Once Again, A Memoriam

The following post is a reblog of my initial response to the shootings in Aurora earlier this year. Once again, my heart is aching with the same sentiments. Oh, America, what has happened?

Retro Wishes, Childhood Dreams

“Be home before the streetlights come on,” was the summertime rule in my house. Growing up in the small town of Plymouth, Michigan, during the 80’s was a real-life Sandlot experience. Between the large park around the block, the gas station with the Slurpee machine down the street, and the “downtown” movie theater only a quick bike ride away, my friends and I spent the bulk of our summers outside.  We rode bikes, climbed trees, flew kites, and built lemonade stands. Our parents knew that if we weren’t swimming in Jamie’s pool, we were probably in our tree forts in the park. We didn’t have cell phones or Ipods; we were blissfully entertained by the song of chirping crickets, the light show of dancing fireflies, and the tinkling sounds of the ice cream truck.

A school shooting wasn’t even a figment of my imagination. 

Today, not only do I mourn the loss of innocent life in Sandy Hook, but also the loss of the childhood innocence of a generation. Our children are growing up with the morbid possibility of school shootings, theater massacres, and terrorist bombings. The TV violence of the 80’s has become real-life breaking news. My heart is heavy.

Fighting the Darkness

It’s time for us to stand up for the future of our children, to champion the cause of preserving the innocence of childhood. Our country is not lost; there are still families who eat around a table, children who play in parks, and parents who diligently teach ethics and morals. We have not slipped into the reckless abandon of a lawless society; rather, we have parents, teachers, leaders, and civil servants who protect order and preserve peace.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.  ~Ambrose Redmoon

It is the duty of us all to promote courage within our society. We all have influence. I influence people you will never meet and vice versa. It is our civil responsibility to fight the darkness that is slowly descending upon our nation. Our children depend on us to preserve their childhood. Their childhood memories are weighed in the balance of our willingness to stand up for what is right. The cause of morality needs champions.

There isn’t enough darkness in all the world to snuff out the light of one little candle. ~Robert Alden

Morality Rises

This weekend, rather than going to see a movie or a ballgame, why not spend time with your family. Hug them a little tighter, tell them a story of courage in the face of fear, show them a memory of your own retro childhood. Be a child’s hero this weekend. Fly a kite, build a fort, read a book. Let’s make morality rise in our country once again.

The families of the Sandy Hook shooting victims are in my prayers.

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Salt and Light: Wading through the Rubble

Christianity and Biblical living have seemingly taken a huge blow today as a well-known “super church” announced the forcible departure of their pastor due to “a sin that has caused him to forfeit his right” to be the internationally-idolized figurehead of the movement. Yet again, I find my blog being driven by a current event. I apologize, but I felt this was too far-reaching to ignore.

Many years ago, I had my own “difficult” experience with the institution in question. This experience caused my family to depart from its ranks. Yes, I’m choosing an intentionally vague description of my personal experience. I truly believe that I would never be the person I am today without the experience/departure, my family would never have been as strong as we are, nor would I have the courage to simply rest in my belief system. I’m able to stand taller, live better, and dare more because of that experience… dare I say, in spite of that experience? The past is the past; I chose to focus on how I live today because it will affect my tomorrows.

This blog will not attack the institution in question, nor will it champion the cause of departure from the movement. I simply want to go on record about what I believe I can do in response to this tragic circumstance.

Salt and Light

Having lived in a foreign country–one that entirely rejects the beliefs of Christianity–I’ve come to realize what being a Christian means to me. It means making a difference. It means personifying the admission of the Apostle Paul in II Corinthians, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for you.” It means being able to give an answer when people ask you how they can persevere through their pain. It is an all-consuming, all-encompassing, daily pursuit of right and honest living. By no means is it perfection; it is striving for grace. It is coming to the end of yourself and fully relying upon the only One who can make a beautiful mosaic of the broken pieces of your life.

Christianity is a calling to be salt and light. Salt changes the flavor of food; therefore, Christians should change the “flavor” of their surroundings. Light gives direction, courage to take the next step, and safety in the dark. Likewise, Christians should be able to assist those who seek to be illuminated by the Light of the World.

