A Reflection

I’m  taking a break from my Friday routine today while I’m still deciding where to go next with my Counseling Issues posts.  I want to share something with you today that I hope you won’t see as nothing more than an organ recital.  I promise not to dwell on the physical aspect, because that’s not the main emphasis here.

Because of some things I’m dealing with right now, I’ve been thinking a lot about how our physical health  can influence our  thinking, emotions, our spirit, and our behavior.  There’s nothing deeply philosophical here this morning, just thinking about some folks I know who have chronic conditions. Some are positive and upbeat. Others? Well, I don’t want to be like that.

It’s not a good day when you are told you have a condition that will not go away. The typical person needs some time to process that, and will probably go through the cycle of grieving that starts with denial, and includes anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  You can read more about that here.

It does take time to deal with the knowledge that your body will never be what it once was. We take our health for granted, moving through our days with energy and enjoyment.  Bending, stretching, twisting; running, jumping, and bouncing without giving it a thought. I wish I had treasured those wonderful days more than I did. I appreciate them now, I assure you!

I knew a woman who had a beautiful spirit. She was always smiling.  I don’t think I ever saw her when she was unhappy. She spent the last ten years of her life in a wheel chair. She had several different conditions, and they eventually had her all twisted and bent. Still, she would smile at whoever approached her. She could only look at you sideways, and she couldn’t hold her focus very long, but she always had a warm smile. After a while she could no longer speak. She developed Alzheimer’s, to add salt to the wound. The amazing thing, though, was that even when she lost herself she still smiled, still made sounds to show how pleased she was to see whoever came to speak with her.

I want to be like that. I want to NOT make people dread having to see me because they will be treated to a long and boring organ recital. My discomfort, my pain, is mine.  It doesn’t belong to anyone else.  No one else should be burdened with it.

I have a friend who developed colon cancer. He had surgery, and for a while all was well.  But his latest scans are showing some activity that isn’t good, and he has to have more tests.  His attitude?  It’s fine. Make each day count. He smiles, and really doesn’t want to spend a lot of time talking about it.

I know someone else who is unable to discuss anything else besides her pain. No matter what subject you introduce, she’ll bring it back to herself and her own problems. I feel bad for her.  The pain is real, her condition is real. But I don’t want to talk  to her. I do, but I dread it.  There’s no joy.

And there’s what I guess I’m trying to say. There can always be joy.  You know, God never promised us that life would be a walk in the park. He did, however, promise that He would always be there beside us to walk through the dark times.

Psalm 23:4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

And there is my joy. I have Jesus. He knows my need, my fear, my dread. He knows and understands my pain because He made my body. He gives me comfort, and His Word gives me strength every day, all day.  I am so thankful for passages I memorized as a child. Those are the ones that come back to me when I want to indulge in a little “pity me” thinking. ‘

I’m thankful for modern medical technology that can bring some measure of relief. I’m thankful for kind and capable doctors who are taking good care of me. I’m thankful for the nearly 68 years I had before this present condition kicked in. Thankul I was strong and full of energy when my family needed that from me; thankful I had the opportunity of teaching when I was still able to go 24/7.

And now I’m thankful that, as my energy is sapped by pain, I can rest.  I work only three days each week. You can’t beat that. I’m not ready to retire completely, and God knew years ago, when I decided to go back to school so I could do my present work, that this period of my life was coming. He has prepared the way for each and every phase of my life, given me what I needed and walked beside me.

Here’s a song I love that expresses my present thinking quite well:

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6 thoughts on “A Reflection

  1. Anne

    Reflecting on your reflection…

    And then there are those that can’t recognize that another situation is worse than their own…reminding me of someone that if one told her they just recently had a miscarriage, and she’d still go back to her hangnail.

