“It is funny how much I take for granted. I know I am blessed, but I think sometimes I forget how incredibly blessed I am.”
My friend Jen took the Trek to the Manger with us during Advent. Her Trek baggage was heavy this year – heavy with the weight of unresolved health issues and the stress that those unknowns can create.
Even more than the discomfort of not knowing your diagnosis, Jen says that “…pain is a vicious monster and can make you turn into someone you don’t recognize or like very much.”
Ouch. That one hits mighty close to home.
Sometimes our pain is physical, like Jen’s.
Sometimes our pain is emotional, maybe even caused by the panic that rises up in us as we try (yet again) to describe what we’re experiencing to another doctor in a series of doctors who don’t seem to ‘get it.’
Sometimes our pain is leftover from what we didn’t do that we should have done; or what we did and now wish desperately we could un-do.
This vicious monster has reared its ugly head in the lives of many, including the life of Martin Luther. In the pages of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas, we read that “As [Luther’s] health declined, everything seemed to set him off. When a congregation sang anemically, he called them “tone-deaf sluggards” and stormed out. He attacked King Henry VIII as “effeminate” and blasted his theological opponents as “agents of the devil” and “whore-mongers.” His language waxed fouler and fouler.”
For all of his memorable reforming, it seems that even a church father can turn into someone you don’t recognize or like very much.
Given the opportunity to look back over the path she has walked these past months, my friend Jen realizes “I now find myself at a crossroads as I’ve gotten some answers and still have more testing to do. I’m finding that some of my joy has been lost during these past two months.”
But of course, none of us can relate with Jen on that… right? (sarcasm)
It’s just that, sometimes I forget that joy is within my reach!
Sometimes I forget to hold onto those flutters and glimpses of joy, only to find that when I need them most, my hands are empty and my joy is gone.
But the story doesn’t end here – at least not for Jen.
“Luckily, our minister must’ve know the perfect quote to put into our church bulletin, by Mark Twain, which is: ‘Grief can be solitary, but to reap the full value of joy, you MUST share it with another!’ This quote literally WHACKED me across the face. It’s like God was speaking directly to me. What I heard Him say was, ‘Get up, don’t let life and the things in your earthly walk get you down. Stand up and know that I love you. On earth you will hit hurdles, road blocks and make detours along the way, BUT keep on going. Feel the joy in everything and be present in every moment because I am in CONTROL. When you trust fully in me, you won’t have grief, but perfect and steadfast JOY!’
After the church service my mom, step dad and I went to walk along the Boulevard. There I watched seagulls flying, kids chasing seagulls, kids putting their feet in the 50 degree water, people walking, rollerblading, biking… there were just so many different things going on around me that it literally took me out of myself for a few minutes as I sat on a wooden bench and observed the world around me.
I knew, without a doubt, that God put me there on that bench; He put those people and activities around me; He wanted me to be WITNESS to the joy around me!
I do know that He is right and I need to be thankful for my health, for every sunset, every breath, every moment with my kids, and not take for granted a single thing on this earthly walk.”
Sometimes Jen forgets, as do I, that with each simple breath comes an opportunity to inhale joy and to exhale praise to the One whose presence guarantees that we are never, ever alone.
Sometimes Jen forgets, and more than anything in those absent moments she needs the witness of our inner Twain to remind her that joy is incomplete if not shared.
Sometimes I forget why I’m doing what I do, day in. Day out.
Sometimes I forget how incredibly blessed I am.
On this PINK Tuesday, don’t let me forget!
Don’t let me forget to be a partner in joy by simply being a partner to another in their pain.
Of course sometimes I forget… but that is why I have you.
(Thank you, Jen!)