My mom seemed to have an adage, a word of wisdom, or a wise illustration for everything. Often I will remember a tidbit of wisdom gained here and there — sometimes in a timely manner, so as to save face. Sometimes a little too late — after I have stuck my foot in my mouth, or wasted time caught up in anger or frustration.

Mom was lovely inside and out.  She took good care of herself and had a certain amount of pride in the way she looked, always beginning the day by putting herself in order before putting everything else in order.  So it was an interesting learning curve for her to deal with breast cancer that required a radical mastectomy, chemo and radiation to the hilt in order to halt the spread of the disease.  Among the ways she gracefully dealt with the illness and its aftermath was her take on her altered physique. 

Not only was a breast gone, but all surrounding tissue went as well. And because radiation proved too potent for her fragile body, a section of ribs roughly six centimeters in diameter had disintegrated. For the rest of her life, one arm and hand were noticeably larger than the other, and her misshapen little body made it difficult to find clothing that was comfortable enough or that could “sort of” fit her.

In typical Mom fashion, she shrugged it off, focusing on the blessing of being alive.  When people would stare or even make quirky or rude remarks, she would not miss a stride. “Like water off a duck’s back,” she would say.  She simply chose to let it roll right on off. Then she might laugh a hearty laugh as she wondered what they would say if they could actually see the scarred war zone of her body.  That ability to let go and replace with humor and good will was amazing.

“Why let someone else determine the kind of day I’m going to have?” she asked. I had a wise mother!

Are there remarks, looks, or other offenses from others that stop us in our tracks and ruin our day?  If so, we suffer doubly — and waste good time in which we could serve and be served, love and be loved, find joyfulness and offer it. 

I am trying to inscribe across my heart a thought that Sister Marjorie Pay Hinckley often spoke, “The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it.” (Deseret News, January 27, 2008.)

Just because someone makes an offense against us does not mean we have to take offense!  In order to shore ourselves up and let the negative roll right off, here are a few ideas that may help:

  • Those who love us are not concerned with what is on the outside nearly so much as what is on the inside.
  • Fight back:  Say something positive or loving to the offending party. It will stop them in their tracks as it allows us to move forward positively.
  • No one can dictate our self-image. We do that. And leaning upon and trusting in the reality that we are made in the image of God will help us keep more positive!
  • Build spiritual stuff.  Remember that even the air we breathe is a loving loan from our Father.  The temporal stuff really is not as important.
  • Lots of times, people who treat others with rudeness or indifference are dealing with their own dark difficulties. Be the one to offer light to them.
  • Find some thing positive to counteract the negativity. Scriptures, exercise, a small act of kindness to someone [yes, even when we really don’t feel like it] will help us even if it doesn’t help the other guy.

Sometimes, making lemonade out of lemons (or having a good day) is as easy as water running off a duck’s back!