Over the past month, every turn of each week seemed to bring in visiting family–whether it was just for an overnight stay or the big events of my sister’s baby shower and the most recent of Thanksgiving–there was much laughter, pictures and new memories. And for myself, hard as I tried to keep with the flow, help around in cleaning and preparations and be “present” in conversations, there were times of complete isolation. And there is nothing worse than the crummy feeling of it, either sitting in a room full of people or by yourself. Last night was my final straw of self-pity and I let out my emotions unexpected (to myself mostly) at the dinner table.
“You have no idea what it’s like! To just sit there, in complete silence.” I start rambling more about how I can’t help much, my eyes. I couldn’t look at my family, because the three of them just sat there now in their own silence. I couldn’t see past my isolation and I was upset, because we had been Christmas decorating and I could only do small things–like unwrap the townspeople for the country town set on the stereo top or hand Mom the red, ball ornaments for her white tree. And I can’t hear the music anymore, the joyous melodies of the season. The table conversation was of upcoming, fun social events. There is a concert at the college next week that they planned to attend, but gave me the option to say yes or no. In my mind I am thinking, what’s the point of just sitting there? At least a Christmas movie would give me captions. But I would be alone.
After dinner, I asked Mom more about the concert. She said it might be nice just to dress up and get out of the house–I thought on this..besides Sunday mornings, it is rare for me to dress up and it is getting harder to get out for social things, let alone ones at night. It is my social life that sacrifices with this disease. So, I decided to go and enjoy the sights of the season, since I cannot hear the sounds, and be with my family.
My family often gets times like this. I hold in my emotions or just don’t exactly know what they are doing as I try to balance the physical, mental, and spiritual simultaneously. Last night would have been a result of the latter, as my Thanksgiving, although my aunt and uncle and cousins were here, was one of the hardest physical days I have endured in a long time. Then that effected everything else, I think. I woke up Thanksgiving Eve and felt just fine, but by lunch, I was having such excruciating pressure on my spine that I had to have help almost every time I had to stand. My intestines weren’t any help that day either, and while I tried to push past that to enjoy the company…by the end of the day, I was grasping the counter so tight in the kitchen as if I were falling off a cliff and clinging for dear life.
It takes a lot for me to cry due to physical pain, but that night as Mom helped me take off my shoes, I just lost it…adding all the emotion and unfairness of it all too. “It’s not fair!” I sounded just like Samantha Wood in Dear Mr. Knightly. As Mom listens and wipes a tear from her eye, I thought of what Father John told Sam in reply:
‘My dear, what in your life has ever come close to fair? That’s not how life works.’ He leaned forward and stretched his hands out across the desk. ‘I’m sorry, Sam. If I could protect you from anymore pain, I would. But I can only pray and do the very best God calls me to do.’
I went to bed that night feeling a bit better, at least emotionally and Tylenol helped; and Mom remembered I had medicine for extreme pain too. It’s a good thing I live at home. Anyway, I woke up Thanksgiving Day and started fresh. I felt much better all-around. As I got dressed, the thought came to mind of how we say a thank you for our blessings, but I never have for the sufferings. I never really said “Thank you for my sufferings,” because I started thinking of Jesus. He surely knew suffering, pain and the utmost of isolation…death separated Him from God. The weight on His shoulders was not just mine, but everyone. As I cried (yet again) to Mom later that night telling her these things, it made my own isolation feelings seem selfish, and that is what I struggled with last night after my outburst.
But focusing on isolation is not the point of living with suffering, though it happens; and even to focus soley on Jesus’ death is not the point, because He Lives. In trusting Him, I trade isolation for inheritance that cannot be shaken.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9