I've been hearing about this woman, Laura Black, for a while now. We've been praying for her in church for years (her husband's parents go to our church) and my best friend & roommate from college (who had and beat cancer senior year) has been sharing her posts with me from time to time. I wish I had started reading them years ago, but I just started yesterday. In 2008, after being cancer free for 8 months, Laura learned her breast cancer had metastasized. With this news, she started keeping a journal on CaringBridge that has been read by so many people who never even met her. Below is one of the first entries I read, written to her children, that I wanted to share.
June 16, 2012 - What I want you to know:
Dear Will, Gracy and Caroline,
This is what I want you to know about life:
- Life is beautiful.
- The outcome of your life depends on the one thing you control: Your attitude.
There are tons of cute, sweet, little, precious Christians that I hear say all the time, “I’m so ready for Heaven.” You know what I want to say to those cute, sweet, little, precious Christians? Nothing. I just want to punch them in the nose. I know, I know. That’s not what your Mama should be teaching you is it? Notice that I don’t punch them, I just look at them and say, “I know…” (be angry but don’t sin and all that), but seriously, they have no idea what they are saying. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some people in this world that are in such a place of pain physically or emotionally that when they say, “I’m so ready for Heaven,” they’ve earned the right to say it. But most people that say that have a wonderful marriage, children, a great house, money in the bank, no health problems, and have no idea what a real problem even is. When they say, “I’m so ready for Heaven,” what they’re really saying is, “I’m tired of trying. Life has gotten a little uncomfortable. I don’t want to do this anymore.” I just want to look at them and say, “Really? Because all I want is life. Yes, life has problems. Yes, life is uncomfortable. Yes, life is hard. But life is beautiful and I want to keep living it! Heaven isn’t going anywhere. But God has put me here for now. I want life.”
Life is filled with beauty. It is all around me. The sunrise and sunset. The stars. The smell of a baby. Rainbows. The sound of laughter. The feel of the hand of someone I love in mine. The smell of fresh cut grass. Watching the flowers bloom in spring. The sound of waves rolling in. The warmth of sand on my feet. Hearing, “Mama!” when I pick you up from school. The pitter-patter of little feet running down the hallway. Laughter. Hearing, “I love you.” Saying, “I love you.” The way the outside light changes after a storm. Cold Coca-Cola in a glass bottle. Lemonade stands. School plays. Getting a card in the mail. A good hug. Watching a clumsy, little puppy. The smell of warm chocolate chip cookies. Making S’mores in the backyard. Tent camping. The whole family cuddled together on the sofa. Watching my child learn something new. Teaching my child something new. First steps. Watching a child sleep. Birthday parties. The crackle of a real fire. Spending time with people I love. A Sunday afternoon nap. Watching Daddy walk through the door after work. Hearing people pray. Getting a craft my child made. A funny joke. A breeze on a hot day. The right scripture at the right time. Drinking hot chocolate. Watching snow fall. A good surprise. Watching my child win.
Life is beautiful at so many turns. There is something praiseworthy in every day. The problem isn’t life. The problem is our attitude. We live in a world that says we are in control. When I was growing up, I would spend hours dreaming about what I would be, who my husband would be, how many children we would have, what kind of house we would have. The list goes on and on. Then I grew up and went to college. It really did seem like I was in control. I got to choose my major. I got to choose my friends. I got to choose how I spent my time. I got to choose where I would go. I got to choose what I would do. I got to choose whom I would date. I got to choose what I would wear. I got to choose what I would eat. I got to choose what time I would go to bed. I got to make every decision. It… was… AWESOME!!!!! Life was going exactly how I had planned. I was in control.
But then life progresses. First, you get married. When you get married you’re no longer your own person. Now you have two people that have input into all of your decisions. You lose a little control. Then you start working. Your boss has a say in what you do. You lose a little control. Then you start having children. All of the sudden what you want doesn’t matter near as much as doing the best for them. You lose a little control. Circumstances happen that affect your life. You lose a little control. You have a child that’s born with a disability. You lose a little control. You are diagnosed with a health problem. You lose a little control. You face financial problems. You lose a little control. Tragedy strikes. You lose a little control. One day you wake up, look at your life, and think, “Whose life is this and what happened to mine?!?” In that moment you realize the truth: You never were in control. You just thought you were. Either you’re sovereign or God is sovereign. It can’t be both ways. When you realize you aren’t in control, you have one of two choices. 1) Become despondent, enter a state of despair, and become depressed; or 2) Realize that there is one thing you can control: your attitude.
The only thing you can control in life is your attitude. But that one thing that you can control is key to how much joy you have in life. In everything, there is something that is praiseworthy. Everything. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Whether or not you choose to rejoice, pray, and give thanks is a choice. It all depends on your attitude. Don’t ruin your life with a, “Woe is me, oh don’t you feel sorry for me,” kind of attitude. Enjoy life. Grab life by the horns. Live life. Be filled with joy. Have an attitude of, “Yep, it was bad, but even that was praiseworthy.”
I have a wonderful life. I can’t believe how much I’ve been blessed. I’m married to a wonderful man. I have three amazing children. I have wonderful parents. I have a great brother. I have in-laws that treat me like their own. And I can’t even begin to list all of the amazing experiences I have had in life. If God chooses to take me home and anyone ever looks at you and says, “Your poor mother...” you look right back at them and say, “Obviously you didn’t know my mother.” I’m living my life. I’m living it fully. I will never, ever give up. I may finish, but I won’t give up. There’s a big difference. That’s what I want for you. I want you to have an amazing life filled with incredible experiences. I want you to live and laugh and love and travel and experience new things and go after what you want in life. I want you to live life fully. I don’t want you to ever give up. It’s all about attitude. It’s your choice. Choose wisely.
The above is quoted text written by Laura Black of Birmingham, Alabama on her Caring Bridge page, after several years of a courageous fight against cancer and a fierce ministry of loving and sharing Jesus through it all. Laura met her maker face to face on June 23rd. Her entries on caring bridge have touched thousands all across the world. You can read more about her and her story by visiting her Caring Bridge page. Just be warned: if you start reading, you'll be changed.