pounds & persistence

my journey toward fitness and wellness and faith

A New Chapter

So, a new chapter of my life has begun. I know that I haven’t updated here in a loooong time, but if you’re jonesin’ for an update, check out the new digs.

https://theadventurousgrubbs.wordpress.com

Tomorrow

Tomorrow. A day full of promise. A day to do all the things we didn’t get to today. A day to undo all we did wrong today. A day unblemished.

For me, tonight, tomorrow means I will find out the results of my latest MRI scan. For me, tonight, tomorrow is a day filled with complicated emotions.

I’m the kind of girl who has too many emotions and too few filters at any given moment. I’ve always been this way. And it is a struggle for me to keep my emotions in check at intense moments, but I am, at this point in my life, often able to do it. I don’t always do it perfectly, I sometimes let a little comment slip or cast a careless look and then feel terrible or worried about it later. But mostly, as an adult, I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t just let your emotions spill out and splash all over those near you. But I make no promises for tomorrow.

When I received my MS diagnosis last year, they concluded that I probably had Relapsing-Remitting MS. I say probably, because with MS, it’s tough to know. They basically scan your brain, tell you about the damage, and then conclude, based on the damage they’re seeing, what kind of MS you have. If you go back later and have more damage, well then, they were wrong and you have a more severe form of MS, a more rapid rate of deterioration, a more definite prognosis of disability. And the only way they really know what category you fall into is to check your brain. Fun stuff.

For me, this means an annual MRI. And so, I dutifully scheduled my doctor’s appointment and succumbed to the contrast and the confinement of the MRI tube. And tomorrow, we find out what it all means. Tomorrow we find out if the meds have been working. Tomorrow we find out a little more about what my future can hold. And so tonight, I am rehearsing the truth of God’s word.

First, I remembered Matthew 6, where Jesus talks about worry and says  “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” And I know that he doesn’t just mean tomorrow, Tuesday, but tomorrow, the future. And I know that he has good things in my future, no matter what the MRI shows. And I know that he is faithful, even if the MRI shows disease progression. And I know that he promises, in the very same verses in Matthew, to take care of my every need. I know that He ultimately determines what my future can hold. But it can be scary.

And then I think of Romans 8, which says a lot of good nuggets of truth, like in verse 28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Or in verses 31 and 32, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” And perhaps most comforting, verses 37 through 39, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future,nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Yes, it sounds preachy. I guess I am preaching to myself a little bit. When I am afraid, like I am now, it quiets my soul, steadies my heart. I can do my yoga breathing all day long, I can go to the inner place of quietness where I focus and empty my mind, and still it doesn’t calm me like rehearsing scripture back to myself.

Recently, in Bible study, we were talking about the importance of reading scripture, or memorizing it. Several group members were talking about how, when one has memorized portions of the Bible, one can use this knowledge to convince people who don’t believe. I, personally, did not find this logic to be particularly compelling. I mean, if they don’t believe, why would they care what the Bible has to say, even about their own state? Why would that persuade them? An ancient book whose authority they don’t recognize? I could see problems with this tactic. However, I find a very compelling argument for memorizing scripture, from reading it and rehearsing it regularly, in my own life as I realize that moments when I am most desperate, it comes flooding back to me. Verses I memorized as a little kid in Sunday school or as a teenager in the Bible study my parents forced my to go to. Verses I recited in class at the christian school I loathed to attend. These little snippets come floating into my mind at the very moment I need them, like personalized memo’s from God. I can’t tell you the reference, and often I have the verse clanging around in my head all day before I finally look it up online to realize the book it’s in, let alone the chapter or verse, but they’re always perfectly timed and perfectly suited to my situation. All this year, all the time, all perfectly suited. If that’s not an argument for memorizing scripture, I don’t know what is.

Often I think of tomorrow as an opportunity to cross off more things on my to-do list than I did today. In particular, items on the should-do list. On my should-do list for tomorrow is: grocery shopping; at least two loads of laundry, including folding; workout for at least 30-40 minutes; eat a green smoothie with spinach for breakfast instead of Dunkin’ Donuts; read the Bible and pray. Considering what I have in store tomorrow, the last item is obviously the most important.  In reality, though, I guess that last item is really always the most important, even on days that aren’t the big deal of tomorrow.

