Giving from the place of our pain.

About 2 weeks ago we had the first annual Ethan M. Lindberg Foundation fundraising event. We rented a Yacht Club in Lake Geneva, WI, hired a band, caterer, purchased signage and sold tickets. In May when we decided to have this event, I vacillated between the thought that we were completely crazy for doing it and an excitement for bringing this idea to life. I recall standing in my kitchen saying to Erik “What if no one comes? What if we fail? What if we have to cancel it?” There was one day I seriously considered calling it off. I feared failure, I didn’t know if I could emotionally pull it off. I even felt it was not good enough, nothing I could ever do will be adequate in celebrating, honoring and remembering my Ethan. Nothing is as good as him being physically here with me. I wondered if anyone would share my passion for our mission. I honestly wallowed in fear. 

Ethan’s life and death have taught me to really listen to myself, my intuition, God, my soul. To really listen. As these thoughts of fear and failure raced through my mind, one of my greatest realizations of the last three years screamed to me. “IT’S NOT ABOUT ME.” My life is really not about me. My life is about loving others, making a difference, and impacting change. My life is not a container with 4 sides, but rather it’s a fluid river that’s ebbing and flowing and desiring forward motion. My spirit years for connection to you, to others. It yearns for meaning, purpose. It yearns for love.

Our event was an incredible success. We had 141 guests. We were truly overwhelmed. So many gave time, talent, money, ideas, a listening ear, encouragement. While Erik and I worked like mad to pull it off, it was so successful because so many people gave of themselves. We raised nearly $50,000 from donations, ticket sales, sponsorships and in-kind gifts to help children and families facing Congenital Heart Disease. I never could have imagined this success. 

What have I learned from this? Passion breeds success. Passionate people inspire others to act. People yearn to find a way to make a difference. When I spoke at the event, I told everyone that while this foundation is inspired by Ethan and our family’s journey, it is not about us. It’s about families like ours and children like Ethan who need love, support, guidance and joy as they walk the journey of Congenital Heart Disease. 

My vision for this foundation is huge. The ideas honestly just pour out of me. So much so that I cannot fathom how I will bring them to life. So easily the fear creeps in and I think, “Who in the heck do I think I am?” While that fear, that resistance are very real, so is my absolute conviction that I am walking in my purpose. That Ethan’s life and his death both have great purpose. I believe without a shadow of a doubt this is work that Ethan and I are doing together. It’s hard, it’s gratifying, it’s daunting. Just this week I spoke with a social worker in Boston about some families we are helping. The needs are so great, the pain so overwhelming. Am I even cracking the surface? Am I making any impact? The social worker told me that when she told a mother in the CICU about the help we offered the mother replied, “No one has ever given me this much money or help”. In that moment I hope that mother felt a community of love behind her. And so Ethan’s life continues to breathe life and love into others and I’m just a vessel. 

What are you passionate about? What is calling to you? What message comes over and over again to your mind and heart? It does not have to be something huge to be life changing for someone else. Your life is not about you. It’s about what you can give. Your life is about saying yes to your purpose; to your calling. Do you know what? Most people don’t realize their goals, their passions, their deepest desires because getting there is super hard work. Like so hard that they quit. Or don’t even begin. 

Do you have pain in your heart that is crippling? That makes it hard to get up and get going on days? Give from the place of your pain. I know it’s not fair. It’s not at all. Will you try this? Love others from that place. I promise you there are great gifts there. It’s okay to be afraid. But don’t let your fear stop you. You are created to make tremendous impact. You are a vessel. It’s not about you. It’s about transforming humanity through love. Your role matters. 

I’d love to hear about what your are passionate about. What impact do you want to make?

Click here to learn more about Ethan M. Lindberg Foundation.