There is a phrase that resonates with me to every fiber of my being, “If you’re absent during my struggle, don’t expect to be present during my success.” Will Smith said it pretty eloquently. I totally get where he is coming from! However, there is a flip side to this phrase that never occurred to me prior to cancer. So, let’s flip the phrase, shall we: If you’re absent during my success, don’t expect to be there during my struggle. Read that again to yourself before we begin.
The flip side is what I like to call the drive-by effect. It’s the slowing down to turn your head so that you can watch someone’s struggle. Society almost loves a good struggle more than we love a good success story. Think about it, when there is an accident on the side of the road did you slow down to look? With cancer the drive-by effect is: so many friend requests that you no longer can keep up with them daily. I gave up on them for the longest time and here’s a tip: if you just leave them suspended in request land they can’t send you another request, but they can if you decline it. I once had declined someone 10 times, no joke. Now they are forever on my requested suspension list and I totally have one of those!
Facebook Messenger is even worse. I don’t even look at messenger anymore. Honestly, I should take a snap shot of the unread messages that I have sitting in there. Once in a blue moon I’ll open messenger just to pop open the messages, but I rarely read them. I just clear the red dots from time to time (like every six months). You might ask, why did I stop reading them? It became overwhelming with people I had not spoken to in more than a decade or two that wanted to be my new best friend. Or the people who reached out to tell me that their mom, dad, aunt, uncle, or even their dog had cancer and they didn’t make it. Makes you feel warm on the inside, doesn’t it?! Hence the reason I stopped reading them and no longer respond to them. The third group of messenger people want to sell you something. There are those that do it appropriately and then there are those that should be selling sham-wows on QVC, we all have that one friend! And the final group of messenger people are the chain mail people. All those chains… they end with me, I test fate, I roll the dice, and I never forward a single one of those on and yet I am here to walk the earth another day.
In the struggle you will also find the genuine helpers, the kind that Fred Rogers talks about, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Those are the people who brought us meals. Those are the people who prayed for us. Those are the people who showed up just to sit with us. Those are the people that showed up to chemo infusions. Those are the people who whisked our girls off for an adventure during our hard weekends or watched them during extended hospital stays. Those were the people who shed tears alongside us. Those were the people we let be with us during the struggle that still celebrate us during our success. Those are the people who showed up for cancer, they got out of their cars, they are the doers, the helpers.
I am convinced that very few people are meant to be there through all of our seasons. Some are meant to be there through just the struggle and some are meant to be there through the success. Then there are those that we are able to have with us for both the struggle and the success, those are the people to cherish in your life. When someone lifts you up and celebrates the success with you just as much as they want to hear about the struggle, those are the people to have in your corner. Reciprocate that kind of love back to those people, too.
There will be people who do not show up to the struggle. I still ask God, “why didn’t they,” and then I am reminded that it’s the path He has laid out for me. I can question all I want but I’ve learned to ask for peace instead. I also no longer ask God, “why do so many want to be with me in the valley when they never cared about me during my success or rather my ordinary life.” He showed me just who I needed to let in and who would stick around to celebrate the ordinary.
So…. are you the type of person that is present during the struggle or the success? How will you celebrate with someone just as much as you edge your way in to peak at their valley?