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It’s In There

Little things are indeed little, but to be faithful in little things is a great thing.

— Mother Teresa

Prego Spaghetti Sauce has a tag line – “It’s in there.”  In their commercials, various people would ask about this or that favorite ingredient that their mother had used when making her spaghetti sauce and the answer was always the same – It’s in there.  So, you don’t need to make sauce yourself, just use Prego, ’cuz it’s got everything you could possibly want.

When it comes to us, just like with Prego, we have everything we need in us.  In his book, Every Day a Friday, Joel Osteen tells us that if God gave us a dream, he also gave us everything we need to accomplish that dream.  In other words – It’s in there.

When we feel that we don’t have the patience to deal with the kids for one more minute – it’s in there.

When we feel that we can’t hold on through another family dinner – it’s in there.

When we don’t know how we’ll make the money stretch through the end of the month – it’s in there.

When we’re at the end of our rope – there’s a rope extension in there, too.

Not a Magician

It’s easy to mistake what Osteen is saying for a magical God who swoops down and solves all our problems.  Some people dislike Osteen for that very reason, but that is not what he is saying.

What he is saying is that we all come equipped with the personality, talents, character, and abilities to face our challenges and come through to the other side.  We just have to believe.

I say this knowing that belief, especially belief in oneself, is very hard to develop and maintain.  We’re surrounded by people who doubt us.  Whether their doubt is personal or they have a pessimistic outlook that sees problems in every situation doesn’t really matter.  Whatever the cause, it’s their voice we hear at night when we wake up worrying about whether we’re up to the challenge – whether things will work out for us.

I learned this years ago, when I was facing a major decision.

Ten and a half years ago, I had decided to have Lasik surgery.  Since I was in 4th grade, I’d been wearing either big heavy glasses or contact lenses.  My Aunt Gertrude bought me contact lenses when I was a junior in high school.  I had hard lenses – I’m not even sure soft lenses existed at that time.

I wore contacts, off and on, for more than 30 years.  A few days before my surgery, I went to dinner with a group of friends.  They dragged out all of the reasons I shouldn’t go through with the surgery.  Several of them claimed to personally know people who had been blinded by the surgery.  By the time I left that evening, they had almost discouraged me from going through with my plan.

But I’d been vaccinated.  I grew up with a father who believed that everything went wrong for us personally – all the time.  When I was 19, I’d bought myself a stand-by ticket to go visit my friends in Chicago.  It was on one of the brand new 747s.  He warned me that new planes crashed all the time and that I’d probably go down in a fiery ball.

He wasn’t kidding.

I went anyway.

So, I was ready for my friends who each personally knew that if I didn’t go blind immediately, I would within a few years.  I thought about what they said, but I really wanted to not be dependent on my glasses.  They had nothing on my dad.

Ten and a half years ago, on September 16th, 2001, I had my Lasik surgery.  It has been wonderful.  My vision is still very good and despite my advanced years, I can read most things without reading glasses.  It was one of the best investments I’ve ever made.

Life’s Not Fair

It’s in there for you too.

Over the last few years, things have been tougher than any of us ever really expected.  And some of us feel that what has happened to us is unfair.  Maybe it is.  It can certainly feel like it.  It sometimes seems as if we have something in common with the biblical Job.  Cancer, job loss, Alzheimer’s, reduced pay, mental illness, auto accidents, parental and children challenges (remember, we are the sandwich generation), all do their best to make us believe that we can’t cope, that it’s all too much.  Friends commiserate and tell us that it’s horrible, but what can you do?

And yet, we’re still here.  All that’s missing is our belief in our ability to come through our challenges and get to the other side.  We have come through so far.  As a matter of fact, there is no evidence that we can’t make it through.

We need to remember that “It’s in there.”  God has given us everything we need, except the one thing that only we can provide – commitment.  It’s our choice to give up or push through, after all, we have free will.  It’s our choice to smile through our challenges or snarl and make everyone else (and ourselves) miserable.

Life is often unfair.  That’s just the way it is.  It also provides us with lots of opportunities to grow.  As we work our way through, only we decide whether we’ll laugh and learn and love on the journey or piss and moan and generally be a pain in the neck.

We have the tools required.  They’re in there.

Will we use them?  Will God be saying, “Atta girl.  I’m proud of how you’ve handled yourself.  I knew you could do it!”  I sure hope so!

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Cup o’ Inspiration

cup with steam swirl

Take a short break and consider the following:

“WE ALREADY HAVE everything we need. …our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are.”

Pema Chödrön

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