How many of us go through a difficult year, and when the New Year comes we jump for joy? Like somehow the clock ticking into the New Year will automatically and radically change our mindset and get us thinking differently. I know that I’ve geared myself up to do that on more than one occasion, only to be sadly disappointed in a month’s time when my life is the same as the previous year.
As 2016 zipped by, I began to think about 2017 and what it might hold not only for myself but for my family. I know that I can look back and see all the ways we have grown in the year, and the memories we’ve created, but I can also look at all the ways we got stuck.
My wife deals with chronic pain – psoriatic arthritis – and though she has lots of good days, we also know that we will see a whole lot of bad days. When just existing is exasperatingly difficult, it can wear not only the sufferer down, it also weighs heavily on everyone in the house. It challenges each person to face the unknown of each new day. Will it be charged with tears, fears, pain, frustration or sorrow? Will there be more unanswered requests to play from our very active seven-year-old, wondering why Mommy can’t do what other Mommy’s do? All the while Mommy is trying her best to create memories and hoping her love shines through teeth gritted against the pain of inflammation. All the extra duties that need to get done when an episode lasts longer than expected. Or will tomorrow be care-free and joyful, pain-free, more like “normal”?
Losing sight of today
Pain does crazy things to your life. It can bring the toughest person beyond their breaking point. As it continues to wreak havoc on the body, the mind can get stuck in various places. This is where we get stuck from time to time. We can get preoccupied with nostalgia for when chronic pain wasn’t in the equation, when walks to the park and afternoon outings were commonplace. When energy was endless and we could entertain, or go out and enjoy the company of others. But when we dwell on the past and what we used to be able to do, we spiral downward into a tunnel of what if’s. Depression begins to rear its ugly head, furthering the disability. We can wonder “How long God, how long?” and we can stop living. We become so caught up in the yesterday that we lose sight of the today.
So I’ve stopped thinking about the “New Year” and the seemingly miraculous transition to something totally different. Instead, I’m really trying to focus on the fact that yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never come. I’m trying hard to shift my mind to think in the present, and to know that this day may be all I get, and so how I live it is crucial to everyone around me. It means practicing being “present” in everything I do. It means that I need to slow life right down and not be so overly concerned with outcomes, or how things get done; rather, I need to be present to serve, lay down my life and give up my life for others. My wife would say she’s married to the best man in the world. Yet I know my heart and it can be pretty crusty sometimes. I’m thankful that God isn’t expecting perfection, because if he was, I’d be in huge trouble. What God is expecting, though, is obedience. How I walk out care for my wife and family is an important aspect of my spiritual journey with God.
I trust that, in my obedience, God will give me everything I need to live in the present, because today is all that I have been gifted with.
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