April 27, 2007

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Life’s challenge: To endure and thrive

Shirley Vogler MeisterRecently when cleaning a shelf, I found a clipping of a “Today’s Bible Verse” from The Indianapolis News nearly 20 years ago: “Lift your drooping heads and strengthen your weak knees and make straight paths for your feet so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed” (Heb 12:12-13).

The Rev. Phillip Gulley, a Quaker minister and well-known Indiana author, prepared the verse for that day, adding this comment, “We are called to a life of endurance, but more than that—not only to endure but to thrive.”

This piece from the past is appropriate for my husband, Paul, and me. The day I originally read that, my head was not only drooping—I was literally unable to keep my head up without holding it with my hands.

This was caused by an exacerbation of a neuromuscular problem, Myasthenia Gravis, which brings fatigue and weakness. Although MG still plagues me, I have learned how to better deal with it.

On the March day that I found the “drooping head” clipping, my husband was starting to recuperate from surgery for a severe injury caused by a fall on ice. His left knee needed to be strengthened through physical therapy but, at that point, therapy had not begun because of additional disappointing complications.

It was discouraging for him to hear the doctor say it might take a year to get his knee back to normal, but he is demonstrating forbearance and endurance.

As most of you reading this already know, this isn’t easy, especially if we strive to thrive, which is what Rev. Gulley suggested. Thriving in the midst of pain, illness, distressing challenges, disappointments and death face us all from time to time. Sometimes they are compounded by unusual circumstances, making every day truly tough to bear.

It makes me recall something my niece, JoAnne, shared with her daughter’s volleyball team when finding themselves facing formidable foes during a tournament: “We’re too blessed to be distressed.” That became their motto.

It could be our motto, too. No matter how bad times might be, if we—as faith-filled people—can see the blessings through the disappointments, we have most of our “battles” won. In fact, the volleyball team I mentioned did win.

Often, bad times bring worries that seem bigger than life, although usually temporarily. For instance, I opened this column by mentioning The Indianapolis News.

In 1999, the newspaper folded, with some of their staff joining The Indianapolis Star. That created havoc in the lives of many employees, just as the closing of any company negatively affects loyal workers. Yet, life went on, often in better directions, and the hardships became lessons.

Remember: We’re too blessed to be distressed!

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

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