“Being salt and light demands two things: we practice purity in the midst of a fallen world and yet we live in proximity to this fallen world. If you don’t hold up both truth in tension, you invariably become useless and separated from the world God loves.” ~David Kinnaman

I believe that I, as a Christian, should make a difference. I should be bold enough to stand up for what I believe, have the courage to explain why I believe it, and the wisdom to know when my actions speak louder than my words. This internationally known pastor has ceased to effectively communicate salt and light. His actions are in direct opposition to his teachings; therefore, he is not a good example of being salt and light.

Being salt and light is a momentary thing. It is a constant battle to consistently portray salt and light characteristics. It is a life-long pursuit, not a once-in-a-while jaunt. Just as one decision has ruined the life of this pastor and his family, a single, solitary moment can define greatness–as seen in the courage of one man’s decision so many times before.

Wading through the Rubble

Adlai Stevenson wrote of Eleanor Roosevelt, “She would rather light candles than curse the darkness, and her glow has warmed the world.”

In response to the as yet undisclosed sin that spurned this blog entry, I say, “Good for you, church. Rather than sweeping this under the rug, you confronted it, brought it to the authorities, and left it in the hands of the justice system. Good for you.” I am of the firm opinion that the justice system was put in place for our protection against people like this. No man is above the law.

As a Christian, I choose to reaffirm my dedication to the quest for grace and the pursuit of a moral life. Yes, I’ve stumbled along the path a bit, we all have, but today I again choose a momentary pursuit of upright living. I choose to make decisions based upon the moral compass instilled in me by my mentors. I choose to let my actions speak louder than my words: to be the “living epistle”, if you will. I choose to live and breathe my faith. I don’t identify with a man, I am a child of the Man who was the Son of God.

Out of the ashes of this circumstance, may we find the courage to stand upon our own principles against the darkness.

Stand Fast: An Homage to Courage

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand.  It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.  ~Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

This blog is going to be different from my regular, issue-driven posts. In this piece, I want to pay homage to courage by revisiting several unconventionally courageous people of the past.

Harriet Tubman (1819-1820) Born into slavery, yet the symbol of the American freedom movement. Leaving her husband behind, Harriet escaped from slavery in 1849. Because of her courage and concern for her fellow man, Harriet Tubman began working as a Conductor on the Underground Railroad, a secret system of homes and safe havens across the Southern States. In 1850, when the Fugitive Slave Act was passed, her work became even more dangerous, but she did not stop. She simply moved to Canada and continued “conducting” slaves to freedom during trips back to the States. Over the course of her life, she helped over 300 men, women, and children escape the bonds of slavery.

Irena Sendler (1910-2008) What can be more courageous than laying down your own life for those who cannot save themselves? Irena Sendler, known as “the female Oskar Schindler“, saved over 2,500 Jews during World War II. This unsung heroine withstood torture from the German army when interrogated to give up the locations of thousands of escaped Jewish children. By courageously standing up for persecuted children in Nazi Germany, Irena Sendler became an unsung hero of world history.

John and Betty Stam (Martyred in China, 1934) Leaving family and friends behind, twenty-somethings John and Betty Stam moved to China to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As some of the first missionaries to find their way to Tsingteh (today, Jingde) in South Ahhwei, China, the Stams quickly immersed themselves in the culture and lives of the people within the walled city. While tensions in China rose, the Stams continued to go about their daily lives, courageously believing in God’s will. A Communist attack upon the city ended in the brutal martyrdom of the couple, but in a miraculous act of divine preservation, their baby, Helen, was spared and safely conveyed to her grandparents. Even today, thousands of people are continuously inspired to live courageous lives because of the Stam’s.

Unknown Rebel (July 5, 1989 – Tienanmen Square, Beijing, China) Virtually nothing is known of the lone man that opposed the entire People’s Liberation Army of China. Staring down an army of advancing tanks pretty much defines courage, don’t you think? Yet, history has recorded nothing of this man. Some people believe he was a protesting student; some believe he was a passerby who decided to take a stand. All we know is that he was an unarmed man wearing a white shirt who was willing to stand against oppression.

There is nothing left for me to add to this list of courageous individuals. I cannot improve upon the testament of their lives. Thousands of heroes dot the pages of history; we have only to learn from their passion, grow stronger from their courage, and faithfully emulate their stand for personal convictions. If we, as 21st century citizens, stand up to the tyranny of fear and oppression, we will be counted with these unsung heroes. I’m willing to stand up and be counted. Are you? 

