We have beautiful autumn seasons here in Northwest Arkansas. Pictures of gorgeous fall colors in a recruitment brochure are what first attracted me to my alma mater, John Brown University. The display of splendid color is something I look forward to every year.
This year, I noticed when the colors first started changing but kept thinking “wow, they aren’t changing much” or “I’ll really go leaf hunting when it’s in full peak” or “it will actually be gorgeous when it’s full peak.”
Well, peak has come and gone. I started bemoaning this fact with the idea that I had missed all the beauty. Well, God has a way of smacking me upside the head with truth and he did it this time.
The beauty was always there. It was slow, but it was powerful. I spent so much time waiting for the all leaves to change that I didn’t notice most of them going through the changing process in front of my eyes.
I was so caught up in my desire to experience full beauty and what I perceived as complete magnificence that I didn’t notice I was surrounded by it. I focused so much on deciding to be content and even happy with a certain outcome that it never occurred to me to choose contentment at any other time.
I’ve also come to realize that’s how I feel about this chronic health issue with my arms from the last year. I’ve been so focused on “I’ll be happy when I become the 40 percent who heals from this” that I’ve not considered the idea to choose joy if I fall in the 60 percent.
I should probably stop and explain that for almost a year I’ve lived with some of the most horrible pain and weakness I’ve ever had. After six specialists, it was determined that I had a mystery infection that attacked my immune system and that system went into overdrive trying to protect me.
Even though the initial infection is now gone, my immune system is still in hyper-defense mode. It’s behaving much like rheumatoid arthritis. I’m on an aggressive treatment of 4-5 medications, including one that is usually used as chemotherapy.
We don’t know for sure how long that treatment will last, but indications are that I should expect a couple of years. I’ve been told I have a 40 percent chance of getting rid of the problem completely. That seems like a great chance until a person lets themselves realize that it means there’s a greater chance they will always live with the problem.
Given those facts, I can’t choose to be content or even happy if this miraculous cure happens. I must choose to be thankful now, to praise God now. After all, there’s so much beauty around me in life. Last week I spoke of things I’m grateful for in this storm. Those included my husband, and family and friends who have shared an outpouring of love. What fool can’t see the beauty in that?
And I also must remember that although I’m not “cured” I’m so much better than I was. I can get in the shower by myself now. I can snap my fingers. I can make a fist. I can sleep for more than two hours at a time. I can open most cans and bottles by myself. All these actions I’ve listed are stuff I couldn’t do alone even just this past summer. I’m also no longer at a constant level 8-9 pain like I was. Most days I’m at a 2-3.
There’s joy and contentment to be found in all of that.