The weather has broken open lately and now, finally, the days are warmer and the smell of spring rises from the ground. Lately I’ve been finding myself in parking lots in the early mornings, or as dusk falls, and I’ll cut my engine so I can listen to the silence as the sun climbs higher or the moon illuminates. I’m not always sure why I do this; sometimes it is an unconscious reminder that there is a grander story than the small details of my own mundane. It is a fallback on natural rhythms; I can run as fast as I want to in a day, but a miracle edges it open and a miracle pins it closed again. Every time. Ultimately, I don’t have control.
I need to remember that sometimes because so often I fight for control. I might not look like the average control freak, though. My life usually looks more like a collage or mosaic than a linear progression of events. I don’t line up anything in neat rows; I prefer stacks. I like some chaos and unpredictability in my daily life and I only use an organized calendar so other people know where I am. My preferred method of schedule organization consist of scattered, random lists ranging from remembering to send an email to “don’t forget pens” to reminding myself to lighten up a little. I have friends who organize their closets and desks at home with special containers and jars with labels because it clears their mind and allows space into their lives. I maintain basic levels of organization because if I organize things too well, I just lose them. A little while ago, a portion of my wardrobe mysteriously migrated into my car (always be prepared for impromptu sleepovers, that’s my theory). I like the “lived in” feel of a space. Not like a tornado just ripped through, but “lived in.” Also, if I ever wear socks, they probably won’t be matching. Some things are just a little more important in life.
I still like to feel like I am in control of the bigger issues in life, but I think that this is a natural and universal human desire. At my last doctor’s appointment for my back and digestion issues (or Ankylosing Spondylitis, if you’d rather be fancy about it), we determined that my current treatment was making the inflammation and pain worse rather than controlling it. She advised that I do a four week trial in which I would not eat any gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, sugar or peanuts to rule out allergies and Celiac disease because, apparently, where there is one auto-immune disease, there are often two. I seem to be a prime candidate.
A stone overturned and suddenly my road stretched longer and I felt impossibly old and out of control. Two diseases in one body and I’m only eighteen? What will I feel like when I’m seventy? Will I even be able to move? What will I eat for four weeks? Why did this happen on the day I decided to stop drinking coffee? God, why is there so much pain and brokenness twisted into our bodies? The questions burn and I’m standing in the middle of the flurry, attempting to regain balance and bearings and ward off the anger that sits in the wings, waiting to press in.
How do I navigate this one? The truth is that I could stay perpetually trapped in my “why” questions and shake my fist at God or dissolve in self-pity. I could fall apart because I can’t see the future and there’s nothing that I can do to prevent it from coming. My other choice is to trust that God holds my future and do my best to effectively, even creatively, overcome this hurdle by His grace. Worrying too much about the future stunts the present and I can only live moment by moment, day by day. I think that this is why I intentionally pause for the sunrise and the moon’s debut. Rise and fall. This day is a gift, this day is past. Breathe in and breathe out. I am still here…
Where are you now? Where are your feet? It’s so easy to become overwhelmed by the tangle and pull of life, but we live through a string of small moments. Start here, where your feet are planted. You can choose to walk on holy ground and pay attention to how God may be working, moving, through your life. He’s in the details, he’s in the life-altering events. He’s intricately woven through every moment. He’s above it all, in it all, and through it all. Sometimes it may seem like he is distant; I’ve known this too. He may not always feel close. In times like these, I try to think of Job who did not say, “I feel that my Redeemer lives,” but rather “I know that my Redeemer lives.” (Job 19:25) Pursue God with your questions, release the doubts and rest in him. He sees and knows more than you can even conceive.
If nothing else, my physical pain keeps me humble and dependant on God. I see his strength working often through my weakness. I am thankful that my health isn’t any worse. In the grand scale of life, my health problems are comparatively minor. I’ve seen suffering to the death, and that keeps my perspective healthy. I have prayed for personal healing, though, and I’ve been given small answers to prayer in the form of temporary pain relief. Small gifts of grace are signposts of His faithfulness to me; new mercy unfolds with every sunrise.