Susan’s Thursday morning note June 12, 2008 Coping with intense pain. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch Mistaken Identity by Don & Susie Van Ryn
On speaking on his terminal cancer: I let the audience follow the arrows and count my tumors. All right…that is what it is. We can’t change it. We just have to decide how we’ll respond. We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.
On academics playing a role in his childhood: We didn’t buy much. But we thought about everything. That’s because my dad had this infectious inquisitiveness about current events, history, our lives. In fact, growing up, I thought there were two types of families: 1) Those who need a dictionary to get through dinner. 2) Those who don’t… “If you have a question,” my folks would say, “then find the answer.” The instinct in our house was never to sit around like slobs and wonder. We knew a better way: Open the encyclopedia. Open the dictionary. Open your mind.
On criticism (in football practice): An assistant coach in a dialogue after a tough practice: “Coach Graham rode you pretty hard, didn’t he?” “Yeah.” “That’s a good thing. When you’re screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they’ve given up on you.” That lesson stuck with me my whole life. When you see yourself doing something badly and nobody’s bothering to tell you anymore, that’s a bad place to be. You may not want to hear it, but your critics are often the ones telling you they still love you and care about you, and want to make you better. (Plutarch has an essay on the good of enemies that I’ll find for all of us another Thursday – how we rise above mediocrity if we are being critiqued…).
The writings from another book released this month were from families dealing with instant death. Not preparing for death. The encouragement, prayers, thoughts, grief portrayed, and hope in eternity’s perspective given in the book Mistaken Identity were powerful. I highly recommend this book to anyone needing an example of prayers from families in pain. Two Taylor college students were misidentified after a fatal accident. The book is incredible – the diaries of both families. One family who believed their daughter had been killed. The other entries from the family who sat with their “daughter” for several weeks in ICU at the hospital. Susie VanRyn, on the day that she found out the her daughter was not the one she had been nursing in the hospital, but had already been buried, wrote in her journal…
God, you are my refuge – please protect me.
You are my strength – I am entirely weak.
You will give me peace and comfort – please see me through the days ahead.
On a day when she could barely cope with her grief. Getting out of bed had been enough of an accomplishment. She had to go through the motions of the day…face the day. She looked down at her Bible, but the letters on the page all ran together into one, long, incomprehensible word. She looked harder and could make out the words to one verse that seemed to jump off the page, “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.” (Proverbs 14:10). Bitterness and joy mixed together, that’s what I feel. Oh, God, how? Oh, God, why? Why does life keep going on when I want it to stop? Why does it keep going forward when I can’t move. She took a deep breath. Just keep moving, she said to herself, just keep moving. She knew she had to keep moving, but that didn’t mean rushing back to life the way it had been before the accident…Oh, God, help me, she prayed. I am so weak…but you are my strength.
All of us are involved in situations of grief. Grief that we are helping our friends go through. Changes in our lives, or in lives of those that we want to help. Both of the above books I recommend to have in your personal library. Not just “one-time-reads” but books that I believe will help you to find encouragement in making our days count, regardless of our circumstances or future. And encouragement spiritually. On changing our perspective to seeing eternity in the scope of our daily situations. I wanted to type a song recommended to me this week called “Live with Eternity’s Values in View“, but I couldn’t find the words anywhere. If this is a familiar hymn to you, will you please send me the words?
Works Cited: Pausch, Randy. The Last Lecture. New York. Hyperion. 2008. Van Ryn, Don & Susie; Cerak, Newell, Colleen, & Whitney. Mistaken Identity. New York: Simon & Schuster. 2008.