I try to keep a positive attitude no matter what is going on in my life. To be honest, there are times when I get down and find it hard to get my chin back up. But I try to keep those times to myself so I don’t bring others down with me. Lately I’ve been having this one problem and it’s about to get to me so I thought I’d share because it is something everyone can help with.
First let me say that just to get out of the house can be a struggle many days. It has to be something really worth it to get me out and going. It’s just easier to stay hidden in my caregiver’s cave most days. We do get out, don’t get me wrong – it just takes an huge effort just to go grab groceries or some of the other simple things that most people take for granted. For instance, last Friday we hopped in the van to go to Sprouts to get some grub. I take Chris with me now because we don’t have an aide again. It’s a long story – but basically we changed agencies and it takes some time to get an aide placed. But it really is good for him to get out anyway.
Let me paint this picture for you though. I have to get myself cleaned up and dressed – no biggie. But I also have to get Chris dressed, up and out of bed and in his chair. Then we wrestle with the door to make sure I don’t hit any elbows, maneuver his chair off the sidewalk edges and over to the van. Putting the lift down is no big deal whether manually or electrically. I get him on the lift and have to crank it up by hand to get it up so I can get him in the van. Then I still have to get his chair strapped in. There are 5 anchors in all and they all have to be fastened down whether we are going 2 blocks, 2 miles or 20 miles. Then I crank the lift into the van by hand – with my backside hanging out because I can’t get out of the van if the lift is on the inside. Once we reach our destination – I have to do this all in reverse. And then I do it all again when we are ready to come home and once again in reverse once we get here. I am not at all complaining – I am so very thankful for the van and that it is up and running! I just want you to understand that our challenges start way before we start getting ready to go somewhere. It’s not like we can hop in the van and casually go to the store. It’s a huge undertaking – and I’m glad we can do it.
I won’t even go into having to push Chris’ chair and pull a cart through the store. Or how I have to figure out how to get the bags to the van and then in the house. lol
So Friday morning I went to Sprouts because we really do need food sometimes! I was in a little bit of a hurry because I had to get back home in time to tutor. A really nice young man asked if I needed help getting out and I took him up on it. We were having a wonderful conversation about writing and art and expressing ourselves. Then we get to the van and see this:
Some lady had parked her car in the striped area reserved for the lift. You’ll never convince me that she didn’t see it. The young man got the manager and they called for the owner of the car and she finally came out to move it. She said, “Oh I didn’t see the stripes and the ramp.” Which told me she did – but I tried to be nice. So it worked out – I got over it.
Then on Saturday, My daughter and I were going to my taekwondo studio to do a mother-daughter workout and when we got there we found this:
Evidently Hertz parked their car there and didn’t move it all weekend. No problem there’s plenty of spaces – I just have to take two in order to have room to use the lift. I feel rude about doing that – but it works and I go where I want to. On Monday the owner of Vision Martial Arts went over to talk to the Hertz people and they basically dismissed her totally. Then on Monday evening there was one of their trucks blocking the handicap spot and my friend mentioned it to them and the car. They rudely brushed her off. I just went ahead and filed an ADA complaint on them. Next time we will call the police and have their car towed.
These types of things are so difficult to work through for me. I really am a mostly nice person and I really hate to be rude. I try not to even talk to anyone while I’m mad because I don’t want to say something out of line. But I am living tired. Am I supposed to stay home because we don’t look like everyone else? How is it that people can be so inconsiderate? I really don’t need anyone’s help – I am horrible about asking for help or asking for anything really. I don’t want “special treatment” either. I just want common courtesy. Why is this so hard? I deal with challenges every minute of every day – I should not be challenged to do daily chores. Please think of others if you even think about parking in a handicap spot. Are there people who abuse the system? Of course there is – and there always will be. But there are also people like us out there who have challenges that others can’t even imagine. Please don’t make it hard on us. Pass this along and hopefully others who struggle just to get out of the house can avoid these types of issues. Just be considerate of others period.
