Struggles and triumphs

Take 20 minutes and watch this short film. Ok, you don't have 20 minutes--neither do I. So take five minutes. I pretty much guarantee that you'll eventually find the 20 minutes, even if you weren't intending to. It's that, that good.

The Stewardship Committee at our parish hosted a healing service/potluck event and showed this film. Unfortunately for them, they also asked me to give a short reflection after playing it, on how I related to it in my own life. You'll see, once you watch it, how hard of an act it is to follow. My speech is below.
"The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph."

That's what the handsome Mr. Mendez (Bella's Eduardo Verastegui) says to our hero, Will (Nick Vujicic) in the Butterfly Circus.

I'm not sure if it's possible to feel morose or depressed after watching what we just saw. Here, we have a disabled man--or, "A man, if you can call him that," as the cruel sideshow leader says. Will, born without arms or legs, overcomes everything in his life to join the illustrious Butterfly Circus--not as a sideshow freak, but as one of its stars.

To me, this movie has a clear message.

We are not defined by our handicaps, or our wounds, even though we all definitely have them.

We are not defined by our various disabilities, our limitations.

We're not even defined by the hurts we carry or by the mistakes we've made.

Rather, we are defined by what we make of those hurts, those handicaps, those difficulties.

When we dwell on what has hurt us, on what has befallen us, on what has made our lives more difficult, we lose the grace that was ours to claim by right of enduring those hurts, those difficulties.

A little while after my husband and I were married, we were blessed by conceiving fairly quickly. Our joy, though, was turned to utter grief just a few months later, when we lost our first baby through miscarriage.

I could talk about how hard I cried. I could talk about the pain--my intense physical pain through the miscarriage itself, and our shared, intense emotional pain. I could talk about what it's like to know that someone existed, but that someone was taken away from us before we ever got a chance to meet him.

But. That's not honoring the little soul God blessed us with, even for that short period of time. Living with the joy of having fostered that little baby even for a few brief months is so much better than living with the sorrow and the questions--questions like, did I cause the miscarriage. Could I have done something differently. And why, please Lord why, did we lose him.

At the end of the Butterfly Circus, Will finds the strength (physical, and emotional), to see himself no longer as a sideshow freak, but as a man who has overcome the physical handicap of his disability, and the emotional handicap of believing that "God has turned his back" on him. He goes on to inspire the whole audience, especially that little boy on crutches, who embraces him so tenderly.

He inspires the audience with awe and disbelief, not at his deformity, but at his bravery and courage despite that deformity.

How often do we inspire our friends and acquaintances with how well we deal with our pain and hurt, instead of how crippled we are by them? Certainly, there is a time for our grief, a time for dealing with our pain, a time for working through it. For me, there was a time when I couldn't even mention losing our baby without welling up. It was an unspeakable grief.

But now, writing and talking about it more often, I hope to make it my story of hope, not my story of pain. It's my story of healing, not my story of unending anguish.

"The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph."

With each day that we live, let all of us (especially me), try to turn our struggles into triumphs, and in doing so, give the glory to the Lord for healing us--and for helping us accept his healing grace and love.


  1. Mary, your words ARE as inspiring as this beautiful video. You amaze me.

  2. Nailed it Mare. Beautiful.