Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Life's what you make it.

Back at the Vatican...

[Inside the Vatican Museum]

One day while in Rome my sisters and I went to the Vatican. While there I was approached by a woman holding a cup, begging for money. She looked me straight in the eyes with the saddest, woe is me face she could muster up, glanced down at her withered arm, and then at the cup her other (perfectly fine) hand was shoving towards me.

"No, sorry." I told her.

Her eyes widened with anger and disbelief. Then she glanced again at her withered arm with a look that said, 'Excuse me? I am disabled, how dare you not feel sorry for me'.

Well, here's the thing, I have Elisabeth. I know disabled. I live with disabled. I take care of disabled. And when I thought about my little Elisabeth, who cannot walk or talk or eat or see past the end of her nose, this woman's withered arm didn't look so bad.

She stood there, waiting for me to drop a Euro or two into her cup.

"No, I have a disabled child and I'll save all my extra money for her," I said.

Now I know she didn't understand my English, but she did understand that I was turning her away - and boy oh boy was she put out with me! She huffed off, filled with anger for me and still feeling sorry for herself.

A short while later we were at the ticket counter inside the Vatican museum. I told the man behind the window that I needed one ticket,

"15 euros," he said.

And as he reached forward to take my credit card I noticed that his arm looked very much the same as the woman out begging on the streets; withered and deformed. But this man wasn't sitting around feeling sorry for himself (or trying to convince others to do the same). Yes, he had a disability, but he wasn't letting it stop him from living his life.

The more I thought about these two encounters with these two different people, I was struck by the lesson to be learned.

We all have challenges in life. Perhaps it's something physical (like a withered arm), or perhaps it's a trial of a different nature (financial, spiritual, emotional, etc). But it's not about the challenges we face, it's about how we face them.

Do we sit around and feel sorry for ourselves like the woman out on the street? Do we wallow in self pity? Do we refuse to look past our hardships and trials to the abundance of blessings all around us?

Or do we do as the man in the ticket booth and say, How can I make this work? Yes, I have a hardship to overcome but I'm going to make the best of it.

Life's what you make it.

[The Vatican]

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