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About a decade ago, the phrase, “Whatever!” (often accompanied with fingers making a “W”) was a common slang term to respond to a statement or request that was unwelcome. Fortunately, this disparaging, unsympathetic response lost popularity and isn’t used anymore.  In the summer and fall of 2011 my husband and I used that word and symbol often, but for a totally different reason.  My husband David was traveling a journey that was to end in his death in September of that year.  If you have every been on a similar road, you know that facing a terminal diagnosis can be a long, grueling, discouraging trip.  But David and I decided we were not going to let our ever-changing realities draw us away from the heart of God or rob us of the joy of our salvation.  We were going to live each day to the full and look for ways to celebrate God’s grace.

To do that we choose two scripture passages that strengthened and encouraged us.  Every morning I would read Lamentations 3:22-26 to David, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”  These verses reminded us of God’s faithful compassion and mercy and we found hope.  We also chose to live the commands found in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  This verse became a source of great strength and we found joy.

As doctors delivered discouraging reports and our world became defined by a hospital room, we had to let go of our dreams for the future, but never our hope or joy for that day.  We both made a conscious effort to look for whatever was true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy… and there was much to discover.  Whenever one of us would get a little down (and we did) the other would look at them make the sign of a “W” and say, “Whatever.”  I continue the practice on focusing on
“whatever” as I travel the road of being a widow. There is sadness, loneliness, and struggles, but God’s grace always abounds and there are innumerable things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.  When I think on these things my heart swells with joy and gratitude that God is faithful.  God is merciful.  God is every present.  God is abundant in love and grace.

So, dear reader, whenever your life’s journey takes you down a road that is filled with new discouraging realities, I say to you, “Whatever!”  Make a conscious effort to think on the “whatevers” and discover joy amid sadness, hope amid disappointment, peace amid turmoil, strength amid weakness.  The struggles don’t go away, but by focusing on the “whatevers” you will find the strength to victoriously rise above it all.  It is said that when an eagle senses a storm coming, they fly to the tallest tree, open their wings and allow the winds to help them soar above the storm.  The storm is still there, but they are safe.  Spread your wings and rise above the storm by focusing on whatever is…..

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