Most of you who know me know that I have, on occasion, been known to quote Stephen Covey and Stephen M.R. Covey, his son. In fact, a bit of my dissertation was based on Stephen M.R. Covey’s work around trust. I simply looked at it through the lens of the teacher and principal and did my research on what builds and bars trust between teachers and administrators. I won’t delve too deeply into the results (maybe in another blog), but suffice it to say, communication, honesty, and support for the teacher were three of the top trust builders principals can work on to improve the trust in their buildings with staff.
I am three weeks post-op from a double mastectomy and reconstruction brought to us unexpectedly from a diagnosis in May of breast cancer. I have talked at length about the gratitude I have felt for people who have surrounded me like a cloud of witnesses (anyone heard Mark Schultz’s Cloud of Witnesses ? If not, it is a must!) In the 1990s and 2000s, I was blessed to be an advisor for our youth group at St. Jude’s Episcopal Church in Niceville, Florida. What a joy it was to be a part of their middle school and high school in leading them through Sunday school and all that entails. To be a part of their weddings, see them have babies, visit them in Hawaii, etc. has all been icing on the cake of being a part of the lives of these special youth group "kids". This song has always remind me of those whom we surround when they are in need.
Fast forward to the last three weeks. Trust me, I have been through some surgeries and tough times in my life and Dave has always been my rock, or as I like to say, my human face of Christ in everything we do together. He is the face of prayer, praise, worship, trust, integrity, fairness and an overall reminder to me to keep sane in insane times. But this diagnosis and the major surgery that ensued brought out so many of you---my own cloud of witnesses. I can’t even start naming all of you---family, friends, AA group support, Edge Elementary School who pinked out for me even though I hadn’t been the principal there in three years, too many faces to name. But I have to say that the days before and after went like clockwork (besides a tiny incident of throwing up on Dave in between telling him over and over on pain meds how much I love him) because of some folks with whom I have the utmost trust. Angie, who is in a field of work that revolves around this type of diagnosis. She would call to check in about my doctor’s appointments. Barb, who continues to post a prayer for me every single day on Facebook. Glenn and Callista, who heard every gory detail along the way at dinner or Happy Hour and brought over chocolate cakes on a weekly basis (and who doesn’t need that???), Christie and Denise (my best friends from high school), who despite their busy schedules, made time to visit before the surgery. When I first wondered, “Well, what is there to do BEFORE the surgery?” they proved that was the perfect time for a visit as it kept my mind from going to the negative while allowing me to talk about my fears in a safe place. Afterwards, my two best friends from college (Robin then Kelly) tag-teamed, along with my best friend (Michelle) from my doctoral program. Between the three of these dear people, Dave was able to go back to work while they literally became nurses for the time they were here. They drained tubes from my breasts (and that ain’t no easy task for the faint of heart), they made sure I took my meds, they took me on field trips (albeit short ones at first), they cooked dinner and best of all, they made me laugh my hind end off!!!! Every one of the “nurses” saw my disfigured form at its worst and nobody gagged (at least not in front of me). They were truly my cloud of witnesses. And all the while, I was (and am still because this is SO not close to over) receiving cards, flowers, fruit baskets, plaques, funny and serious gifts that simply are making every day special.
Stephen Covey talks about relationships in terms of emotional bank accounts. If we have enough trust in these relationships, we never have to worry about making an occasional “oops” or withdrawal, because the bank account is there and being filled so it is never overdrawn. I am so grateful to the cloud of witnesses who continue to see me through all the tough times and making me laugh when I need it and allowing me to cry when I need it.
Just for today, perhaps you might listen to “Cloud of Witnesses” from the above link and thank a few people who have been there for you in tough times.