“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” – Mahatma Gandhi
My heart is full of sorrow and concern this morning. I have watched a particular member of our Gastroparesis support group struggle with her illness and her many personal hardships for months now. I have witnessed her slow descent into the abyss of despair and desperation. As her problems mounted, her anguish and discouragement continued to grow until she could no longer see the light, shut out the pleas of her loved ones and friends that she muster the strength to go on. It is clear to me she has given up.
We all cared deeply about her welfare. We suggested a myriad of treatments and urged counseling. We whispered kind words and offered gentleness and deep affection. But our recommendations were all refused and no amount of encouragement from us lifted her spirits. She left the group, broken and devoid of hope.
It is distressing to realize that despite our best efforts, this beautiful, despondent soul chose to reject our feeble, yet heartfelt attempts at consolation and assistance. It feels very much like failure, and, yet, there was little more we could do. Free will limits our influence and we cannot force others to reach out and take hold of the lifeline being tossed to them.
I do not know how to give others the seemingly innate drive and will to thrive I feel deep in my heart and soul. I cannot seem to transfer it no matter how hard I wish I could. I can offer coping techniques, post uplifting memes, urge others to find and focus on the positives remaining in this life (however small), and talk until I am blue in the face of the benefits of self-advocacy, self-determination, self-care, and self-empowerment... but I cannot make a single soul change her thoughts or behaviors. I cannot open her heart and mind to new approaches; nor can I instill in her the desire to go forward under less than ideal conditions. I cannot give her the will to live.
It requires fortitude, determination, and sheer resolve to continue on in the face of overwhelmingly bleak odds and in the midst of the harshest circumstances. It takes courage, faith, and a sometimes foolish and defiant hope that some way, somehow, you will find a way to make it through this day and the next – until a better day arrives. Living, flourishing, necessitates a mindset which screams, “You will not break me no matter how hard you try.” It entails the strength to endure pain and anguish, to persist and persevere, to will yourself to take one more breath though everything in your being cries out that you cannot go on.
Pause, take a breath, and discover the possibilities which surround you. Find your purpose and meaning, and welcome every day you are granted. Cherish the good and cling tightly to the beautiful moments. Delight in each second… there are too few.