My Birthday Gift: Wrapped up in Disappointment

The natural aging process makes a tremendous amount of spiritual sense to me. God slowly allows our strength and beauty to fade away... which is a perfect scenario for growing in humility and allowing earthly attachments to die one by one. We reach the end and long for home. For relief. For peace. Forever. I have no problem with this plan... in theory. But when the Divine Physician cuts away at our pride, it does sting. And I do fight against it, this dying to self.

I saw my podiatrist this week and established two things: No beach volleyball. No running. I immediately went home and signed up for the next beach session (which started the following night). I reasoned that if I wore shoes and braces, I would be okay. This was a significant sacrifice for me since wearing shoes in this sport is pretty much not done by people who know anything (in other words, very uncool). I swallowed my pride and wore shoes, finding it more difficult to feel the sand and where I was going in it...but I was able to play.

I lay in bed last night on fire from the waste down and thinking what have I done? Why am I fighting this? I had plans to return to running and I will let it go. I had plans to play date night beach with my husband. And I am letting it go. Dying to these feet.

As a teenager I used to wonder whether I would be able to walk when I was old... really old... like 35. I would run my four mediocre races at a track meet and then wrap my feet in bags of ice and lay back with my eyes closed. The pain would thump and burn through every part of me and I would just zone out and breathe through it. It never occurred to me to give up sport because it never occurred to me that my experience wasn't normal.

I'm now 35 (very soon to be 36) and my body is acting accordingly. And these feet are still holding me up. During my pregnancies, they are tortured and smashed by the extra weight and swelling. After delivery, I have to help them heal. It is important that I am not overweight as every pound adds pressure and pain. Over the years, I have found an ideal weight for this and even a five pound increase makes a noticeable difference. I've always managed to continue to do the things I like to do.

I came home from the doctor this week with a walking boot (for the flare-ups when the tendon just needs a big break from the action) and hard ankle braces, which will be a part of my physical activities from now on. I told the doctor that my goal is to stay active. Tell me what I need to do to stay active. Icing, resting, using various supports and my brain... and if I'm smart, I can delay surgery for a long time.

My diet has improved my pain levels tremendously because it has eliminated a lot of swelling in my joints. I honestly think that I sustained much damage over the years because of my allergies/sensitivities. I am so grateful for this lifestyle change which has meant a renewal of health. But it has meant dying to food.

I'm not writing this primarily as a chronicle of my bodily aches and pains but more as an honest assessment of my attachments, which are many and strong. It is easy to think about theoretical dettachments but embracing them NOW is different. This is a big year for me, I guess.

I'm going to look at this dying to feet and food as a kind of birthday present. Objectively, I see that these are gifts that help me clarify priorities and help me to refocus. Life is short. Where does God need my attention right now? Where does God need my feet right now? How can I use pain to glorify Him? How can I use disappointment to glorify Him?

As my hair grays, my body falls apart, my children move on, and my youth fades, I hope for one thing: that I will always count it all grace and use each moment to draw closer to Divine Love. Perhaps somewhere therein lies the mystery of much larger sufferings and tragedy... that a soul might have the particular gift of detachment and the opportunity of clearer view of eternal life. I wanted to run again and now I will not ever be a runner again in this life... but I will run in heaven. My sister-in-law has never been able to run. Or walk. But she will run in heaven. Perhaps her longing is stronger than mine... and perhaps that is a gift that those of us will healthy bodies are not able to easily unwrap.

Our children recently made some rather big sacrifices for the sake of heart and home. It has not been easy for any of us but we are seeing a blossoming of grace and joy. I will write about it another time... it's too large in my mind as of yet. But I see how God works through the family as an artist would work at his canvas. Each touch is meaningful and purposeful to the whole. I know that when I experience a loss, it is for my benefit as well as the whole family, and I am offering this small personal sacrifice for those children who have so lovingly sacrificed their own preferences.

My food. My feet. My life. What would I give to be closer to Him? It should be my greatest wish that I would give it all. A close examination reveals that I have a death grip on many earthly attachments. I do not wish to lose any of it and I am not confident that I could relinquish most of it on my own will power. It is a great blessing to grow older... as my loving Father gently takes away obstacles to full joy.

Posted on September 7, 2012 .