January 2015 wasn’t much fun, that’s for sure.
First I had to endure several outlandishly awful hours for a medical test “they” say is a good idea. I started out feeling just fine before they got their hands on me. Then life stopped for two days of fasting and, shall we say, cleansing. After test day I staggered out of the clinic and typed, stamped, signed, and mailed to my family doctor a vow that no matter what, I will never endure that test again. In my opinion, every person who prescribes a test should experience that test at least once.
Then a beloved in-law died of cancer long before her time. She was exactly my age. For weeks we heard sad updates on her deterioration until the end came in January. We researched flights, funeral locations, and family preferences in between empathetic tears of sorrow for her children and the grandchildren who would have no memories of this vivacious, athletic woman. I find death unbelievable – how can that lively person be gone from the face of the earth? Impossible reality.
Next I was stricken with gastroenteritis, the fancy term for what we used to call stomach flu. Oh, the tricks one’s body plays while it fights dastardly invaders – REVOLTING and exhausting.
Samuel Johnson said that the prospect of being hanged wonderfully concentrates the mind. Fear and pain likewise detour any determination to be grateful. It’s hard to think about anything but how much it hurts. From the bathroom floor, death by hanging starts to appeal.
During January I heard of people dying in Paris and Nigeria, of suicides and illnesses. Such news added to my own trials, tempting me toward gloom. As you know, all of the Wise Ones affirm the bountiful by-products of suffering. Christianity promises that one day God will fix the mess but meanwhile, what do I do with January’s fails?
As I age, the probability of more pain ahead, both physical and emotional, is taking centre stage, and I want to know for real how those lovely theories make any practical sense. As my guts twisted I wondered how there could be any good at all in this suffering. HELP!
Through tears over personal and global pain, I asked God for more understanding re bible statements like, “I can do anything through Christ’s strength in me” and, “Everything works together for good to those who love God and want to live according to God’s plan.”
God answered me in my distress. Here’s January’s short list of goodness.
1. The medical test woke me up to the need to take my own welfare in hand and make informed choices now instead of trusting any professionals, beyond mining their expertise as part of my research. No specialist cares about us as much as we care about ourselves.
2. The loss of a fine woman brought about tender and intimate conversations and ways to show loving care that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Maybe shared tears accomplish in a relationship what shared laughter cannot.
3. A temporary but overwhelming illness deepened my appreciation for my amazing husband with whom, on regular days, I am in continuous frustrating negotiation. Who’s driving when are we leaving are you free then did you eat yet you missed the turn forgot your sunglasses, blah blah blah scream. During my ugly incapacitation he nursed me patiently, running errands and cooing sympathy, and even afterward continues to tell me I’m beautiful. I could describe what I looked like when I was sick but you do not want to picture it, believe me. I feel so warmly toward him for his faithful caretaking that I haven’t growled for several days now.
And I’m relieved to say that I didn’t lose my temper with him at all while I was ill either, so maybe we can do some things by God’s strength that don’t come naturally.
The forage for goodness continues.