There are days when all I see of the outside world is what I can see outside my bedroom windows: the winter-brown grass and the wooden fence, with a few glimpses of our pet bunnies. For months, Cottontail would rest in his favorite spot, under a naked vine, twining around our fence. I would gaze out the window past my IV pole and nod to our domesticated rabbit to whom my kids would hand-feed carrots and apple slices. But he and his wife, Peter (who we thought was a boy) are gone, shipped off to a farm where they can be better cared for. Who knew the leash law applied to bunnies? So now I gaze out the window, at the empty spot under the naked vine beside our fence, wondering what Cottontail and Peter are up to in their new home. I look past my unused IV pole, that stands empty, and my port in my chest remains unused because insurance no longer covers home infusions. This treatment that I had used for a couple years to increase my blood volume and quality of life now seems inaccessible as I look the mocking leftover IV pole. I look at the wall between the windows at the framed wall art that houses the Alcoholic’s Anonymous prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
There are days when standing up to go to the bathroom is a task of earth-moving proportions, where resisting gravity long enough to brush my teeth brings my heart rate up to maximum cardio zone and sends me back to bed to recover from my outrageous workout, and I recall the days when a ten-mile run wouldn’t get my heart rate this high. Then I lift my eyes waiting for my flailing vision to return to normal so that I can focus on the Bible verses and artwork decorating the perimeter of my bathroom mirror. As I hold, white-knuckled to the counter, praying for the strength not to lose consciousness this time, I wait to see the words, “You are loved,” and the verse, “The Lord will fight for you. You just need to be still.” (Exodus 4:14). These are the days when I work to somehow slow that hammering heart below 100 beats per minute, and I wait to still that wandering heart to rest in the hands of the all-caring, all-knowing, all-loving, healing Father God.
There are days when the reality of my own frailty slaps me in the face every time me look up to see my two calico cats perched upon five blankets that are piled on top of my still-shivering body that can’t regulate or maintain body temperature because something called a Vagus Nerve in my brain is broken and no one whom I have come in contact with knows how to fix it, or how to control symptoms, or how it affects the rest of my organs, my years to come, or the genetic code of my children. These are the days where I have to choose to either grasp at straws, trying to control the tiny things that I can control in order to give me some sense of mastery over a life that seems to be careening unpredictably into chaos, or to peel my fingers back one at a time from the thin air that I am squeezing, until my palms are open, outstretched to the Creator who made me and knows me, inside and out, better than the best most specialized doctor on the face of the planet. These days, I stroke the soft black, white, and orange coats of my sweet fur babies, and rest in the care of the one who hung the stars in place and keeps the earth in orbit.
There are days when nothing goes as I would like for it to go, when my body seems programmed to fight against my every hope and dream, and when all I can do is barely survive. These are the days when I am most challenged to trust, most called to obey, and most compelled to worship. These are the days when my faith must grow legs and come to life, when I absolutely must preach the gospel to myself, reach out with shaking fingers for support, and when I must let myself off the hook.
On these days, the truth is still truth, God is still sovereign, loving, and good, and I am still fearfully and wonderfully made. These are the days that teach me the heart-transforming sacrament of gratitude and shape my spirit and heart for the good days.