SUFFERING…WHO CARES?


Perceptive Perspective was the title I originally thought of but thought people
would not find it catchy enough to check out. Everyone suffers as part of the human
condition the only real difference is the amount of resources you have access too. To what extent do those resources allow one to lessen or halt the depth, length and/or extent of that suffering legally or otherwise?

Anyone who has served any significant period suffering understands that it is multifaceted, multilevel and multidimensional eradicating all boundaries of time. Physical pain leads to emotional pain leading to spiritual pain in a never-ending cycle of misery. These three components are fully interchangeable and intrinsically intertwined. They have the power to destroy everything or nothing and the person suffering is the one who holds the power of determination.

I had a friend remind me recently of how blinded the general populace is when it comes to suffering and the incredibly narrow margin of perception that exists in the status quo. After a recent accident, my friend hurt himself to the point that his daily routine and pain level increased significantly beyond that which he was generally accustomed. However, it was not the physical pain that bothered him most. It was the apparent lack of concern from his loved ones about his suffering that landed the deepest wound. My friend complained that his loved ones spent the entire 30 minute conversation complaining of their woes without ever inquiring about his injury.

I, myself, spent years being resentful and angry at the world because “no one understood or cared” what I was enduring. Everyone went on about their happy, cookie cutter lives without a thought to their fellow human but I have learned a deeper understanding after four decades of suffering. It is difficult for others, who are not in the same pain as you, to truly understand or empathize. Most often, people cannot see beyond their own misery. If you think your fellow human to be hard-hearted then pause a moment to ask yourself when was the last time you felt the pain of burying a child. Have you had a limb blown from your body? Perhaps you are confined to a wheelchair or suffer from a mental or physical malady? Do you care for a loved one who you are losing a piece at a time to Alzheimer’s? Have you lost a business lately or caught your spouse cheating on you? Maybe you have been the object of bullying your entire life? If you have ever criticized someone who is suffering in any way, shape or form then you can count yourself among the cold-hearted populace that you only notice when you become the one who is doing the suffering.

It can be hurtful and feel as if they don’t care but the truth really is they care as much as humanly possible. Humans naturally recoil from painful situations with the exceptions of those who thrive on causing such pain or those who have strong desire to help salve that pain in some manner. The only way for a person to care more is for them to feel what you are feeling. If it is the general populace or those who have been ignorant enough to make stupid comments then we may cheer such a prospect on wholeheartedly. However, if it is a loved one then we should shudder at the slightest possibility that they will ever understand on that level because the only way for them to do that is to suffer on that same level. I don’t want anyone, whom I love, to really understand my suffering…ever. So, I accept what caring others are capable of then I try to do the rest of the understanding for them. It’s not their fault. Admittedly, there are callous jerks in existence that will not get it until they are visited by the cruel hand of suffering themselves but they should be pitied more than anything.

Of course, this cannot be done without Christ. He is the only one who can provide you with the peace, understanding and wisdom only  borne through years/decades of suffering. Without Him you get bitterness, anger, spitefulness and so much resentment that you become useless to yourself and to all around you. Without His purpose and will then your suffering is wasted. Some only think about God when suffering visits their door and then it is usually to curse Him or ask Why. Whether you believe in Christ or not, my question is, “Why not you?” “Why not Me?” Why should any of us be immune to the curse upon creation? Have any one of us lived such a good and godly life that we should somehow be shielded from the curse of original sin that broke ALL of creation? If you have lived such a pure and perfect life then by all means take your case to God and prove it. We tend to scream and cry at the injustice of our sufferings pulling random scriptural promises from the text without the slightest idea of what the rest of the Bible of which we are condemning instructs us believers or even non-believers. You who reject Christ may think you are immune to the Biblical teachings but it does not depend upon your belief to be true or false. Without you…it remains.