Trials

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

I’ve heard this verse before. I’ve even memorized it once or twice. And, like many who store scripture away for a rainy day, I thought that I understood what it meant. I thought I knew how trials would produce steadfastness and how steadfastness would result in perfection. But before I’d experienced trials, I knew nothing.

Of course, I’d experienced your run-of-the-mill, ordinary hardship. I’d been fired from a job before. I’d worried about bills and money before. I’d even had heartbreak or sadness in my life. But for all of these hardships, I’d had a Plan B, a safety net, some source of help if it all hit the wall. They weren’t life altering for me. Not truly. And then, in this last year, I experienced trials like I never had before.

My MS diagnoses wasn’t just a trial because of the experience in that moment, it was a trial because it promises, more than anything else, to bring me more trials. Yes, the experience of having an MS attack was uncomfortable, frightening and frustrating, but that wasn’t the trial so much as the promise of more MS attacks to come is. The shot I take each night to manage my disease is miserable and I don’t like it, but that isn’t the hardship so much as the surety of the progression of the disease it’s keeping at bay. The hardest part of the trial of MS isn’t what I’m currently experiencing as much as it is the knowledge of what I will likely face in the future. We try to prevent it, through exercise and nutrition and expensive drugs, but having MS involves a lot of waiting and hoping the other shoe doesn’t drop. And that is by far the hardest part.

This year, I did a lot of mourning. Anyone who has experienced trials has likely done this too. Mourning the hopes for your future or the dreams you had or even the expectations that you allowed to creep in however subtly. Mourning what you think you deserve in light of what you got. Mourning what you wanted to have and now would never have. I mourned all of this. And I questioned all of this. And it was hard. I wondered about the goodness of God, the justness of God, the sovereignty of God. I wondered just how invested he was in my personal story, how much he truly cared for me the individual, if something this monumental would be ordained in my life. And it took me a while to stop grieving and start holding on to the truths I was learning.

God was teaching me that he is good. Somehow, inexplicably, he was showing me his goodness, explaining it to me like I’d never truly understood it before. And I believed it, down to the tips of my toes, which is just proof of modern miracles in my mind.

God was teaching me that he was sovereign. Because really, what good is it if he is good but he can’t control anything. God was showing me that he allowed my MS in his sovereignty and that this was perfectly tied to his goodness. And I believed it.

God was teaching me that loved me. This was the most difficult lesson of all, because I struggled for a long time with the idea that my MS was payback for the bad things I’d done in my life, the times I had failed God or, worse, deliberately disobeyed him. But God was faithful to show  me that he is faithful and that MS is part of his love and faithfulness. And I believe it.

I sometimes still wonder though what good this disease can possibly serve. I mean, if my brain rots and I don’t know who I am, or forget how to speak to tell anyone who I am, what cosmic significance will this have? And then, last night, I was sitting in Bible study, listening to a fellow study-er share his personal struggle, and realized that I had something to share with him. As he was telling about the hardship he had experienced in his life, hardship which seemed far greater than what I had experienced, I felt that the lessons I had learned over the last year were suddenly applicable, suddenly relevant and maybe even helpful. I felt like I could tell him that God is good, God is sovereign, and that God loves us with a personal interest. I felt like I knew that, beyond a shadow of a doubt to be true. And I felt like he should know it too. So I shared about my MS in Bible study, to their great surprise, to my husbands great surprise and my own shocking surprise. And it felt good.

Last week, my sister shared about a struggle in her family. A family member close to her has been diagnosed with disorder that is largely treatable, but often misunderstood, and we were chatting about all the well-meaning solutions people offer you in times of trial. And I felt like I had things to offer. I felt like I had some helpful experience. I felt like I could relate, and that relating could help her feel better. I had some truth from my experience that I could share. And it felt good.

MS sucks. There’s no way around that. And last Wednesday marked the one year anniversary of my diagnosis with it. And, honestly, that sucks too. But it feels good to think that this sucky disease with it’s sucky prognosis and all the sucky side effects and potential complications could produce some good. It’s encouraging to see this disease as a trial, one that could produce steadfastness and, possibly down the road, make me perfect and complete. I could have all eternity to do all the physical things here on earth that I will slowly lose the ability to do- walk, run, dance- and I will look even better doing it as my spirit will be steadfast and beautiful.

