“Everything will be OK” – how many times in our lives have we longed to know simply that everything will be OK? Life throws a lot at you, and as a parent you have to “be the adult” and be the one to help your children get through whatever life throws them – broken bones, broken hearts, and broken laws, disappointments, reckless choices (with consequences), late nights (even sleepless nights), final exams, standardized tests, and sometimes frightening medical tests. It can all be too much at times, especially the waiting — “the waiting is the hardest part.” Waiting and wondering if, in fact, everything will be OK…
As our children get older, the stakes are higher and many times there isn’t anything we can do but wait, support, encourage, hug, cry, cross our fingers and keep waiting – hoping that everything will turn out alright. At our best we stay upbeat, say encouraging things and truly believe that it will all work out the way it is “supposed to” – even if we’re not sure what that even means at the time. But when we’re alone and our guard is down, we sit and wonder “Will everything really be ok this time?”
The brave face we’ve worn is getting tired – the same one we wore when they were little and fell down hard and looked up at us, as if only we could determine if they were seriously hurt. We’d smile and pick them up saying “You’re ok!” and they believed us. But now they’re waiting to hear which colleges accepted them, if they got the job, the part, the place on the team. They’re waiting to find out how bad the break is, if the medication is working, if they will feel happy again, if the cancer is gone – bigger kids, bigger problems. If they live far from home, it’s even tougher but they still need us to assure them that it will be OK – maybe it won’t be perfect or exactly what they had planned – but they want us to let them know that it will work out.
So who is there to assure us? Our partner, our family, our friends, our therapist, but there are times that we’ve all questioned whether this time was the time when things would fall apart and maybe it wouldn’t be OK…
A couple of years ago, my husband had a serious cancer scare and in the midst of waiting for test results, I was sitting at a traffic light with everything weighing heavily on my mind and in my heart. I was rushing around that day but in that moment when I was forced to stop at the traffic light, I remember saying out loud with my head in my hands…”I’m so scared. I feel helpless, and don’t know what to do. Please, show me a sign. I desperately need comfort and peace in my heart – I need to know that everything will be ok.” Then I thought – “Please let it be something obvious – not something I’ll have to try to interpret, I’m in no mood for that – I need a sign, a real sign. I need something to hold onto.” I swear, I didn’t really expect anything to happen – but it did!
Something caught my eye, and I looked over my left shoulder across this street (across a big and busy intersection) and this is what I saw – as big and as plain as can be (see photo below that I took that day).
What?! I just sat there and stared – and the light stayed red for what seemed like forever (long enough for me come to my senses to take several pictures on my phone). I looked at my phone later to see the photos (fully expecting that no pictures existed – I still wasn’t 100% convinced it was real – maybe I’d just imagined it, it was a mirage because I was so weary – certainly the cars whizzing by would block it and then no one would believe it was really there – including me). I mean, this is crazy, right?! But there it was so clear and plain to see!
I researched the sign when I got home and found out it’s been there for years – a local artist put it up (Jason Kofke) at the Spruill Art Gallery in Dunwoody, Georgia, and it’s been there in different forms since 2009. There are stories on their website about how The Sign has changed people’s lives – it changed mine.
I can’t tell you how powerful that “sign” was for me. I did my best to keep that promise to trust and not to worry, and I carried it with me through each test and each doctor visit. It brought me incredible comfort and peace. It’s amazing how powerful reassurance and hope are – how calming it can be when we feel sure that “everything will be ok.” It’s true – whether you see a sign or just believe it in your heart.
To his doctor’s amazement when the biopsy results were in, there was no cancer – not in his lymph nodes as they suspected – not anywhere. He was absolutely fine.
I’ve reminded myself many times since that day – Everything Will Be OK. I’ve given these words to my kids, my friends, and those I’ve met that needed that gentle reminder. I’ve got a tile I keep in my home office in my line of sight to remind me that no matter what we’re going through, it really will be ok. Maybe not exactly in that moment, in the exact way we want, but we can handle whatever happens. Sometimes we get a sign and sometimes we have to just trust and work through whatever it is.
Having that boost of hope that we can share with our children as they go through their adult life (and all its ups and downs) can make all the difference in how they face things and their outlook on life. Maybe we can’t scoop them up anymore and fix things with a smile, but we can give them the power of our confidence and belief that no matter what they are going through, it will be ok.
“Everything Will Be OK” – may this simple message bring you and your family the same peace and comfort that it brought me that day and still does every day that I need it.