It can be terribly lonely when gripped in the midst of suffering but that is lie told by Satan to make you fall into his pit of depression. “Laugh and the world laughs with you, Cry and you cry alone…” It sure seems like this adage is true when you are the one suffering but it is only the case if you choose to push people away and block your heart from the love so as not to feel the pain too. It is a lie.
Some hold unto suffering like an old familiar friend because it is the “devil they know” and are afraid of what might be beyond. That is not how it works in chronic suffering that has gone on for decades and promises to follow you to the grave. Nope, after four decades you either achieve wisdom, faith, understanding and boundless compassion or you have allowed yourself to be eaten up from the inside out. You become a shell of a human being that loves misery so much that moments of happiness actually bring agony. There are only two outcomes for the chronic sufferer and it all hinges on a choice. One, surrender to Christ and allow him to use your suffering to do good. Or, allow Satan to take over and use your suffering to destroy you, destroy all you love and to spread his vile poison further into God’s children and creation. There is no middle ground. There is no other choice so if you are suffering today, regardless of how long that suffering has been going on then you need to make a choice.

If you are not suffering then Praise God and thank him for his mercy upon you but do not remain ignorant, for your teacher will be experience. If you are not saved then your Earthly suffering doesn’t matter at all as your life is only a pawn in Satan’s grand scheme. Whoever you are, make a choice and stop walking the fence because you are enjoying an illusion of security that quickly fades as you expel your last breath.

You can reject these words or take heed. I made my choice and I have been richly blessed with peace, joy, compassion, understanding, wisdom and a deepening faith. I am grateful and I have need for nothing but God’s continued grace and love.

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Here I am Lord…Send Me


by
Tina Blackledge
2-28-15

Isaiah 6:8
Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”
I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

