Did I ever write about how thankful I am for my job? I work with great people, and I have great bosses. Through this entire journey, they have been incredibly supportive in terms of the time I have needed when I’ve been unable to work at all or when it was best that I work from home. Like today. I went in this morning, opened my notebook computers, and tried to work. I definitely moved the mouse, clicked the buttons, and typed on the keyboard, but I can’t say that I got a whole lot done. I did write a couple of emails.
The problem I’m having is I’m experiencing a sensation that can’t be classified as a headache. It’s more like a mixture of tinnitus, the feeling of being underwater at the deep-end of a pool, someone turning lights on and off inside your head, and the after effects of electroshock, though I haven’t actually experienced the latter to say for sure. It isn’t treatable as a headache, because yesterday I took one of my prescription painkillers, and adding stoned to that list wasn’t a positive experience. I’m trying to avoid that right now. The cause? I think it is elevated creatinine, which I’m dealing with because my kidneys aren’t clearing properly (hydronephrosis to the doctor and me). It appears that I have some blockage at the end of my ureterer stents, either from debris or from inflammation, that is restricting the flow of urine into my bladder. Well.
I’m writing about this now because when inspiration hits, you should go with it or you lose it. I didn’t know I was inspired until I pulled into the driveway. I had just started a playlist on Spotify and the second song started as I made my way up the hill toward my house. Against the Wind, by Bob Segar, came on. I’ve heard it a million times. But for some reason as I wheeled into my driveway, past my mailbox and the empty flower beds that flank the driveway, I burst into tears. (Is it OK for a man to share that?)
I stopped the car in the driveway and listen to the song twice. Balling, to be honest. It was the first few verse that seemed to get me. It is strange to read them because on the surface there is nothing in these lyrics that seem to apply to me:
But it was long ago
Janey was lovely, she was the queen of my nights
There in the darkness with the radio playing low
The mountains that we moved
Caught like a wildfire out of control
Till there was nothing left to burn and nothing left to prove
How she swore that it never would end
I remember how she held me oh so tight
Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then
We were runnin’ against the wind
We were young and strong, we were runnin’
against the wind
And yet, I recall being young, when the vision of my future was strikingly different from the reality. Do I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then? What? That life was going to be filled with disappointment? That it would be difficult and people would suffer? That CNN.com would lead me to believe that there is no good future for my children?
More personally, that I was going to get sick and my family would face a heavy burden through the formative years of my children, which would then make a profound impact on the people they become?
In truth, it’s hard, but it isn’t a disaster. We are wounded. The kids are wounded. But we heal. We scar. A doctor once told me to relax about scars, even one that would exist forever on the face of my oldest child, “scars are just the body’s natural way of healing.” So scars are OK. A sign of healing.
It would be much worse if there were no scars. Then there would be no healing. The wounds would be open, raw, and joy-threatening.
And there’s a word I want to focus on: joy. I wasn’t crying for joy. That would be a lie. I cried because this battle is hard, but I’m also so sad for my family and friends, hell, for the whole world, that simply lack joy. And I hate to say it. But most of it is their own fault.
As a believer, I have to come to grips with the age-old question: “why do bad things happen to good people?”
It’s really a dumb question. I’m not God. The hardest thing is to submit my life to him even during the hard times. Yes, bad things happen. Hard stuff happens. People have diseases, people get depressed or have mental disorders, people die suddenly and inexplicably. Yes yes yes yes yes. The believer and the unbeliever alike deal with these things. The difference is in the processing.
The believer has to accept that their Creator is somehow the architect of all life experience, good and bad. The unbeliever either doesn’t ponder the why questions at all or just becomes numb. Or, worse, they remain angry and disappointed.
The most miserable people I know are those that created their own misery. Mistakes of choice. Seeking to satisfy themselves. Seeking to move mountains and burn like a wildfire out of control. Living life by their own terms no matter the consequences or even the impact on others. Why? With no God to submit to, the only course is to become our own god, and others must submit to us or be cast aside. The inevitable results are broken relationships and most likely some sort of addiction. No healing. No scars. Just drudgery.
This isn’t easy to write, of course. I blame the creatinine.
To be sure, there comes a time of reckoning where these words ring true: “I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.”
Bob learned that running against the wind ended up wrecking his life. The wind is all around us, thankfully, in the form of family and friends who attempt to encourage us to go where the wind blows, to give up the life we expect or demand, the view that everyone around us that speaks against us must be wrong, and to give up our personal god-ship. This wind of which I speak is good, and we just might find joy living not against it, but with our sails in it. I hope it blows us all to our knees at the foot of the cross, where hope springs eternal and life has purpose and meaning past the point where “there is nothing left to burn and nothing left to prove.”
Upon reading this to my wife, she laughed and said she hopes these words don’t blow over the heads of those who would do well to hear them. 🙂
** photo credit: https://loveandworktour.com/2015/08/31/walking-against-the-wind/