It’s hard to believe today marks two weeks since my surgery!! At times it has felt like eons – especially the not being able to drive part and not seeing anything beyond my little circle in the neighborhood. I am also very tired of being tired. But then, I was tired and in pain all the time before my surgery, so I am happy as well to just be tired now!
Yesterday was a big lesson in pacing myself. The “if it feels good keep on doing it” rule has its limits or so I am learning.
My wanderlust has reached a frightening level – but I am escaping via Norwegian literature and my newest obsession – Danish/Norwegian TV dramas!!
Grand treks are in sight though as I am happily walking up to 3 pain-free miles at a time with walking poles at just a minute off my pre-surgery-with-a-limp-and-nauseating-pain pace – so I am pleased!
Today was my second half day back at work. I finally felt like my brain was clicking again and I could type complete sentences. The computer still bothers my eye/brain happiness – but that is gradually improving too!
Tomorrow, I have my first post-op appointment. I am praying for a good report and permission to drive as I have been off all pain meds except for Tylenol for a week!!
I wish my brother could see me now. His immediate care was integral to my progress now. Thanks for carrying my initial distress with grace. It’s not fair just being a part of the yucky stuff and not seeing the end results! I love you, big brother.
“It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me, but you do not believe because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, in regard to what he has given me, is greater than all, and no one can snatch them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” – John 10: 22-30
Yes, Jesus, just how long is it going to be? Yes, Jesus, just what is going to happen to me, to us, to all of us? Yes, Jesus, just tell me, show me… because, you know, what if?
What if this isn’t the right choice? What if things don’t go as planned? What if something goes wrong? What if I am not as strong as I think I am? What if I am not who I think I am? What if You are not who I believe you are?
What do we do with questions like that? What do those questions reveal about the questioner and whom we question?
I am preparing for a significant “life-event” you might call it. Total Hip Replacement. Just saying it seems so unreal. I’m too young for this sort of thing! I don’t have room in my life for this kind of disruption! While I am thankful I have the opportunity to prepare for it rather than have it suddenly forced upon me, the whole process is raising significant questions, unsettledness, and apprehension within me. For someone who boldly professes her conviction in the things unseen and her assurance in my hope for things to come – the state of unknowingness I find myself in has me feeling untethered; as if I need to suspend my life until I can feel grounded again – if I can ever feel grounded again. I wonder if I am ungrounding my life by taking this leap of trust and why ever would I want to do that – because – WHAT IF?
What if the things to come are not what I intended? (As if I have any control over that!) What if my choice was wrong? What if I am not as strong as I need to be? What if I am changed – CHANGED (gasp!!) forever? Why, Lord, won’t you answer me these things?? I need facts, certainty, vision, reason – give me the straight talk!
When have you asked these questions? When have you wrestled with the discomfort of uncertainty reigning over your circumstances? Life in the world today is fertile ground for questions of this sort. Perhaps you are facing a decision or a conversation you feel unprepared for or fully inept at making or having? Maybe you are facing a difficult or painful change. Maybe your career, your finances, your health, or your family are at a critical crossroads. This is the stuff of life. The choices and decisions we make determine our course. It is a daunting position to find ourselves in.
No matter how the questions arise, they ultimately reflect our spiritual condition. It’s more about what’s going on within us than around us. And yet most of us would much rather deal with the circumstances – the facts of the matter – than the swirling dervish inside ourselves.
Of course, I tell myself I have no choice than to deal with myself – because I. Am. It. in this go around. The fiercely independent, keeps things close, doesn’t want to be a burden on anyone – me, the me who always commands control of her situation longs to believe – no, make that knows – that it is all up to me. I have learned enough hard lessons in life to know all this is true. And I have absolutely no faith in myself right now.
I sometimes wonder if Jesus ever had questions like this as he made His way through this broken world. As the Messiah, surely, He believed as I do, that it was all up to Him. Yet He was questioned over and over again by those He sought to convince of His truth. Did those questions ever chip away at his grounding and conviction? Was he not fully human?
In 1946, in a lecture given by Victor Frankl, after he survived the horrors and dehumanizing conditions of the Holocaust, the Austrian neurologist, philosopher and writer posited: “We are the ones who must answer, must give answers to the constant, hourly question of life, to the essential “life questions.” Living itself means nothing other than being questioned; our whole act of being is nothing more than responding to — of being responsible toward — life.”
The Stoic in me recognizes that our lives are made of a series of questions – each requiring answers. Every adversity or challenge presents to us an opportunity to find meaning – to think anew – start anew – live anew. It is how we go about answering these questions and responding to events that challenge us and change us that we find our purpose and meaning. We are refined and strengthened in the process. We become our authentic selves – separating us from the crowd.