Song with Lyrics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LoMboxzm0U

As I was growing up, this became one of my favorite hymns to sing in church. Experience, understanding, hardship and struggle brought a deeper meaning to the lyrics and emotions attached. Even though I have sung this song many times during worship over the years it still manages to bring a tear to my eye. Of course, as I matured the meaning of the words held increasing gravity. Accepting that the Lord creates each of us with a very specific role in this creation and that he, himself, took the time to “knit me together in my mother’s womb” began a search for that role.
As a child, I could not wait to grow up and become an adult. I hated being a child and I would never go back to those days even if it were possible. Consequently, I was greatly relieved when I finally reached adulthood even though it came with its own challenges it was a different level of hell and I had a marginal say and choice in the path I should take. My faith walk has not always been steadfast and I confess to struggling deeply with my relationship with God throughout my early adulthood. I always believed God was there but there were times I did not feel that he was there for me or that he even cared. There are so many erroneous messages with cultural and societal norms attached to them that faith has become mechanical and regimented. This has been the case since the early church was formed. There have always been those attached to ceremony, routine, and legalistic interpretation of the Scriptures ignoring that a personal relationship with Christ was and is necessary. Each of us must search for our savior and discover what we were put on this Earth to accomplish.
This sounds as if it would be an easy task if we identify our skill set, passion, and talents then the result should be fairly simple, right? Well, it would be nice if it worked that way but once again, human kind, get in the way. Whether it be that the person gets in their own way by making selfishly poor life choices or the society one grows up in refuses to allow that person a level of human respect and equality of opportunity. The social norms and mores of each society are different as is the value system. Of course, each society puts it’s “brand” out there (it’s ideal of how life should be lived) but has institutionalized division within society. Some societies publicly advertise that there exist “natural” and strict divisions within their society enforced by legal/religious codes. In the United States, we did this with most obvious disgrace when we subjugated African-Americans but that is far from the only example. The longest running lie in America is that of the attainability of the “American Dream”. Now there are many faults in this ideology with the most obvious being its materialistic foundation. However, I do not want this post to turn into a political debate because my intent is to discuss something far more important. Something every single human being hungers for throughout their life. Each of us needs to have a purpose. We all need our individual lives to have meaning in some way.
As we grow, mature, learn, and experience life our assessment of success and fulfillment changes over time. If it doesn’t then we surely have missed our purpose because we were far too busy chasing after self-fulfillment, self-pleasure, buying into what the world was screaming and celebrating as success. One thing is certain; if you are pleasing the world then you are doing something wrong. Regardless of whether you “buy into religion” or not, you make choices every day that either help or harm the world or at least your little corner of it. In the U.S. we have a large societal problem, okay many large societal problems, but one that has become cancerous is the belief of entitlement just because one is born. This problem has become wide-spread being fed by massive inequities, corrupt authority figures, and evil growing deep roots within ALL religions.
The hymn, “Here I am Lord, send me” is the forerunner to what we Christians call the ‘Great Commission’ given by Christ himself to go out and share his love with everyone. The song was based from the Book of Isaiah chapter 6 beginning with verse 8. The summation, although I strongly encourage you to investigate it yourself and not take my word for it, reveals a discussion between God and a man named Isaiah. God is asking Isaiah who he should send to teach others about him and his love. Now, understand this is a parent asking his child a question to which he already knows the answer. This is a famous technique used by many parents to try to help their child discern where the truth or value of the truth really lies. God knew that he would send Isaiah and that Isaiah would eagerly accept this task but he still posed it to Isaiah as a question, for Isaiah still had a choice here. This interaction has created a limitation in some people’s minds as to the fulfillment or importance of the task/calling/career/job/vocation for which God has created them. Most folks read this story and believe that serving God or fulfilling your life’s purpose means that a geographic relocation is necessary. Some fail to realize that his or her purpose may have nothing to do with ‘going out into the world’; instead, it may mean that God will ask you to take a detour on your own life path and it may be a one that is not very desirable. It may be downright terrifying. In fact, most of the time it is interpreted as a punishment from God or a direct result of a specific sin committed. We do not see it as calling. We do not interpret it as a request from God to our hearts to travel a path that is filled with danger, pain, and/or suffering. The situation is exacerbated by those around us who reinforce those negative interpretations. Now, understand, I am not saying that humans do not create their own problems at times and then suffer the consequences because that would be ludicrous. Anytime we make a decision based solely on selfish indulgence then there will consequences for which we and maybe others must pay. There is a natural system of consequences to our decisions whether they are good or bad. Every single choice you make has a fallout to it and again it could be positive or negative. It will have a ripple effect throughout humanity and all of creation. This idea is represented in all cultures in one form or another. In China, Confucius presented this concept as ‘Chain reasoning’ and it is just as applicable today as it was so long ago.
When you, as a Christian, ask the Lord to show you what he needs you to do, what purpose your life is to fulfill because you are eager to get started and make a difference then you must open your heart to any and all possibilities. God may ask us to step off the path we thought we were supposed to take, and in fact, that may have been our primary path but now he is asking us to take a bit of detour that may change our direction while maintaining the destination.
Consider for a moment the possibility that the things we consider to be bad/terrible/life altering events in our lives may indeed lead us to a road that we do not want to traverse. A few examples to consider, a period of financial ruin, serious illness, homelessness, hunger, persecution, a career bombing out, entering a drug/alcohol rehab program clearly illustrate there are paths where we, ourselves, began the journey through our own selfish desires. Other examples may be the direct or indirect result of a selfish decisions made by another that has had a trickle down effect causing you suffering. It is not that God has caused this suffering but he will use what mankind meant to hurt you to bring you where he needs you to be. There may be someone else along that path that may not make it if you do not travel down that path because you might be the only person to offer him/her a glimpse of the hope and love God has to offer them.
You may not have a choice to suffer or not but there are thousands of choices you make along that journey that will define it. Truthfully, it may be the last leg of your journey before you are called home but that fact does not absolve you from your duty. Understand, I am not saying that you have to have a stupid, silly smile on your face as if you have just suddenly lost your wits while enduring hellish suffering or torment but the manner in which you travel the path, the way you communicate your faith, the attitude you present throughout the hardship and suffering are all examples of how you live your faith or fail to live your faith. All of us were created for a purpose and the path we are asked to traverse is not a single road that leads from point A to point B; instead, it is a path filled with detours, off ramps, and on ramps, massive periods of construction and points of massive disaster. If it were to be drawn out it would look like a multilevel super highway structure with thousands of possible entry and exit points but all roads would lead to the same destination. The choices we make along the way will define the journey. Our actions and inactions will have consequences. Our words will either draw people toward the love of Christ or they will push them away. So when you are looking for purpose and meaning to your life, when you ask God to “send you” understand the fact that it may not mean packing a bag and jumping on an airplane. Sometimes it is jumping on a hospital bed to shine for a person who is lost in the dark. To help a person hold on when the last thread to which they are clinging is fraying. Sometimes struggles, hardships, or suffering has nothing to do with you directly (only that it is your body, mind, soul, or heart doing the suffering) only that you had to traverse this path in order to be there for someone who is lost. You will be truly amazed what God can do through us when we get out of his way and accept the journey one step at a time. An added bonus that is a direct result of hardships, suffering, struggles and pain is the massive opportunity to gain a wealth of wisdom, compassion, love, faith and understanding.

