Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Level Playing Field, A Woman I Admire

Besides the money thing, Ann Romney and I have a lot in common.

Well, maybe not a lot, but we have enough in common that I consider her a woman who I admire.

And I don’t admire a lot of women—at least not a lot of ones currently living. Is that bad? I’m not sure. I have my reasons for loving women from Scripture: we see how things “turned out.” We know they finished the race set before them. In some cases we know their struggles and the way they faced those struggles. We learn so much from them. That’s why I stand at attention when a woman of my own generation makes me notice qualities that resonate with me, qualities that I admire.

Now does this mean that Ann Romney is perfect? I’m guessing not.

But since no one is, I’m confident proclaiming that perfection doesn’t have to be a gold standard.

The gold standard, for me, is how a woman engages in her life’s circumstances in a way that reflects commitment and acceptance. The gold standard, for me, is to see a woman make a choice to, let’s say, be a lawyer or a full-time mother or a school bus driver, and then does it with gusto and even a bit of joy now and again. The gold standard, for me, is a woman who finds herself in sink-or-swim circumstances and swims.

Ann Romney passes my gold standard test.

Ann Romney’s life circumstances include the chronic illness Multiple Sclerosis. I don’t know much about MS, but I do know about a couple of other autoimmune diseases. I don’t know the everyday experience of living with MS, but I do know the everyday experience of living with a chronic condition. I have come to learn through my own experiences how stress affects your condition, how important it is to know how to balance your life with your life’s circumstances.

So I stand up and cheer for Ann Romney for allowing us a glimpse of what it is like to live with an often-debilitating condition and still smile. When I watch her on television, my own experiences with chronic illness makes me quietly wonder “How is she doing today?” I know she may be having a difficult day—or week or month—but that she continues to persevere. I don’t see her as a woman who has a lot more “things” than I do, I see her as a woman with whom I have a common bond. Not until you experience living with a chronic condition can you say the following: it doesn’t matter how much money you have in the bank, a chronic illness levels the playing field.

Yep, me and Ann, we’re on the same field. I’m guessing neither of us would have chosen this particular field, but here we are. I’m grateful to her for her candor in talking about MS and for the way she gives others hope who may not have had hope before—or who are at the beginning of their journey with a diagnosis that has them spinning. Discovering this woman who is willing to share her life and her illness has been a blessing to me. Each time I read something about Ann Romney I am taken by her poise and her sincerity. I come away with the realization that this is a woman who has lived her life in a magnanimous way: she’s raised five boys (I’ve raised three so we’re sort of alike in that regard, too!) and has not let her circumstances be her undoing.

There aren’t a lot of women I would cherish meeting; but Ann Romney is definitely one of them.

Bravo, Ann! Bravo!

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