Fighting the Darkness: In Memoriam of the Batman Shooting Victims

Like the rest of the country, I was shocked and disheartened this morning as I heard the news of the “Batman Shooting” in Aurora, Colorado. As news commentators cry, “What is this world coming to?” and “How did this happen?”, I am asking myself another question: What kind of childhood will my children remember?

“The youngest reported victim is a 3-month-old, who is said to be doing fine at University Hospital, where 20 patients, including nine in critical condition, are being treated. Another victim is a six-year-old being treated at Children’s Hospital, where a total of six victims were taken. Their condition wasn’t known. Victims were rushed to six area hospitals overall.” ~CBS News

Retro Wishes, Childhood Dreams

“Be home before the streetlights come on,” was the summertime rule in my house. Growing up in the small town of Plymouth, Michigan, during the 80’s was a real-life Sandlot experience. Between the large park around the block, the gas station with the Slurpee machine down the street, and the “downtown” movie theater only a quick bike ride away, my friends and I spent the bulk of our summers outside.  We rode bikes, climbed trees, flew kites, and built lemonade stands. Our parents knew that if we weren’t swimming in Jamie’s pool, we were probably in our tree forts in the park. We didn’t have cell phones or Ipods; we were blissfully entertained by the song of chirping crickets, the light show of dancing fireflies, and the tinkling sounds of the ice cream truck.

A movie theater shooting wasn’t even a figment of my imagination. 

Today, not only do I mourn the loss of innocent life in a Colorado theater, but also the loss of the childhood innocence of a generation. Our children are growing up with the morbid possibility of school shootings, theater massacres, and terrorist bombings. The TV violence of the 80’s has become real-life breaking news. My heart is heavy.

Fighting the Darkness

It’s time for us to stand up for the future of our children, to champion the cause of preserving the innocence of childhood. Our country is not lost; there are still families who eat around a table, children who play in parks, and parents who diligently teach ethics and morals. We have not slipped into the reckless abandon of a lawless society; rather, we have parents, teachers, leaders, and civil servants who protect order and preserve peace.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.  ~Ambrose Redmoon

It is the duty of us all to promote courage within our society. We all have influence. I influence people you will never meet and vice versa. It is our civil responsibility to fight the darkness that is slowly descending upon our nation. Our children depend on us to preserve their childhood. Their childhood memories are weighed in the balance of our willingness to stand up for what is right. The cause of morality needs champions.

There isn’t enough darkness in all the world to snuff out the light of one little candle. ~Robert Alden

Morality Rises

This weekend, rather than going to see a movie or a ballgame, why not spend time with your family. Hug them a little tighter, tell them a story of courage in the face of fear, show them a memory of your own retro childhood. Be a child’s hero this weekend. Fly a kite, build a fort, read a book. Let’s make morality rise in our country once again.

The families of the Batman shooting victims are in my prayers. 

Objects in the Mirror

Due to my car accident in January, I have been avoiding driving. My husband would argue that this is a classic case of my bad diving habits catching up to me, but I choose to believe it is in direct correlation to my recent accident and the ensuing, lingering injury. When I do drive, I’m overly conscious of cars entering my lane, misused (or unused) blinkers, speeding summer vacationers (living in Florida isn’t always fun), and inanimate objects on missions to collide with my freshly repaired vehicle.

While sitting at a red light on my way to work minding my own business, I looked in my side mirror to see a barely-legal brunette applying what looked to be a second coat of mascara on her already made up face. “As long as she is behind me” used to be a valid argument… that is until a Toyota 4-runner rear T-boned me in the Target parking lot. She reached for eye liner, causing the wariness and anxiety to exponentially grow in my chest. Once again, I looked closer at the mirror and saw “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” Surprisingly, I smiled.

No longer was I anxiously watching a twenty-something apply another coat of makeup; I was mentally transported to a Father’s Day several years ago. Father’s Days are never good days for me. Long story short, my Dad lost his battle with cancer in 2003. On that particular rainy evening, I was sitting at a stoplight, on my way get a much-needed cup of coffee at my favorite Starbucks, when a quick glance into my side mirror changed my perspective forever.

