“I just wish life were simpler,” my sister said to me recently.
One of the hundreds of reasons why I love my sister is her honesty. Her ability to clearly and boldly share with me about both the joys and the disappointments she encounters in her life. That’s one of the many ways we were different growing up. It was difficult to nurture our relationship, because she was an open book, but I never shared about my life or my feelings with anyone. I think it frustrated her. It wasn’t until I moved to Rhode Island and was forced to face some major hurdles related to my health that I began to open up. It wasn’t automatic. It took me over a year to tell her how I was really feeling. And once I began to confide in her, I realized that, one, she is one of the most compassionate listeners I’ll ever know, and two, that when you tell your story, not only do you begin to heal, but so do those around you.
Yes, I too wish life were simpler. I wish I could wake up each morning and go about my day with no physical restraints - without worrying about what my body will do that day that will prevent me from doing what I want or need to get done.
Confession time: I’ve been avoiding my physical therapist.
Last time I saw her, I told her I was ready to really start exercising again (she made me withdraw my membership at the local rehab center’s gym). She sat me down and told me that right now our goal is to just get me to function, like wash the dishes without wiping out for the day, or get me to be able to do a load of laundry without needing a nap. It was quite frustrating to hear, and I think I might have pouted for a few minutes. She is amazing in that she waited while I had my moment of just plain frustration. Then she put her hand on my shoulder and told me I was doing a great job and she was going to help me. She sometimes sends me short encouraging text messages. At my appointment today she gave me a hug and told me that I can call her anytime. I arrived there feeling frustrated and emotionally drained, and left with confidence and a full heart. I thank God for her every time I go to therapy.
If life were simpler, my husband would not have to ask our travel agent about the cancellation policy for our dream vacation three times while on the phone with her.
“So if after we visit the first city, and for some medical reason we can’t continue, can we get a refund on our hotels for the rest of the trip? Can we come right back home?” he asked, all while smiling at me reassuringly, knowing my heart. Knowing this trip is something I have wanted to experience all my life, but that my anxiety about it is high. We have been saving and planning for this trip for years. (I have been told not to reveal where we are going until we return. Blog post and pictures to come!) We will be walking a lot. All-day walking. And of course I’m scared. If I have a week like this past week, where I couldn’t help lead worship because I couldn’t stand for the duration of just one hymn, I may ruin our trip. A trip we’ve been saving and talking about for years. That is my fear. That my body will turn on me, give me the cold shoulder, laugh at me when I tell it to just behave.
But then I remember how patient and kind Mike is when I’m sick. He knows when I need to take a break before I do. He always turns those breaks into good conversation. And I can close my eyes and see us sitting on a bench in a beautiful city, resting, talking, laughing...
When my pain is at my worst, I get frustrated and extremely exhausted, not only physically, but also emotionally. I put on a brave face for Mike, because I want him to come home to a happy, strong wife. In control. But some weeks he comes home to a messy home and a wife who is still in her pajamas because the pain has not let up in over a week. Even then, I smile when he walks in the door. I can’t help it. He smiles back, and without a word, cleans up and takes care of me.
Sometimes I yell at God. Yes, I’m a pastor’s wife who gets angry with the big guy upstairs. It’s happened many times. I try to avoid reading my Bible, like children crossing their arms over their chests and refusing to eat their dinner - depriving themselves of nourishment they need.
But then His peace overwhelms me.
If I didn’t experience disappointments and difficulties, when would I turn to my Jesus? It is in my moments of excruciating pain or unrelenting fatigue that I turn to my Lord. It makes me get on my knees.
And I know it’s the only place I want to be - being comforted, His peace washing over me, being led into His presence.
So if life were simpler, what would keep me on my knees?