“Whom shall I send?” asks the Lord. “Send me Lord.” I answer

Soaring upon Broken Wings; Becoming Whole


A slight tingling began atop her toes traveling through her limbs, sinews, until each cell was humming with life. The faint sound of clear water dancing happily over and under rocks, limbs, and around bends tickled her ears tempting her to open her eyes. Automatically, her body took a long deep breath filling her lungs with a lightly sweet, clear breath embracing her taste buds with a delectable blend of honey and roses. A sigh releases the air she had claimed as her own.

Willing her eyelids to lift seemed to be a herculean effort causing confusion and a host of inner questions. Her first attempt was met with brilliance so overwhelming she closed her eyes tighter than before. She decided to allow her other senses to communicate to her instead. Beneath her she felt a sun-warmed, soft bed of what her nose identified as tender new grass shoots. Outstretching her arms upon the surface, she concluded she must be lying in a field and not just a bed made from fresh grass. As she slowly caressed the immediate landscape she observed the absence of pebbles, roots, insects or other debris that might have marred her rest area.

A warm honeysuckle breeze danced over her frame causing a slight shiver. It was not cold but the wind skipped atop her skin as if it were trying to encourage her to proceed ever further in her exploration. Softly, slowly the sunbeams kissed her skin bringing color to her cheeks. The rapid beat of hummingbird wings combined with song birds, chirping chipmunks, and the splash of jumping fish soothed her ears. She wanted this moment to last forever as she had never felt such sensations in all her lived long life.

Raising her hand to her eyes she made a second attempt to view the world around her. Gradually her vision began to adjust to the brilliance. It was not a moment too soon as her curiosity had worked itself into a frenzy. At first, the light was so bright that she considered for a moment that the space she occupied was devoid of all color and definition. The adjustment was agonizingly slow but shapes and colors eventually began to come into focus. She was indeed in a field of new grass hemmed in by large evergreens creating an alcove of sorts. Flowers, animals, song birds, and large colorful butterflies among other creatures shared the pristine patch of creation with her. They seemed to be absent of all fear of her and of each other.

Although she considered herself well-versed, the awe inspiring beauty in which she found herself defied description. Still in a reclined position, she found herself looking up into the large brown eyes of a new fawn. A broad smile graced her countenance while the joy she felt bubbled out in the form of a giggle. The fawn cocked his head in wonder at the strange creature that had suddenly arrived in this blessed habitat. Long graceful lashes batted toward her as if the small creature were encouraging her to move. She slowly pushed herself up into a sitting position then froze as if struck by lightning. Two bright blue butterflies with yellow spots were performing a clumsy but intricate ballet within her field of vision but her mind was racing with another thought so overwhelming that she was not able to fully appreciate the pair.

What just happened? Her mind demanded. She returned to a laying position and searched the sky for familiar markers but all she could see was light. No sun, no clouds, no horizon only light. Her breathing became rapid now as she repeated the action of sitting up and lying down in quick succession. Each time she accomplished the task her smile became ever broader until she was squealing with delight. With her last sit-up she followed through to a standing position. It happened with such ease that she was certain this all must be a glorious dream and began thanking her Father for this precious gift.

