Not "Why me?" but "What's next?"
In church this morning my pastor, Jill Edens, gave a brilliant sermon that referenced Reynolds Price's book, A Whole New Life, An Illness and a Healing, Price's memoir of his experiences with spinal cancer and his resulting paralysis. There were so many quotes that I couldn't jot down....I definitely want to read the book. Price talks about the necessity to get a whole new life in the face of his excruciating and potentially deadly battle with cancer. It made me think of the challenges of motherhood, in which we are on some level asked to give up our prior life and identity and create a new one. As I have said previously, this experience has given me the wisdom to face other challenges that have come down the road in the past seven years.
My favorite idea from Jill's sermon was that when we're faced with a crisis, instead of asking "Why me?" we need to be able to look forward and ask "What's next?" To me this provides the bridge that closes the gap between individual responsibilty and social/structural issues. When we face a challenge, we can't get stopped in the tracks of our own victimhood, no matter how justified our grievances may be. We need to keep evolving, no matter how hard it may be to say goodbye to our former, hard-earned, well-deserved lives. Jill said that growth and change often come on like a catastrophic earthquake, rather than a peacful and idyllic image such as a tree stretching gently upward toward the sun.
We'll see if I have the courage to live by these words. I am sure I'll re-read them one day and say "That was easy to write but hard to do." I hope I'll have a wise mentor like Jill to turn to in that moment, as I have before.