I had the pleasure of meeting Jonny Imerman, founder of Imerman’s Angels, earlier today. Imerman’s Angels is an organization that carefully matches a person touched by cancer with someone who has fought and survived the same type of cancer (a Mentor Angel).
You just know certain things about people as soon as you meet them—and I knew right away that Jonny has a heart of pure gold. He’s the kind of guy who will joyfully step away from his lunch and his computer and take the time to be fully present in a conversation with a total stranger. During our short, sweet talk, Jonny was telling me about the motivation for starting his organization. At the age of 26, he fought through his own battle with cancer.
And while many things about our conversation resonated with me, this is the part that stuck with me the most.
Because I’m 26-years-old right now.
If I’m being honest, lately I’ve been feeling weighed down by some of the stuff going on in my own life. I’m in full recognition that these periods are not only normal, but necessary. No matter how challenging, they are the periods that define our character, integrity, strength, and commitment.
The hard moments are the moments where we learn the most about ourselves.
If we are gentle enough with ourselves and open to what the world has to show us in those moments, people like Jonny Imerman come walking into our lives. People who remind us that we can always give more to others. People who remind us that suffering and tragedy can be the greatest sources of growth and transformation.
That’s what I realized when talking to Jonny: that others have had far more difficult years at 26. And that I better damn start being more grateful for my 26th year now—good and bad—because it could all end in a heartbeat tomorrow.
We all know we should focus more on what we’re grateful for. But, I don’t think that’s the real challenge. I think the real challenge is finding grace in the difficult moments. Finding beauty in the breakdown.
Stuff is going to go wrong. You’re going to have truly difficult moments. You may even, at some point in your life, have to stare death in the face prematurely.
The question is: What are you going to do with it?
Jonny took his bout with cancer and channeled it into motivation to build an incredible organization—one that is making an enormous positive difference in the lives of thousands of those who are fighting cancer.
So what will you do with your most challenging moments? What will you do with your breakdowns?
I’ll close this blog post with the last line in Stacey Kramer’s powerful TED talk:
“The next time you’re faced with something that’s unexpected, unwanted, and uncertain, consider this: it just might be a gift.”
I think that’s just about as good as advice gets.
And I’m finding the total truth in it; that our most unexpected, unwanted and uncertain moments are just that.
- Staying productive
- Lack of exercise
- Eating crappy
- Getting into credit card debt
- Drinking too much
- Not sleeping enough
- Spending too much money eating out
- Staying in unhealthy relationships
- Trying to obtain self-worth from dating/relationships
- Not drinking enough water
- Letting emails pile up and not answering them for weeks or months at a time
- Too much time on social media sites
- Too much time watching TV
- Too much time browsing the Internet
In our day-to-day lives, we worry greatly about minor things. It’s easy to forget just how fortunate we are.
So what are you worried about today?
A phone bill? A student loan? What restaurant to choose for dinner? Which pair of jeans to buy? How to save up for a vacation?
Stop worry in it’s tracks. Focus on your blessings. Revel in the richness that is your life. And do whatever you can to add richness to other people’s lives, too.