Looking down for the first time, she noticed she was adorned with a light flowing shift made of the softest gossamer that just tickled the top of her feet. When her inspection reached her hands she took a sharp breath. They were not swollen, red, or disfigured. She flexed them with ease and tears began to accumulate as her bodily survey continued. Nothing was swollen, no sores, and her skin was perfect! None of her digits were bent askew making them unusable; no pain raced throughout her body…no pain. Her hands flew to her head where she found a full head of hair flowing down her back. Her hands lingered in her locks as the welled tears flowed freely from their pools. Without hesitation she ran to the creek, knelt down, and peered into the crystal water. Her thick wavy hair tumbled forward framing her face. The reflection revealed a beautiful woman without blemish. So foreign was this reflection that she turned around quickly to see who was standing over her but the space was occupied by family of rabbits happily munching on clover.

Almost afraid to look upon the reflection again for fear it would be different, she hesitated to return her gaze back toward the glassy pool of water. She chided herself for wasting time in this wonderful dream and returned her attention to a reflection she had to admit to be her own. None of the scars the disease had created were there, no, her skin was so smooth and soft that it felt as if it were a newborn’s skin. Her tongue raced back and forth across her teeth making her smile ever greater. They were all there, perfect, white and shining back through her tear glazed eyes. While growing up she only allowed herself to believe that she had three features that she could consider beautiful, her hair, her eyes, and her teeth. When the ailments and medications attacked them, distorted them and caused their eventual loss, she felt truly hideous in the eyes of mankind. Of course, the skin ulcerations completed the package of ‘monster’ in her eyes. Not only did she not think of herself as a real woman any longer but she barely felt human.

But this…this was not possible…this was amazing, for she was beautiful, she was whole, without blemish. Could this be how she would have existed if creation had not been broken by sin? Could this vision before her be who God sees when he looks upon her?

While these realizations filled her with the utmost joy and thanksgiving her second conclusion blew her away.

“There is no pain…, no…pain but how can this be?”

she marveled as she recounted all the movements she had just performed without giving any of them a second thought. She just thought about them and did it without hesitation or a “game plan” to complete them as per her usual routine.

“No pain? No Pain? No Pain! No Pain!” She cried aloud while jumping up and down in sheer and utter delight.

Born with a chronic pain-filled progressive disease, the woman had never known a single moment where pain had not accompanied her upon her journey. Is this really how other people wake up every day? This is amazing, stupendous, miraculous…yes…it …is….miraculous! Yet, it went far beyond the absence of physical pain. Her heart that had been bruised, crushed, destroyed and reconstructed on multiple occasions did not hurt. There was an absence of sadness. In fact, the very concept of pain was beginning to fade from her recollection as her being absorbed the reality of the world around her.

“Please, Lord, let this be more than a dream. I am sorry to be greedy and ask this of you after you have gifted me such a glorious dream but this is too wonderful from which to awake!” She cried in earnest to her Heavenly Father.

The breeze stilled and the creatures silenced their musings as she felt a presence there with her. It was not menacing but it was quite powerful. Trembling a bit, she slowly turned instantly recognizing the lamb standing before her. She fell to her knees and worshiped him and thanking him for this glorious gift. His hand encompassed hers bringing her to a standing position.

“My child, you are home. Your work is complete and now you are finally home. Your body is perfect, without illness, without pain, without a single symptom of a creation broken. This is not a dream child. This, my dear daughter, is eternity and it is with a glad heart that I welcome you to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
_____________________________________________________________________________________

To all my friends and family who are broken in some manner,

Remember, this is not your home. You were put here to do a job and when that job is complete, the Father will bring you home so do not despair in the pain and sorrow of today. Do not overly grieve for loved ones who have gone home, for they have earned their reward and are enjoying eternity. After all, it is not good-bye, not really because we will be reunited. Pain is the weapon of Satan because he knows if he weakens us then buries us with troubles our spirits will weaken and our faith may die. Nothing would please him more.
However, have fair warning, if you choose not to follow God’s plan for your life and never start or complete the job he created you for that will not preclude you from death. It will only mean that you wasted your life delaying the healing of creation, for the Father will create another to do the job you were supposed to do.

