This blurry-ish picture is courtesy of Cee for My Sunday Best. I’m wearing my favorite Lularoe Carly.
And here’s the rest of the crew:
That about sums it up.
Every week, I go into Mass expecting to get a little note from God. (The readings used by the Catholic Church are pre-set. The Catholics in Florida? Maine? Texas? All of us got the same readings this week. That’s the paradox of the Catholic Church. It’s both completely universal and completely personal at the same time. So cool.) The message this week seemed a little obvious, though. I didn’t have to do much work to dive in.
“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. ” Romans 8:18
We’ve been in a fog about all the everything with Cee’s condition lately. We squeezed in an appointment with the traveling rheumatologist on Thursday, and left sort of “meh” about the whole doctor situation. (Specialist tip: if the first specialist appointment opening is far, far away, take it and ask to be put on the waiting list. An appointment might pop up at last minute, but it’s usually possible to get in sooner.) Rheumy Number Eight isn’t probably going to get another date. (Have we really seen that many pediatric rheumatologists?!?! I think so!) The only thing this guy had going for him was proximity to our house. It doesn’t seem like the guiding factor in forging a healthy relationship. Or maybe it is. Whatev. At any rate, we’re feeling “the sufferings of this present time” pretty keenly these days.
In reflecting on The Classic Soil Gospel from Mass today, I realized again that the thorns of Cee’s illness threaten to choke out all the little happy moments in our life.
They are too much. We cannot bear these thorns, Lord. The are choking out all that is good.
To a certain extent, we get the soil we get. The soil that happens to be in an area sets up farming for success or failure. For people in less fertile areas, getting in a crop requires heroic efforts of irrigation and fertilization. And we don’t have much control over climate either. It doesn’t matter how much my kids want to grow a banana tree. It ain’t gonna happen here in Iowa. It’s the same way with the thorns.
The thorns exist beyond my control. I can’t defeat them. But I can keep trying to figure out how to thrive in spite of them.
I can control whether I smile or get exasperated when one of the kids says, “Guess what song I have stuck in my head!?!?” for the hundredth time in a day. Whether I scroll through facebook mindlessly, sedating all the fears that threaten to take over, or choose to read a book out loud to the kids instead. And I fail and choose wrong, and fail and choose wrong, and eventually occasionally make the right choice.
It’s like trying to be patient and kind in the nanoseconds after stubbing a toe. Or while getting a sliver removed. Or after stepping on a lego. Our natural response is to growl and fuss and spew hurtful words so everyone feels just as sorry to be alive as we do.
The thorns are no joke. They hurt like the dickens.
Cee was reading a science magazine about the heart the other day, and the muscles in my own chest tightened. Pericarditis. Pericarditis. Pericarditis. If our life was a movie, would this be one of those scenes where the future is foreshadowed? Will the arthritis attack her heart next month, next year, as she sits here obliviously reading about chambers and ventricles and arteries today? These thorns, they hurt like the dickens.
With all the thorns, I forget to live. Caught up in the whirlwind of drug interactions and appointment scheduling and worst case scenarios. Fearing the thorns on the path so much that I stop moving forward. Knowing I’ve failed to harvest any fruit of any kind because I’m afraid of losing my fruit. Frozen in place, the thorns get stronger around me.
Faith doesn’t remove the thorns, it offers a way to work through them.
Faith is the outstretched arm, encouraging us to put one foot in front of the other. Faith is the voice that reminds us about how far we’ve already come. Faith is the eyes that have seen the path further ahead and promise that the thorns will be gone someday.
Once again, my time at Mass this week brought me comfort in my challenges and challenged me out of my comfort. Note taken, God.
If you’ve followed Sweeping Up Joy for any length of time, you might be like, “Hey– isn’t this the theme of all the posts here? There are these terrible circumstances beyond your control that make you want to lock yourself in a closet with a box of tissues and some chocolate, but instead you’re choosing to be a functional human?” Yup. That’s pretty much it. Except “Sweeping Up Joy” was a lot catchier than listing all that in my blog tagline. Just saying. So welcome, and thanks for following along. The thought that sharing about our thorny patch helps someone else keep moving forward makes everything a little easier to bear. <3
How do you get through the thorns of suffering in your life?
PS– On Monday at 10:30am central, a boy from our parish is undergoing an unexpected and risky surgery. It’s supposed to last eight hours, so prayers throughout the day would be much, much appreciated. Thank you for remembering Jordan and his family! <3