“Life is a journey for us all. We all face trials. We all have ups and downs. All of us are human. But we are also the masters of our fate. We are the ones who decide how we are going to react to life.”
― Elizabeth Smart,
I had the wonderful pleasure of listening to Elizabeth Smart speak yesterday afternoon. Like most people, I followed her story from a distance. The horror of a child abducted from their bedroom in the middle of the night is enough to grab anyone’s attention. She spoke with such a softness about the unbelievable trauma she endured during her nine months in captivity. I was deeply moved by her resilience and grace.
What struck me the most from her speech was what she described as the moment she decided to survive. She spoke about the night she was kidnapped and raped for the first time and the unbelievable shame she felt after the assault. She thought about giving up and dying but then she thought about her mother. Her mother told her, after a particularly challenging day, that neither God nor her mother would ever stop loving her. That no matter what she did or what happened to her, her mother assured her that her love was unconditional. She thought about that love and decided that she would do whatever she needed to do to survive. And, she did just that.
It reminded my of Viktor Frankl making a similar decision as a prisoner in Auschwitz concentration camp. He brought to mind the face of his wife and his love for her. He thought of her and his love for her every time he thought about giving up. He did this even though he knew she was probably dead. He survived for her. And, she had not survived.
I am constantly reminded of how important our connections are in our lives. In my own life, there have been hard times, and I too brought to mind my loving relationships and it was those bonds that brought me through those times.
We must love one another unconditionally. We must reassure the people we love that we do love them unconditionally. And then, this is the hard part, we must show up for the people we love in all the ways we can.
Elizabeth Smart started and ended her talk reminding the audience that we all struggle and we all endure hard times. But, we all have a choice what to do with the what we are given. We always have a choice: bitterness, resentment, or Love. She also said that the love of her family healed her and that she was blessed to have had them. Faith and Love empowered her to tell her story and in doing so she has helped so many people.
Love is magic, love is power, love is everything.
“For the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that Love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.”
― Viktor E. Frankl,