The Vessel


Through wonderful conversations with my fellow WP peeps about my “Birthday Musings”, I have come to understand a greater reality about death, love, loss, and new beginnings. In, “Birthday Musings”, I wrote that when we loose a loved one, a void, or hole is left within us that scars the soul and makes it quite difficult to cope. However, I have amended such thoughts after much contemplation to see that the people we encounter in life, especially those who are truly beloved, do not leave us empty at their departure. No, instead, from the very first person who shares their heart with us, be it a parent, family member, friend or a soul mate, their love begins the construction within our beings of a vessel. This vessel is precious indeed, for it is constructed of every kind act, word, or feeling our loved ones have shared with us. These beautiful contributions of love are interwoven forming a strong, impermeable vessel to hold, nurture, and prosper all future love. This vessel is constructed by the most steadfast and unbreakable bonds of love. Christ’s Sacrificial love allows us to retain the lessons of kindness, generosity, forgiveness, compassion, wisdom, and unending unconditional love. The vessel is a living breathing entity that welcomes the love of another to fill it up when one of its carpenters have left the reality we live in on a daily basis. There is no greater treasure that we can own and it was gifted to us, constructed by others but demanding ownership from us.
The very strongest threads are woven when someone enters or leaves our lives. Think of the feeling you get when holding a brand new baby whether it is your own or that of a loved one. Instantly, a new thread of love is woven into the vessel as we meet the next contributor to this life affirming vessel. So too, when a loved one passes beyond our reach, all of the memories, feelings of love and appreciation become tangible creating a multi-layered thread that becomes essential for all others to be woven from, around, in, and through. It truly is a miraculous blessing to have so many contribute to this vessel over our lifetimes. The ones we love and who love us are with us throughout all of eternity because they are literally part of who we are and who we will become; hence, we do not say good-bye to anyone only, “see you later.” They have begun the next leg of their journey and we must celebrate their victory and be happy for them as they enjoy paradise. We take and use everything they have taught and given us to become better human beings and make certain that our actions change the world in a positive direction. We may not be able to change the entire world but we owe it to all those who loved us, who created this precious vessel, to use what they gave so freely and change our little corner of the world.
Each person we encounter is not a mistaken fluke of chance. Even those who choose to do harm instead of good are meant to teach us something, If we can carry the lesson from the depths of the pain. However, those rare and special people who freely choose to love us are the greatest gifts we can ever receive. When love is true and pure and not corrupted by selfish desires then it is the most powerful thing in our arsenal against hate, ignorance, and greed.
On this day of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for each friend and family member who has contributed to the making of the vessel that holds and empowers the love within me. My fellow writers on WordPress.com have opened an entirely new store of resources to fill my vessel to overflowing through their kindness and friendship! I am amazed, awed, and thrilled with the gifts God has given me. Circumstances of life whether it be health, finances, or romance can try to convince us that love is a farce and that friendships are only forged for greed but that is not true. Do these things exist? Certainly they do but you make the choice to use or be used by another. True, some horrible things happen through no fault of our own and some are born with severe challenges that would crush the most stalwart man’s heart and good cheer, yet there is still choice. What do we do in the aftermath of tragedy or with the burden of health problem to which some are born into? What choices do we make after the tears have been spent? Do we become bitter or do we become better? Do we allow others to weave their threads into this glorious vessel or do we allow it grow cold and dark forbidding further access to all and to ourselves?
Allow the love that built you into the person you are today or the person you are striving to become to burn brightly with the love and passion the carpenter’s intended for you. Allow it to pulsate with the power of its contributors! Above all else, make certain Christ is the foreman throughout the construction, for his sacrificial love is the one we must model all others after. Thank you all for helping me recognize the existence of this treasure I have carried all along and for contributing to it all the time. It is never empty, there is no void and the pain we feel at the loss of a loved one is just the thick thread of their life’s love being woven into our vessel. Welcome the pain, for it means they have become part of you forevermore.

Through Your Eyes


I was beautiful
I was loved
I was safe

Your words embraced
my soul making
it shine as
brightly as
the sun.

I was a precious treasure
beyond all price.
I felt invincible
shielded against
the darkness

Miraculously,
Your love was the salve
lessening my pain.

