One of the things I have said I appreciate so much about Nanowrimo is the chance to watch others moving towards the same goal. It helps so much to see other writers breaking out in front of the pack and tackling the obstacles in pursuit of the peak. It is sort of like climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and being able to see someone ahead of me, taking ahold of new ground. I can sing to myself, "Well, now ... they've made it, so I'm sure I can, too."
Tonight, this feeling was both tested and proved, but not in terms of my writing for Nanowrimo (which is going amazingly well even though I only know of one other writer in the pack and he is usually 1000 words behind me).
First off, I finally answered the phone when someone from Wheaton College called. They have been calling for the past week or so and usually I have to let it ring off because the distractions of my boys and bedtime don't allow for a 10 to 15 minute phone solicitation call. But, please don't misunderstand. I LOVE these calls from Wheaton.
Every year I get the chance to talk to a current student about my time at Wheaton (some of the very best years of my life). Plus, I genuinely care about the Fund Drive for Wheaton College. When I was attending school there, it would have been completely impossible for me to attend without financial assistance. My parents were Salvation Army officers with five children. They had no established college funds for us. I reaped the benefits of those Fund Drives all four years of my attendance at Wheaton.
The difficulty came when it got to the point of actual solicitation. The student suggested an amount of $250. She had already clarified our present employment situation (mine: NONE, husband's: part-time at an institution not likely to offer a matching grant or anything). I explained that, although I wish I could, there was no way I could pledge $250. She reduced this amount to $100 and tried again. When I stated an amount of $25, the same that I pledged last year (our situation being the same for the past four years), she urged me to increase it by 10 percent to $27.50. Hubby was already balking at my desire to give $25, so I had to hold firm at that level.
After I hung up, the discouragement set in. I wanted to be up ahead of the pack. I wanted to offer up the large sums and feel that surge of generosity in giving. I didn't want to be at the bottom of the mountain, still looking way up to the top and seeing loads of other climbers who have advanced far more than I have.
Indeed, my heart auto-piloted into self-pity mode. I began to despair that I really haven't made anything of worth out of this life of mine. Here I sit, biding time. Opportunities are all in the past and the future is merely a big blur. My mind kept repeating, "What do I have to show for my life?"
Thankfully, I didn't go to bed on that thought. Since I tackled most of my Nanowrimo writing this afternoon, while the boys were at afternoon preschool, I decided to skim through the news. I came across this touching story of a 38 year old man, Chad Arnold, whose 34 year old brother, Ryan, offered up a liver to extend Chad's life and ended up dying of cardiac arrest during the transplant operation. The story linked to Chad's blog.
I have spent almost an hour reading the words of their story, Chad's journey. His writing is full of nuggets of wisdom:
"If God were small enough to understand, He wouldn't be big enough to be worshipped." - Evelyn Underhill
"When we become so enshrouded with the awareness of just ourselves, we don't see the pain surrounding us and the opportunity to extend love, or at the very least kindness, to the mad world around us." - Chad
"In love's service, only the wounded soldiers can serve." - Thornton Wilder
"The result of the prayer, really, isn't the point. The lesson learned (or missed) is how we respond - humility and stewardship when we get what we want and total reliance on our Creator when we don't." - Chad
Chad's blog journal and his faith journey have brought me back to the point of inspiration. He's up there ahead of me. He's passing through some really difficult patches that I haven't even imagined plowing through yet, but he's hanging on and that inspires me to hang on as well.
Thank God for those climbers ahead of me who remind me to rely totally on my Creator, even when stumbling in the dark.