by Meghan Fillnow
Gilda Radner once wrote, “I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.” We live in a world that’s plagued with uncertainties, shattered hopes, and dashed dreams. Sometimes we receive news that we never expected to hear, and other times, we end up on a path we would have never chosen.
Recently, one of my athletes who was training for his lifetime goal of completing an ironman, had to stop his training. His rheumatoid arthritis was causing widespread inflammation which affected his heart. Physically, it was a let-down, but even more, a blow to his heart.
No matter what your shattered dream looks like, it hurts. When life throws us curve balls, and we feel let down, rejected, left behind, or disheartened, we must embrace the uncomfortable moments. We may need to cry, sweat it out, talk to a dear friend, or get on our knees. “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). We must not lose heart when trials come our way. When we keep our hearts penetrable, strong, and soft, we will find a new and resurrected path.
Someone I admire who has not let shattered dreams define her life is my friend, Andrea, a fellow Davidson alumna. She was diagnosed with ALS at 33, and was only given 2-5 years to live. Instead of becoming bitter or hopeless, she started the Team Drea Foundation to raise thousands of dollars towards ALS research. She has shown us that the unexpected hurdles in life can be used for good in the end. She said, “Life priorities become clear, real fast. The difference is that I have the perspective of how little time I have. We have. What matters is what we choose to do with the time we have.”She made a list of how she wants to spend her remaining years. Her list includes making happy memories with her husband, strengthening her relationship with her parents, making a positive difference in the world, and competing in another triathlon. So much good has come from her trial such as inspiring other people that they can do more than they think they can through the Team Drea Challenge. She is also selflessly lending her body to finding a cure by allowing doctors to regularly study how her intense exercise affects her progression. Though she still experiences deep heartache and loss in many different ways, such as knowing that she may not have children, she aims to live each day with love, intentionality, positivity, selflessness, wholeheartedness, and joy.
Just because we hit roadblocks and experience a deep sense of loss or heartache, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of our stories. Our sweetly shattered souls show us that when we endure hardships with grace, the trials can refine our character and allow an even better dream to unfold.