I sat alone in my bathroom, my elbow propped up by the cold, white pedestal sink and my hot, feverish forehead resting in the palm of my clammy hand, and I cried. I sobbed actually. I pleaded with God to bless me with regular life problems such as, the struggle to find a new home or job. I asked over and over to escape this perpetual hell I experienced and enter the realm of regular life, even if just for a day. And then I turned towards the toilet and vomited and returned to my bed covered in chill bumps.
My prayer was answered. I recently learned my current home is slated for destruction and plans are already developed for new condos and developments. While the news left me feeling trepidatious and worried at first, I later vowed it would not affect me. Stress is a monster and reeks havoc on my body like nothing else. It lowers my immune system and sends me directly back into that bathroom and worse, sends me town the spiral of depression. Everyone around me buzzed with nervous and complicated energy and I remained centered and calm. I even told my doctor, if I didn't lose and give up over the last thirteen years, I hardly think this recent struggle is the thing to which I will finally succomb. I believed it. I believed all would be well. But, that's the funny things about answered prayers. They aren't always answered in the way I want them answered. Gratitude isn't true gratitude if it is expressed when exactly what I want to occur is what happens. Honest gratitude comes when found, even though the world crashes and catastrophe reigns.
In the Book of Job, from The Bible, Job suffers immeasurable difficulties. He is seen as a righteous man and pegged as only grateful and faithful because his life is so blessed. God decides to test Job's faith. Almost every possession and loved one is taken from him. His wife urges him to turn from God and curse him. Job refuses. And even after everything is taken from him, he is inflicted with boils, and still refuses to denounce God and his love. Instead, Job scrapes away his boils and his faith remains pure despite his struggles. In the end, God returns Job's blessings seven fold and Job lives a very, long, blessed life. He understands God giveth and God taketh away.
I know I am not Job. I know far greater suffering exists in this world than paralysis. I know this, yet sometimes I feel like I just can't take it anymore. These past few weeks, once again, brought me to my knees and landed me back in that bathroom, begging for reprieve. The search for a home is magnified a thousand percent with a physical disability, like mine. And the largest problem is, very few people understand the parameters I must work with and against. Just a few steps or carpet or street parking are words that make all the difference in a home. There are thousands of available homes, but few of them are accessible and manageable for me. And though I quietly searched, so not to aggravate my body, I failed. I failed to find a place to live and I failed not to affect my body. I tried to build a fortress around myself of goodwill and positive energy, but it was quickly torn down and smashed into a million tiny pieces.
And as hard as this is for me to admit, yesterday I broke. After a not so great appointment with my doctor, a new infection, a fever, and several days of illness, I caved, fell prey to my depression and decided this was it, I couldn't take it anymore and I was done. I planned who would take my dog, where my belongings would go, and lastly, how I would go. As I write this, I feel the hot tears streaming down my face and I am full of shame. I broke. I let the myself lose. You see, I had a few months of a glimpse at regular life. I still battled what is left of my cavernous wounds and the care to keep them healthy and progressively healing, but I also woke up everyday without a fever and with a plan to do something other than nurse myself. I cherished every, single moment. I actually started to think, this is it, my life finally has the chance to turn around and I am worthy of a regular life. As the seemingly insurmountable task of the search for a new home grew, I finally fell victim to stress and, ultimately, paid the price of infection. My immune system decreased so rapidly, I picked up an infection. I juggled the infection in my normal fashion, popped several pills, fought off chills, ate very little, and carried on like a soldier. And, as it does every single time, infection won and I, once again, fell to my knees in prayer. I asked why I can't just have a regular life. Why I can't complain about things like the end of a vacation, or the struggle to find a job. Why I can't just have some time to live, just live, and make choices of my own that don't always pertain to my body and its lack of function. Why, why, why.
The answer is not simple. In fact, there really isn't an answer. I know this by now to be true. To live is to suffer. Everyone suffers. Everyone has boils. There are boils in Syria, there are boils in Egypt, there are boils on the streets of America, and in the homes of loving families. There are far too many and unexplained boils in the childrens' cancer wing of the hospital and on children in general. Boils are everywhere. I, like everyone else, don't choose when they inflict me. They metastasize and generate and populate all on their own and there isn't a darn thing I can do about them. The only thing I can do, is recognize them in an other, become more gentle, more kind, and more loving, and learn that life gives and it takes. It is just how it is. My only option is to become softer and more peaceful.
God assumed Job was only grateful because he was so blessed, so everything was taken away from Job and then Job was inflicted with boils. Job did not turn from God, he only persevered and knew he must live whatever life he was given and do so with out anger or resentment. And Job's activism didn't come in the form of protest or fight, his activism came in the form of example. People all over this world suffer and only find peace with death. Is it morbid and a difficult place and circumstance to understand. But the death, that is not my decision. It is out of my hands. I need to let the boils form, and if they take me down or take me out, than so be it. What I need to understand, is there is a force larger and stronger and more powerful than I can even imagine. And I may have had the taste, even if ever so briefly, of a regular, somewhat peaceful life, but I had the taste. And for this I am grateful. I need to take that shred of hope and spread it where I can. I need to reach out and tell another, it is possible, if only for a minute and may be possible in ways far beyond my understanding.
So, I know. I know what it is like when life seems to much to bear. I know what it is like to want to give up. I know what it is like to get a taste of the good and have it regurgitate back up, I know and I understand the pain. I know what it is like to feel like nothing ever goes the way it should or that wishes and prayers are never granted. I know what it is like to have others only expect the worst from me or forget I am a quiet soldier and continue to fight even when I don't want to or if nothing, ever goes my way. But, what I also know, is the feeling the feeling of joy that illuminates the darkest sky, if only for a night, I know that side of pain too. And there is wonder that joyous night, a wonder that cannot be replicated, even if it is, ever so swiftly, taken away. Hope is the seven fold of riches. Love is the seven fold of riches. These are the things that sprout and grow because of the boils. And they don't show up in material form, they show up as strength and empathy and compassion and service.
I choose to focus on the good. I choose to focus on the hope. And I choose to heal the boils of others. My gift, yes gift, of boils has taught me this. And just when I think I may have learned the lesson a million times, the boils return and remind me I still have so much to learn. Life's only purpose is to teach peace, love, faith, and hope and spread all of these, seven fold. Blessings are not mine to decide. I must find the the blaring and bright blessings in my own life. I must use them to help others and be of service to my fellow sisters and brothers. I must cease feeling righteous or entitled. My boils are healed with forgiveness and love and compassion and I take this lesson to act in service of others. I don't deserve a reward for the pain, the reward is seeing others and the world with new and different eyes. I learn to see the boils on others and act as a healer, instead of a hurter. I may feel shame because I wanted to give up or lost my hope or my faith, but, once again, it taught me to see that shame in an other and act with gentle hands and a loving heart. That is my purpose. That is the only purpose. So, bring on the boils.