It’s been a while since my last post, life has been busy. The New Year has started with good reason to celebrate, my health has continued to go from ‘Strength to Strength‘ and has generally withstood the annual stresses and strains of Christmas and all the bugs that get shared as well as presents!
However, Christmas was different this year; a good friend and my own Mum spent it in hospital, both with life threatening conditions. I seem to have staggered off my own health roller-coaster only to jump straight on to theirs!
So often we delude ourselves that we are in control of our lives: we work hard; get a good job; get promoted; provide for our families; we exercise to keep ourselves fit and eat the right foods to keep ourselves healthy but illness and suffering can be indiscriminate. When all this is whipped away, the sense of loss can be overwhelming. Coping with the illness can be the tip of the iceberg, but the sense of loss, powerless and vulnerability can also run deep. The loss can be a grieving process whether you are going through it yourself or for a loved one. Grieving for a total loss can bring healing but when illness fluctuates, glimmers of hope temporarily push grief aside yet the uncertainty can leave you ungrounded.
Yesterday I was asked how I cope with the emotional roller-coaster of hope and disappointment. It’s a good question and despite being well practised over the last few years I am learning all the time!
Lets not beat around the bush, whether you have faith or not it is hard. For me, the hurts, disappointments and losses are very real but there is also an eternal dimension. Praying for God to be close has revealed surprising blessings. Things I thought I would want to run and could have crumbled from have been faced with surprising strength, courage and sense of peace. This is not a mindset. I practice Mindfulness regularly which can help with distancing thoughts and emotions but it doesn’t help my spirit, or can explain the sense of joy that is still present despite the suffering.
Seeing God work through my Mum has been incredible. She is secure in God’s love and peace which makes things so much easier. During Mums seven week stay in hospital, other patients have commented how Mum has ‘brightened up the ward’, ‘helped them go through a really difficult time’ and one even asked if she could stay in touch with Mum. Whilst this doesn’t surprise me for anyone who knew my Mum from the past, I confess I initially wondered if they were talking about the right person! Mum has lived with Parkinson’s for the last 34 years and the last few months she could only communicate by blinking to yes/no questions. It’s been years since strangers have been able to understand Mum without the help of a family member to interpret.
It was fantastic to see how God can use anyone, in any situation if we allow ourselves. We were praying that God would be close to her through her pain and suffering whilst facing the end of her life. He matched our prayers and raised them! Not only was He close but He was continuing to work through her to bless others!
No one can promise an easy, safe or secure life but God has promised life to the full. Some people seem to have pint sized measures, others just a shot measure, but whatever our full measure of ‘full’ is I’m happy to embrace it and am very thankful that I will never have to ride life’s roller-coaster alone!
Happy 2016 and may it be filled with many surprising blessings!