A couple of verses later, in verse 16, James says “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” According to James, God gives us every good and perfect gift. He even gives us gifts in disguise, things like MS, which seem more like trials than gifts most days. But this thing he’s given me will teach me, will shape me, will mould me in ways I wouldn’t be taught, shaped or moulded otherwise. And it might just teach, shape and mould those around me too. Wouldn’t that be a gift? Wouldn’t that count as good? Wouldn’t that be consistent with the character of God, in whom there is no shadow of change? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I didn’t just develop MS on a whim of God’s when he was feeling moody or vindictive but if it instead was designed to help me and those around me in eternal ways? That truly would be a reason to count a trial like this joy.

Grace Finder

A long time ago, before either of our lives had really started happening to us, my friend, Megan Kauflin, and I had one of those big conversations full of heart and emotion and importance. And Megan made a profound comment in that conversation that has stuck with me through all these years of distance. Megan said that she wanted to be a “grace-finder”. This meant that she would perfect the art of seeing grace in others around her, maybe even in people that didn’t see grace in themselves. That she would hunt for this grace, and identify and praise this grace, to encourage the people around her and give glory to God. I was really moved by this idea.

There are all sorts of secular, meaning non-religious whatsoever, ways to do this. You can be a positive person. You can encourage people. You can be friendly. You can be a ready volunteer, a constant support and a true friend to those around you. And I feel like I’ve tried really hard to be this way over the years. But I also want to be a grace-finder, and so I’ll take this opportunity to be that now.

This is my wonderful husband, reading his Bible and Bible study book from our weekly Bible study at church. That we attend. Together.

Things sure have changed a lot in our house. He reads the Bible. He reads books about the Bible. He recently made a decision to change certain elements of his life based on his own PERSONAL conviction. This is a big deal. He is more generous, with his time, with his money and with his opinions of others. He is more humble. He is less angry. And he was pretty damn awesome BEFORE all these changes! But the best part isn’t the tangible changes I can see in his life, like the praying or the listening to worship music or the desire to know more about God. The best part is that he obviously has a budding relationship with God and this benefits him and his life. HE is happier. HE is more at peace. HE is coming to understand God in a way he didn’t before. This is grace in his life and I don’t want to miss it, not a moment of it.

My husband is probably the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m grateful every day for him (even on lousy days, when we fight or he’s an idiot or I’m impossible to live with). And this growing relationship with God is arguably the best thing that could ever happen to him. So I’m grateful for it, every day. And I want to acknowledge it whenever I can.

Look at me, being all grace-finder-y and stuff!

A Bigger God

For a long time, I didn’t want to think about Jesus on the cross.

At times, it was because of the expected response. People would talk about it with these hushed, emotional tones, allowing their eyes to mist over and then stare at you in anticipation of some kind of similar response. My mother was an expert at this. And no response I ever seemed to muster quite lived up to the depth of emotion being experienced by the person in front of me and they always seemed slightly disappointed. Awkward. And this made me defensive and a little angry. Why couldn’t I just experience God in my own way? Who were they to judge? Who brought up the topic of Jesus or the cross anyway?! Uncomfortable.

And then, other times, I didn’t want to think about it because I was going through some big deal personal struggle and the idea of a deity dying thousands of years ago seemed irrelevant to my own pain. It was much more comforting and relatable to think of God as this super powerful, all-around good guy who wanted to help me and care for me and cosmically manipulate bad situations for my benefit. It was much more pleasant to read about him caring for sparrows and providing for ancient peoples than about his suffering and death. And maybe this is what I needed at those times; it sure did help me through. Comforting.

But whether I avoided the image of a Holy savior suffering for my sins because it made me feel awkward or because another image was more comfortable, I still wallowed contentedly in a superficial view of God. A shallow one. Vapid even. God, the jolly Santa Clause in the sky. God, the powerful genie. God my buddy.

