Yesterday I joined with others to mourn a colleague who had died suddenly in her sleep at age 50. Rivers of tears and wails of gut-wrenching grief from her ten year-old son filled the sanctuary. She was a wonderful person, a nurse, a mother, a grandmother and clearly, a beloved member of this rural community. It was both sad and painful to share in their grief as the reality of their loss became abundantly clearer. My heart continued to ache this morning as I prayed and fought the urge to express anger toward God at this seemingly pointless tragedy.
I hugged my loved ones especially tight last night. My grandson’s vibrant smile and his tiny two-year old embrace were especially appreciated. This morning I was greeted by bright sunshine and heartfelt greetings from colleagues at work; and as I checked my email, I discovered a request to help provide direct support to the family of my deceased colleague as this family now bears the burden of finding health insurance and replacing her income in addition to weathering the storm of their deep-seated grief.
My heart is filled with gratitude for colleagues who responded immediately with such a practical and supportive gift. And as the strong emotions dissipate, I am beginning to see a glimpse of God’s plans unfolding because of the life and now death of my colleague. Already the lessons of her life have deepened my appreciation for family, simple gifts, and I am better because of this beautiful caregiver, wife and mother. Not the least among those lessons is the gift of every day.
Our paths in life are fuzzy and fraught with unexpected detours, yet I’ve learned there’s always joy in the journey when we can learn to see through the fog to the sunshine that lies behind. I’ve discovered when I stay true to my values of Faith, Optimism and Gratitude (F.O.G.) Joy is always accessible to me. Even when life throws me the biggest curveball I could have imagined, my values give me strength and enable Joy to emerge through the FOG. I imagine your values could provide you with the same rejuvenating benefits. There’s always JOY in the F.O.G.
Reflections: Ever thought about your values? Could you write them down? If not, what foundational principles keep you strong in times of unrest, ambiguity or tragedy? Knowing your values in an important milestone on your journey to discover your best self.
Recommended Reading for your inspirational pleasure: The Book of Joy by Archbishop Desmond TuTu and the Dalia Lama with Douglas Abrams
It’s the first day of the rest of your life. Enjoy!
Julie Leverenz, Founder of JLev.Life