Not a stellar athlete? Neither am I, but I can still ride a bike, and I’ll be doing just that for Pedal the Cause, a nonprofit that raises money for cancer research at Siteman Cancer Center and Children’s Hospital, both in St. Louis. I ride because my friend Larry died with cancer, and I have good friends who have or are battling that terrible disease. Some won’t make it, like Larry, but some will. I am grateful for the opportunity to feel like I’m doing something positive to contribute. Oh, I’m not doing much, but every single penny counts and adds up.
I have heard remarkable stories of determination and faith from people who struggle and go on. One friend looks for the gifts and blessings she has continually received while her hair falls out, her energy is sapped and her spirits flag. She puts one foot in front of the other and relies on prayer and the Eucharist to keep her strong. She also has a fantastic wig that she counts as one of cancer’s blessings.
She’s getting ready for another battle, a huge one, as she faces a month of radiation. She knows this will be more than difficult, but she keeps her faith at the forefront as she prepares herself, and she thanks God for each small victory, like a good report from a scan.
I know her, and she has shared her struggles with me, but I wonder how many people that I meet are also struggling with some very difficult time, whether physical or emotional, or even spiritual, and I just don’t know it. Yes, asking questions has been part of my job for a long time, but I can’t walk up to someone, introduce myself and ask “what’s bothering you today,” or “are you struggling?” We’re all struggling one way or another, and we worry about the people we love, even if they don’t seem to need our worry right now.
If our parents are older and in need of extra help, we can try to be more sensitive to their needs, but sometimes it’s just so hard. It’s certainly a stressor, no doubt about it. We need to be more mindful of each other, not prying, just being aware of others who may have things they keep in their hearts and are unable to share. Perhaps if we make ourselves more open or available to our families and friends that might help.
Everyday life can become more intense and even more meaningful if we are open to listening to another person, not trying to make our struggles more important than someone else’s. Sometimes, it’s easier to let it go than to raise the stakes with our better or worse story and reduce theirs in importance.
We’re all important to God, and sometimes that’s what we need to remember, even if it doesn’t always seem like enough. On the contrary, it is just enough to keep us going, whether we’re pedaling 20 miles or 100 for a cause, struggling with physical or emotional ailments, or just living one day at a time with faith.
As much as I wanted my friend Larry to stay here with us, God had other plans. Now, we pedal so that research can be funded and others spared. And that truly must be enough.