Challenges Do Not Define Us

Chaplain, Roger Button

It all started a couple of weeks ago. I got the call that my mother has lung cancer, and needed to be seen at OHSU ASAP. My father is frail and housebound. I made arrangements for someone to stay with him (they live eight hours south), and then drove down and picked up my mom. We got back on Wednesday night, Thursday was her first appointment. She is having radiation treatments.

Sunday our furnace and refrigerator went out. I got the furnace fixed Sunday but the fridge people could not make it to the house until Thursday.

On Monday we found out that my wife’s brother had died, it was unexpected. The family asked me to perform the service—they live in Minnesota. I was able to get my boys to come sit with Grandma and take her to her treatments while Laurie and I are gone.

Wednesday (yesterday) they asked me to write his tribute for the paper, it needed to be in by 11 AM this morning. When I got home my mother told me she needed to go to the dentist, she broke a tooth. I set that appointment.

This morning I got up early to get to work in time to write the tribute, make my 10 AM meeting and get my “stuff” done in time to get mom to OHSU. My jeep died on my way in. Did I mention that I live in the country? I live in the country. My cell had one bar. I tried to call my insurance agent, no answer. I tried to call my mechanic, no answer. I got hold of my wife so she could come get me. She told me that she had to wait until mom got out of the shower and let her know what happened so she doesn’t get confused.

I sat in my dead jeep, contemplating life.

Mom struggling with Cancer.

Family struggling with the loss of a brother and son.

The fridge and the jeep just don’t seem like that big of a deal compared to death and terminal illness.
Eventually Laurie was able to come to my rescue. I got the jeep towed and the mechanic is going to fix it.

At the time of this writing I have written the tribute, sent it in, and called family in Minnesota.

It is not the challenge that defines you, it is your response that does.

I love my YMCA Family. They have been there with me and for me every step of the way. They have ministered to me, the chaplain, and would not take no for an answer. In the midst of all this we held a community partnership breakfast with the Vancouver Evergreen School district. It was a big event and very successful. If I hadn’t had the love and support from my Y family I am not sure I could have done this.

Here at Clark we like to say, “We are building a community that truly loves their neighbor.”

This week it was the guy who usually sits and listens to the pain of others, and works to help them that got to allow my Y family help me.

I would like to say that if I talked with you this past week and you felt I wasn’t quite there, I apologize. If I didn’t respond in the way you needed, I apologize. I ask for grace. I am doing my best to respond in the way that Christ would have me respond. As we go through our day let’s ask the question, “How would Jesus have us respond?”