Broken Cookie

20151227_110709

The young woman ascended the stage with frailty, dragging a cane up the steps in her left hand.

The pastor’s wife stood near, ready to help her if she tipped or became wobbly. Stepping to the stage behind the woman was her husband, cradling their infant. Neither of them were over the age of thirty.

“I’m not here to tell you that our lives are perfect or great,” the woman said with a mild slur into the mic. “Our last year has been filled with garbage.”

The couple spent a good portion of the year handling her husband’s Crohns Disease flare ups, and it took a lot out of them. Then in September their child was born, a beautiful healthy baby. Two weeks later the young woman had a stroke. It changed so much of their lives. Now she talks with a slur, and walks assisted. But through it all she portrayed a strength and confidence that transcended any cane or paralysis.

“Life continues to be hard. But we have a beautiful healthy baby, and we are still together,” she said. “I could sit back and wonder why it all happened. These events were put in our lives for a reason. We’ll find out why someday, and I would rather look ahead and known that what we’ve endured may end up helping someone else.”

Her mindset reminds me of a broken cookie.

It may be in two pieces sitting there on the plate. It’s not perfect. Some might consider it unpresentable. The crack may have been unexpected, and the crack may also be severe. You can sit there and complain about the broken cookie, or you can eat the damn thing and take in all the wonderful tastes and textures it still offers even in two pieces. A cookie is a cookie. It tastes like a cookie. Work with the two parts and you still have a cookie. Expecting that cookie to be an exact circle, and unbroken, is like expecting a perfect life that only exists on paper or in a movie from the 1950s. What happened to that young couple could happen to anyone.

Expecting perfection sets all of us up for failure.

Life is real and life is unfiltered. There will be hardships, trials, setbacks and sideswipes. We don’t always get the promotion. Sometimes getting a 4.0 doesn’t mean you’re on a track to moneyville. There are bumps in the road. Curve balls come out of nowhere, and next thing you know your path has completely changed. I will admit that I don’t always react well when faced with an unexpected trip-up. But lately I’ve worked on taking a different approach when sidetracked by adversity; I ask myself “where could this take me?” I also try to look at it in a productive way. It’s not easy giving up control over something that you feel must be done a certain way. For some people, it’s nearly impossible. But consider this: It could be that the sidetrack was actually the way something was supposed to happen, and not necessarily the original plan. I’ve discovered that unexpected opportunities have presented themselves by taking the unexpected path.

I look at the cookie as a whole, and ignore the break.

If a young stroke victim can stand with her husband and child on a stage, and proclaim publicly that she’s taking on what’s being handed out, then I can look at my own life and unexpected struggles in a different way. How we see it is how it plays. Do you want to wallow or win? I choose the latter, and so did that young woman.

The cookie tastes great if you want it to.

Your Basket Awaits

20130930_072618_173rd Ave NE

“That kid,” Courtney said, “just wouldn’t give up.”

After getting done with our Bible study last night, the stunning Mrs. Clark and I went to pick up Jack from childcare in another part of the church. We found him sitting on the steps of the stage, sweaty and tired. Courtney smiled big while pointing at the basketball hoop.

“He shot baskets for an entire hour to get the ball in. And he did it.”

Jack is short, and the basket is high off the ground.

Nevertheless, he has the determination and drive of three 8-year olds. Jack doesn’t let something like a short pair of legs and a prosthetic get in the way of a goal. He finds a path. He locates a loophole. He goes around the obstacle.

And just about every time he makes that basket.

I think it’s clear that we can learn from this, or at least be reminded that getting around the obstacle is often a matter for the mind to command. How else could Sherry raised hundreds of pounds on her back during her power lifting days? Her head led and her body followed. I thought of this the other day when I was watching the movie Captain America; halfway through a run, a group of men stood by a tall flagpole. “Whoever brings me that flag gets to ride back to base with Agent Carter.” While all the biggest and toughest men tried hard to climb the pole to get the flag, not one of them succeeded. The beautiful Agent Carter simply sat in her seat and smiled at each attempt. Then after all the others had failed, Steve Rogers – the smallest of them – walked over to the pole, pulled a pin which dropped the pole to the ground, untied the flag and gave it to the officer before hopping in the back of the Jeep.

Brain over Brawn.

Life is full of walls. We all see them and grumble about them. I needed to see and hear about Jack’s determination to throw that ball through a hoop to know that I have to keep knocking those walls down. Push towards a goal. Think it through. Thing around it. The path may be unfamiliar or unexpected. Keep pushing. And for the love of all that’s holy, never ever give up.

Your basket awaits.