In the weeks preceding her surgeries, I made several visits to see Vanessa. I’ve stored up these conversations as “treasures in my heart” as Mary did with the wise words Gabriel shared. Much like Mary, I had no idea how or when I would lean into them, I only recognized them as valuable.

One time, she shared with me how she had reacted when others didn’t see (as clearly as she did) the depth and breadth of talent hidden in her daughter. There was a play, and auditions, and significant disappointment. She shared with me that she was angry, as any parent is on behalf of a beloved. Then, she told me the lesson she took away from the experience. She began to see things with a larger view. “That director didn’t wake up that morning thinking, ‘how can I make the Barrett household miserable today’ she was only doing her job to put together the best production possible.” Vanessa said.

When faced with perceived or real unfairness and injustice, we tend to live as if everything is against us. That’s our natural reaction, perhaps simply a human one. And while it’s natural, it might not be helpful. Our perception of reality begins to shape our response, which actually has more power to change any given situation than shifting the responsibility to the rest of the world.

If you believe God, the Universe, and/or the rest of Humanity is for you, rather than against you, I promise you will experience the world and interpret its events in a dramatically different way. And you will respond to such powers and events with more grace. Similarly, if you choose to believe that this is all heading toward something good, you will see the ways in which the fabric of creation is also rooting on our fellow human, which is just as noble a cause.

You are more than welcome to believe that It Is All Against You. The world is at war with you. You are constantly fighting an uphill battle. Such posture will require you take up a sword and keep swinging. Take note, however, that constant charging may keep fellow “soldiers” a good distance away, avoiding friendly fire.

I’d welcome you to try out a stance of peacemaking. That it all works together for the good.  God is For You: this is a theme amplified through the First Testament. When Jesus starts citing the Blessed Are The’s, he puts his voice behind the idea that your situation is not an indicator that God has forgotten you or left you behind. In fact, he says, in any situation there is opportunity to feel the closeness of God.

Of course, God and the Universe on your side doesn’t imply finding the 4 bedroom house on 5 acres in the country with a brand new kitchen, and in your price range. The promise was never for perfection: just goodness. Siding with the Powers that Be simply means we will get what we need, yet not necessarily what we always want. It might even be helpful to remember that what we want may not be helpful for finding what we need.

I’ve come to integrate this very concept in my parenting. When they don’t like the direction I’m taking them, I’ll ask, “do you believe that mommy is on your side? Do you believe that mommy wants good things for you?” Yes, they answer, because they know my love. What they’re experiencing might not be their preference, but they can trust that I have an end goal in mind that is headed toward goodness.

So you can respond to Life in a myriad of ways. One is to keep fighting, hell-bent. The other is to see with a view that is more heaven-ward. We tend to find what we’re looking for, so if you want evidence of goodness, then you need to first start seeking it.

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