red grapes on vineThe last month has, at times, been a blur. After being hit by a car on my bike just over a month ago, I have had to look at life through a different lens. Is there really an “upside” to tragedy?

Indulge me as I reflect on the lessons I believe God is trying to teach me through this unexpected event in my life.

Be thankful. When I wanted to lay there in my bed and boo hoo my predicament, I was reminded of the many who are so much worse off than myself, some permanently. I have the love and help of my dedicated and patient husband, family, and friends. My bed is comfortable, my needs are met, and I can see a doctor when I need one. This too will pass. Others cannot say the same. Thank you, Jesus, for giving me only what I can handle. I am so sorry for being such a baby at times.

Humility is a virtue worth fostering. I was actually praying for ways to become more humble. Funny how God listens and creates a custom solution, unique to each recipient. The results of this accident are doing wonders in that area of my life. I am learning to rely, ask for, and accept help from others. To see that I was so loved, cared-for and prayed-for blows my mind. Daily people approach me with gratitude to God for my well-being.

It is possible that I may have previously taken my husband for granted. Now, through his having to be my personal nurse, driver and part time slave, doing things for me he never imagined he would have to, we have grown closer than ever before. My love for him has flourished in this challenging time. Due to the travel associated with his career, this is the most time together we have ever spent in our thirty-five years of marriage. God has showed me that some of the characteristics that used to frustrate me are really more endearing and complimentary to our marriage. That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, and more in love!

Vanity is exhausting. I am who I am, unique and a treasure in the eyes of God. I am loved by some, loathed by others, but mostly go unnoticed by the general population. I need to let go of what is out of my control. So what that I have to buy stretchy, over-sized clothes that look like a tent over my brace, that I have purple scars from road rash on my body, and that I look like a robot when I walk. I’m alive and loved regardless. That brings me back to point number one: gratitude. I can walk, stop whining!

Patience is strengthened when exercised. Countless moments of every day are an opportunity to practice patience, joy, fortitude, perseverance, and a whole host of virtues. They all provide opportunities to stretch our tiny, little, weak spiritual muscles. Mine, I fear, proved to be pretty feeble when tested. At this juncture, I am beginning to see some growth here. It feels good. Thank you, Lord, for loving me enough to let me share, in some minute way, your Son’s suffering.

Finally and most important, complete dependence on God. In those raw, dark, lonely moments, where humanity cannot reach you, I had only God to depend on. My prayer became purer, deeper, uncomplicated. I had to trust and hope with all my heart for there was no one else who would understand the cry of my soul. Surrender was the only radical possibility, into the waiting Arms of Love.

“I am the true vine and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does, he prunes so that it bears more fruit” (Jn 15:1-2). As I sat in mass the other day and heard that Gospel reading, I realized that I had been pruned. This time, it just was a little more severe and painful than in the past. Love takes on the not-so-popular task of pruning to produce an abundant harvest.

I pray He will not be disappointed.

Barbara Lishko works full time as a Lay Catholic Marriage Minister. She and her husband Mark, an ordained Deacon, have been married for 35 years and are blessed with five young adult children, whose lives grow and expand through marriage and grandchildren.

Through the inspiration of her family, work in the Catholic Church and wacky life experiences her dream of writing was born. She is the recipient of the Diocese of Phoenix St Terese of Lisieux award. Barbara can be reached at [email protected]