“I don’t feel good.”
“Like bad or ‘hospital bad’?”
It’s been a frequent exchange between me and my wife these past few years. I can easily recall the many times I’ve felt ‘hospital bad’. Worse, there have been times when I didn’t have to say anything at all. She just knew I was not well. My wife is an angel.
This conversation has occurred often enough that I’ve learned to be very careful to say what I mean, and mean what I say. So, at 2:15am on December 18, 2016, the words I really should use are, “I don’t feel ‘all right’,” or, “I don’t feel ‘perfect’.”
Honestly, it might be because it’s that “perfect” time of year, the Holiday Season. We cram four big ones into the final few weeks of the year: Halloween, Thanksgiving, the Twelve Days of Christmas (and its month-long build up), and then New Years Eve/Day just a week later.
It was great when I was school-age; extra time off! Play time! Presents received! But now, as an adult and grandparent, it seems more like all work and not much play; like leaving the homework assignment to the last minute. I have a big list of other people. I feel pressured to show that I’m thinking of them in a very material way. But suddenly it’s only a week to go, and I’ve got nothing. It makes me feel ‘mean’. Scramble!
It’s because I’ve never been good at the planning-ahead and follow-thru necessary for merchandise-based events (or school projects). Maybe I’m just too wrapped up in my own stuff to be proactive about someone else’s. That’s why my favorite has always been Thanksgiving. The only thing expected to be given on that day is thanks. I’d be happy if we just left it at that, and got on with things (or back to them).
However, I am a work in progress. And I’ve found that I do best when I have a routine to follow. I find this many holidays in such a short period of time to be disruptive. Certainly, it messes with my schedule, what with all the parties and time off of productive “work” and all the relatives a-visiting. I naturally find less quality time with God and am less able to follow my slow and steady, one-day-at-a-time pace. Of course, the winter weather here in New England requires extra time to get ready to go anywhere.
Absolutely, the budget is impacted, with all the spending on gifts and galas. It seems like there’s an increased stress on consumerism at this time of year, with commercials focused on driving our “need for greed,” and aimed at making us want the things of this world. For me, these feelings devolve into a reminding of my faults, of my lack, of what I haven’t accomplished in this past year and in this life. They trigger my worry, anxiety, and Fear Of Not Doing Enough (F.O.N.D.E.)
Ssssssoooooo…. 3:10am (our 10-month-old grandson is a-visitin’ and needed a snack.)
It’s times like these I need to be very intentional about making time to be still and know. I turn to the Bible desperately, because I know it has almost everything I need; everything my soul needs. That awareness is what helps me deal with every other kind of need.
Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God, for he is gracious and lovely;
Praise is becoming and appropriate.
“I think I’m beginning to feel ‘good’.”
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people.
He will beautify the humble with salvation
and adorn the wretched with victory.
How beautiful and promising are those phrases! They emphasize God’s ability to transform my heartaches with peace, joy, and love. He lifts me up in spite of my struggles, and gives me victory not otherwise found in this existence.
Psalm 147:3 (AMPC)
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds
[curing their pains and their sorrows].
“Yes, I’m feeling ‘better’.”
My state of mind and attitude improve. The very act of reading, journaling, and praising is one of recognizing and enjoying Life itself, the greatest gift of all! I mean, really! Would I rather not be?
“Creator God, How Great Thou Art! What Can I Do but praise and appreciate you, and be thankful that you have given me life – any life at all – let alone so rich a life as this! What Can I Do but be thankful and joyful that you give my life meaning. What would I be – and where – without life? Nothing! Nowhere! But instead, I am someone, somewhere, anywhere! And this alone makes giving praise and thanks to you worthwhile – even in the absence of some of the “good” things and times in this world.”
The song “Tunnel” by Third Day includes the line “I want to give a little hope to you.” Well, unfortunately, I can’t give you hope – only God can do that. All I can do is tell you and show you where God brought me to find the hope that he makes possible.
“I feel ‘hopeful’.”
Hope is what helps us to keep going – during any season of life.