What a day! I finally got the van fixed so I was able to go to my mom’s church with her for Mother’s Day this morning. Chris definitely didn’t like getting up early and that always makes it more stressful on me. Just so happy to be able to get out once again. I guess everything is significant, but a couple of things stood out to me today. The first was my Daddy who grabbed Chris’ chair and pushed him all the way down to the front of the church. I laughed and told him I wanted to sit closer to the back. I think this stood out to me because even though Chris’ looks a sight, my Daddy isn’t ashamed of him at all. I brought him back where he was slightly more out of the way though.
Secondly, let me say that we were not ignored like we were at the last church we went to. Of course we knew a lot of people here because we have lived in the area for a long time and I think we could say our family is from there. But they did talk to us.
Then there is this one lady, she really had no clue. But at least she didn’t ignore us – lol. She walked right up to Chris and asked him how he was doing. Kudos for that. The she turned to me and said, “My daughter had never seen one until the other day.” I was like, “one”? She said something about a “severely disabled” person. I had to dismiss it since she really didn’t seem to be “all there” to me. But I think that was a new one – hadn’t heard him called “one of those” before. And she did say it more than once about seeing one. She said they were in a restaurant and seen one the other day. I chose to ignore it but boy do we need to learn proper etiquette when talking to and about people with a disability. That was just weird.
The preaching was good and the speaker shared some very good points. She told a story about when she was young and her daughter was born with some problems. She asked her mom to pray for her daughter and God healed her. While I am really glad for her – where does that leave me and my son? This generates tons of questions. I still have hope and I believe God can heal- but why would he heal some but not all? Probably not a question anyone will ever be able to answer fully – and maybe not even partially. The Apostle Paul said that for some the gospel was in words but not in power. Is God picky about who He “uses His power” on? Did He just overlook us? Or is it that we are insignificant but this lady’s baby was more significant? Maybe they had more faith than I do.
These are just a few of the questions that start running through my mind when I hear stories like this – or read them in the Bible for that matter. I want to say If God hadn’t healed your daughter that day, would you still believe He could? Would you still have faith? Of course we say “yes!” to those questions. I just sort of stare off silently and run out of words when I think about it. Do I say it takes more faith to walk through the struggles than to be delivered from them just to justify my own lack of faith? I don’t think so, but who knows?
All I can do is live today the best way I can. My life may not be pretty and maybe I haven’t got my miracle yet. Perhaps He will choose to never give us a miracle – but what if He does? I can never completely let go of Him. I just don’t have it to forsake the God of my fathers. I will continue to trust no matter what a day brings. And I think that this is true faith.
Over time we do adjust to new “normals.” But then we’re going along just fine and BAM! we get sideswiped by life. Today I had too many subtle reminders that I do not live a life like others. We enjoyed a few short months of freedom with the van before it broke down only to go back to the harsh reality that we have lost that freedom once again. Thankfully where we live has a service called CART which allows us to schedule rides. They offer a wonderful service and it is nice to be able to get out. There’s still a lot of limitations, but at least we can go some. We’ve been going Monday and Thursday nights to taekwondo. This was my first “slap in the face” today – I called to schedule a ride so I could get in a Saturday class to get ready for belt testing. Class is at 10:15 – the buses don’t run until 10 making it impossible for me to attend class on Saturday mornings. I was so disappointed. I felt so trapped.
Today’s other not-so-subtle reminder had to do with my cell phone. It broke late last night – I have no idea what is wrong with it but it won’t turn on. I know the aide comes at 11:30 and the nurse is coming today at 1:30. That gives me two hours to hop on my bike and try to find the Sprint store and see if I can get the phone fixed. The aide comes nearly 15 minutes late. That is not huge – but it cuts a big hole into what little time I had to start with. And of course, in order to see about the phone I have to skip my run for the day and put off grabbing some groceries for another time. I know she knew I was mad – but I don’t think she had a clue how much her inconsideration screwed up my day.
Thirdly, the store wasn’t where it was “supposed” to be. And since I don’t have a phone I can’t check the map once I get in the vicinity. Oh how dependent we’ve become on mobility devices! I’m beyond frustrated as I head back home empty handed. I talk for about an hour with the phone company but I cannot get a phone overnight. It was a horrible experience trying to get another phone. It took forever and I am still phoneless until next week.
These subtle reminders were tough on me today. I feel like I’m back in prison after enjoying a little bit of freedom. Almost like God was teasing me. “Here’s what you’ve been missing – enjoy. Oh – never mind – you can’t really have it!” I know He is not that way – but that is the way I feel.