My view of God needs to be bigger than this. It needs to encompass the profound and the provocative. It needs to allow for the uncomfortable. As part of a Bible study at my church, the hubby and I are reading a book on “Holy Vocabulary”, or terminology that Christians throw around all the time without always considering the depth of meaning (or even always knowing what it means!) The first study was on the word Holy, and it made me a little uncomfortable. The author laid out, for several pages, how God is not like us, how God should not be treated like a familiar, how God is pretty serious about that. And then I thought about this same God as my buddy and felt uncomfortable. And this is a good thing.

The reality is that God does love me and he is interested in me and my good. He is dedicated to my well being. But it is also reality that he is powerful and perfect and completely “other” from me. That I can no more comprehend Him and all he is than an ant comprehend a man. And this should make his love for me, his interest in me, awesome. Like literally in awe. Because that’s a really big deal. And when I don’t see God as holy or separate or powerful or “other”, I can minimize him. I can make him me-sized. I can make him small. And that makes his love small too. Or at least ordinary. Maybe only slightly more significant than the love of my husband or parents and certainly less tangible.

I think that having a right view of God will change more than just my view of Him. I think it will change my view of me. Of my life. Of my situations. I think I may have been doing myself a disservice by shying away from the uncomfortable thought of Jesus on the cross. Maybe understanding that more means more than I thought. Maybe I don’t think about it enough.

Pounds

So, it’s still POUNDS and persistence around here. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of the persistence- taking my injections routinely, logging time on the elliptical more frequently, slogging through the ever- increasing demands of my job- but I haven’t talked much about pounds. I have good news: I’ve lost a few.

I haven’t really been all too focused on the pounds as I’ve been striving more for a healthy lifestyle, but as a natural byproduct of working out more and eating better, I’ve shed some. My hubby and I were recently talking about my diagnosis and he said that one of his biggest frustrations can be that he doesn’t always feel like I do everything in my power to be as healthy as possible. The doctor said that exercise will strengthen my body and is good for people with MS. And I don’t exercise regularly. The doctor said healthy eating will give me important nutrients and is good for people with MS. And I don’t always eat well. I know it would make my husband feel so much better if he felt I was taking my disease seriously by doing everything in my power to fight it, including a healthier lifestyle. This thought has really resonated with me and inspired some changes.

I think I’d like to set some goals. I’m do much more motivated when I have them- look at what my sister and I did at the bike MS ride this June! Only, I’m not sure what to set or how to achieve them. I feel like I’m on the right path, but need an extra little kick to get my locked and committed. I don’t know yet what that kick will be, but I do know it’s important. It’s important to my hubby and it’s important to my health. At least those factors are much more motivating than numbers on a scale! And the numbers, I hope, will fall as a byproduct of my other motivations.

Good

I’m pretty good. I’m kind to people. I’m generous. I like kids and dogs and conversations with the elderly. I’m generally patient, with the minor exception of while I drive but, given the metropolitan area in which I live, I think this is pretty understandable. I attend church almost every Sunday and I try to live a “Christian life”. And I’ve done most of these things, been generally this way, since I was a child. Even in my heinous teenage years, I never stepped too far out of line, got too wild or adventurous, did mostly what I thought I was supposed to. And then I got MS. The unjustness of this did not go unnoticed.

When one obeys the rules, takes care to be good and conscientious and whole, one does not expect to end up broken. One does not expect their dreams and expectations for the future to end up crushed. One expects good things to karmically, magically, come back to them. But it didn’t for me. And I can be miffed about that sometimes. And then I read Ephesians 2:1-10 today. In it, Paul says

“1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-
3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved-
6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

I’d heard this verse before, of course, having grown up in the church, but it still surprised me. I mean, basically, this verse tells me that I’m not all that good. I’m not really that impressive. In fact, I’m riddled with sin, even in my best attempt at perfection. So my whole, “I don’t deserve this disease because I’ve been so good for you God” argument doesn’t hold a lot of water.

At the beach this summer, I was beset by horrible thoughts. For no particular reason, with no particular warning, my head swam with the idea that I was given MS as some kind of awful pay back for all the terrible things I’d done, for all the awful ways I had failed God or disobeyed him. And I, the girl with no impressive memory for dates or particulars, recounted in perfect clarity every perfect detail of sins I had committed like a vivid horror film of my own life. And I forgot that there was grace or that God loved me and sunk into self-pity and the unshakable thought of an angry God with a vendetta. This is not accurate either.

