How do you measure, measure a year? In daylights, in midnights, in sunsets, in cups of coffee . . . measure it in love.” Opening song from the movie, RENT.
I have always been a work-oriented person. To view life through one’s daily occupations, including work, is the hallmark of my profession of occupational therapy. In this work, I would examine how people “occupy” their time and the skills needed to do it. So when I meet someone and ask how he or she spends her time, or meet a task to complete, immediately my mind is trained to complete an activity analysis. What are the physical, social, cognitive, emotional, and even spiritual skills needed to complete the task? After 29 years as an occupational therapist, and 3 summers working in an O.T. department as a college student, this is in my blood, so to speak.
And this ability is a gift from the Lord. To analyze and adapt is a life skill I would need as the Lord worked through the events of my life to first, conform me more to the image of a Christ-like woman, and second, to survive and overcome these events. So here I am in another “event.” The event at the moment is approaching the one-year mark since I became sick and the 5-month mark since I have been unable to work. So how do I measure my year now? So much has changed since I was well and since I was working. Even if I am able to make some jewelry a few hours per week and water a garden, it’s not the same. Well, maybe like the song says, measure my year in love.
This year has taught me what true love looks like, as expressed by my husband, Steve. He just doesn’t get rattled by anything and turns to his faith in Jesus Christ if and when he does. It has been the middle of the night sometimes when he asked if there was anything he could do for me, gotten up, and ran a hot Epsom salt bath to help me manage some noxious symptom. The level of personal sacrifice, loving sacrifice continues to be measured by a love that transcends Julie-n-Steve. He has walked in faith with strength that only comes from the Lord. It’s just too hard otherwise. I know and I think he does too from each of our own, respective life experiences. I am grateful for his love. I am grateful for the source of his love. I am humbled.
Love has come in other forms and not necessarily where I have seen it before. New forms. Quiet forms. The more time passes when you have a serious illness or heartache situation, the more people leave your life or just go AWOL for awhile. It’s just hard to watch someone else go through something yucky, I know. And so many relationships are based on common interests, common gathering places. That’s cool. That’s cooler when you can do those things and go to those places together. When they change, most of those relationships change. I understand that; I have been through this before with major life changes. It’s common. What is sweet is when the contact, the connection, the love comes to you when you least expect it and need it most. That’s a love ordained by our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Husband. I love it! So I say, thank you for the sweet card in the mail this week, the heart-felt email, the support of my new work, the look in my doggy’s eyes, the bath, and the energy to get out into my garden and kayak a bit for the first time in awhile. Yeah God!
My job at the moment is to get well. When I get up in the morning and feel like crap, I must begin my treatment; it’s my job. My husband goes to work in the morning and I go to my treatment at the other end of the bedroom. It’s just different, that’s all. Treatment is the occupation that structures my time, just like any other major activity in a well-balanced life. Sometimes the end product, the outcome is unknown for awhile or forever. That’s where my faith comes into play (Proverbs 3:5-6). The Lord has used other bouts of illness, major life transitions for change that brought me to His throne of grace and more goodness than I could ever imagine. He often shows me His heart, His purpose along the way and for this I am grateful. His Word promises that He will never give us more than we can handle with Him, and that it is all used for good (Romans 8:28) in the end. The trials are never wasted in the larger scheme of things. If I don’t see it, I must expand my view. If I still don’t see it, I must trust that someday, even in Heaven, I will.
Besides, I’ve always prayed for better health. What if recovery from Lyme Disease, the root of so many other diseases and unexplained syndromes, is the pathway to freedom? Would I really want it any other way if this is the answer to prayer for which I have sought for so many years? I think not. Work is work and a necessary part of life. These are the tasks I am called to complete today. May I complete them with style and grace, my eyes fixed on Christ, my heart filled with His love and hope.