Sometimes I think it would be better to not try and get out… just stay in the cave! But I don’t have a “quit” button. And I know Chris needs socialization – he’s ready for it. So I will continue to do what is needed to ensure he gets what he needs. I refuse to just cave in and give up. There has to be a way to live in this situation without getting my feathers so ruffled up. But the thing is that these are all on top of all the other things going on. I have so many things on my mind (I’ll spare you the list!) that these feel so much heavier. I wonder if one of the most difficult parts of caregiving is dealing with the abnormality of it all. I know there’s not one “normal” and no two lives are alike. But we see others hopping in a car and going out to eat – headed to the movie on Saturday afternoon with their friends, or deciding to go buy groceries at the last minute. What if you run out of something essential like toilet paper? Others just take a midnight run to Wally-world and grab some more. For many caregivers these “simple” parts of life are super complicated or even impossible.
In Philippians 4:11 Paul says he learned to be content in any situation. I think I may have a different learning curve! I am trying to learn to not stress out when things don’t go as planned. I’ve learned some strategies for coping and dealing with the stress of caregiving – but “content” is not a word I choose to use – yet. In this passage, Paul says he has learned to be content when he has and when he doesn’t have; when he is hungry and when he is full. He then makes a statement that is a favorite in most Bible believing circles: I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
Today I probably didn’t exhibit quite the Christ-like spirit (poor phone guy) – so I will scrape myself up and dust myself off and move on. In our weakness – He is strong; even when I don’t feel Him being strong. So I’m back to just simple trust. I have to trust that He has this – that He has me – and He has my back. Even though I can’t feel His presence – and I don’t see Him working on my behalf right now – I have to trust He is. I think I am learning that this is the highest level of trust — to continue to believe when you can’t see a thing. That would be faith..in its purest form.
Anyone who has read this blog much at all knows I am frank and honest about my questions and faith. I’ve explained before that I’ve felt like God broke a major trust. After all, I trusted Him with my children’s safety and He let me down. I’ve rethought my faith, redefined faith and scratched my head a lot. But the funny thing is that just about the time I’m ready to just give it up – something happens. Today it was one of my Chinese students that got me riled up.
He asked me a question about music I think it was, and I mentioned church somewhere. That threw us into a very exciting discussion about religion in general. I learned a few points about Buddhism, and he learned a lot about Christianity. I love these types of thought-provoking discussions. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to argue and try to convince the other party of anything – let’s just think it through.
When I am in my down spots I really battle with depression and being sick of late has not helped at all. I am taking care of Chris but forgot to give myself the same careful attention. Now I’m paying for it and it just makes the load more difficult. It takes me back to trying to figure out where I am with my faith. I know I don’t believe what I used to believe – but what do I believe?
So my student tells me he is not religious at all. He thinks God is just a convenience that we create when we don’t have anywhere else to run. I was rather surprised at some of my emotions as I began the whole creation argument. Needless to say it was a great conversation! And I really enjoyed it!
But it really got me to thinking again about faith and what it really means – better yet – what it means from here. My life is far from “normal” and lacking in many ways. There’s not a “fix” that can make any aspect of it any better. But even during those dark nights of the soul where I feel like He has abandoned me – there’s that thread of hope and faith that has been evident throughout my life that won’t let me just let go. During the times where I am at my lowest and I’m wondering where He went – I still find myself running to Him rather than away. Honestly, sometimes that is very frustrating.
He does not answer every prayer with the answers we want – and I really think He does not answer all of them period. Maybe He just listens. Maybe He wants us to work it all out on our own – I’ve heard that makes us strong – not that I have any particular interest in being considered strong – Personally, I’d really rather have my answer! (smile)
I guess it is always going to come back to choosing whether or not to trust Him in every situation. Those words can simply roll out of my mouth but in actuality they are much more difficult. Can I trust Him and continue in faith when the furnace gets hotter? What about when I get sick too – the ultimate defeat for the caregiver; can I trust Him then?
My heart stays broken – but with every little piece I will cry I’m gonna figure out how to trust Him.
