I walked past a lot of people at the Mall yesterday. They were walking, chatting, eating, smiling, shopping, planning, dreaming and living life. A new feeling smacked at my heart but I don’t know a word that encompasses it.
I’ve been hesitating to write about it because I feel this will be easily misunderstood. So bear with me here.
The feeling that hit me yesterday: hatred of the unfairness, jealousy, regret, sorrow, and yet also gratitude.
Each step I took yesterday was full of pain. My legs have been numb again this week and my hips have been burning. My hands have been throbbing piercing weights and I’ve had a headache clouding my mind and heart.
For years I didn’t realize how good life was. For the most part I was healthy and pain-free. I had energy and passions. My life was good and full of adventure. But now I feel tethered and caged by this illness.
Yesterday I wanted to tell people to love their lives and not take their days for granted. I was so jealous of the women who were playing with their kids. The families spending money on frivolous things and not on medical treatment. The people walking without cringing.
This sickness has changed my vision. My perspective on life is so different. I took so many things for granted. Legs that walk. Hands that hold. A mind that thinks. The joy of life.
And yet, I am still alive and my illness is being treated with a hope for recovery. And so, I am grateful. The tunnel I am in is somewhat temporary.
I know several people who are very ill. Painful medical treatments, constant oxygen tanks, wheel chairs, hospice care. I wonder: how painful is it to watch people live when your life is so impaired? I wonder: how hard is it to be happy for anyone when your life is so full of grief? Their view of life is so smothered with pain.
It isn’t within the reach of a well person to know what an unwell person knows. It isn’t within the reach of a young person to know what an old person knows. It isn’t within the reach of a male person to know what a female person knows. We are who we are. We only know what we know. Yet, I wish I’d lived bigger when I had the ability to do so. I wish I’d taken all the opportunities that came my way. I have been too cautious. I have been too lazy. And now I’m in a season where I feel like the dancing smoke of a candle just put out.
Last night I was woken over and over again by a level of pain I’ve not known before. I was taken over by pulsing waves of pain through my back and arms and legs. Today the pain continues. Today I want to tell my yesterday Mall-walking self to enjoy the freedom I didn’t know I had. I didn’t imagine it could get dramatically worse over night. I was too busy feeling sorry for myself to realize how great my life was.
This is not about “bucking up” or rallying. I’ve had some well-meaning people tell me the best thing I can do is buck up and get out of the house and go and do things. (Why do we humans think this kind of advice is good to give?)
This is not about comparing our lives nor saying “there’s always someone worse off.” (Does anyone really have a lasting perspective change using that type of comparison?!?!)
I’m not sure what this is about yet. It’s a new view of life for me. For now I’m just trying to care for my kids and feed us all each day. That alone exhausts me. But I am not the first to walk through something like this. So grateful to have God’s Word and His promises and His character to hold on to.
My life is poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax, melting within me. O LORD, do not stay away! You are my strength; come quickly to my aid! Then I will declare the wonder of your name to my brothers and sisters. I will praise you among all your people. For he has not ignored the suffering of the needy. He has not turned and walked away. He has listened to their cries for help. (Psalm 22: 14, 19, 22, 24)