Over and over again Jesus was tested – by Satan himself and cajoled by the crowds and the religious leaders to prove himself – and yet he remained steadfast in moving towards his goal. How did He do that? How did Jesus walk the straight and narrow?
The Jesus lover in me wants the simple answer of faith. Faith. But there has to be more, right?
Throughout His life, Jesus used every occasion he was presented as a lesson for his followers. Some were tests of his identity, some were simply the potholes of life – but with each gave a new perspective, a deeper knowledge of who He is and who we are. Each lesson brought him closer to fulfilling his work of salvation and love. He showed us who He is by staring down Satan in the desert – rising above temptation for “glory” and rising to the occasion of Messiah; in the midst of a grand social foo-pah He changed water into wine; when commerce and gluttony threatened sanctity He cleansed the temple; in the face of hunger He fed five thousand with a scant collection of bread and fish but abundant hope; in the shadow of sickness he enabled a lame man to stand up, take his mat, and walk and gave a blind man his sight; in the wake of scandal he forgave the woman caught in adultery; against the sting of despair and doubt He raised Lazarus from the dead. And at Easter, He showed us that life comes out of death.
With that in mind, I now see Jesus as the greatest Stoic that ever lived, died, and lives! And I take great comfort that He calls me, in all my independence, His own. Now, if I would just accept that that is indeed enough.
Ultimately, my BIG IF questions get right down to my ultimate need for security and sense of being – both of which will be completely disrupted by this surgery – but will also have the opportunity to be bolstered as well.
I am determined to make the down-time ahead of me worthwhile. I am being presented with a challenge – and yes – a learning opportunity. Not only am I terrible at asking for help and allowing people to help me – which I am being forced to do – I am terrible at resting in God’s plan. I profess that I do – but trusting in His plan for me? No, I tend to hold on to the reins a bit too tight.
As theologian Henri Nouwen wrote: “(I)t seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life.” I am mortified by this – but I have come to realize that in many of my approaches to life I am the God of my life! I cannot give up control. And yes, it is easier to control people than to love them! Our society and politics magnify this blatantly (but our politics are a reflection of the people which is me and you.) It takes a lot of chutzpah to put that into words – but we need to – I need to. And finally, there is a big difference between owning and loving life. I can have all the control of and security in myself that I can muster – but if I do not have meaning and belonging – that isn’t much of a life and there is not much to love.
So, maybe God is using this down-time in my life – literally and figuratively – to remind me yet again that I already belong – to Him – and to show me that only He can fill the void that my incessant going and moving and doing and seeking keeps me from attending to. To teach me that letting others help me may actually help them and show me that I can rely on – even trust – others to care for me. To make me stop and listen – to His voice and hear what He is saying.
I am quite certain I am going to go insane not being in perpetual motion but what a lesson this will be – not being in perpetual pain and resting in real truths. In a sense I am going on a fast – to help me appreciate the other gifts I have in life and hopefully enjoy life for its truest pleasures once I am able to again.
Where will your questions lead you? May the answers always be life changing.
“And then the day came, when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin
I have decided that this year IS worthy of contemplation – but only a brief spell of such looking back – unlike many of my past year-end summations.
As I glance over my shoulder at the year that is almost past, I see fog rather than succinct episodes of time. How is it that another year has passed? How is it that I have lived through fifty such turnings of a year?
This year taught me that while I may have miraculously made it to 50, I am not invincible. One would think I would only have to learn that lesson once, but alas, this year also revealed a hint of obstinance within me. On the bright side, these nefarious maladies have once again instilled in me a hunger for life – real life – not the “settled for instead” life I have allowed to dominate my existence.
Turning 50 reminded me I likely have more years behind me than I do ahead; precious time I do not have to take for granted.
Such wisdom only comes with the walk, and I have walked more than ran many miles this year. I know God was with me through all of them – even on the darkest and most painful stretches. He was with me, too, in the quiet golden moments by the water and in his meadows and on my solo wanderings in mountain splendor. I am grateful that I have found new strengths and ways to peace.
I still have much to learn – I know – hard to believe at my age – but I am well-prepared for the lessons yet to come. I trust that as C.S. Lewis said so well: “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
I am ready for this ragged old year to pass, and I am looking forward in hope to the promise the new year brings. Indeed, we are each made new every morning and we walk with new life when we walk with God every day.
As we close on this fog of a year – I wish you a time of reflection and thankfulness for this journey of life. It was never promised to be easy but with Christ as our guide, it can always be hopeful. My prayer for 2022 is that each of you awaken with this hope each morning.
May your days be full of hope and peace and LIFE in the New Year.
“But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.” – Psalm 59:16
“All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” – John 1:3-5
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” – 2 Corinthians 5:17
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 43:19