    But you are neither of these to-be-avoided types. And if you did give an organ recital, your readers would listen with delight. A personalized rendition of Toccata in D Minor full of suspense and drama? Or a Diane Bish arrangement…colorful, lively, full of surprises (in your case, humor or insight). Anything but boring or tedious 🙂

    We can learn from others, but we can’t always imitate. We are all our own person in our own stories, personalities, experiences, how we handle fears, and, yes, we can thank God and a best friend that knows this. I look at the joy and faith you express, and I know full well I would not be quite so victorious. So others can learn from you even as you learn. Which leads me to this…

    “My discomfort, my pain, is mine. It doesn’t belong to anyone else. No one else should be burdened with it.”

    Hmmm…and then there are those who are humble and might not want to burden others, but need to know that, because of that, others wouldn’t MIND being “burdened” with knowing, listening, learning, and praying.

    Praying for you. Reflect or give a recital anytime 🙂 You are a joy.

  2. Linda, this is wonderful. I want to focus on joy too. My doctor was so sweet when she told me about my situation a few years ago. She said she was relieved it wasn’t the worst case scenario. That really helped me to be grateful–especially when she shared that she had the same thing. Counting our blessings is always a good idea. Thanks for the poignant reminder.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

  3. workitoutlifeservices

    I love those folks the ones that meet Life with a smile and rarely let others know they are in pain. I admire them. Mostly because I wish I was anything like that. I have lost many of friends and family when I went through a very trying time. I always wanted to be that person that kept it to myself and never understood why I didn’t or couldn’t.

    It was yet another self badger. I knew some of it was due to learned behavior but I thought I could beat that through discipline. But over time (and not that much time) I was doing what I didn’t want to do and being that person I didn’t want to be & could feel people preferred or dreaded being around. I came to not care. I used to meet or dress up my complaining in humor but when health and other issues piled sky high, I was anything but quiet about it.

    I learned who my friends & real family are during this time. As of late I don’t share as much and have learned why I was never capable of keeping it to myself and it wasn’t a personality flaw, though I still judge myself harshly but it seems wrong to try to explain or clarify the cause of my habitual complaining because of the length of time it carried on. It came down to a hormonal imbalance that was insufficiently treated most of my adulthood.

    This is how and what everyone around me has known me to be, so to try to say Hey not me, would come off as a lame excuse. At least for the time being because even I have questioned whether I will know how to be happy or completely stop being so open to anyone that will listen, once this imbalance totally levels out. I mean after so long doesn’t it just become part of who you are?

    I don’t know. I am still working through that. I have a handful of Great friends and amazingly supportive family members that look past all that and enjoy my company and for that I am grateful and equally grateful to have broken ties with those that judged me & blamed me harshly.

    Myself, I have always had in the forefront of my mind that everyone is fighting an (un)mentionable battle of some kind and my job is to listen, offer comfort where I can and commiserate when appropriate. And I hope to meet a whole group of new people that never know the side of me that couldn’t keep my burdens to myself.

    I share this to let you and your readers know that Some of us are unaware we are doing it, some of us know but can’t for some hidden reason can’t seem to stop or control it and some are just so hurt and overwhelmed by Life’s unfairness their complaining is a form of reaching out. We all just have to try to be more understanding and let folks be heard. We might be the only one they actually tell.

    But even if you are the hundredth person they told today, they are searching for answers & to be heard. How many of us really listen once we realize folks are griping. We usually tune out. I read 10 + posts on Facebook alone telling people to avoid negative people. I am highly sensitive to energy: negative & positive. When around a lot of negative energy, I tend to pick up as my own. So while I understand the need to protect one’s self, avoiding people that gripe & bare all it only isolates them more. And then we end up with more shooters than Smiley faces.

    1. Anne

      You point out some great nuances. It’s easy to forget that other usernames don’t know our full personalities causing us to not add enough disclaimers for our comments so they don’t look a bit…off. So, I thought I’d clarify in case I seemed heartless 🙂

      I know exactly what you mean in that we may not know everyone’s stage of their cycle in a struggle, understand their personalized battle, or what exactly is going on in their heart. Your story reminded me of a college roommate. When she was up she was very very up…and it was all about her–making light of my realistic “complaints”. When she was down she was very very down…it was all about her–my “complaints” weren’t bad enough but for a passing pitying shake of the head. That was fine, but I was concerned for her (not myself). I could tell how others thought she was a touch unreasonable in her mood swings. In those days, I was very even keeled–didn’t like to share my struggles anyway (introvert as well as learned rejection, recrimination), etc. so I just went along for the ride trying to be a good friend. And we were very good friends. Maybe my stability helped her find a balance at times between her extremes (this is hindsight talking).

