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From My Heart to Your'sLife Lessons on Faith, Family, & Friendship
By Robin McGraw
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2007 Robin McGraw
All right reserved.
NO MATTER HOW ORGANIZED AND VIGILANT WE ARE, LIFE STILL HAS A WAY OF BRINGING US TO OUR KNEES.
CHOOSE TO BE WHO YOU'RE MEANT TO BE WHEN SOMETHING INSIDE JUST WON'T GIVE UP CHOOSING AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE GIVING YOUR CHILDREN UP TO GOD ACTING ON YOUR GOD-GIVEN GIFTS AND DESIRES EMBRACING THE WOMAN GOD CREATED THERE'S A REASON FOR EVERYTHING WORKING WITH PASSION AND PURPOSE SPEAKING YOUR MIND—AND HEART
CHOOSE TO BE Who You're Meant to Be
* * *
I believe that in order for a woman to experience true happiness, fulfillment, and peace, she needs to know two things: who she is, and who she is meant to be. They're not the same thing: the first one has to do with the reality of your life, and the second one has to do with your purpose for being in this world, which is something each of us has to discover for ourselves and cannot be dictated by any other person in our lives—not by our husband, parents, children, employers, or friends.
I believe it's gotten harder and harder to tell the difference between who we are and who we're meant to be. So much of the time, we lose ourselves just trying to keep up with the frantic pace of life. We drag ourselves out of bed in the morning, already half an hour behind, and spend much of the day responding to the needs and demands of others. Somewhere along the line, we often lose track of the essential feminine self—that unique, life-giving entity that invigorates our beings and warms the souls of the people we love.
But we don't have to lose that feminine self, and the way to hold on to her is to accept nothing less than being simply the best—the best we can be in the roles we choose for ourselves: wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend.
I also believe we were put on this earth to enjoy lives of joy and abundance, and that is what I want for you and for me. I hope you're excited about whatever phase of life you're in: excited about being a woman in this day and time, excited about being the woman God created you to be. It's all there for the choosing, because, in the core of my soul, I believe that how you live, how I live, how we all live as women is largely a matter of choice. We have the power to choose joy in strenuous circumstances. We have the ability to choose a good attitude when everyone around us is grumpy. We have the privilege to choose the words we speak and how we speak them, or to simply remain quiet.
I imagine that a lot of women who hear me say this may think, That's easy for you to say. You can choose whatever you want because you live in a wonderful house with a successful man who loves you, and you can probably have anything you want—you're a privileged person. And all that is true. But do you know what the real privilege is? The real privilege is being free to embrace the joyful aspects of life and reject the hurtful ones—to choose to do what's working, and to turn your back on what isn't. It's a privilege to have the right to take charge of your existence and be excited about your life.
Too often, people think they need a lot of costly stuff to be happy. The first apartment Phil and I moved into was a whopping 420 square feet of linoleum and worn nylon pile, and I used to drive a 1962 Comet with bright turquoise paint that looked as if it had been brushed on. When I was a kid, the only spoons I had in my mouth were stainless steel, not silver. Still, I always felt fortunate to be who I was, and excited by the prospect of what life held for me.
We are defined not by the station in life into which we are born, nor by our pedigree, race or religion, but by the choices we make. And it is through the integrity of our choices that we create the life we long for. Embrace the privilege to choose how you will live rather than taking life as it comes along—not so you'll make the same choices I made, but so you will make the choices that are right for you.
WHEN SOMETHING INSIDE Just Won't Give Up
* * *
It's not always easy to stick up for yourself. People in authority can be intimidating, especially when they're not accustomed to being challenged. And there's always a chance that you'll raise a ruckus, only to find out you were wrong and end up looking like an idiot. But I'd rather risk looking like an idiot than feel like one for being too intimidated to stand up for me and mine.
I was in just such a situation a few years ago with my son Jordan. He was in seventh grade and playing a lot of sports when he came in one night and showed me a little knot-like bruise on his shin. He wasn't sure when he got it and it didn't hurt, so we figured he got it playing football and, since the season had just ended, we decided to wait for it to go away on its own. Then basketball season started and Jordan began practicing after school and competing on weekends. He soon began complaining of pain in his lower back, which struck me as odd for a twelve-year-old kid. I began to wonder if maybe he'd hurt his back during football season and, remembering how Phillip had wrecked his body playing college ball, decided to take Jordan to the orthopedist to make sure everything was all right.
