Feeling sorry for yourself? Maybe you should talk with author Diana Mood. She’s gone eyeball-to-eyeball with dragons of every stripe over her 70-plus years on planet Earth.
On her journey through life, she’s experienced abandonment, guilt, rejection, loneliness, shame, infidelity, and humiliation.
And that’s just for starters.
Her marriage was doomed from the start. Her children struggled. Bankruptcy threatened. She got cancer, had a mastectomy, and felt betrayed by her closest friend.
Still feeling sorry for yourself?
Diana can check virtually every box on the adversity checklist, yet this Marylander said, enough! She learned to survive and thrive in brokenness.
Like Walking Naked
Diana has written a soul-bearing memoir about her struggles. Writing Enough! Learning to Survive and Thrive in Brokenness, she said, was akin to walking “naked on Times Square.” Why did she write such a probing assessment of her pain?
Feeling sorry for yourself doesn’t fix brokenness.
This unabashedly Christian woman believes she thrived because she trusted and depended on God, and in the process, learned truths about herself and gained insights into principles that everyone can apply to overcome their own adversity.
”I’ve had a heavy dose of calamity,” Diana tells me. “Perhaps more than others. But when we have Christ, we have more than enough.”
The Story Begins
Her story begins with a recurring dream at age five. In it, she sees herself dashing into burning buildings and somehow saving her neighbors.
It’s a metaphor.
In nearly all her relationships, she tried fixing people, including her emotionally distant father, her angry, adulterous mother who saddled her with mothering her two younger sisters, and then later, a husband, who once confessed to fantasizing about a former girlfriend when he was intimate with her.
She watched a friend fall to her death, and even blamed herself for not running fast enough to catch her. “This senseless tragedy reignited childhood nightmares of running into burning buildings. But this was no longer a dream—it was real. And I was helpless to rescue her,” Diana writes in her memoir.
A few weeks before the teenager’s tragic death in Cape May, New Jersey, Diana’s best friend, Joni Eareckson, dived off a wooden raft in the Chesapeake Bay and hit her forehead on the sandy bottom. She broke her fourth and fifth vertebra, paralyzing her from the neck down.
Diana skipped a college semester and became Joni’s caregiver.
“In all this, not once did she allow self-pity to rule my day,” Joni writes in the book’s foreword. “Perhaps that’s how she indeed saved me.”
Unsurprising, Joni’s story caught the attention of local and national news media. She’d learned to draw, paint, and write with a pen or brush clamped between her teeth. Before too long, her artwork began to sell. She wrote a book about her life-changing injury. A movie was made.
And so began Joni’s career as an influential Christian author, speaker, artist, and advocate for disabled people worldwide.
For 12 years, Diana never left her side, directing and managing her friend’s growing business and nonprofit. She thrived, as did Joni. But in 1979, the collaboration ended. For reasons then unknown to Diana, Joni dissolved her Maryland-based ventures, moved to California, and started a new enterprise.
Diana became “collateral damage.”
“We were the best of friends. Which is why—and this is the hardest part—I grieve over this touching memoir,” Joni continues in the foreword. “For the most part, her path through life is pitted with profound suffering….And here’s the hard part: much to my regret, the choices I made for my own future only hurt her further.”
Diana’s Sustaining Principles
Joni did hurt Diana, deeply.
“But It also shaped me to be the person I am,” Diana says. Had she not become “collateral damage,” Diana may have never spread her own wings, becoming a globe-trotting disability advocate, an ESL (English as a Second Language) mobilizer and trainer, a psychotherapist, speaker, and writer.
Despite her trials, Diana thrived. She kept her eyes on God.
She restored her fragmented relationships with her ex-husband, whom she now visits weekly, and with Joni. “We unmasked secrets, gave explanations, filled gaps, expressed regrets, admitted mistakes…,” Diana writes about a conversation they both avoided for 40 years.
Why had their collaboration ended without explanation? Diana learned and “reconciliation of a once-broken but fully restored friendship had finally happened.”
Feeling sorry for yourself? Don’t.
To thrive, you should obey God and embrace the brokenness, she advises. Forgive yourself and others. Take inspiration from other believers. Praise God and give thanks. “God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves, for His glory and our good.”
Feeling sorry for yourself isn’t a part of that equation.