking kids to various schools. My husband gets in his car and horrible noises ensue.  Oh boy... he has to be on the job soon and it was an hour away.  After a quick scan of the options, I quickly run our 1st grader to school, get gas, and take my husband to work. How he was to get home was still a big question mark, so I might have to pick him up at night. The day's plans changed just like that, and most of my day was shot.

This seems to be happening a lot to me lately, or maybe I have just noticed it more.  Sick kids calling from school is a popular reason, as is the latest mechanical problem with my husband's car.  One unexpected occurrence was my good friend calling me in tears asking me to go with her the next day for an emergency mammogram.  Thank the good Lord is seems to be nothing.

That did not compare at all to Good Friday.  My husband's sister called at 8:30am to tell us their dad was rushed to the hospital, and the doctor said he probably only had a few hours to live.  He said they should "call the children."  My husband was just arriving at work when I called him.  I had him on a plane by 11:30am.

Thank God that my beloved father-in-law, John, rallied a bit and surprised the doctor by being a lot better by the time my husband landed at 4pm.  My father-in-law is 80, has cancer, and is taking chemotherapy, so I use the term "a lot better" pretty loosely.  He got a urinary tract infection that went to his blood.  He has been on 5 different antibiotics and is not right on death's door, but still pretty sick.  They get him up to walk a little every day, and he has conversations and is eating a bit, but everyone is still very worried.

When my husband flew to see his dad last week it just brought home to me how easily life can change in a second. My husband got up as usual with no idea that he would not make it to work that day.  He had no idea that he would be on two planes that day and not sleep in his own bed.  He had no idea his dad would almost die that day.

On one hand, the unexpected makes life interesting and fun.  The free concert tickets that you receive.  The friends you haven't seen in years come to town.  Your sister calls you and tells you she is having a baby.  They're great things but, of course, life has a terrible side and we all know what can happen.

What about the unexpected happening to you or your spouse?  Or your children?  Are you ready?  Have you ordered your life around Christ?  Have you fostered your relationship with God?  Do you have faith?

Why is that important some would ask?  How does having "faith" help you?  It most likely will not cure your family member or make his bones heal.  It won't bring someone back from the dead... but it will give you solace and peace.

I remember being quite surprised when I read in Pope Benedict's book Jesus of Nazareth when he stated quite firmly that Jesus did not come to Earth to solve all the problems.  The Messiah was expected to make life grand.  To cure Israel's woes.  To remove the invaders.  Jesus turned that upside down.  He did not come for that.  He came not to fight wars, but to save us from sin.  To bring us holiness so we can be with God. He came to be with us in our suffering, not necessarily take it away.  Why?  Because suffering causes us to rely on God...to seek him out...to search and find him.  He allows these trials to bring us closer to him. When we die, that will be the only thing that counts.

If we foster our relationship with Him through prayer, the Eucharist and Confession, if we delve deep into our Bibles, we will slowly find him.  We need to think of others (like He did) instead of ourselves.  We need to meditate on the Ten Commandments and try to live them.  We need to trust.  We need to trust He is there. He loves us, He suffers with us, and He walks with us.  Every day.

The day my husband left on that airplane I started making plans in case the worst happened.  I thought I might have to drive up with the kids as soon as possible.  And it would take two days to get there.  I left my husband at the airport and took my car to get serviced and ready.  I filled up with gas and did my mental packing of the things we would need for the trip.  Who would take care of the cat?  Where were the maps?  What would we need?

Just like that my life turned, but I was trying to be ready.  I sat waiting for my oil change and prayed the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  I sent out emails to all I thought would pray for him.  I asked God to be with each family member, to make things go smoothly, to give peace where there was none.  I cried thinking of how much I loved my father-in-law and how I would miss him, but I cried with Jesus and asked him to help me in any trials.

The act of doing that brought me closer to the Lord.  Maybe I don't actually feel that, but it did.  I tried to rely on Him and to show Him I trust Him.  The more I trust Him the more I love Him.

A strong prayer life can carry you through the figurative "Hell and Back."  I know so many of my friends that are strong Christians and have heavy, heavy burdens and trials in their lives. Trials that I honestly would be crushed under.  I watch them struggle every single day and be tested like Job.  It is only the fact that Jesus walks with them that they are able to carry those burdens without cracking.

You have to be ready.  You have to pray and trust.  Ask the Lord to help you.  Ask Him for his Holy Spirit to guide you.  Ask the Blessed Mother to pray for you so that you may be strong in the Lord.  Then when the day comes, and it will, that you will need to rely on the Lord for strength, you will be ready and you will not be afraid.

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