This section of Ephesians tells me that God is giving me gifts, like grace and salvation, because I am the work of His hands and he cares deeply for me and how I turn out. It tells me that He has saved me a seat right next to him, that He wants to see me and hang out with me. It tells me that God has great love for me and that He is rich in mercy. And, most exciting, it tells me that he has prepared something for me to do, that my life is not over.

According to Ephesians, God actually wants to use me, all MS’d up even, to do something great in this world. Something that He prepared “beforehand”. Something that, presumably, I needed MS to do. Apparently, God wasn’t impressed with me when I was “whole”, but he delights to use me in my brokenness. God is in the business to making broken people wholly shiny and purposeful for him.

Often we sing songs in church about God the healer and read verses about how God is powerful over everything, even sickness. And it would, undoubtably, be a miracle if He healed me of my disease. But it would be an even greater miracle if he healed my soul, my spirit, of the hurt and anger and disappointment and brokenness that life and disease and hardship and unfair situations bring. If he could take a person who felt all that, a person who feels things strongly and without reservation or apology, a person like me, and heal that spirit and use them for a good purpose… Now that, truly, is a miracle.

In the end, I couldn’t earn the privilege of being used by God by following all the rules. I couldn’t be good enough. But God is in the habit of using broken people to make the story that much more glorious.

Birthdays

This year I celebrated my *gasp* thirty-second birthday and, two weeks later, my handsome hubby celebrated his thirty-third. For two weeks he teased me that he “married a younger woman” and complained in jest that my old age ruined my trophy wife status. I assured him that I was still plenty a prize and he need not worry his pretty little grating head about it.

For my birthday

From my hubby

For my hubby. It was the least I could do…

Vacay!

The hubby and I just wrapped up a wonderful week at the beach with his family. Every year, his parents rent a house and invite all 3 of their kids and their kids’ spouses and their kids’ kids (otherwise known as grandchildren for those of you keeping track) to stay in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. And every year, none of us want to say no. That’s how we find ourselves, every year, trekking 8, 9 and sometimes 10 hours when the traffic is really bad, to wedge all 12 of us into a pretty piece of beachside property.

It was a really relaxing week this year, partly because all the weeks leading up to it were so stressful, especially for my hubby. But we really enjoyed the time with the family and the time together.

One of the most amazing things about my hubby is that he makes me braver. He’s got my back and he’s going to be there for me no matter what, and he’s not afraid of my weaknesses, which somehow makes me stronger. This trip had its moments of insecurity. One afternoon, in response to my begging for an “adventure”, he took me to the Hatteras Island Lighthouse, which is the tallest lighthouse in North America (according to the signs). I thought we’d just look at the lighthouse, tour the little museum, take a few pictures and head home, but he had other plans. When we got there, he headed straight to the ticket counter to purchase 2 tickets to climb to the top. This was problematic for me since I’m afraid of heights. Terrified. But I did it and he stuck with me the whole way up and, the more difficult, way down. I felt really brave.

Before we left for the beach, I had this weird flare up with my sciatic nerve and it hurt to even climb stairs one morning. As I laid in bed that night, crying with the fear that this was a complication of the MS and that, one day, I might not be able to walk because of it, he held me. Then, on vacation, one of our family members commented that they thought it was a good idea for us to travel, to take some of the fabulous trips we’ve talked about, because down the road I might not be able to as easily. This is certainly true and was said with the best intentions, but all those fears came back in an instant and all I wanted to do was curl up and cry. Instead, my husband tells me that it’ll be ok, that we’ll figure it out, that a little mobility issue wouldn’t scare him away. He’s truly my best friend and he makes me stronger when I don’t feel strong enough. I’m so lucky to hang out with him!

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Hanging out

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At the Hatteras Island Lighthouse

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The tallest lighthouse in North America

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245 ft. up!