Your melodic voice awoke
schoolgirl delights
I had no idea existed.

Foreign and wondrous
was this glorious love to
my heart.
Unexpected innocence
gave rise to your surprise.

You were so gentle,
loving, protective, and
patient. You were my
champion, my prince,
my darling man.

Darkness lurked
in the shadows of
which we spoke.
Vows of everlasting love
beyond this broken creation
were generously lavished
upon one another.

Oh God, how I prayed that you
would be the one to say good bye
to me but that wasn’t meant to be.

I yearn to hear your words,
see your gaze, and feel the
humble power of your love
within me once more.

Time has become meaningless.
Gazing into your eyes,
hungering to taste your lips
the warmth of your breath
whispering soft words of love
into my soul sending
burning chills throughout
every cell.

Embrace me and I will
lose myself in your
world, forevermore.

Frustration plagued you,
for you thought
you had given nothing.
Oh my darling, sweet prince
you healed my heart
and completed my soul.
What greater gift can a
man provide a woman?

The air I breathe was
once yours. Water that
washes me anew once
once caressed your being.
Winds stroke my cheek
once provided you comfort
on hot afternoons.

You are all around me. You are now
a part of my being. You are the very
air that I breathe so why, my darling,
do I feel so alone? Why do I feel as if
I am adrift upon an iceberg in a raging
frigid sea? Why does the memory of
your sweet voice feel like icy
splinters pelting my flesh?
Why did it have to be you
instead of me?

I liked the person you
saw when you looked
upon me. I liked being
truly happy for the first
time in my existence.
Through your eyes, life
was no longer a burden
but a gift.

Through your eyes, I found
myself eagerly
contemplating a future.

Through your eyes I
saw the very best me
I could ever be.

I love you Ajay, my Prince
among men. You were my
soul mate and I will always
cherish the time we were given.

Pure selfishness requires more,
for I want you here in my arms.
I want to caress your brow
and wash your face with my kisses.

Tightly to my breasts would
I hold you so death could not steal you.
Your eyes would become heavy
as the beat of my heart lulled
you into a deep sleep.
Your eyes are brimming.
My own are overflowing
creating streamlets of sorrow.

Softly my lips graze your eyelids
giving them permission
to close and find rest.
My lips quiver as they find yours,
I linger there tasting your sweetness.

I would beg you to take
whatever breath and life
I have within me.
My lips are on fire in contrast to
your cooling flesh.
Please, do not leave me my prince.
Please stay or take me with you,
for I cannot stand the thought
of becoming invisible again. I liked the
way you saw me.

Through your eyes,
my soul awakened
becoming what it
was created to be.

I miss you Ajay,
my beloved,
forevermore.

Why Am I?


Opening my eyes
greeted by my pups
yapping good morning.

I have to move,
I must get out of bed
and I think, ‘Why again,
did I want dogs?’ but then
their exuberant kisses,
happy eyes and wagging tails
quickly remind me.

I muster my strength
and pull myself to the edge
of the bed, simultaneously
praying for the ability
and offering praise for
each and every inch.

My pups cheer me on
until I am upright
wobbling my way
to the bathroom.

Putting on my robe
releases another round
of barking, but now in urgency.
I move as quickly as
my body will permit.

By the time I hobble my
way to the living room,
start the routine and
hook them to their
leashes they are
dancing in circles.

I grasp the leashes tightly,
grimace at the pain,
then open the door.
They bound outside
to find their favorite
spots then scout out
the yard for nightly
critter activity.

I descend the five steps
that lead to my home
stiff-legged holding
firmly to the leashes.
Walking to my favorite
spot, a lawn chair
providing a picturesque view
between several large,
beautiful trees. Wispy
white clouds are
streaked across the
blue expanse.

I praise God for this gift
and begin thinking. First,
I think of the tasks
that need accomplished,
the tasks that I would
like to accomplish,
and then the ones that will
actually get accomplished.

I dismiss the aches and pains,
and the spasms in my back,
while inspecting the ulcerations
upon my skin.

