Thursday, December 31, 2015

Living Life By Degrees

As we approach the New Year, many will reflect on the past while planning for what they hope to be an even better future.  They contemplate the highs, the lows, the moments that will never be forgotten.

For those whose lives are touched by chronic medical challenges, reflection can be bitter sweet.  Woven amongst all of the good memories are reminders of illness and other health challenges.  Numerous doctor visits, therapies, medicine trials, hospital stays, possible brushes with death.

I've seen many analogies for those living life with medical and other challenges.  There's always Holland, and many have used the Spoon Theory to explain their lives to others.  For me, I think of our lives as living by degrees.  It's rare that we find something that drastically changes the course of our lives for the better.  However, over the years, we've found various treatments, interventions, medication, supplements, and the like that have added greater quality to our lives - sometimes by the smallest of degrees.

A supplement that made her fall less than before.  Another that steadies her gait.  An intervention that lessens the sensory overload.  A tube that allows him to grow.  An oil that keeps his stomach settled.  A block the eases back pain.  A conversation with a old friend who helps me keep my sanity through it all.  New friends made in the midst of the pain.  An understanding smile.

On the other hand, we've lost ground in some areas as well.  Another favorite food lost.  The return of a symptom we thought we were leaving behind.  A needed medication with side effects too difficult to handle.  A doctor who doesn't understand.  Another who admits for the first time that we may never outgrow this.  A stabbing comment, a judgmental glance, friends lost.

So, as I reflect on the past year, we've gained a few degrees in some areas while losing degrees in others.  Some days it's easier to handle than others - and some degrees are more difficult to lose than others.  However, as I look back this past year, I choose to be grateful for smallest of victories, each small degree gained.  Because there have been years with little to no victories.  And because I've learned to take nothing in this life for granted.

And in the midst of it all, I'm most thankful for a God who never changes - even by the smallest of degrees.  One who is sufficient.  One who if full of strength when mine is gone.  One Whose mercies are new every morning (not just every New Year).  One who never fails.  He is my portion.  He is enough.

And even if today is the best my life ever gets, my soul is at peace.  He has already met my greatest need in Christ.  My eternity is secure.  Everything else pales in comparison.

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."  Hebrews 13:8

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”  Lamentations 3:22-24

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