I was born May 12, 1996: twenty years ago yesterday. I am twenty years old. This is really weird. I was just eight the other day, I swear. Twenty years have gone by faster than little me thought they would. Younger me had all these expectations for what life would be like when I was twenty: for starters, I thought I would have a boyfriend by now. Younger me would be so disappointed. Younger me also thought my dad would be around, and I would still be living in Seattle. Younger me would be shocked to see me living in South Carolina instead of downtown Seattle.
Well here I am, in the middle of South Carolina, with a whole lot of new friends and new adventures, adventures and friends that I never would have had if it weren’t for my dad’s death and my mom’s remarriage to my step-dad. In retrospect, it’s been a lovely twenty years. There is a quote from Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South that accurately describes how I feel about the last twenty years. Gaskell says about her character,
“It was now drawing near to the anniversary of Edith’s marriage, and looking back upon the year’s accumulated heap of troubles, Margaret wondered how they had been borne. If she could have anticipated them, how she would have shrunk away and hid herself from the coming time! And yet, day by day had, of itself, and by itself, been very endurable—small, keen, bright little spots of positive enjoyment having come sparkling into the very middle of sorrows.”
My life up to this point has not by any stretch of the imagination been a piece of cake. But there have been things, little things, that have made this journey so much more enjoyable than I thought it would be. It’s all the little things: a waterfall in the middle of the woods, a sunset, good friends, dogs, books (lots of books), my favorite music, the mountains, beach vacations, and so much more. The big things can help to brighten the mood, but when the big things fail to bring joy, I have learned to look to the little things.
I have also learned to trust God in everything. With all the bad stuff that has happened in my life, my only hope is that I have a God who loves and cares for me and is with me through everything that happens in my life. My whole life is in His hands. What should I worry about, or be afraid of, if He is in control? Matthew 6:26 says,
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
If God loves and cares for even the littlest bird, can’t He also take care of me, even in my darkest trials? Of course He can. So why am I afraid? God is in control of everything in this whole world, including the littlest things in my life, such as passing or failing a quiz, or finding or not finding a book I wanted. He is in control of everything, and everything, even the trials, work for His glory and my ultimate good.
I remember at my dad’s graveside service, Pastor Elam, one of my dad’s good friends, told us the story of how, a few weeks prior, he and Dad had been camping with their respective sons, and while the boys were playing, they were talking. He told us about something Dad said that took him aback for a moment. See, Dad had been struggling with cancer for over a year at that time. It had been a rough ride, with several different chemotherapy treatments, the realization that he was going to die, etc. Yet, my dad told Pastor Elam that if he could change the whole last year, take away the cancer, he wouldn’t. I think at this moment, you’re probably just as surprised as Pastor Elam was, and as the rest of us were when he told us that story. Pastor Elam went on to share the rest of what Dad had said, which was that Dad had begun to realize that God was using even his struggle with cancer to affect not only his own life for the better, but the lives of people around the world who were hearing Dad’s story. That’s why Dad wouldn’t change any of it. Because he saw how God was working in his life and in other’s lives to bring glory to Himself.
So with every bump in the road, every trial that has come my way, I suppose my attitude is “bring it on.” Because if my dad can look at cancer and imminent death and say, “bring it on,” I think I can probably look at finals week the same way as well. Because one of the hardest things that anyone can endure is facing death, and Dad did it well. I guess, if given the chance to change anything, I wouldn’t. Because, looking back, God used everything in my life to make me a better person and strengthen my faith in Him. Plus He turned my dad into a pretty awesome role model. I really can’t complain. All things considered, my life hasn’t been too bad. I’m telling you guys, it’s the little things. So to the next 20 years of hardships I say, “do your worst.”