      There came a point after graduation (and she barely graduated…I tutored her on study skills, etc. ongoingly) when her own mother was fed up with “not understanding her”, and I guess recommended for her to see a counselor. She was very upset, but we thought, “Why not appease her mother. What could it hurt.” After all was said and done, she was diagnosed with ADHD. The puzzle piece of her “personality” fell into place for me. She was a touch mortified, a touch relieved, a touch numb on how many years–her whole life?–could have been not quite so…volatile (settling down for course work or better friendships, etc.) When I met up with her for the first time after the diagnosis (and she was on a bit of medication)…there are no words for the difference. I think we both cried. She kept asking, “Why didn’t you tell me? Why did you put up with me?” I had no IDEA to think that direction of diagnosing her health. I just accepted her for who she was and she wasn’t ever hateful or judgmental towards me…”oblivious” was more of the word. And I think in her roller coaster highs she kept me laughing in spite of my own “troubles”…and her quirky lows…kept me diverted from my own “troubles”. In a way, after meeting her post-diagnosed self, I missed the “old her”, but of course, after that she was able to hold a steady teaching job, etc. What a journey.

      All that to say when I say “to-be-avoided” complaining people, I mean on pretty serious levels–or just thankful otherwise I don’t have to be around them or know they have others that do “put up with them”. Otherwise, some people where, yes, it is needed to “protect oneself”. Where, if I tried to give to them, I would lose myself and not be who I need to be or can be with say, children or best friend. What to do with a spouse where all complaining leads back to you as the sinful source of all wrong. After years of trying to please or help to finally come to breaking point mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically…a crossroads. A sudden realization that…they are not the problem nor can they be the solution. Time to tune out, disconnect from their isolating the partner in continual accusations, leave them to God, cling to God, and salvage what’s left of one’s mind and faith. And what to do with a parent or parent in law…again where what you say WILL be used against you even if you try to help them…where you serious worst valleys of life or another family members are passed by for their own “hangnail” time after time as I referenced. Again…there comes a point. I can’t judge their heart, but sometimes…one can only give so much. God must have someone else in mind for them. In the case of the hangnail mother-in-law, she finally got a dog a couple of years ago. I’ve never been so thankful for a dog 🙂 She rarely calls or e-mails now. We don’t have her accusing her daughters-in-law of mental issues so much when she finds out our “imagined burden”…and her spoiled rotten dog is her therapeutic outlet 🙂 Those are just a couple of examples…we all know where we can help and where we need to help ourselves…not out of selfishness or pride but out of necessity.

      And yes, God places people in our lives that we can help, that can help us. As long as we aren’t being unnecessarily harsh or judgmental from either side, maybe we can learn that every one has their own story of why they can help or be helped. Most times, “just” His peace in our heart is sufficient because He is the “God of all comfort.” How dear it is, though, for Him to also give someone who takes us at our highs and lows and enjoys and loves us all the same, and we can do the same for them.

      Thanks for sharing your story. Thought provoking and good life lessons.

      And? I think it helped me avoid the Memorial Day leftover meal…this is good…lest you want to avoid my complaining guilty dieter diatribe 🙂

      1. workitoutlifeservices

        Ahh, the live in complainer… how can I forget… I not only grew up with them I still live with a few. There isnt a day go by I dont ask God why He doesnt just take me now cause I know no other way out. Thwy are very hard to tune out & about the tume you notice they arent its because we are. Mine is due to a mentally ill relative that thinks he lives on thw street & my patience sometimes is not what I would like it to be. But the stench makes it difficult & I find myself asking God for saving grace 2/3rd of the day & night. The rest plugging my nose. I know its not easy. It wasnt a judgment, only a reminder. And probably directed at me more than anyone else. God bless!

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