The past is behind you and the future is ahead of you; so push forward and move on with your life.
The sign on the front of the neighborhood church startled me, and I considered the reality that a memoir is all about the past.
At one point in this book’s inception, I shelved it because I thought to myself, Aren’t you just stirring up old memories for no real purpose?
Yet, while attending a 50th wedding anniversary in 2013, witnessing the incredible devotion of my Aunt Donna to my Uncle Joe, who suffered from severe COPD, I recalled a voice from the past.
“If you think this is bad, just wait.”
The comment, delivered to me during an intensely trying time in my life, was meant to empathize with what I was feeling at the moment, but my spirit rejected it out of hand.
What this woman meant then, and what those words mean now in hindsight, are two different things. She challenged my entire belief system, and if I hadn’t been careful, her words could easily have become a self-fulfilling prophesy.
I’ve always known that I have something to say. I realized I had to write this book, and when I pulled it off the shelf and began to examine it again, I saw that a story I never believed I could deliver with honesty was staring me in the face.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:. 4
Are you one who mourns?
Have you experienced a loss that at times seems insurmountable: the loss of a loved one, a cherished dream, a relationship, a job, health or finances?
The purpose of my memoir is not just to tell my story, rather it is to comfort those who mourn and to help them overcome their challenge and move on with their lives. It is to encourage the process of proper grieving, of proper “putting away” and of taking on a powerful force of forgiveness and insight into our purpose in life.
So the church sign and my mission statement are born out of the same well of inspiration.
As I was walking along the Santa Monica beach while vacationing in June of 2014, a seagull flew across the landscape of the horizon.
While I was out on a whale watching tour, the dance of the dolphins was what captivated my attention. I was hardly even disappointed that we didn’t see one blue whale.
Water has always provided me with serenity, yet I have always held a healthy respect for it and sometimes an irrational fear of it. The closest I ever came to learning to swim was treading water for three minutes as a Marine Corps recruit in boot camp in 1975.
Having overcome my trepidation and dread of those three minutes, I held onto the side of the pool, hardly believing what I had just done. The drill instructor took hold of my hand and pulled me up and over onto the concrete.
As I reveled in feeling grounded, a whistle sounded calling for all recruits to get out of the pool. I frantically searched for my friend’s familiar face. Someone had gone under the water, and I feared for his safety.
My eyes rested on him and I sighed in relief; he wasn’t the one in danger—but what had happened to another one of my platoon mates?
My attention was quickly diverted to the large pool as the drill instructor, who’d jumped in to save one of our own burst from beneath the surface with the victim. We all began chattering among ourselves while the drill instructor performed CPR, and my fellow Marine gasped and gurgled, spewing out water and his breakfast from his mouth.
The sight wasn’t a pretty one, but a life was saved that day, and my fear of water was ground in even deeper.
So why did the seagull and the ocean have such a perfect message during this California summer sunset?
The sunset outlined the horizon separating the blue sky from the rocks and water, which provided the portrait of serenity that lay before me.
I believe God created a natural process for us all to go through in overcoming life’s many challenges. As I am the clay pot that the master potter works with to produce such an imperfect work of art, I am here to share my own story of processing life’s events from the scattered remnants of the past into golden truths of the future.
My hope is you will learn, just as I have, that the important things isn’t what we see directly in the natural realm of this earthly life, but rather what we see in the truth that lies just beyond the horizon.