Most of the time I feel like a failure and tonight is no different. Once I got home from the hospital and started to get some sense of normal back in place I realized how far behind I am in pretty much every arena. Since stress is one of my major issues (just like every other caregiver0 I figured I better try not to stress over it all. I’m learning that I can only do what I can do in a day and stressing doesn’t get more done. IN most cases, it keeps me from doing more that’s for sure.
Today was a little bit crazy for me though. I’m feeling a little better but real draggy and I have sent a note to my doc to see if she can reduce my meds a little bit – it’s a really low dose anyway and I think that I can manage the blood pressure with diet and exercise – something I wasn’t doing before that got me in the bind I found myself in. She still has a referral up for me to see the cardiologist – don’t know why – no one seems to care why I have irregular EKGs or fail stress tests — since I don’t have a blockage in my heart… figure I’m good to go – right?
This trip has been very different for me. First of all, I haven’t had health issues for years – but knowing that I had to be okay because I am taking care of someone else really changed up some of the dynamics. But isn’t that one of the caregiver’s biggest issues – we take care of someone else but not ourselves? Or we only take care of ourselves because we are taking care of another…why can’t we see ourselves as important enough to be taken care of to begin with? Is it that we lose our worth or significance in the person we are taking care of? Probably…but we’ll never admit it!
I am more serious though about taking care of myself. I’m pursuing healthier choices in every area of my life. For one thing I’m following what the doc ordered – that alone is a big one for me. I’m also going to go back to taekwondo starting next week. I think it is very therapeutic and the doc told me to find some things other than running (not to exclude running of course) that would be beneficial for reducing or managing stress. Of course it will take some time and I have to start all over – but I’m going to go for my black belt! It’s still stressful because I’ll be taking Chris with me this time – I can’t afford a sitter twice a week – not that and for races. But I think it will help me regain some discipline in my life. It may also help provide a small bit of a social outlet for me – we’ll see.
As for faith – I don’t know what to say. I can’t not believe in God – but boy does my life make no sense at all. It’s a constant struggle to keep my head above water right now. I hear myself tell others all those things I’ve always said – but doubt how relevant they might be…It can be so easy to get caught up using a lot of cliché’s without thinking through what they really mean – and we can do the same with scriptures. I want to get beyond that – but I’m not sure how….
I’m really just trying to make some sort of sense out of the last three weeks. If I’m totally honest, I have to say that I really have not felt well all year long; but as is my usual fashion – I just kept pushing it and moving along. I’d had several signs and symptoms that something was wrong and I was most likely in need of medical attention. I hate going to the doctor – I have no idea why, but I just hate to have to take the time out and go. I also have a pretty poor track record of listening to them so why waste the time, money and effort, right?
Three weeks ago I got busted. My son’s nurse was here checking on him and noticed my severely swollen ankles. A quick blood pressure check revealed that it was at stroke level. I had already found a clinic here in town since I knew a visit was inevitable, so the next morning I made an appointment and went in. Boy did I get chewed out! They worked me over for about 2 hours! I left officially “under a doctor’s care.” And it’s pretty well gone downhill from there!
She told me to stop running, or at least do very little until I could get an EKG and some blood work. My blood work was all normal – nothing at all to worry about. But she also wanted me to do a stress test and she got it set up right away. I failed it. I finished it, but it showed some suspicious activity that could have indicated a blockage. She wanted me to stop running and see a cardiologist…I didn’t make it that far.
Last week, the chest pains intensified (probably just stressed out and worried about it all!) so I figured I would go in to the ER and let them check me, tell me I was okay and then I’d come back home. Oh, if it had only been that easy. Since I failed the stress test and the EKG they took as soon as I walked in the door was “abnormal” they admitted me. That afternoon, they did their nuclear stress test – which I promptly failed. I didn’t even make but 6 minutes on the treadmill and my blood pressure went so high I thought I was stroking out! So- they sent me for a heart cath — which showed absolutely NO blockages – talk about a huge waste of time~~! Not totally since I know there’s no reason to worry.
I learned a whole lot though. My daughter stepped right up and took over my son’s care – as well as mine! She wouldn’t let anyone bring me my computer – kept saying I needed to rest or some sort of craziness! lol They didn’t let me sleep much since they checked on me all the time, but I had some time to think. More on that later…
During my follow-up on Tuesday my doc (really a nurse practitioner) was talking to me about coping with stress. I still can’t run for awhile as I have to get used to the meds. She recommended that I get back to this blog as a way to get my emotions out – so that’s why I’m blogging. I went in with the full intention of doing what I was told – seriously!
