Life is a series of transitions. As much as we would love to sit in our high chairs and eat Cheerios all day, eventually you have to learn to walk, go to school, jump off the dock, head off to college, meet someone special, get married, have kids, the whole bit.
You know, live life to the fullest and all that.
Some of these transitions are ridiculously hard. When you’re standing at the back of the church getting ready to walk down that aisle, you tell yourself you’re ready.
Hell yes, I’m ready. We’ve been dating for years, we’ve had premarital counseling, I love this person, let’s go!
You have no idea. None whatsoever.
You stand in the delivery room, coaching breathing for goodness sakes, here we go, you can do this, we’re ready for this, let’s bring a brand new human into this world.
We’ve had childbirth classes, we’re both relatively smart people, let’s figure this out, let’s go!
You have no clue what’s in store for you.
These are a couple of examples of the biggest transitions that a person can go through, but during the course of our lives, there are transitions we go through all the time, and we try to prepare for them the best we can. A new job, a new car, a new house, a new baby, you name it.
Some transitions are easier than others. Buying a new car and trying to figure out what all the buttons do is significantly easier than starting a new job and trying to figure out where all the bathrooms are and how you’re gonna fit in with your new co-workers and if you can actually do the job you were hired for.
We try to prepare the best we can, we brace ourselves for what’s coming, and try to react to unexpected twists with dignity and aplomb and try not to look like clueless idiots whenever we can help it.
The first real long road race I ever ran was a 15.5 mile race called the Old Kent Riverbank Run. My friend Doug, whom I trained with over the proceeding months, looked at me, and with a smile on his face asked me a question.
My answer? Hell yes I’m ready, let’s do this. (HIGH FIVE). Whooo hooooo!!
That was a high confidence event. I had run the course two weeks before and I knew I was ready. And then I ran the real thing in less than two hours, which is exactly what I wanted to do. Easy peazy, right?
Except it wasn’t. I lost Doug shortly after the start, I didn’t drink enough, and at the 13 mile mark I had this exchange with my legs.
My legs- Yeah Dan, I know you’re feeling pretty good right now, but since you’ve deciding to run through a bunch of aid stations without drinking, we’ve decided to shut down and be done.
Me- Wait, what?!! You can’t shut down now, we have two and a half miles to go! We’re so close! Don’t do this to me!
My legs- Should’ve thought of that while you were skipping the Gatorade table. Good night.
Me- Well, I’m finishing this thing, and you two are coming with me if I have to crawl across the finish line to do it. Let’s goooo!!!
I managed to finish the race with 24 seconds to spare to get under 2 hours. My legs were so toasted that I had to walk backwards down steps for a couple of days.
Was I ready? I thought I was. But a bad strategy almost tanked the entire race.
I’ve had lots of “you ready?” moments since being diagnosed with prostate cancer 11 years ago. Surgery, 38 radiation sessions, androgen deprivation therapy, two different courses of chemo, two different clinical trials, were all started with that question I would ask myself. And most times my answer to “you ready?” was, oh God I hope so.
Eventually more “you ready’s?” will come up. When will I be ready to stop treatment? When will I be ready to get all my affairs in order? When will I be ready to talk about my funeral, and talk to a preacher about how I want my service to go?
Right now, I’m not ready to do any of those things. I’m still putting my trust in my docs and the treatments, even when the side effects of those treatments has me seriously considering the first of those questions. Cancer is not for sissies.
Eventually this leads to a time we must all face. The ultimate transition. From this life to whatever lies beyond. As a Christian person, I have faith that I will be in the presence of Christ, and I will rise up and follow him to the promise of heaven.
At least I think that’s how it’s going to happen. I’m not sure on all the details. No one is.
My mom always said we have to be ready to meet Jesus at anytime in our lives, cuz you just never know. I know she was ready. And when it’s my time, she knows I’ll be nervous. She knows I’m not great at transitions.
On the first day of my entering junior high, I wasn’t ready. I had previously attended a neighborhood elementary school. I never rode a bus to school , only knew my friends from that school, and generally felt ill at ease on my first day in the big school. My mom tried to get me ready by feeding me a big breakfast, which I promptly threw up as I left the house. I went from ill at ease to just plain ill.
My mother watched this little display from our garage. After I was done puking in our side yard, she looked at me, smiled and said, “Feel better now? You ready?”
I wasn’t. I couldn’t believe she still expected me to go to school after getting sick. But she looked at me with that smile, and that smile said to me that it’ll be alright. And then, I set out for the bus stop. The truth is, I did feel better. And I was ready, even though I thought I wasn’t.
When I transition to the great hereafter, I have no doubt in my mind that my mother will be there. She knows I’ll be nervous, but she’ll be there to make sure I’m ready, even when I think I’m not. And she’ll be smiling.
And when I finally meet my Lord and Savior, I hope to hold it together well enough to not puke on his sandals. Although, if that happens, I’m hoping Jesus puts his arm around me as he starts to lead me through heavens door, and with a smile on his face says,
“Feel better now? You ready?”
I will be.
Thanks for reading.
Peace on Earth
Merry Christmas to all. God bless us, everyone.