Monday, April 6, 2015

Sick, Sicker, Sickest

Being really sick from time to time has definite benefits.  Before anybody hisses and quits following, or reading my comments let me explain further.

I have battled throughout my life with mind bending, soul gripping types of illness.  If that hasn't been enough my husband was quite ill for the last thirty years of his life.

We both knew that we had a choice, a very, very difficult choice, but a choice nonetheless.  We could choose to let our illness completely define us, (it IS a part of who I am, but not ALL of who I am) or we could focus on all the things we COULD do, not those we COULDN'T.

My husband was a powerful example for me, for our two daughters.  "Happy, not crappy," became our family motto.  It means the we CAN be happy in spite of our circumstances.  Yes, I said HAPPY!

Last week, I was a health mess.  My tooth abcessed and all of the demons of medical challenge that I juggle daily came spiraling down around my head.  I was at stress level 100 of a scale of 1 to 10.  For two days I was in the land of, "This hurts more than I can bear!"  Gratefully antibiotics have groomed the pain back down to manageable.

Why do I share this?  That time of misery was not wasted. There were periods of time when I thought of all my loved ones that have passed, and smiled with joyous memory.  I prayed, I watched interesting things on TV while I embroidered on an antique family quilt top.  Many of my family that have now passed on worked on this quilt from the 1930's forward.  Somehow Mama just never was able to finish it.  At 90 she considered throwing it away, and I had a figurative heart attack and snatched it back.  This quilt top WILL be finished.

I was not able to do laundry, wash dishes, or perform other household tasks.  This was a time for "other" kinds of duties.  Watching the sun rise, and the moon rise behind our mountains became a daily point of joy.  I was grateful for all my senses (Except for those days when pain was so severe.  I am not a Saint)!

Time slowed to almost a stop.  Instead of racing through my day with tasks, and schedules, and appointments, I was forced to s  l  o  w  w  a  y  d  o  w  n.  Sometimes I felt like I could hear the tress greening, and the flowers poking their seemingly shy heads above the winter chilled earth.

I am not advocating that all of us quit living so that we can listen to the flowers grow.  I'm discussing the hard times that come to almost every human being that lives.  I'm not talking about, "Oh goodness, what shall I do, I can't choose which Prom dress to wear!" kinds of troubles.  I'm referring to soul shaking, bouts of illness, financial stress, or especially financial ruin, divorce, death of a loved one, or disability.  I would wish these troubles on nobody.

I watch, listen, and learn from others as I move along life's path.  I learned from the woman confined to bed by Multiple Sclerosis.  She could do nothing for herself.  She had her Caregiver's get a white board and mount it next to her bed.  Each morning she would have them list people who requested that she pray for the issues in their life.  She labeled herself, "The Prayer Warrior," and spent her days praying for those who were struggling.  Can you catch the irony?  She...the woman bound fast in her bed, was praying for others, for their struggles, and juggles.  It was a way to empower herself and connect with her God.  She did not choose to be pitied, or to spend her day feeling sorry for herself.  She found ways to serve.

I learn from reading, "The Hiding Place," by Corrie Ten Boom.  Corrie, her sister Betsey, and their beloved Father hid Jews during World War II.  They were devout Christians but saw all humanity as brothers and sisters.  A neighbor turned them in for treason.  Betsey and Corrie never saw their elderly Father again.  Betsey did not survive the Concentration Camps.  Corrie was released through a miracle.  She found out later that it was a "Mistake."  If she had not been released she would have been killed a month later.

An example very close to my heart is my beloved Mama.  At the young age of twenty she was diagnosed with incurable kidney disease.  This was 1939.  She was given a long list of behaviors that she should follow.  She should rest a great portion of everyday.  She should NEVER marry.  Having children could easily kill her and the baby.  She would be an invalid.  She probably not live to be very old.

She called a beloved friend for support.  Mama was crying so hard that her friend had a hard time understanding what she was saying.  Shocked to silence, Mama could not believe it when Emma started to laugh.  What Emma said next changed Mama's life.  "Oh Sarah, you're going to learn to take such good care of yourself that you'll outlive the rest of us."  Mama said that she thought, "You can do that?"

Emma's statement proved to be prophetic.  Mama read books, she did research on kidney disease.  She learned ways and means of improving her health.  She gave birth to three children, and lived to be ninety-five years old.

My Mama is my Shero.  She taught me to trust in God with all your heart, and then do everything in your own power to make things happen.  A partnership with my Creator came more from her actions than her words.  She showed that partnership each and everyday by the choices that she made.

These examples of monumental courage in the face of great fear and challenge help me as I face my problems.  I watch how these "ordinary people," faced their extraordinary challenges.  It reminds me that courage does not mean doing things in the absence of fear.  Courage means facing your worst fears. 

When all else fails, remember, "Happy not Crappy!"

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