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Gaining Perspective During Dark Times

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Gaining Perspective

What a week, amiright? I can’t believe how much COVID-19 has changed our world since I last posted: our kids are out of school until late April, we’ve added “social distancing” to our family vernacular, and as of today our business is closed for probably three long weeks.

What. A. Week.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus wasn’t the only thing turning our lives upside down.

You see, I spent the last week thinking I might have cancer.

Because of my family’s health history, I’ve started doing pretty extensive breast cancer screenings each year. Last week I found out a recent MRI found two “areas of concern”—one on my breast, one on my liver.?? It took 8 days of cycling through worry, hope, faith, acceptance, freakout, and peace to gratefully get the final all-clear—nothing malignant. Just some imperfect tissue and a hemangioma.

If you think I bawled with relief to have this be all over, you’re right.

One unexpected perk from this short-but-meaningful experience was gaining perspective. Petty problems, worrying about things out of my control, and even caring about our dented van seemed less worth my worry. I had moments when I thought, “I’m sure this isn’t cancer. They’re just being cautious and thorough.” But then 10 minutes later I’d think, “But what if it’s bad? What if??”

That would make me cry. Hard.

Never in front of my kids, and not to my mom or sisters (we’ve had more than enough worrying about cancer). Honestly, I didn’t cry that my turn on earth could be almost over, but I did cry for my darling babies. My sweet husband. My family that could have to go through loss again.

It got dark sometimes, ya’ll.

But even when it went dark, I was amazed at how it would lead to light.

Clarity. I started to realize what I love and value most. Things that have been on my bucket list for decades started to fade in importance. I realized so much of what I spend my time doing just isn’t essential to me. So much of my time is spent on things that matter way too little.

I happened to be in the middle of rereading Mitch Albom’s “Tuesdays with Morrie,” a book I love and read every few years. I find it to be very grounding. It’s the true story of a young man interviewing a beloved professor at the end of the old man’s life.

One thing Morrie emphasized repeatedly is the importance of love. He said, “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.” Relationships—family and friends—are what he valued most. He also kept telling Mitch, “When you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”

I don’t mean to sound like my week of fretting was the same as this wise man’s losing battle with ALS, but I definitely learned a bit of how I want to live last week.

I know this has been a frightening last few weeks. We’re worried about love ones, our economy, and our personal finances. I know it’s easy to be overcome with anxiety, because, well, that’s how I usually roll.

But I hope I don’t forget the perspective I gained last week.

I hope I remember my family, God, love, friends, helping people, nature, chocolate-covered confections… these are what I care about. I’m overwhelmed by all this sudden COVID-19-induced family time, but I’m also grateful for it. As we were driving home from learning it wasn’t breast cancer, I was drunk on relief. Just ask my patient husband. I kept sobbing in the car about how love is what matters. I couldn’t help it. People are what matters. “LOVE IS LOVE AND IT’S SO IMPORTANT, BABE!”

Morrie said, “Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”

I know this is a debt blog, and times like this do emphasize the importance of good finances. We are feeling grateful for emergency funds, and dreaming of the day when we don’t have any debt to bog us down.

But during these strange times I think it’s good for all of us to not forget what matters. Let’s look for the good, focus on what we can control, help whomever we can, and find a way to enjoy the time we have together.

I’m with Beks… We got this.


3 Comments

  • Reply Isabella |

    Well said, Sara. I am a two-time survivor of breast cancer, so I feel I definitely have perspective on this virus! I also know that God is in control of all aspects of my life. A sparrow does not fall to the ground without His knowledge. Of course, that doesn’t mean I am not prudent and sensible with health measures. A health scare or the actual experience changes our paradigm, indeed!

So, what do you think ?