New chapter? Wait? What? Was there a book?
Before you get excited, no. When I go through something big, something that takes up a lot of headspace and energy, I look at that as a new chapter. These are usually unexpected or unwanted. As we’re rolling into April, I am reminded of what happened last year in April, and the new chapter I was ushered into in the Spring of 2022. For those of you reading who aren’t familiar with this or may have forgotten, see my article When The Healer Needs Healing. My habit is to reflect on what I learned or what truths were refreshed for me.
1. Don’t ask Why. Move to What. It’s easier to work with.
I think the Why question often arises from either indignation and the assumption that this shouldn’t happen to me or it comes from the attempt to make sense of random weird occurrences. Along with that, it may be trying to find purpose in these circumstances. The last 2 are tricky, but doable if you don’t get caught up in the first one. The indignation and assumption are both unrealistic and judgmental. Essentially, I am declaring this shouldn’t happen to me and is unfair. Really? Who made me The Judge of life?
If anything, the “Why me?” causes me to respond internally with “Why Not?” We’re Human and difficult circumstances happen to us all. And don’t I know that it can always be worse?
Instead, asking “What?” draws out more workable material. The question “What is happening?” can direct me to look at what I can and cannot do in the given circumstance. In my situation last year, after I was out of the hospital with blood clots in my kidneys, I asked a boatload of What.
- What is the damage? (Answer: the imaging of the damaged tissue was explained.)
- Can it resolve? (Answer: it should re-absorb, but I lose that tissue. That tissue doesn’t grow back like other kinds of tissue.)
- What does this mean for my health? (Answer: uncertain. I need to watch for certain symptoms. We know over time, the kidneys may try to compensate for the injured areas and wear itself out, but then again, they may not.)
- What should I do? (Get strong again😊, and be patient with the progress, because it’s gonna take a while. Monitor my blood and urine quarterly and meet with my nephrologist twice a year).
The What questions laid the groundwork in front of me. They gave me “projects” to tackle and work on, rather than getting overwhelmed with the negative implications of my newly acquired diagnosis. By nature, I like to solve problems, so when I ask “what?” it is shortly followed by, “and what can I do about it?”
2. Pay attention to the course correction or life clarification.
Often when big bad circumstances show up, they bring clarity. We realize we have not been living our ideal life. Or, a new focus becomes more evident, and we realize we’ve been dragging our feet to go there. The latter was more of my thing, as I was getting some clarification regarding my work pace. I felt validated about pulling back a little in my schedule to pursue more time with writing, and just hanging out with John and loved ones. 😉 While my writing got a little derailed with the whole kidney thing, I did pull back in my work schedule.
Alongside that, I am more deliberate in mentoring where I can. And part of that includes giving retreats with a dear friend. It really breathes life into me watching women apply newly acquired truths into their lives.
3. Embrace The Big “Aha!”
This is different from course clarification which is practical. The “Aha” is an inner realization or renewed deep understanding of a truth. For me, mine was 2-fold. My awareness of the brevity of life was renewed. Or ushered from the back row to the front row. I met and shook hands with my mortality back when I was 28 and told I could drop dead from a heart attack. And now, knowing that I’m carting around two injured kidneys, that are functioning well despite said injuries, I shrug. It’s always good to be reminded that we are but dust in the wind.
The second wasn’t so much a big Aha, but a deepened assurance that I am beloved and never alone. “God is our refuge and strength” never rang truer than in my hospital bed. He sent me loved ones to remind me I was loved, and that I was not alone. Some of you reading this called me or John, visited me, sent me cards, and texted me. One of you brought me a sorely needed cappuccino and a bag of fun things. Another brought flowers. You all reminded me I wasn’t going through this alone. None of us are meant to go through these trials alone, so when you are in the thick of it, open your hands and heart, and receive gratefully the love you are given.
We are never alone in our trials. Never. Not in a hospital, not in the dark of night. God is still present. He is with us always. I feel like that has been pressed into my soul in a way that only sleepless nights in the hospital can give.
Oh wait, there is a third one. I am done with the word “journey.” Over it. Folks, it’s an ordeal. Or a trek. Or an adventure. Or maybe a quest. Or a nightmare, as my cardiologist told me when he first met me in September, “My! Haven’t you been through the nightmare!” I thanked him for NOT saying journey. My hematologist, too, avoided the word. When I queried her, she mentioned she heard people are. Just.OVER it. 😀
4. Finally, live in gratitude.
Being grateful is still the best mindset. There is a biblical principle to rejoice always and in everything give thanks. I understand this as there will always be something good in front of me or around me. It is up to me to keep my eyes and heart open, and then take the next step by being thankful. Sometimes, there may be so much yuck around, it will be hard to see. But even then, just knowing I am not alone will be enough. It is so interesting to me that the research shows us that gratitude keeps anxieties at bay. It’s also an effective anti-depressant, making gratitude truly good medicine. And bonus, unlike our versions of medicine, it can be contagious.
And so, those are some of my thoughts in this chapter, “Lessons Learned, or Good Reminders”.
How about you? What are some lessons you have recently learned or what have you been reminded of? Would love to hear from you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18