“For His anger is but for a moment, but His favor is for life. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” psalm 30:5
Mornings aren’t really my best time of day, but I can sometimes tell if the pain has lessened when I first wake up. It’s just typical of this disease to be unusually stiff and swollen on waking. I hate to get up as it hurts to use my body but that is what it takes to get the swelling to go down and relieve some of the pressure.
It was a roller coaster of a week. The weather was up and down which played havoc with my autoimmune issues, sometimes causing intense pain. One day I would be totally disabled, the next, moderately functional. I’m grateful that the better days coincided with the days Annie and the sheep decided to lamb. It enabled me to be there in case they had trouble and to iodine the navels of the newborns to prevent bacteria from traveling up the cord and causing joint or navel ill which can be fatal. The highlight of my days is to watch the babies skipping and jumping and crawling all over their mamas.
Thursday evening I intensely wanted to ride my horse, because Randyman finally fixed a gate so I could actually open and close it by myself. It's been close to 8 months since I've been able to do what I once spent a lifetime doing all day and loving every minute of it. I had a dream job.
I awoke Friday morning with less pain, but more weakness and fatigue. I decided to drag myself out and bring Mister in anyway, even if just to brush him. I needed to be around him.
I was able to groom him without much trouble and took him out back into the sheep pasture with a longe line as it was the least slippery spot I could find. He ran and bucked and jumped and played, slipped and scooted around. Not bad for an old man. I was glad I hadn’t been up to saddling up and riding him because with my balance issues now, it would have been another disaster. The Maremma pups showed up. They laid down where they could still see the lambs but kept a penetrating eye on Mister, challenging him to dare try doing anything they perceived might endanger me. I figured it would take a few days to work the kinks out of my old horse, but didn’t mind as long as I could be in his company. I took him back to the corral and brushed him down good and returned him to his pasture.
I got back to the house energized and ready to do things. I honestly think the smell of horse sweat must be like crack. I felt better than I have felt in a year. I cleaned house, pruned fruit trees, covered garlic and strawberry plants to protect from the chickens, made sour cream and clabber and put on a leg of lamb for dinner. I still had energy to go play with the lambs and was even able to do dishes that evening. All day my face hurt from smiling, it was so great to feel good again. All day I was joyfully thanking God for the experience.
The next morning I felt tired again, but the pain levels were surprisingly way down still. I assumed I would 'pay' for overdoing it and I went to get Mister and he was moving slowly and stiffly, like myself. I laughed and agreed with him that getting old really does suck. I put him on a line and he had no inclination of bucking, running or even moving. (bwahahahaha!) Deciding it was best for him as well as for me to stretch out the sore muscles, I rode him for about an hour in the corral, mostly walking, just working on lateral movements, foot placement and verbal cues. It felt so good.
Now this morning, the pain is back in full force along with another storm. But I had two fabulous days and I know that more are coming my way. Maybe even tomorrow.
There are a thousand things I used to do daily, that I took for granted. Now they are precious rarities. But when I could take them for granted, I often found myself discontent and dissatisfied because of OTHER things I could not do. Always reaching, always wanting more, I set myself up for a great deal of disappointment and strife. If my condition has brought me suffering, it has also brought me clarity. In the book of Philippians 4:11, Paul said “...I have learned in whatever state I am in, to be content...”
Contentedness is not something that happens to us, but something we LEARN. It is often in the fire of affliction that our eyes are opened to what actually surrounds us and is provided for us and we learn to be grateful. A grateful heart is a happy heart because gratitude and discontent cannot occupy the same space.
There are so many examples of people who have walked through this world missing much of the joy of life until they, ie: survived cancer, had an accident, lost a loved one...went into the refiner’s fire and had a epiphany of some kind. After they suffered the pain and loss their eyes were opened to the world around them and the many wonders it contains. Sadly, we don't always chose to let this be the result of our trials, but God's purpose is always redemptive and He does bring beauty out of the ashes.
This disease I would give up in a minute, but the lessons I have learned and the awareness it has brought to me, the depth of life, the awareness of colors, smell, textures, beauty, wonder...never.
And there will be more glorious days.
The simple things have become priceless and no longer to be disregarded or taken for granted. All of life, even the difficult side, is richer.
So, for that, I am grateful.
“I come that they may have life,and that they may have it more abundantly”