What would it be like if you lived your life with the feeling that there was a beautiful plan for you? What if the delays and frustrations were actually a part of this beautiful plan?
I recently heard a wonderful true story that illustrated this point.
A young American man went to Korea in the 1920’s to work and serve the people there. He loved his work and the people. Eventually he married a woman who was a Korean National. They had a good life.
After quite a few years, the man received notice that his mother was in poor health. The man yearned to go back and be with her. His only option was to take a boat, which would take three weeks. He did not want to leave his wife for such a long time, so he started the process of trying to get her a visa to enter the United States.
Just when he would think that the visa would come, it was delayed another month. He had to do more paperwork and wait only to be told it would be a while more. Delayed month by month, the man and his wife waited a full year. You can only imagine the frustration over these delays and the worry that he might not get to see his mother alive.
Finally in June they received a six month visa for her. They were told that they could not stay one day over the visa time. They began the long journey to the United States by boat.
The couple enjoyed their six months in the United States and the man was able to spend quality time with his mother. They were scheduled to leave to go back to Korea on December 7, 1941. On that day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The couple was not allowed to return and had to stay in the United States.
Meanwhile in Korea all Americans and their families were immediately taken into concentration camps. Most of those that were taken were treated so poorly that they died within the concentration camp.
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Everything Has The Potential To Be A Gift
Now think about this story. What if that couple had gotten their visa even one day before? They probably would have perished in the concentration camp. Even though the delays were frustrating and hard to understand, all along there was a beautiful plan for them. They lived long and wonderful lives in the United States and the man finally died at the age of 110. I have met his grand-daughter.
I have been trying to live my life with the feeling that there is a beautiful plan for me and that everything that happens to me has the potential to be a gift and help me to grow. Of course this is easier when things go my way and I am pleased with what happens. It is harder when things do not go according to my plans.
Recently I had an experience that helped me to see the plan in even the small things of life.
When my mother died, I gave away most of her clothes. There were a few things that she loved so I kept them in a small drawer and I get them out from time to time. There was also a big red bulky hand-knit Norwegian sweater that my sister-in-law had sent my mother from Norway. She loved it and she wore it almost every time she went out. I kept the sweater in our coat closet, thinking I would wear it on cold days. After five years I had not worn the sweater once.
Letting Go At The World's Biggest Garage Sale
A large church in our area was holding what they called the “World’s Biggest Garage Sale.” After much hesitancy I decided I needed to donate my mother’s sweater to the sale. I gathered other things for the sale and headed to the church to drop them off.
When I got there, I could not believe the huge amount of stuff, more than I had ever seen in my life. I placed my donations in the appropriate piles but couldn’t put my mother’s sweater down. Finally I asked a woman if there was a place for special things, and she pointed me in the direction of a rack of evening gowns and expensive dresses. Very reluctantly I placed the sweater on this rack and kept looking back at it as I walked out. Somehow I felt as if I was abandoning it.
Three different times as I drove home I stopped the car with the intention to go back for the sweater. So what if it sat in our closest for the rest of my life. But the wise part of me kept driving home. I knew I needed to let it go.
Listening to the Wise Intuitive Part of Ourselves
The weekend of the garage sale I was leading a women’s retreat in our home. At 8am on Saturday morning, I slipped out to go to the garage sale before I met with the women.
The whole time I was driving there I kept telling myself that I was crazy going to a garage sale rather than meditating and peacefully preparing for the women’s retreat which would start at 9:30 am. But once again the wise intuitive part of me had me keep driving toward that sale. I had hoped to find some construction trucks for our little grandson.
I got to the sale at 8:10 am and was shocked to see that there were already hundreds of people there and the sale covered a huge parking lot. I was hurrying to the toy section when I saw a woman take down my mother’s sweater from the rack of expensive dresses and hug it to her heart. I shouted over the heads of many people, “Wait, I need to talk to you about that sweater.”
She clutched it to her heart with all her might. She probably thought I was going to take it from her.
Sharing a Sweater, Sharing Stories, Sharing Love
When I got up to her I told her all about my mother and how she loved the sweater and where it came from. The woman then started to cry and said,
"My mother just died last week. She used to have a sweater exactly like this and loved it so much. There was a fire and the sweater was lost. I had been looking for a replacement for her but couldn’t find one. I’ll wear this sweater every single day since it reminds me so much of my mother."
Right there among hundreds of people pushing and shoving to get at the clothes, this woman and I hugged and both of us cried. I knew that my mom’s sweater would have the best possible home and get lots of use, just the way my mother would have wanted. Ten minutes later I was driving home with six small construction trucks and a heart filled with wonder at the amazing plan for that woman and me.
Just suppose there is a beautiful plan for all of us even in small details. All we have to do is have faith that all will be well, even if it doesn’t appear to be so.
This article was written by Joyce Vissell, co-author of the book:
A Mother’s Final Gift: How One Woman’s Courageous Dying Transformed Her Family
by Joyce and Barry Vissell.
The story of one courageous woman and of her tremendous love of life and family, and her faith and resolve. It is also the story of her equally courageous family who, in the process of rising to the occasion and carrying out Louise s long-held final wishes, not only overcame so many stigmas about the process of death but, at the same time, rediscovered what it means to celebrate life itself. This book not only touches the heart in a very powerful, poignant, and joyful way, but reading it is life-changing for me.
About the Author(s)
Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA. They are widely regarded as among the world's top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. They are the authors of The Shared Heart, Models of Love, Risk To Be Healed, The Heart’s Wisdom, Meant To Be, and A Mother’s Final Gift.
Here are a few opportunities to bring more love and growth into your life, at the following events led by Barry and Joyce Vissell: Feb 11-16, 2020 — The Couples Journey, Aptos (for couples); Jun 7-14, 2020 — Shared Heart Alaska Cruise, leaving from Seattle (for singles and couples); and Jul 19-24, 2020 — Shared Heart Summer Retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs, OR (for singles, couples and families). For further information on counseling sessions by phone or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their web site at SharedHeart.org.