I woke the morning of December 20th with Jerry on my mind. The 13th anniversary of his death. How could I honor him in a special way, and also acknowledge that I’m in a new season of life? One that includes leaving my 36-year career in less than two weeks?
I pulled out my pad and started writing. I do this often – just write whatever is on my heart. No filter.
Most of the time it’s not meant for others to read. It’s a way to help me process emotions, let my creativity go wild, make a to-do list, or evaluate ideas.
That day started with musing about how similar and also different Jerry and I were. Similar in values and some interests. Diverse in personality and other interests. And that’s part of what made our marriage strong. And interesting.
One of the differences I noticed was that Jerry was more willing to change on his own timeline. Me? I was more likely to wait until change came to me. At least on a personal level.
Jerry knew he wanted to marry me a lot sooner than I knew I wanted to marry him. He changed his career, which took education, sacrifice, and commitment. He saw what he wanted to change and then did it. Jerry looked more at what he had to gain then what he had to lose.
I, on the other hand, was the opposite. I’d look at how much I had to lose, which would stop me from changing almost every time. I couldn’t pull the trigger. Jerry would try and help me analyze the situation, and I just couldn’t do it.
Except at work. There I was the queen of change. I was always thinking of changes to make to our systems and processes to improve them. But somehow when it came time to apply that thinking to my life, I just couldn’t. I was letting others control my destiny.
Jerry wanted me to shine. He knew I had what it took to succeed. He wanted me to be happy, and knew it was possible. And still I couldn’t make the change. I kept the status quo.
Then he died. Now I’m thrown into a tailspin. Have even less confidence than before. Jerry’s not there to encourage me, and I don’t have his income as a backstop. It feels even riskier to make a move.
Back at work, I’m making even bolder, more innovative changes with my team. Not blindly, but by doing a downside analysis called FMEA (Failure Mode Effects Analysis). Wow! There’s a way to quantify the downside, identify ways to prevent it, and figure out in advance what you’ll do if it happens?! How cool is that?
I start applying this to my own life. And I realize that even the worst downside no longer seems so bad. I’ve already lost a husband, a baby, and my health. What can be worse than that?
I practice with small stuff. Small decisions. Small changes. I attend a workshop that’s way outside my comfort zone, and talk with people. I start a blog. Teach webinars on health. I start to schedule my time according to my agenda, and not always accede to others. I realize that all that time I was so worried about what could go wrong, it was simply fear. And not even real fear. What actually happened was much worse than anything I feared.
So now I’m poised to finish executing on the biggest decision I’ve made since deciding to marry Jerry. Today, on December 23rd, I have 8 calendar days left of my 36-year career. I’m almost to the finish line.
I’ve finally learned to live with the same faith and hope that Jerry had. I’m not perfect. Neither was he. But instead of dwelling on the downside and getting mired in indecision, I’m using a downside analysis to propel me toward a positive future. Exercising hope grounded in truth. A truth Jerry believed with all his heart. And I believe for me, and for you too.
God loves me and wants the best for me. He loves you and wants the best for you too. Whatever happens, we can have hope. Hope grounded in truth we can count on.
So today, 3 days after the anniversary of Jerry’s death and 2 days before the 2017th anniversary of Jesus’ birth, the best way I know how to honor them is to live my life with that hope. I’m grateful for their encouragement. Their example. Jerry for showing me how to have the courage to change. And Jesus for coming to bring the world back to himself.
I’m proud that I’ve come this far. That I’m almost to the finish line. I’m glad I can see the finish line as the starting line to the next thing. And I’m looking forward to it.
What about you? Is there something you want to change – want to believe – and yet you’re staying with the status quo? Continuing to choose what appears safe?
What’s stopping you? It’s likely the same things that stopped me for years. Feelings of insecurity – no matter what I accomplished. Feelings of unworthiness – like I don’t deserve something good. And the biggest one of all – fear. Of failure. Embarrassment. Loss.
How about choosing hope instead? Hope grounded in the truth of who you are. Who God is. What you’ve already done. The knowledge that no matter what happens, you’ll get through it. The truth that pain is part of life, and so is joy. The hope that believes that the future can be better the present. Hope grounded in truth.
I’m honoring Jerry’s life by living with hope. He had faith in God and confidence in me. The best thing I can do is to live that out now. Who in your life has or had that confidence in you? Who can you honor by living with hope? Share in the comments.
For more about hope, listen to Episode 080.