August 13, 2021

Joyful Witness / Kimberly Pohovey

Reality checks remind us to be grateful for our blessings

Kimberly PohoveyI have never watched a reality show. Contrary to their name, I find them devoid of the true realities of life. I’m sure some find them a type of entertainment escapism, but if anything, I consider them a reality check. I assume one could conclude their intent is to make you feel better about your own life; however, I don’t think we should feel better about our life at the expense of others. We should be grateful for the abundant blessings we do enjoy. I’ve recently been pondering reality checks in my life.

Years ago, my husband suffered through life-threatening cancer. Praise be to God that he is healthy today, but I spent a lot of years with the thought of a recurrence in the back of my mind. My friend’s husband died of brain cancer earlier this year, and it was a reality check to stop waiting for the worst and enjoy today to the fullest.

I recently met a woman in her 70s who works a physically demanding job to make ends meet. It is hard on her. She asked if I worked a desk job, the implication being that I am lucky not to have to toil the way she does. My heart ached for this woman as I heard the fatigue in her voice. She asked where I live and when I responded, she commented that it must be a fancy house.

In reality, our house is medium sized in a very nice, but modest development. It made me recall all the times I was dissatisfied with or wanted something more in our home. In relation to this woman, I live an extremely fortunate lifestyle.

In recent years, I’ve experienced a bunch of frustrating physical ailments that I feel have affected my ability to be physically fit. I started aqua aerobics classes because it is easier on my joints. After one class, I struck up a conversation with a few of the attendees. One after the other spoke to me of their physical limitations, making walking, climbing stairs and exercising difficult. As I listened to accounts of their aches and pain, I realized they seemed grateful to have an empathetic ear. It was then that I understood that my burden could be lightened if I focused less on my ailments and more on those whose situations are more difficult than mine.

One day I was walking outside my office building to grab some lunch. It was one of those sweltering hot and humid days we have experienced this summer. A religious sister walked toward me wearing her full dark blue habit. As we greeted one another, I asked how hot she was wearing heavy garments in the heat? She simply waved away the thought and told me she offers it up. Walking away, I thought of all the times I’ve been “too” something—too hot, too cold, too tired—and probably didn’t handle it with grace.

My mother used to say this same phrase to me when I was young. At the time, I didn’t understand how one could “offer it up,” much less how it could cure my issue. This encounter reminded me that I could follow the sister’s example. I imagine that saying she offers it up allows her to let it go and trust God to handle it. I find that just saying the words bolsters my endurance.

I resolve that the next time I have a complaint, I will reality check myself.

(Kimberly Pohovey is a member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis. She is the director of major and planned gifts for the archdiocese.) †

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