I Am Humbled
I turn fifty at the end of this year. The big 5-0. Honestly, I don’t feel like I’m about to turn 50, but my birth certificate says it really is so. I’m hitting half a century of life on this earth. I do get a little giggle by the things I seem to have in common with my similar age group of friends.
Firstly, when we all go out to dinner, the first hour of conversation is reserved to get through our latest doctor visits, lab results, and ongoing health dilemmas. Some of us even pull out a list of our current medications because we can’t remember how to pronounce them without seeing them in writing – and even then, it’s a crapshoot.
Second, we all need reading glasses. Every single one us. Our aging eyes are impacted by bad lighting, then the blurring words decipherable only with an eye squint happen, followed finally by caving into the reality of reading glasses. So we all sit down, talk about doing life with half-century old bodies and pull out our reading glasses when it’s time to read the menu.
And lastly, we just ache. There are random aches and pains that crop up with no recognizable cause. We get out of bed one morning and suddenly the question of the day is, “Why on earth does my knee hurt?” Seriously… aggravating.
And yet when I find myself complaining overmuch about my imperfect body, God seems to find a way to correct my wrong thinking. For many people this life on earth is full of daily considerations of their body and physical pain, a give-and-take of schedules impacted by ongoing ailments. There are those who experience incredible suffering and demonstrate immense personal endurance from lengthy battles with their physical health. I listen to testimonies from individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, chronic pulmonary disease, or cystic fibrosis, just to name a few, and I am humbled by their journeys. I complain about my aches and pains and then think of my friends' struggling with real physical difficulties, and I'm taken aback by how little I truly know about a life altered due to physical limitations.
A life-long disease becomes a part of a person because it has the potential to greatly impact daily life. Each day's schedule may depend on how the disease treats a body at any given time – and sometimes there is no stopping where the needs of our body leads us. Decision-making takes the disease into account, and living life well means finding peace even through difficulty and pain. It is a daily battle in many ways.
I am grateful for the working body I have, but also humbled by how much God gives us to work with. Our bodies are incredible, but our minds and spiritual souls are also made in God’s image. He gives us the ability to fight despair even as our bodies work against what we want from this life.
It's easier said than done, I know. It's very realistic and human-like to not want physical pain. I know my body has a time stamp, an expiration date here on earth. I don't always like that fact, no matter how much I desire heaven. There is still part of my humanness that is attached to this place I currently call home. I want to enjoy where I live and the people I live with. But as I age and my body starts showing my age, I am realizing how much I have taken my physical health for granted. How much I have taken the blessings of this life for granted.
Reminding myself to take my own measure, to constantly check the gratitude of my heart, is something God is working in me to do better. No matter how difficult life becomes, there is a soul God cares about dwelling in my body. In the end my soul matters more than my frailties. My body is temporary, my soul is eternal.
That's hard to take some days, I do not like reminders of my body's fragility, but it is true whether I like it or not. The alternative to not accepting this reality is obsessing over the aging process, and though we have some recourse in regards to our physical health (get sleep, eat healthy, live smoke-free, limit alcohol, etc..), we cannot change time. There is no controlling it. Time moves forward and we cannot stop it.
Today on our podcast we have Angela Carpenter. Angela received a diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis when she was only 6 months old. Her life-long journey with her disease is inspiring and humbling. Angela celebrates 40 years living this year, and her acceptance of living day to day with her disease and the peace she demonstrates daily is truly a gift from God. She is grateful for this life God gave her, but she has an eternal perspective that is helpful for all of us. I hope you listen and are able to take something from her story.