All of that is to say I really don’t know what to say. I feel like every area of my life is broken and I am a failure. I’m behind on work and school and housework horribly and I don’t feel well enough yet to tackle it all. I’m not even sure where to begin or what to work on first. I’m sure I’ll figure it out.
So where am I with God? And faith? I honestly have no idea. I wish I could share some great testimony about how I’ve been able to hold on to faith and God miraculously throughout the storm, but I can’t. I do not blame Him for everything being broken – but I certainly don’t feel Him. My head says He’s still here – He still cares – but my heart just wonders why.
Doc asked me if I ever feel helpless. I answered honestly, “everyday.”
Things are actually going pretty good and I’m seeing a lot of progress in Chris of late. Actually, I’ve been thinking today and looking back at some of his recent pictures and it helped me realize how much progress he’s really made in just the last few weeks. He’s interacting more and today I’m so very confident that he was saying “mom.” I was working at the computer (as usual) and he was behind me. He made a noise that sounded sort of like “mom” but I thought he was fussing because he had to cough like normal. He made the exact same sound again – I looked at him and he was looking right at me. I walked over to him to see what he might need and he did not make the sound again– pretty sure he was purposefully trying to say “mom” to get my attention. He has also been interacting more with my grandkids. They are trying to mimic some of the things I do like put his feet back up on the chair – and he’s watching them as they try to move his legs. He even kicked for them the other night… so why do I still bottom out?
I really don’t know why my emotions can just drop out and leave me stranded like they do. Over the last few months I’ve come up with some strategies to help out – like changing up my day or my plans as soon as I realize I’ve hit a wall. Today wasn’t too bad – but I just didn’t feel productive when it comes to my actual work. Tutoring is okay – I always get that done of course – it’s the writing that I get behind on and just can’t seem to keep up. There is absolutely no motivation sometimes to get things done. Today I felt so un-productive!
But then I thought about it for a while and realized that what I should really be concentrating on is all I have got done today. That helps a little. Another thing I have worked on is concentrating on working on me – I help everyone else but I forget to take care of me. I’m mostly talking exercise here. It’s the one thing that gets cut first when I’m in a time crunch but I’ve re-prioritized it. I feel some better but have a long way to go to actually be better physically.
So tonight while I was on the treadmill I was thinking about all these crazy thoughts that go through my head. I’m afraid of everything. Really. I’m afraid I’m getting Chris out too much; or that I am not getting him out enough. I’m afraid I’m pushing too hard; or not pushing him enough. I am afraid to be more social; and afraid not to be…and the crazy thoughts just run through my head. I thought of the scripture in I John 4:18 – perfect love casts out all fear. When I was in the organized religious world otherwise known as the “church” I taught that perfect love could be translated as “mature.” Mature love would be a love that is returned. When we know God loves us, and we learn to love Him back – it’s perfect, or mature. But that’s not what I was thinking about…
I have no doubt that the Word of God is true which means that if I have fear – my love for Him has not yet matured. The scripture is plain – perfect love casts out or gets rid of all fear. It doesn’t say it helps you manage fear better, or keeps fear in control. It says that when our love for Him is perfected – it runs away all fear. Now I am a logically minded person – so logically this means that if I have fear – my love is not perfected toward Him. Which raises yet more questions…
How can I trust Him again? I trust Him on some levels but can I recklessly abandon myself to Him once again? He allowed the things to happen to my son; and basically – he is gone. Unmercifully, his body is still here struggling – but he is not who he was before the wreck. Many lives changed on that day – too many to name. How can I return to trust? I know I have to start where I am – and that is not an all bad place. I totally run to Him and seek for His answers on a daily basis. I have not abandoned His word – and never will….But I honestly have trouble trusting Him with everything. It seems to me that this is precisely what messed everything up to begin with! (smile)
So for today – I don’t know how to get the fear out of my heart but as I walk through this burning furnace called life I will set my heart to understand Him more, to follow Him more closely, and to let Him cast the fear out of my heart.
