Waiting, it is one of the hardest lessons in life to learn, perhaps that is why it seems that most of our life is spent in this frustrating mode. Hard as we may push to avoid this problematic state of unwanted suspension, it seems that some unexpected problem crops us causing one or more of our cherished plans to come to a halt and enter this bleak miasma where like comes to a grinding halt.
It seems that if anyone is need of learning this painful lesson it must be me, for sadly it is in this deplorable state of affairs that one of my newest dreams have fallen. Not that is such a new dream, for bits and pieces of it have been around in some form, but up until now the idea has always been in the background as a nice idea for some future date after my real hopes and goals had been met and I at last had time to relax in the warm glow of having accomplished my grand goals. But once the sad truth at last broke through, that I was not fighting some transient battle with ill health that with a little TLC would vanish into the night never again to reappear, was a lovely dream but not the stark reality, I at last came to the unwanted conclusion that it was time for me to lay down my sword and admit that I was not equipped with the necessary gear of resilient health necessary to slay the giant and claim the castle I had so long desired. But must instead find a new set of dreams that with a little fine tuning could bring the smile back to my face and hope into my frustrated heart.
The seed of this new dream had been planted years earlier as having learned different tidbits about the sad state of the food we put into our bodies, my family and I had at various times kept a small garden. It was never much more than a raised bed of peppers, a bucket of tomatoes, or a few citrus trees, but from this humble start an idea was slowly sprouting, and the dream of growing a garden capable of meeting a fair percentage of my family and my needs.
Even though I had known for a long time that it was coming, the day it finally broke through my thick head that my dream was over, it felt as if my heart had been run over by a mile long bullet train running at full throttle. Tears filled my eyes as I looked down upon the pitiful remnants of the dream that been the driving force of my life since I was five, and finally admitted to myself that like Humpty Dumpty, all the glue in the world would not put it back together again.
I would like to say that when the truth finally knocked its way into my brain, that after a few hours of mourning, I rose from my bed of tears stronger, wiser, more resilient, and with a sweet calmness worthy of emulation. I would like to say that it was such, but sadly for days, weeks, even months I was touchy, moody, and at times only tolerable company as I grieved for the cavernous void in my heart that I had no clue how to ease.
With bitter sorrow I listened to every tidbit of the active world around me. The green eye of envy rising to the surface as I was barraged at every turn by fresh tidbits of my peers success until I dread to hear the phone ring lest it was some loved one sharing news with my Mother that they were certain would bring smiles of delight to our face. News that at other times might have only brought forth a dry smile and a momentary pang of longing that was easily smothered by the abiding hope that one day soon my Mother would triumphantly be able to declare that her daughter had finished premed or graduated from nursing school.
But now that the battle had been conceded, now that I had admitted that my life’s purpose had been defeated by the superior foe of chronic pain and misery, I was like a flimsy dot of a life raft lost at sea. Rising and falling on the storm maddened waves of uncertainty and loneliness and pounded by the beating rains of despair. Like a haunting melody the unforgiving wind declared that I was nothing but a useless blob, a worthless blood sucker sucking the life of my aging parents. With fiendish glee the flashing lightening and earth jarring thunder would announce that my future once so bright and hopeful was doomed to ignominy and failure.
During this bleak time my pain was made more acute as imaginary images of my frightful fate, terrorized my dreams and haunted the most peaceful moments of my days. Like the midnight sectors of Dickens strange Christmas tale, my eyes were tortured by the fearful realization that one day the comforting arms around me would be no more, and that I would be left pale, friendless, and jobless to face a future wandering the streets begging for the stale crumbs of human sympathy.
The past few weeks have not been my best. I have been caught in the throws of a miserable flair up that has left me feeling cold, tired, and painful. To add to the misery my digestive system has been under constant attack so that some days my appetite drops to nearly nothing while my weight has increased.
Fortunately even in some of the most miserable times, if you look hard enough, you can find something to be grateful for. For me that has been the constant support of my family and my sweet little pup Happy who I sometimes get the unnerving feeling actually likes my sick days because when I am sick I end up camping out on the sofa where he can spend the day curled up on my lap.
Something else which has brought a smile to my worn face is the beauty of several hibiscus plants which have spent the last several weeks in bloom. Greeting me with their gorgeous blooms as I take my short backyard stroll. They have been a source of comfort and joy reminding me that even though there are moments that I tempted to think that life is nothing more than pain and misery, there is a great deal worth smiling about if only we open our eyes and take a good look at the simple wonders all around us.