So I took Jordan in and the doctor examined him and said that it's common for active kids his age to experience growing pains—yes, that's what they call them—and when their backs hurt it's because as the vertebrae grow, tiny amounts of gaseous material can get between them and cause discomfort. The doctor offered to do an X-ray just to make sure there was nothing wrong. I said that sounded good, and then had another thought.
"Doctor," I said, "while you're x-raying Jordan's back, would you also please do this bump on his leg?"
"What bump are you talking about?" he said.
"It's not very big," I said, "and it's right here on his shin bone. He's had it for a while now, since the end of football season."
The doctor looked at it impassively. "It doesn't look like anything to me. I'm sure it's just from getting hit a few times."
That's the moment, the intimidating moment when an expert tells you the truth about a situation and you're expected to accept it, thank him, and go away. Except the expert's truth contradicts something deep in your gut, and you know his truth is different from your truth; and you've got to choose between being a good girl who bows to authority and being a no-nonsense woman who's not afraid to look like a fool when she's acting in the service of those she loves.
I took a breath and spoke. "Yes, but it's been there for at least three weeks now, and if it were a bruise it would be gone by now."
"Maybe yes and maybe no. Some bruises take longer to heal than others, and we don't like to x-ray every little bump that shows up on these kids. You don't want to expose a young boy to too many X-rays, you know."
"Yes, I know," I said. "But I also know that every other bruise this child has had has healed in less than a week and it worries me that this one is taking so long to disappear. So would you please x-ray it, just to be safe? Please?" He looked at me with exasperation but agreed to do it.
I was waiting in the examining room when the doctor reappeared with a serious look on his face. "How long exactly has he had this knot on his leg?" he said.
"He noticed it about three weeks ago but it may have been there longer," I said.
"I am glad I did that X-ray. We have some cause for concern here, so I'm scheduling an MRI upstairs. They're waiting on him, so why don't you take him up?"
As it turned out, Jordan's bump was important but not serious. He had a benign mass growing on his tibia and the orthopedist—who was also a surgeon—was able to remove it. Jordan spent a couple of nights in the hospital; the mass never returned.
What returns for me, however, is the memory of that afternoon, and how a child's well-being was so utterly dependent on his mother's persistence rather than a physician's expertise. It left an indelible imprint on me, and confirmed something I'd learned long ago: you don't have to have a medical degree to know when something is wrong with your kid, and you don't have to apologize to a nurse or a doctor or anyone else for saying so.
It's very important that women not be afraid to stand up for themselves. Too many women are willing to abdicate their responsibility as mature, thinking adults because they have been taught that they should defer to authority, especially when the authority is a man. We women can be a little too quick to abandon our inner wisdom when someone in a position of power contradicts it.
I am not afraid to question authority. I am not willing to give my power away to anybody just because he wears a white coat. I believe I am accountable for whatever happens to me and to those under my care, and that this is true for all of us. I believe it is my responsibility to stand up for what I believe is right, no matter how uncomfortable it feels. Moreover, I believe that is what God wants me to do. He blessed me with the intelligence to think for myself and with parents who taught me to trust my judgment, and I believe I would be squandering these gifts from above if I did not put them to good use here on earth.
CHOOSING AN ATTITUDE of Gratitude
* * *
A lot of people have a great life, but they just don't see it. They choose to focus not on what they actually have but on what they believe they lack, and they miss what life is all about. Some people never have enough; no matter how devoted their mate is, they always wish he (or she) were fitter, richer, or more attractive. No matter how accomplished their kids are, they always think they could have won a bigger trophy or higher academic honor if only they'd tried a little harder. No matter how nice their car or how gracious their home, they always want a bigger or a fancier model. And while I firmly believe in striving for a good life, I also believe you have to recognize when you have it good, and thank God for what you have.
I have a good life. I wake up every morning in my wonderful home and thank God for all the joy and abundance with which He has blessed me. But, while I love this house, it is not what makes me wake up happy every day. If Phillip and I were not solid in our commitment to each other, this house wouldn't do us a lick of good; it would just be a bigger space in which to be lonely.