A beautiful rainbow was suspended above the saying, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” 

Rainbows echo promises. Not only promises of Biblical proportions, but also reaffirming, stabilizing promises of new days, ends of tunnels, and smiles after tears. That night while sitting at a stoplight I was reminded that my Dad was just a whisper away, that one day I’d see him again… on a day that was much “closer than it appeared.” You may think it is a stretch, but I was encouraged. Because of that encouragement long ago, I was blessed today.

Taking it a Step Further

It’s the little things in life, isn’t it? The little reminders of a blessing discovered, a smile given, a dream realized. Don’t ever forget to look in the mirror of life; not just to see your reflection, but to reflect upon what has gone before. My past has made me who I am today. The battles fought and won have made me a stronger person. The people I’ve “lost” along the way will one day be found again in my home beyond the sky. The broken hearts, the broken dreams, and the broken promises have only served to mold a masterful collage, more beautiful from its healing than a pristine, undamaged, un-characterized whole. I wouldn’t change a thing.

When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something has suffered damage and has a history it becomes even more beautiful.
Barbara Bloom

What in your mirror is closer than it appears?

Musings Spurned by Dieting

Perseverance, dedication, consistency, resolution. These ideals have been floating around my head this week, desperately trying to latch hold of and vanquish my inherent laziness; a mental turmoil resulting from the self-inflicted diet plan that has transformed my life. Since I am hardly able to achieve release from warring words without pouring them onto a page, I will attempt to explore these similar concepts in today’s oh-so-tardy blog adventure.

First, the definitions:

Perseverance: the steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
Dedication: the state of being dedicated. Awesome.
Dedicated:  to devote (oneself, one’s time, etc) wholly to a special purpose or cause; commit wholeheartedly or unreservedly.
Consistency: steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, purpose, form, etc.
Resolution:  the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose or intent; determined.

We see a pattern emerging from these definitions (other than the use of the root word in each definition). All four concepts include the existence of a clearly defined purpose. This is true in every aspect of life; without purpose and direction, we falter on a course that has no goal, vacillating between possibilities and reality.

The Heart of the Matter: Purpose

What is your purpose? The singular purpose that created this post would be the desperate need to slim down and lose the first-year-of-marriage plump. As many of you may know, diets stink. The one I’m on is relatively easy, but in the end, it’s still a diet. My goal is to lose 25 pounds. It is achievable, and I’m well on my way to that number. (6 lbs as of today!) Weight loss is my purpose; but the bigger picture strains to be observed.

Let’s consider a maritime adventure. Without a directional medium, whether a compass, sonar, or a chart, the captain would be lost at sea, in imminent danger of rocks, currents, and shallow waters. He must possess perseverance to reach his destination, dedication to commit to the safety of his crew, consistency to adhere to the charted course, and resolution to achieve his purpose. If he lacks one of these traits, the voyage would be susceptible to a number of perils. Without purpose, a ship will not reach a prescribed destination. The philosophical genius, Seneca said, “When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.”

Further, without purpose, a goal cannot reached, a skill will not be acquired, an achievement cannot be unlocked, a dream does not reach fruition. Not only in this diet endeavor, but also in the intersecting crossroads of my existence, I strive to have purpose. To exist fully within the framework of a goal; to consistently press toward the mark; not to lose sight of the majestic possibility of the finish line. In my work, I strive to complete publications that adequately reflect the fascinating subjects I interview. In life, I seek to please my Audience of One, ever grasping for the victor’s crown. In love, I yearn to be the companion, friend, and help-meet that I was created to be for my Honey, endeavoring to make him perfectly content.

Purpose: what is yours?

We all possess the thunder of pure fury and the calm breeze of tranquility.  If it wasn’t for tomorrow, how much would we get done today?  Whatever your purpose… embrace it completely.  Get lost in the clouds every now and then so you never lose sight of God’s wonder.  ~Paul Vitale

An Audience of One: Part 2

Yes, I’ve already written about acting for an Audience of One, but since I’m currently involved in a community theatre production of Miracle on 34th Street, I thought it would be timely to revisit this thought. Once again, I find myself in the throngs of busyness, trying to keep the house clean, making yummy meals for the husband, and not letting my productivity at work slip, while endlessly rehearsing lines in my head, becoming “Doris Walker”, and keeping my head above water during this holiday season. It’s been a fun six weeks… hence the lack of postings on this blog.

