Even before I married her first-born son, my mother-in-law and I have had a unique story. Our friendship has grown throughout those years in many ways other daughters by marriage rarely have the blessing of experiencing. Roberta has fought a rare form of cancer, with accompanying chemotherapy and other forms of treatment, for 20+ years. We’ve walked some difficult roads together and I admire her immensely. Her life has been an inspiration to others, although she would balk at the notion. She is an example of God’s grace, has lived a life of faithfulness and perseverance through trial, and maintained her sense of humor through it all.
Now that Roberta is completely bedridden and in her final days of life here on earth, I wanted to know what thoughts she may have about life, and what she identifies as most important. I’ve summarized her thoughts for you here; the word of someone who is now looking in the rear view mirror, finding perspective and amazement at God’s goodness.
Put God First on Your List
A real relationship with Jesus is the most important thing you will ever choose to pursue. Everything else is fleeting. Matthew 6:33-34 says this:
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
In light of this, try not to worry about your daily needs; He’s got you! Recognize when He works on your behalf in large and small ways. Practice gratefulness for these things. Know that He is always with you, even when you don’t feel Him. Focus on the big things and let the rest fall away. God may not always give you what you want, but He will give you what you need.
Find Your Purpose
Don’t follow the “yellow brick road” just to follow it. Find your purpose and pursue it rather than waiting for your purpose to find you. Remember to live today and enjoy all the special moments it brings. Sometimes we get so busy and spend our time worrying about yesterday or tomorrow when today is all we can really control anyway. Be mindful of the difference between what is truly meaningful versus what is actually frivolous pursuit. Those shiny things that often attract our attention, in the long run, often don’t last and certainly only temporarily make you happy.
Failures and Mistakes Will Happen
Resist the urge to focus on rationalizing everything. Life doesn’t have to be lived in panic mode! Relax and take a deep breath. Learn from your mistakes and then let them go so you can move on. Not everything has an answer right now, or needs to be fixed by you. Know yourself enough to see your own negative patterns, and once you face them, work to turn them around. When you make decisions, trust your gut and God’s guidance—and know when you just simply need to take a nap!
Relationships are More Important than Being Right
You are human. Relax. God made you that way! Learn to recognize when you’re wrong. Be open to the possibility that you could actually be mistaken from time to time. Recognize that just because you think something is true doesn’t necessarily mean it is. Quickly admit when you’re wrong and work to make it right.
Set Boundaries for Your Life
It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to speak up for yourself. Know your limits—when to move forward and when to take a break. Take care of yourself so you can love others well. Guard your heart and care for your soul, for you are the only one who can. You only have so much time and so much energy to give away. Be careful to whom (and how) you give it away.
It’s “Not Forgive & Forget.” It’s “Forgive & Learn”
We must find a way to forgive others when they hurt us, and sometimes it takes a lot of time. Forgiving heals and helps you move on, even if nothing changes. We can’t forget, but we can learn from these experiences. When a cup is dropped and broken, we can possibly glue it together, but it will never be quite the same. It will always bear the scar of the incident. So it is with our lives. Relationships will change, and it will impact who you are. Learn to be at peace with this. Even if it takes many tries, forgive, learn from it, let it go and move on.
Be at Peace with Who You Are Created to Be
God created you to be you! Be yourself without worrying about what everyone else thinks. The only thing that matters is who God says you are, and He loves you no matter what. So embrace your personality, use your gifts and refuse to compare yourself to someone else. True friends love you through the good, the bad and the ugly. Stick with those people. You will grow and change, but your story is your story.
Remember to Have Fun
You only have 24 hours in a day. There will always be more work to do. The bills will always arrive like clockwork. The laundry will always need to be folded. Be responsible, but realize: your kids won’t be at home forever, your parents won’t always be alive, and friends come and go. Come to think of it, you won’t live on this earth forever either! Take time to play, relax, reflect, connect with others and refuse to feel guilty about it. Love well. The dishes can wait.