Today is one of those days were discouragement keeps knocking on my door trying to find entrance into my heart. Stubbornly reminding me of all the goals and dreams that I have not meet and pointing out all the accomplishments and privileges that my peers enjoy. Whispering in my ear that life is and has passed my by. Insisting that my humble little life is a failure because I have not hit the mile markers of life such as getting a car, a job, a husband, and children like all my other classmates.
When discouragement comes to visit, it is amazing how as soon as its footsteps cross the threshold happiness threatens to go on vacation. Probably because joy, peace, contentment, and self-esteem cannot endure discouragement’s contentious presence. There is something about that dreaded visitor called discouragement that drives away pleasant guest such as hope and comfort.
I know that Halloween was a few days ago, but a few videos that I came across got me to thinking about this day. In the home I grew up in Halloween was not an issue. My parents had from an early age taught my sister and I that Halloween was not a day that we as Christians could safely participate in. Well they did not full comprehend the reasons for and against, my parents gave us the best explanation that they could to provide us with an understanding that the main elements of Halloween such as dressing up as devils, and decorating the yard with skeletons and witches, was contrary to the word of God.
It was not until my late teens, when we came across several programs discussing the occult connections of Halloween, that my family began to get a fuller understanding of Halloween and how deeply it stood in contrast to the plain word of God. And I at last began to formulate an answer to the question why my family and I did not participate in this increasingly popular holiday. Watching those videos I began to understand that the reasons for abstaining from this day had less to do with inappropriate costumes, and more to do with its ties to elements the Bible banned such as contacting the dead and spirits as well as spells and divining fortunes.
In some ways, after years of being chronically ill, I have found myself becoming s somewhat cynical of the world around me. It is not something I set out to do, and it is an attitude I try to repress, but years of discouragement and disappointment take their toll.
Friendships that you thought would last a lifetime come to a quiet end as life for them continues and you remain an frustrated prisoner of pain. Caught up in the excitement of a big new world begging for them to explore, the idea of visiting an old school chum locked in time soon loses its appeal. Thoughts of that old friend are replaced with the joy of reaching new milestones such as graduating from college, getting the first job, dating, marrying, buying a home, and having children. And without meaning for it to happen you have been reduced to a memory entitled “What was her name again.”
For years, in between my bouts of debilitating pain, I have been quietly writing. Creating folders of poetry, short stories, and even a book that sit quietly on my bookshelves waiting for the rare occasion when I would pull them off the shelf and read them. And that is where I expected them to stay all the days of my life gathering dust and growing yellow with age, because I had no idea how to share them with the world.
For the past two summers all I could think about is how much I want a pool. My Father has not been to well the past couple of summers so I have had to help him mow the lawn. The early part of the summer, while not fun, was not so bad, but by June as the temperatures soared into the nineties, the only way I could manage a step was by imagining the fun of floating lazily in the refreshingly cool waters of my own pool. Day after day I imagined, I hoped, and I dreamed of the relief of splashing around in those cool waters that would help to relieve the aching of my weary bones.
Sadly as much as I longed for one, I knew there was little hope of attaining my wish as a few minutes of dream crushing research revealed their steep price. But if a permanent pool is currently out of the question, what about a temporary above ground pool. Considering that a 15X4 foot pool can be $300 dollars I could at least hold some type of hope for buying one.
Have you ever heard the saying, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. In part that is true. There is so much about life that we cannot control. No matter how hard I wish, I cannot change my age, my height, the place I was born, or my genetic code.
Sometimes even in areas where we think that we should have control, such as going to school and choosing a career. With our plans all laid out, our eye on the port of choice, we set sail. Certain that we will reach our dreams it never crosses our mind that other factors such as lack of money, family issues, and health can steal our plate of velvet cake and leave us holding a basket of sour lemons.
It is at that moments such as these, when life hands us our greatest disappointments, that our true character and ability to maintain happiness shines. It is at this crucial moment that we have a decision to make that will impact the course of our live. We can chose to take the easy road and let the wave of disappointment swallow us up and give into the urge to slip comfortably into the satisfying robe of self-pity and burry our head under the covers. Or we can decide to take our basket and make lemonade. To get out of bed and do something that will put a smile on our face and take the first step towards choosing happiness.