I previously stated in An Audience of One that my favorite part of the show is the monologue. As Doris Walker, I am playing a part that I’ve never truly experienced, that of a stuck-in-her-own-shell, realistic, somewhat hardened divorcee with a ten-year old daughter. It has been a task trying to identify with the feelings that Doris displays throughout the show, but it has been a delightful challenge. My husband saw the show last weekend and remarked, “It was so odd; I know you, but I didn’t know you!” As an actress, that was the sweetest thing he could have said.

As I said before, acting demands excellence; to be a successful actor, you have to effectively communicate thoughts and emotions to an audience. The audience must not only watch events as they take place, they must understand why characters respond to events as they do and feel emotional connections to the actors. In my opinion, it is easier to establish an emotional connection with the audience around Christmas time. Everyone is looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of buying, wrapping, sending, giving, and eating during this most wonderful time of the year. They’re trying to fill the need, supply the desire, find the perfect present, and get the gifts to Grandma before the 25th. It is such a privilege to offer brief moments of magic through the looking glass of the stage.

Looking Beyond the Stage

Once again, I wish to look beyond the stage, beyond the audience, and through the twinkling spotlights. I wish to turn this blog into a lens of introspection with a question: In all our busyness, do we truly take the time to stop and thank God? We just baked our pumpkin pies, carved our delightfully seasoned turkeys, and ate our fill of canned cranberry sauce. We just paused as a nation to offer thanksgiving to God for the initiative of lonely pilgrims desperate for religious freedom and a new beginning. Our hearts were just filled with the love, laughter, and family togetherness of the holiday. We just experienced Thanksgiving.

And yet, what has December become? In my life, this year is full of rehearsals, performances, and photoshoots. For you, it may be shopping, church cantatas, gift wrapping, travelling, or other methods of creating “holiday cheer.” Can we really say that we have continued in a spirit of Thanksgiving through these few weeks since November 24th? Are we living our holiday season for the Audience of One? Can we truly say in all our busyness, we continuously thank the One who has provided the ability and means to even celebrate Christmas?

Looking Beyond the Holiday

More than just pausing to be thankful, do we honestly remember what Christmas truly means? It is the remembrance of the divine moment when Hope was born. Christmas is more than pretty presents, sparkling tinsel, and caroling in the snow. It is the epitome of living for an Audience of One. Through Christmas, we begin to understand the One for which we live. By remembering Christ in Christmas, we acknowledge our inability to do anything apart from our Saviour, our fallibility, our inherent selfishness, and our breathtaking, undeserved future.

As much as I pour my energy, time, and thought into the character of Doris Walker for Miracle on 34th Street, I should radiate Christianity. I should go about my busy holiday planning and shopping as a Christian. I should be a vibrant light, a true testimony, a willing servant to others. I shouldn’t focus on the “getting” of the season, but on the giving. There shouldn’t be a difference between what I say in the store (to get that last “perfect” gift on Christmas Eve!) and the way I live what I believe. I should exhibit the true Christmas spirit through living my life for my Audience of One.

Just as I cannot see the audience when I stand in the spotlight, I should live my life this Christmas with only my Audience of One in view. 

Is Ignorance Truly Bliss?

Warning: This post results from an interesting conversation and an unnerving event, both of which happened after 9:30 pm. You’ve been warned.

Being the holiday season, I auditioned for Miracle on 34th Street at St. Petersburg City Theatre and was offered the part of Doris Walker. Our schedule is quite stacked because both Halloween and Thanksgiving fall within our rehearsal period—a combination that results in at least four nights at the theatre. With opening night little more than a month away, we’re trying to squeeze as much as we can into each rehearsal.

In an attempt to utilize our time on stage and finish blocking Act 1, the adult cast members decided to stay after the children were sent home last night.  We were all a bit tired, but thankful for the time to work out our blocking. I’m not going to sugar-coat it: I was beyond tired. My husband has said that I turn into a pumpkin at 10 pm. I don’t think it’s that bad, but I definitley do get a little loopy. “Loopy” in this sense means the production of certain reactions: giddiness, eloquent (or what I believe is eloquent at the time) realizations, lackadaisical involvement in activity, general hyperactivity, and pseudo-drunkenness complete with slurred speech and lack of balance. Last night was no exception.