I’ve been a caregiver for almost 6 years now and I’ve functioned that way in several different ways from hospitals to nursing homes, rehab hospitals and finally home. I’ll be the first to admit (as most will) that it’s not an easy job. At times I miss the BC (Before the Crash) life that I had. Being a caregiver offers no breaks, a huge loss of freedom and major changes. It can be so difficult to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Areas that were not a struggle before, are now front-and-center-in-your-face. One thing that many do not realize about caregiving is that even the bright spots can be overshadowed by the situation. It’s almost like you aren’t allowed to enjoy the pleasures of life like others, or at least not to the same degree of enjoyment. But tonight I had a great bright spot and I held on to it because I didn’t want to miss it.
My daughter and the grand-babies were here for the evening. Well, I’ve been trying to get out and walk each evening and my daughter has also started walking for health reasons. Tonight we walked through the park to the splash pad on the other side and let the grands play in the water. It was so much fun watching them run and play and giggle as they got splashed by cool water. We laughed a lot – and that was nice.
As we began walking back to the apartment my grandson took my granddaughter’s hand. I was trying to capture a picture so my daughter began pushing my son in his wheelchair. That’s not an easy task as he weighs about 150 and the chair another 80. I found myself caught between the two – my daughter in front pushing my son and my two grandchildren behind. I was listening to the children’s chatter and heard things like Eli telling Kyrie that he was the big brother and she had to stay on the pathway because he didn’t want her to fall in the icky water. In that moment I took a mental freeze-frame shot. I wanted to savor it, remember it and let it be pleasurable. It was just a perfect evening and I gave myself permission to enjoy it.
As caregivers we can get so caught up in taking care of others that we fail to miss these kinds of bright spots. Our schedules and lives can be so rigid that they shroud the pleasantries. It’s okay to enjoy some things in life; it’s not against the rules. Maybe I’m learning how to live a little bit. It’s certainly not what I had imagined, and it’s definitely not the way I had my latter years planned. But it’s okay to laugh, play and enjoy things. There’s no telling what tomorrow might bring – how well we know that – so when we have these little bright spots — hold on to them — let them be bright, don’t dim them with the gravity of the circumstances. It’s okay to live.
It has definitely been a random day today! I am not even sure where to start with all my crazy thoughts. Tonight was one of the many nights I crashed. Not really depressed, although that has been an issue in the past. I just go into overload mode or something and it’s like I can’t even function. It’s not indicative in any way that the day itself was bad- just maybe too much.
When I get like this (usually later at night) I’m not worth much at all. I don’t feel like doing anything. I can’t get my mind around working – words just don’t come out right – I don’t feel like running or exercising; I pretty much just don’t want to do anything. Tonight I started wondering if I’m just lazy. Maybe I don’t want to work or something. But then I thought back about my day – and all my typical days and talked myself out of it.
Nights like this I feel like I am a huge failure. I feel like I don’t get anything done. I know that this is not true – but it’s how I feel.
I did get a lot done today – just not enough. I’m nearly caught up with my work, between classes in school, and I tutored starting at 7 this morning. Chris sleeps in and I tutor in China and Taiwan. But then there is also all of the stuff I need to do for Chris. I bathe him, get him up, fix him something to eat and then feed him. Then it’s time for stretching, TENS unit, splints or other types of therapeutic activities. And that’s all just by about 11 in the morning. I still have writing to do!
I’m not lazy, I’m a caregiver! Those two really do not go together. Maybe we should classify the term “lazy caregiver” as an oxymoron. Caregiving itself is a full-time job, I have to remember that. But I still have to make a living on top of that. When Chris slept most of the time I had chunks of time to get my work done, thankfully he is awake more and more of the day and evening. But it leaves me less time to work. Not a complaint- just fact. I’m trying to figure it all out and adjust.
But it’s nights like these (and I’m having a lot of them lately) where I know I got a lot of beneficial things done, but it fell short of what needed to be done. I keep thinking “I’ll start over tomorrow” but it sure gets old. I’m wishing there was a restart button somewhere!
Sometimes I have to tell myself to be content. Paul said he was content in every state – whether there was abundance or lack etc. I have to find a way to walk in that kind of peace. I’m going to too!