Future

We’re on VACAY! It feels long overdue, especially for my wonderful husband, who works too hard and is often too stressed. We’ve been talking about and looking forward to this vacation for a while. It’s going to be peaceful. Restful. Stress free. I even managed to get all the things on my to-do list complete before we left, scrubbing the house from top to bottom and sending my application for graduate school off to be processed.

However, just a few hours after we arrived at the beach, I received an email from the school to which I was applying stating that I had left one or two important pieces of the application out by accident and that I would need to submit these before they could review and consider my application. Well, crap. Already it hadn’t gone as planned. As I dutifully sat down on the first full day of our long anticipated vacation to work on these missing pieces, I began to think about why I was engaged in such a frustrating and, at times, laborious task. The easy answer? For our future.

In my school district, we have been on a salary freeze for several years. Ever since the bottom fell out of the economy, they’ve refused to pay the teachers a penny more. Initially, most teachers just felt lucky to have a job as the unemployment rate was skyrocketing and so many people were losing their houses , their retirement and their financial well-being. But as time has dragged on and the school district has begun to pony up money for everything, including some seriously frivolous and seriously expensive textbook purchases and raises for higher-ups, teachers are once again rumbling with discontent. This lack of pay seems like a lack of importance and teachers can feel that they are not being compensated, or valued, as much as they could be. I know I often do. And the only way to remedy this in the near future seems to be with increasing education. Wanna make more? Get a higher degree. And so, for the safeguard of our future and to help our family be just a little more financial secure, I labor through the grad school application on vacation.

It’s interesting the sacrifices you make for your future. I’m now willing to eat spinach in a breakfast smoothie and trudge away on our new elliptical for an hour, about 55 minutes longer than I’d like to, for my future. I’m willing to forgo an expensive vacation or fancy jewelry, even on a special, gift-worthy occasion, for our future. I’m even willing to take time away from the people I love most to sit in a darkened classroom rehearsing again and again educational principals I’ve heard countless times for my future. We do these things- workout, eat right, get enough sleep, save our pennies, invest in our education- because we hope that they will pay off in the future. But we aren’t promised a future.

The future always seems to hold such possibility. It’s something we love to dream about, fantasize about. When we retire, if we win the lottery, when our kids grow up, when the house is paid off, the car is paid off, the debt is paid down… But life is full of curve balls and these dreams sometimes do not turn into reality. When I was first diagnosed, this is one of the things I felt so keenly. The pain of losing my dreams. The pain of having my future, the future of my fantasies, taken away. The drudgery of contemplating a new future, a dim future, a scary future.

Even now, I am susceptible to this. Last week, my sciatic nerve went all haywire on me and, for a day or two, I had pain just walking, let alone climbing the stairs. I knew the pain. I had felt it before. I knew that it could be caused by the incredible amount of sitting I’d done in the recent summer training’s I’d had, combined with the new, more strenuous exercise I’d been doing. My mother has had the same issue many a time, and it wasn’t foreign to me at all. And yet, my first thought was my MS. I felt weak and useless and scared and I cried as I fell asleep. I felt like constant health issues, pain even, were all that my future held. No matter how ridiculous I knew this was, I couldn’t shake this feeling that my future was not, would not become, what I wanted it to be.

In light of all this, I’ve learned recently more and more how to live in the present. All the planning and plotting and tending to my potential future, or even lack thereof, leaves me exhausted and discouraged. And for what? I can’t control it. I can’t prevent it. I can’t shape it or define it or make it the way I want it to be. I can only be responsible for today, today’s choices, today’s worries, today’s decisions. I can only make the best of what I have now. This is why, in the Bible, Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow and to take care of today. In Matthew 6, he says ” Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? … Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

How true is this? Today, in this moment, even on vacation, I have enough to worry about, enough to do. By fretting about the future and all the different “what-if”s, I rob myself of the enjoyment of this day, this moment. It doesn’t add even an hour to my life. My future is in the hands of one much larger than I, much grander and more powerful than I, of one much wiser than I. It certainly isn’t in my hands! And right here, right now, this is what I am responsible for, what I need to make the most of. What I need to do now is focus on the present and not worry about tomorrow. Hopefully, by taking it one day at a time, my future will materialize all on it’s own, and it will be a far better future than I could have even dreamed of.

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