Thankfully, I was lucky. This time my tiredness did not reduce me to a bumbling idiot, but resulted in a purely philosophical discussion in which I waxed eloquent… I think. Our Santa posed the question: “Would you want to know the date of your death?” to which I and another actor quickly responded, “No!” We then went on to discuss why not. Santa argued that if you knew the date you would leave this earth, you would live with the mindset of accomplishment, making sure to do what needed to be done before your impending demise. I suggested that this was how we should live, period. “Live like you were dying,” I said. Checking off a bucket list shouldn’t begin when your last day is approaching; rather, we should consistently seek out experiences, speak what we believe should be spoken, and accomplish that which makes us matter to this world.

I went on to make the analogy of sickness and the battlefield of the mind. The day before we found out my Dad had cancer, we were planning my trip to China, I was packing my suitcases, checking off my to do list, and getting ready for an international flight. We had no idea what the next day would hold. We were blissfully ignorant until we got the phone call. I often think about that day—the day that my world changed.

There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Is ignorance truly bliss?

After our deep discussion at the theatre, I drove home, started relaxing, turned on the tv, took a long shower, and studied my lines. I went about my night like normal, unwinding from the adrenaline of the stage. My husband came home from teaching his night class and we went to bed. Midnight rolled around and we were both startled by a persistent banging on our front door. Turns out one of our neighbors called the police because someone had been standing outside our window. How long this had been going on, we don’t know, but all I understood was the fact that my privacy had been violated without my knowledge. Again, ignorance.

I had no idea what was going on outside my own home. If my neighbor had never called, I would still be in the dark, totally ignorant to the loser standing outside my window. Before the police knocked at my door, it was a normal evening at home; afterwards, I was paranoid and restless, planning the triple-strength privacy curtains that will be purchased for every window in my apartment. One minute I was relaxed, the next I was wound like a spring. 

A Positive Nature of Ignorance

Ignorance is defined as the state or fact of being ignorant; lack of knowledge, learning, information, etc. Often it is used to describe those who are not “smart” or accomplished. Most of the quotes that I found about ignorance dwell on the negative side of the definition, rather than the positive. Honestly, I would much rather be ignorant of some things. I’d rather not understand what it means when a friend says they are starting chemo treatments. I’d be perfectly fine if I didn’t know that the hostel bathroom I spent three nights in while travelling in Beijing had six inch roaches. It would be ok with me if I didn’t know what cow brain jello and silk worm taste like. I wish I couldn’t empathize with those who have lost a parent.

But do I really? Do I really believe that ignorance is bliss?

If I hadn’t experienced the gut-wrenching phone call that informed me that my Dad had cancer, I would never have gone through a year and a half of growing closer to my family. I would have blissfully lived out my time, not caring about making memories or showing my affection. I wouldn’t have formed friendships out of “chance” encounters with strangers. Most importantly, I couldn’t offer the comfort of “been there, and survived.”

If I had never eaten cow brain jello (I’ll spare you the details), I never would have formed the relationship with my Chinese boss that led to an early dismissal from my job duties when my Dad was so sick. My boss wouldn’t have seen me eat her horribly gelatinous jello despite all common sense. She wouldn’t have seen respect, nor would she have returned that respect when I needed it.

So, all of this rambling to say, ignorance is bliss until you realize what you would never have accomplished without the jarring reality of truth.

I still don’t want to know the date of my demise, though…

Life’s Greatest Loss

Last week, a friend of mine posted a shocking quote in her facebook status that has sent me into a whirlwind of deep, introspective thought. While it is fascinating, it stands as a stark contrast to the societally accepted norm of reactionary emotions surrounding the event of a death.

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies within us while we live. ~Norman Cousins

This quote can be interpreted in many different ways; quite possibly, it is translated differently for each individual. To me, the fundamental definition of this quote is that my greatest personal loss did not occur when a battle with cancer ended my Dad’s life in 2003. The greatest loss is what dies within us while we live. Very simply: the mountain of his death is irrevocably written upon the landscape of my past, but it should not define the outlook of my future.

