Sometimes life is a hard-hitter. All you can do is try to make it through each round without getting knocked out. Hopefully throw a few good jabs in there at times, but mostly just not get killed. That’s a little how life has felt lately. A lot of stinging like a bee, not as much floating like a butterfly.
I just returned from my hometown in Colorado where my brother and I helped my Dad sort through about 2,500 square feet of memories. We were there to celebrate his marriage to a very wonderful woman for whom we are so grateful. And we were there to help organize a basement-full of my mother’s belongings which have been mostly untouched since her passing in 2013.
It was heartwarming; it was devastating; it was a hard-punch. Baby cards that relatives had sent to my parents upon my arrival in 1980, scribblings on worksheets from Kindergarten, photo albums marked by year and then boxes of photos from 1992 onwards, after she got too busy to put them into albums.
China from her mother who had passed away when my mom was still a child. Doilies from my great-grandmother’s table. Vintage toys that would be antiques if we wouldn’t have inked our initials on the bottom of them. Trinkets and ticket stubs from days-gone-by. Most of which would be thrown out if she were still alive but because she is gone, must now be guarded like lost treasure. Seeing the “For Sale” sign on the last earthly house my mom made into a home…that round took a lot out of me.
After returning home, I woke the following day to find that my paternal grandfather had passed away. While my dad was on his honeymoon. Another blow to the ribcage.
And then the shooting in Orlando. Knocks your breath out.
And over and over you’re belted with the brokenness of this world, of humanity.
Pain and grief. Sometimes it’s as if life is intentionally trying to take it out of you. How much more can you endure? You barely catch your breath when it comes back swinging. Death. Divorce. Accident. Disaster. And just the everyday mundane blues that can drag you down. At least they can me.
But then Rocky. (This is why I love American movies. You know that by the end of those 90 minutes (or nowadays 120), good is going to come a ‘shining through!)
I was a product of the 80s and have a deep affection for the Italian Stallion. He’s like part of the family. The other night, when my husband brought home the new movie, Creed, it was like seeing a long-lost cousin.
Oh, Balboa: you think he can’t take it any longer, that he’ll soon be down for the count, but somehow, someway, he finds it in himself to go another round. And not just survive it, but win it. The undefeated human spirit.
Remember during Rocky III when Balboa is struggling to focus during his training? He’s plagued with guilt over Mickey’s death. He’s full of self-doubt and afraid he’ll lose again. It’s Adrian that convinces him he must continue to fight. And even if not for winning’s sake then at least so that the fear of losing will no longer control him.
That’s it. That’s the gold. So that the fear of losing will no longer control you. That’s why we must go on.
This life is short. When we stand on the other side of eternity, it will seem as though it passed with the blinking of an eye. All of our tears will be wiped away. All of our pain, gone. Grief, death, sin, genetic weakness -swallowed up in victory. I do believe that we can begin on that path today, but oh friends, it’s nothing compared to how it’s going to be. That is my hope and my comfort. My deep assurance when Apollo is beating down. It’s what makes me get up and keep swinging. I want to hear well done, good and faithful servant. I want to hear the bell ring and know that I gave it everything I had. Even though it hurts and I can’t see out of my metaphorical eye and my teeth are knocked in, I finished.
It’s no surprise that we’ll have trouble, but take heart, our God owns the ultimate underdog story. The best is yet to come.
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(*image from moviepilot.com)