Updated: Aug 24
Betty had more than her fair share of heartache. Her mom died when Betty was only five leaving her with a father who was cold and indifferent. She later married and had three kids, but her husband struggled with alcohol and left her to raise three young children. When her kids were grown, she moved across the country to start life over where she met the love of her life. A pilot, he tragically died in a plane crash in the line of duty as an aerial firefighter in the first year of their marriage. Grieving his loss, she decided to move back home to be close to two of her three children. Sadly, they both died way too young, essentially leaving her alone again. Ultimately, she outlived all three of her children.
The Power of Your Choice
Life can come at us hard. Sometimes we dig our own potholes and sometimes there are gaping holes in the road that seem to come out of nowhere. Unfortunately, God does not give us the script for our lives in advance. Our grief can be overwhelming. I have a friend that lost a parent young, and he has never really forgiven God for it. Dr. John Oswalt authored a book aptly titled Where are you, God? that deals with the struggles of pain, injustice, and suffering. His title sums up a question we all have at some point.
What struck me about Betty is that in spite of the obvious challenges in her life, she kept a joyous and peaceful spirit. She was not bitter. She did not cast blame. It does not mean that she did not mourn her losses, but she was able to do so without letting it consume her. She lived until her mid 90’s and kept a joyous spirit. She was “with it” and embraced life and new challenges. She took a computer class when computers first became popular and was an avid emailer and active on social media.
The Choice is Ours
We do have a choice. When the unpleasantness of life strikes, we get to decide how we respond. I am reminded of the old saying “what does not kill me will make me stronger.” It’s delusional to expect a “perfect” life. Despite some claims to the contrary, God does not promise us a pain free life. In fact, quite the opposite.
When I re-read the hardships of the apostles or consider the plight of many of the martyrs, I’m reminded of this truth. However, we are promised the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, to be with us and comfort us. We are promised an eternal homecoming. That is comforting. I frequently have to remind myself that I do have the power of choice. When life happens to me, I get to choose whether I have a negative or positive response. Do I respond in fear, stress, and anxiety or do I lean into Christ for peace, love, and forgiveness.
Betty leaned in to Christ. She also leaned on her brothers and sisters in Christ. She surrounded herself with “balcony” people and not “basement” people. She exercised her power of choice to push ahead and not quit on life. Because of that, she served as an inspiration to others, including me. Since Betty was my paternal grandmother, I had had a front row seat to watch her deal with many of the losses and setbacks. We all have different suffering that we must endure. Beneath the shiny veneer of each of our polished lives is probably some kind of deep suffering or pain as well. It’s helpful to remember the power of choice that we all have and the peace and ultimate security that comes from a life of faith.