Real Life Inspiration

Not nearly an expert on coping with death and loss, I’ve drawn upon the life of a childhood hero, Corrie tenBoom. A Dutch woman living in the Netherlands during World War II, Miss tenBoom and her family risked their lives to help Jewish refugees escape invading Nazi troops by hiding them in a secret room built in the walls of their home. Their activity was discovered and Corrie and her family were sent to various concentration camps. Her father, sister, brother, and nephew died as a result of their imprisonment, but she survived and was released due to a clerical error in Ravensbrück Prison. Before her sister died, she said, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

Imagine that. The unfathomable torture received in Ravensbrück, and she still knew that God was in control. While at times it is difficult to bear the loss of my father, it is in no way comparable to the ever-present suffering of the tenBoom family at the hands of their captors. My Dad suffered greatly during his battle with cancer and I would never belittle his courageous survival, but we all know that prison camps held unspeakable horrors. Despite all of that, Corie and her family had somehow figured out that death is not life’s greatest loss.

When she was a little girl, Corrie asked her father about death:

I burst into tears, “I need you!” I sobbed. “You can’t die! You can’t!” “Corrie,” he began gently. “When you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket?” “Why, just before we get on the train.” “Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things, too. Don’t run out ahead of him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need – just in time.”~excerpt from The Hiding Place, by Corrie tenBoom

Real Life Application

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies within us while we live. To respect those we love, to hold their memory in our hearts, to live in honor of their memory is to go forth into the future with abandon. It is not living in the past or dwelling on the loss. We must choose to exist, to conquer, to “be” despite the pain, despite the loss, despite the tragedy. Loss is inevitable; living within its imprisonment is a choice.

So, I guess this blog is a charge to you who have lost. It is an encouragement and a challenge to not lose a single moment of possibility. To take the pain, the heartache, and the loss and morph it into resolution. I know my Dad would be so pleased with where I am in life. I know he would love my husband, encourage our dreams, and champion our goals. Yes, I would like to consult him for advice, but I know what he stood for and how he responded to adversity; he lived an example for me to follow. I choose not to dwell on the fact that he is gone; rather, I choose to capture my moments, embrace the possibilities, and strive for excellence. By doing so, I will honor his memory. We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.  ~Kenji Miyazawa

An Audience of One

As an actress in both community and professional theatre, one of my most thrilling experiences has been the monolouge. The lights go down, the spotlight comes up, and it’s just you and the audience. If done effectively, your world melts away and you’re all alone, standing on the edge of the line where your character and you combine, bathed in the bright glow of a light that creates the fourth wall and blocks out everything but your character’s thoughts and emotions. You think as that person. You respond as they would. You become that character. You tell their story. The monologue is pure exhileration.

But all monologues come to an end, the curtains close on the final scene, the finale music swells and dies, and the audience brings down the house in applause. You greet friends and family that have come to see the show, you give sweaty hugs, and you thank the crew for their hard work. The director gives notes on the performance and you change into your street clothes. The thick stage make up comes off (rather difficultly, I may add), the hair comes down, and the smiles finally abate. You turn the lights out on the dressing rooms, pack up your bags, and head home, hoping for the adrenaline to wear off so that you can get some sleep for work in the morning. But even though the play is over, the thrill of the monologue still lives in the heart of the actor.

Acting demands excellence; to be a successful actor, you have to effectively communicate thoughts and emotions to an audience. The audience must not only watch events as they take place, they must understand why characters respond to events as they do and feel emotional connections to the actors. The actor must do whatever is necessary to please the audience, to create that connection with them, and to give them an enjoyable experience at the theatre. Yes, actors act because they enjoy the thrill of the stage, but also because they want to give people a vacation from reality. We act for the benefit and enrichment of the audience.

Turning this around to introspection, I live for an audience. In everything I do, in everything I say, I am seeking to please my audience–my audience of One. As much of my heart that I pour into a character on the stage, I need to pour into a life worthy of my audience. I’m a Christian. God is my audience of One. I don’t believe that a Christian life should contradict itself, rather that Sunday’s words and actions should be synonymous with Friday’s. I believe that when people see me, they should see Christianity, not my opinions, my justifications, or my attitudes. True faith does not contradict its words by its conduct. My performance should not change based upon my audience, it should be consistent.

Just as good acting is consistency of performance, good Christianity is consistency of living. Defined as “agreement, harmony, or compatibility, especially correspondence among the parts of a complex thing,” consistency stands in direct opposition to the complex nature of life, yet it enriches the life that has mastered its complexities. Life gets complicated; consistent performance for the audience of One creates security.

Living for an audience of One is a thrilling and fulfilled life. It’s the best life you can imagine.