It doesn't matter where we live; we started out in a one-bedroom apartment, and I could go back there today. I swear to you I could leave this 90210 lifestyle, throw on some cut-off jeans and a T-shirt, and go back to that little apartment in Denton, Texas, with my husband. We'd be just as happy as we could be, as long as we were together and proud of each other and doing what was important.
Yes, I love the mosaic floors and crystal chandeliers in this house, but not any more than a certain pair of wooden barstools that graced our apartment when Phillip was in grad school. I'll never forget this. He was off working with his father for the weekend and I decided I was going to do something fun with the apartment and surprise him when he got back. I had eight dollars left over from that week's budget to play around with, so I went to the supermarket and bought a can of tangerine orange paint and a brush for five dollars, and a little ivy plant with the three dollars I had left. I came home to our bland little apartment with the beige walls and brown carpet and painted these two bar stools a bright tangerine color and set them next to the breakfast bar where they glowed like aTahitian sunset. I took the green ivy and set it on the bar so it cascaded off the edge onto the seat of that shimmering barstool, and I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. And in many ways, it still is. Its preciousness transcended the eight dollars it cost me to create it, because it was born in my heart and made real by my hands. I imagined it and made it happen. To me, there's nothing better.
GIVING YOUR CHILDREN up to God
* * *
Something was wrong with Jay. Every time I fed him, he vomited so forcefully that it shot across the room. I knew projectile vomiting was common in infants but this was happening every time he ate. We'd seen the pediatrician five days earlier and he'd sent me away with some tranquilizer drops and told me to relax, but Jay still wasn't eating and he was starting to look listless and weak. I called and insisted that the doctor see the baby again.
There was a gravelly sigh at the other end of the line but he agreed to see Jay in the morning. I put the baby to bed that night thinking, Relax, Robin—you'll take him in tomorrow. Everything will be fine, you'll see.
I woke up feeling unusually well rested and then realized why: the baby hadn't woken me up in the middle of the night to feed him. I felt great for a nanosecond until my rational mind kicked in and I thought, No, that's not right—it's too soon for him to sleep through the night, he gets too hungry; it just can't be. I ran down the hall to the nursery.
Jay was lying motionless in his crib except for his poor little belly going up and down as he breathed. He was so weak, he couldn't cry loudly enough to wake me to feed him. He looked as if he were starving to death, which wasn't far from the truth. It was only 8:15 and the doctor's office wouldn't open for another forty-five minutes, but I wasn't about to stand around doing nothing. Phillip had already left for work, so I threw on some clothes, scooped Jay out of his crib, then called my sister-in-law Donna and asked if she could come over right away and take me to the pediatrician. I wanted to devote all my attention to Jay and not worry about driving; besides, Donna had three kids of her own and was no stranger to medical emergencies.
We arrived at the doctor's office before he did and I remember pacing in circles around the reception area thinking, Hurry, please hurry ... I can't wait, I can't wait. Then he walked in and I went right up to him with Jay in my arms and said, "There is something wrong with this baby and I'm tired of you telling me it's because I'm a nervous mother. You need to see him right now." He told me to bring him on back into the examining room.
I laid Jay on the table and unwrapped his blanket. The doctor walked over, looked at the baby, and then looked at me. "How long has this been going on?" As if he didn't know. "What do you mean? I had him here five days ago and you told me I was a nervous mother and sent me home with tranquilizing drops. I've been calling you all week and you keep telling me to wait another day and I've been trying to tell you that there's something wrong with him." He took another look at Jay and called over his shoulder to the nurse to alert the hospital that we were on our way.
"We have to get him into surgery right away," he said. "I'll explain when we get there." He then headed out to his car and we headed out to ours.
Donna drove straight to the hospital; Phillip met us there. When the pediatrician arrived he said he believed that Jay had a condition known as pyloric stenosis, a digestive disorder affecting three out of a thousand babies born in the United States. What happens is the muscles in the lower part of the baby's stomach, known as the pylorus, thicken and enlarge, making it impossible for food to empty out of the stomach into the small intestine. As food builds up in the stomach, the baby vomits explosively, expelling everything it takes in and eventually growing malnourished and weak because its body isn't receiving any nutrients.
Excerpted from From My Heart to Your's by Robin McGraw Copyright © 2007 by Robin McGraw. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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