I wonder if she ever whispered, “What if?”
I’m talking about Nancy. Maybe you can relate to a few (and hopefully only a few!) of the situations in her life:
Nancy had a houseful of children. Seven, in fact.
Nancy was well educated.
She was also a devout Christian.
Nancy married young.
Her husband, a bit of a visionary, changed jobs and moved a lot.
The family struggled financially most of the time.
Only four of Nancy’s seven children lived to adulthood.
Her husband drank and gambled. A lot.
Nancy’s youngest child was hyper active and “difficult”.
This same child survived a life-threatening disease, but it left him nearly deaf. He struggled in school and was considered too slow to learn.
Despite his struggles, Nancy believed that her son, affectionately known as Al, had potential. When teachers gave up on him, she removed Al from school and taught him at home.
Al loved to read, so Nancy gave him books.
Al was curious, so Nancy let him explore.
Al loved to experiment with things, so Nancy let him set up a laboratory in the basement.
Nancy lived long enough to see her son make something of himself. When she died in 1871, Al had already begun to see moderate success as an inventor and an independent entrepreneur.
What Nancy didn’t live to see was her son, Thomas Alva Edison, go on to become one of the most famous and notable inventors in American history.
Many years after his mother’s death, Thomas Edison stated,
“My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.”
When I read the story of Nancy Edison in my kids’ history lesson this week, I couldn’t help but think of you. Maybe your life story is vastly different from Nancy’s. Maybe there are similarities.
Nancy Edison surely wasn’t the only woman in history to find herself disappointed with life, and the people in it. She wasn’t the first mother to lose a child, to hurt for her child, to wonder if she was even capable of meeting his needs.
And yet she refused to let life overwhelm her. Because Nancy Edison chose to embrace life with determination and faith, she empowered her son to do the same.
Somehow, Nancy Edison looked past the disappointments and limitations in her life and saw potential.
It’s inspiring to read about women like Nancy, but what are you and I doing to give the same gift to our children?
I seriously doubt your life looks as bleak as Nancy’s, but maybe you can feel her disappointment in some measure.
My husband isn’t the spiritual leader I need him to be.
I’m tired of always having to pinch pennies and do without.
I’m sick of moving and trying to put down roots over and over again.
It hurts beyond words to see my child struggle in areas that come so easily for other kids.
We need a bigger house and a better vehicle. Why do other families always seem to get the lucky break?
My life is so different from what I imagined it would be. I battle every day against feeling bitter and disappointed.
I don’t know what your Nancy moment might be, but I have a feeling that we all have them. Everyone of us, including me.
Let me challenge you, my friend, to embrace life with faith and determination.
Look past the small corners of your world and catch a glimpse of eternity.
What is God doing in your heart through the trials and disappointments? How is He shaping you?
What does He have planned for your children? The potential in those young hearts is absolutely limitless.
Maybe you see a child who can’t talk, or won’t potty train, or who struggles to read, or who has a bad attitude.
Maybe you can’t see past a broken relationship, a strained marriage, financial struggles, a difficult pregnancy, too many disappointments, or a loss that is suffocating your hope.
Maybe you find yourself thinking, If only things were different. If only I were different. If only THAT hadn’t happened. If only someone or something would change.
Replace your “if only’s” with “what if’s”.
What if I choose to trust…
to let go…
to laugh out loud…
to smile through the tears…
to dare to hope again…
to say yes when everyone else says no…
to believe in a forgotten dream…
to get out of my comfort zone…
to not let my mistakes keep me from trying again… and again… again…
What if you just don’t ever give up?