When it’s Not YOUR Change

It occurs to me that much of the change we deal with isn’t even happening to us but to those around us.  Marriages, births, job changes, illness and death all may impact us but are not happening directly to us.  This is when I find the Serenity Prayer so calming:

…grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.

Much of the frustration and emotional pain I’ve experienced is because I lacked the wisdom to know the difference. I remember so clearly the advice my friend Gayna gave me, even as she lay dying of cancer. She said, “All anyone can be for another is a witness. We all need a witness, someone who sees our life and is happy we were born.”

I was very happy Gayna was born and I reflect on her sage advice often, especially when someone I care about is struggling. Usually they are wrestling with something I cannot help with. Sure, I can provide emotional support, prayers or even a hot-cooked meal but beyond that, when any of us is faced with an obstacle in the road, it is a solitary journey. Perhaps that’s why we want so desperately to help—we relate to the struggle our loved one is facing because we’ve had similar struggles. The facts may be different but the experience is the same.

And maybe, just maybe that’s why we feel so darned comfortable commiserating about the bad things in life but decidedly uncomfortable sharing our joys. It’s funny. We are convinced people can relate to the negative but fear that, if we share the positive, it will somehow alienate us from those who may be struggling as we are dancing.

My friend Nancy is a friend with whom I share both my struggles and my triumphs and, when I do I am never self-conscious about where she is in her journey. I know that she is always happy for me when things are going well, just as I exalt in her good news when she shares it. It is a friendship that has withstood the test of time (over three decades now) and I know it’s because she is my witness and I hers. Ours is an intimacy rarely experienced. There is no envy or recrimination or negative judgment. She is a safe “space” for me and I for her.

Do you have a witness like Nancy? Someone who would cheer you on in a race even as she’d been sidelined with a twisted ankle? Are you that for someone else?  If so, take some time to appreciate the rare gift you have. Close your eyes and send that person love and, when you open your eyes, reach out to them to let them know. Maybe you can send this blog so s/he will understand how you feel.

And if you don’t have someone like Nancy, pray for the courage to change that. Start singing this song as a prayer:  Can I Get a Witness?

Remember, you get more of what you focus on!