Yesterday, Adam used an idiom on me. "Wow, honey. My life is usually so steady; there's rarely something spectacularly great or spectacularly terrible. But with you, when it rains, it pours." I rolled my eyes. I have disliked this phrase since childhood, when it confused me. However, I was inclined to agree with him.
I occasionally struggle with the fact that when things go wrong in my life, they seem to go really REALLY wrong. For example, while I'm in the middle of dealing with some extremely stressful financial and familial times, a new health crisis springs up and demands my attention. Perhaps I should give you some context before I go on.
Those of you that know me probably know that I have Type 1 Diabetes. But most of you who know me might not know that I also suffer from pleurisy (sensitive lungs,) hyperthyroidism (a hormone condition,) and chronic paroxysmal hemicrania (frequent migraines.) I know, I'm super exciting.
I don't tend to think of myself as a "sick person," however, it's just one of those facts of life that I spend a lot of time with doctors and dealing with the general ins and outs of having various medical conditions. In the last quarter or so of my life, it's seemed like every few years I get hit with something new. Since I was diagnosed with the migraine dealio in 2008, it was apparently time for the next hurdle to materialize, because a few months ago I started suffering from extreme back pain. I tried massages, yoga, pilates; I even overcame my extreme fear of the chiropractor, to no avail. Finally, my parents dragged me to the doctor, which began a very long and as-yet-unresolved adventure to figure out what's wrong with me.....again.
As you might imagine, this cycle can be very trying on my faith. HOWEVER, it can also be extremely rewarding. Every time a new problem comes up, I get angry and upset and yell at God about it for awhile, until, inevitably, He breaks me down and I humble myself before Him. And then He proceeds to blow my mind with his awesomeness in ways I never would have seen had it not been for my struggles- and I feel embarrassed, like a naughty child. And I'm prepared to bet that most of you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about when it comes to God giving us a "Gotcha!" moment. Luckily, we can take comfort in the fact that we're not alone in this: it's all over the Bible.
One of my favorite Bible stories is an account of Elijah given in 1 Kings 19:11-13. Now, Elijah is on the run from a particularly nasty queen named Jezebel, who's made a hobby of killing prophets. He's taken to hiding in caves, begging God to simply let him die, because he's so tired of fearing for his life. After awhile of dealing with his "woe is me!" rhetoric, the Lord tells Elijah to go stand on a mountain, for He is about to pass by. Elijah scampers on up ol' Carmel to wait for God, and some exciting stuff happens.
"Then, a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper....and the Lord said, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?' "
The point in this story is pretty clear: God didn't reveal himself in any of the crazy, scary phenomena in which we would expect to hear the voice of God. Instead, he came to Elijah as a gentle whisper- just as Jesus came to man, not as a a fiery behemoth or a shiny golden being, but as a helpless baby who grew into a gentle man. I am a firm believer in the fact that God has a fabulous sense of humor. He keeps us on our toes; He loves to surprise us. I think it's His way of making sure we're paying attention.
These past few weeks, I've been feeling a lot like Elijah. Granted, Michelle Obama hasn't taken out an oath against my life (fingers crossed- I'm not exactly her hubby's greatest fan!) However, I've definitely been feeling oppressed and had my fair share of "poor me" moments. I was feeling particularly pitiful last Sunday and could barely drag myself to church. But boy, was it a good thing I did, because God had a whammy for me: a sermon on the last of the beatitudes, which is the declaration, "blessed are the persecuted." The words left the pulpit and hightailed it straight to my heart. What right did I have to complain about a little physical discomfort? How dare I consider skipping church when there were people the world over risking their lives just to worship in secret? I was behaving like a spoiled child.
So when I got home and crawled into my crippled-person nest, I prayed. I apologized to God and instead asked Him to show me His hand in this latest ailment- because He has promised that, "not a hair can fall from [my] head without the will of [my] Father in Heaven." And just that little emotional makeover made everything seem more bearable, and shed light on all the unexpected blessings of being bedridden. For example:
-Recreational reading time for the first time since I don't know when. I've made it through about nine different books I've been dying to read or re-read.
-Time off of work for disability. I love my jobs, but a break is definitely nice.
-A completely legitimate reason to get out of chores. Selfish, probably. Awesome, DEFINITELY.
-Simplified diabetes management. The simpler my life is, the easier it is to handle the annoying demands of diabetes, and it's really nice to not have to stress about it so much.
-Time to catch up with friends. I've written a lot of letters and made a lot of phone calls that I've been meaning to get around to, and my heart feels very full.
-A lot of quiet, quality time with my sweet boyfriend. We usually squeeze in time for each other running from place to place, and it's rare that we get to just sit and enjoy each other rather than just being together while doing something. It's been so nice to just BE together.
-WATCHING TV. We don't have TV programming, but we have Netflix and I have a computer hookup for the TV in my room. I've spent a lot of quality time with Bones & Booth, Dr. House, the crew of Serenity, and Alton Brown the past few weeks.
-Time to write. I haven't updated this blog so much because I've been taking "me" time, but I've been able to spend some quality time with the journals that I've been neglecting. It feels good to be creative.
-Bonding time with my family. My life is usually so busy and hectic that I hardly ever see them, and being stuck at home has given me the opportunity to visit with them and realize how much I really do miss them when we're out of touch. My brother and sister are amazing. When they're not being awful.
-The ability to appreciate the little things, like the weather and a good hair day and my favorite music and friendly people and all sorts of small happenings that go largely unnoticed otherwise.
-And most importantly, I've been spending some quality time with God. Being stuck in bed is a prime opportunity to turn off all my electronics and open my ears for the gentle whisper, and return my own whispers of sincere praise.
There are more, but I'll share those later. You already deserve a cookie if you've made it this far!
No matter what is going on in my life, I have been incredibly blessed, and I can take true, deep, bubbling-up-from-my-toes joy in the life that I live and the God and people that love me, no matter what's wrong with me. So I no longer think of "when it rains, it pours" as being such a bad thing. After all, I've always liked rain.
"Why do I get up
Each morning and start,
Happy and head up,
With joy in my heart?
Why is each new task
A trifle to do?
Because I am living
A life full of you."
(Singin' in the Rain, by Gene Kelly.)