Now I have time to ponder,
“Why am I?”

Five Years


I was diagnosed with systemic rheumatoid arthritis at the age of five. I was born to a steelworker and a housewife. We had good insurance and income until my father was laid off and then we had very little. I was raised to think nothing of the arthritis; instead, I was told by more than one health professional that the RA would likely go away by the time I was a teen. In 1974, there were few options for anyone who had arthritis let alone for children with the disease and even less was known about it among the lay population. By the time I reached adolescence the disease was not the only major thing going on in my life so it took a back burner to everything else life dished out. In fact, I never considered myself sickly and was always surprised when someone showed me sympathy for the disease. I had no idea what it all meant and no one in my family knew more than just the basics. You must remember that it was the 1970’s and personal computers were in their infancy and far, far, out of reach for my family even if it had been offered to the public. Hence, there were not many places to look up information about childhood diseases. Additionally, I was one of three children and that left precious few hours in the day. The mindset in those days was to listen to the medical professional as if they held the only truth and this was even more pertinent to the blue collar sect and all those below.

            The good that came from being raised in this type of atmosphere is the fact that I did not even think to feel sorry for myself, nor was I allowed to baby myself. The thought not to do everything the other kids did never crossed my mind. I was sick, a lot, but I never thought of myself as a sickly kid because I was not treated as such. I do not remember a day without aches and pains so this became my “normal”. I just assumed everyone dealt with what I had to each day. This was my life and I did not question it; instead, I lived it. It was not until I was in middle school that I began to realize that there was something that set me apart from the rest; however, it wouldn’t be until I reached college that true understanding would come. Even then the disease was pushed into the shadows because I did not have the time, energy, or desire to deal with it. I had been determined to be “normal” ever since grade school when the other kids began treating me differently. I did not have medical insurance between the ages of 17 and 27; therefore, I treated the symptoms of the disease with high doses of  OTC aspirin. I was never attracted by the drug or alcohol scene so that factor never became an issue.

            At 42 years of age, I have been dealing with inadequate care for this progressive and aggressive disease for the past 37 years. It has not been an easy path to walk, both literally and figuratively. There have been moments when I could not bear the thought of spending one more moment in pain let alone the next 60 years. If you allow it, this type of disease will rob you of everything. It will destroy who you are, who you hope to become, and how you are remembered years after you have passed. It will steal your happiness and contentment. It will annihilate your dreams. It causes hatred, bitterness, and envy to build to nuclear levels of destruction until you do not even want to be around yourself. However, it can only do any of these things if you allow it too. The only thing this disease will do with 100% certainty is corrode your body but it is up to you to decide if you will spend the rest of your life waiting for the torture to finally cease or spend each moment living toward fulfillment and peace. Trust me when I say that these words are not spoken lightly, for I continue to carry the weight of this burden even now.  I have made plan after plan for my life but they have not come to fruition. Despite the strong desire to do otherwise, I have not given up.  I am not a super human person resolved to be tough regardless of the pain. On the contrary, there are many a day where I crawl into a hole and pull the dirt in behind me caring little for anything outside my misery. Each moment is a battle. Some are victories and some…are not.

            What is the key then? What turns the tide? Hope. Hope will give you strength; therefore, you must become determined to find that which gives you hope. For me, it is my relationship with my heavenly Father. My hope rests in him and I take comfort in knowing that my body will be whole again someday and that there does exist a day when I will awake without pain. There may be no cure from the medical community; therefore, I do not waste my time hoping for one. Instead, I pray for strength and endurance. I pray that I might glean wisdom through my sufferings. However, there are many a day where I pray for all just to stop. When you are chronically suffering, I would consider you ill balanced if you did not think, ask, or pray for release from the pain at some point or another. I draw heavily upon the strength of Christ Jesus because this frail body cannot do it alone.

            At five years old, I had no idea why I could not walk. I had no idea why I was in so much pain or why my mother cried. I had no clue of what was to come or how difficult the road would become but I still hold to my hope even if it has been translucent at times. Do not give up, do not surrender, and never tell yourself that the fight just isn’t worth it.