I have to remind myself that I am not the Provider. God is my provider and I have to be content that He will take care of me body, soul and spirit. That’s not an easy task trusting Him – after all I have to believe that He allowed this to happen to my son. I question over and over. But over the last 6 years I’ve learned to trust Him in the trouble – without assuming He’s going to take me away from it. No matter what is going on it comes down to the question if I am going to fully trust Him or not.
Now I may state it through clinched teeth and white knuckled hands, but it is my choice to continue to trust Him – even on nights like these. I trust He will pick me up and dust me off one more time. So as I retire tonight, I’ll be thinking about His restoring power, His ability to pick me up and put me under His protective covering and offer me His peace. I believe I’ll just rest right there – and once again – start over tomorrow. He made each day new – and His mercies are new with the morning. (You do realize that it is always morning somewhere, right?)
So tonight I decided to get my son back outside for a bit. It’s funny how everything can become so terrifying. I used to walk him almost every evening. There is a nice paved walkway in a frisbee golf park behind the house. It’s pretty much a mile from my door, through the park and back so it makes for a nice little walk. Since he got sick back in November I have been so nervous about getting him out but tonight I figured we both needed a little “fresh air therapy.” We’ve been locked up in the house this week.
It was really a nice walk, it was still a little warm but there was a nice breeze blowing. I enjoyed the breeze, Chris not so much. Hopefully he will get used to it – we live in Oklahoma so he’s going to have to! We only saw about three people while we were walking. My mind can race and it sure did tonight. I noticed why each person “appeared” to be there. My assumptions of course can be wrong, but hey – it was my imagination. Anyway. One young man was exercising his dog, another lady was pushing a stroller and the other person was walking – my guess is to lose weight – but again it’s only an assumption.
The young man passed us twice since it’s an out-and-back route. Both times he spoke in a friendly manner, without actually generating any conversation. The lady with the stroller looked the other way as we passed by while she was sitting on the bench. And the other lady at least nodded in our direction. I started thinking that it seemed we were all in the same place, at the same time but with entirely different agendas. We used the same park, at the same temperature, dealt with the same wind and walked on the same pavement. But all of our motives and purposes were entirely different. I began to feel very disconnected. To them. To others. In life.
I realized the park scenario was very parallel to how I feel in general. I’m in this world, walking through life with a lot of people doing the exact same thing – but we are so disconnected. Our worlds do not overlap. I go my way (on the same path) and everyone else does the same. It can be so easy to get caught up in what I have to do that I do not have any regard for anyone else on life’s path. It can be so easy to live for the moment – and live in our own little worlds without thinking about others at all. I did a devotion called “Quietly Discarded” that kind of makes that point and talks about being politely ignored. I guess the lady on the bench got me to thinking about it. But we really get that a lot – people really do not know what to do with us – we don’t look like the typical picture of life and so it’s easier to ignore than to look at the “ugly” parts of life.
In many ways I feel like I just don’t belong in life’s picture. I’m here along with everyone else – but my walk is not like anyone else’s. It’s funny because we can all say that really. But I feel the disconnect from “normal.” At first, I feel angry about that. I get mad that I have gotten used to pushing my son everywhere in a wheelchair and learned how to navigate it through tight spots like most stores. You should see me at the grocery store, I’ve done quite well. I can push Chris with one hand and pull a cart with the other. We make a nice little train. But it makes me mad that I have to adjust to that. Tonight I was mad that we were different. I missed my son walking and talking with me. We had coffee together today – he drank a little – I drank a lot. But I remembered sitting on the porch with him literally for hours as we discussed God and church from many angles. We could dissect scripture and talk for hours only to realize we had no real solutions while we went through pots of coffee. I miss that. That’s when I get upset and start a horrible downward emotional spiral. I’m learning to catch myself.
So tonight I had to choose once again to forgive. And I chose to be thankful -for many things. One is that Chris is still breathing for as long as there is breath there is hope of better days. I get really frustrated when he does not respond favorably – on days like today. But I have to keep pushing on, moving my feet and trying. People keep telling me how strong I am but on days like today I feel so vulnerable and weak. I’m reminded of a scripture which helps me refocus my energy and efforts on the things that matter:
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
Most gladly therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
Therefore I am well content with weakness, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties,
for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:9-10) NASB