Sunday, May 25, 2008

Learning to Live

I’m still learning how to live. Learning how to not get mad when my body doesn’t let me be me. There are days I can do it… days I accept that I can’t do everything. The days I make the most of what I can do, and know that even if I can’t do it today, I might be able to do more tomorrow, or next week, and if I can't, then that's okay, too.

Then there are the days I forget. The days I make plans to live my life the way I want to live. To do things and go places! Then just as I’m walking out the door, it slaps me in the face. Maybe it’s pain, maybe it’s nausea, maybe it’s the overwhelming fatigue that saps every bit of energy. Or maybe it’s just remembering. Remembering that I can’t do things because I want to do things, or even because I need to do things. Remembering that I can only do things if I can do things.

I’ve been focusing too much on what I can’t do. This week I was trying to think about all the things I can still do. But seems like that backfires. I start forgetting that I have to be careful… I overdo it or make grand plans only to get sick or realize I can’t after all.

Last week one of my teachers suggested I go volunteer at a camp for Deaf Blind adults in Seattle this summer. It’s a wonderful experience and they desperately need more volunteers, she explained. I asked my language tutor about it during group tutoring, and he too raved about how fun it was, and how it would build our skills while helping others. “It would be a great experience for you all,” he told us, looking at my classmates.

Then came the slap.

“But Amy,” he looked at me, “I don’t think you could do it. It’s long hours, hard work. It would be too much for you, I think.”

I got mad then. Not mad at him--it was sweet of him to be watching out for me--but mad that I need to be watched out for. Mad that I can’t do what I want to do…even what I need to do to build my skills. My learning disabilities mean I need even more practice and work than the teachers recommend, but my health means some days I can’t even manage the minimum requirements.

So here I am again, back where I started. Learning to accept the life I’ve been dealt. Learning to live life to the fullest when full isn’t always very big. But most of all I need to remember the things I’ve already learned. The things like how God will use my health problems to make me lean on Him. How He’ll use them for His glory, to let me encourage others because I can understand a little of what they go through. And how when I do succeed, everyone knows it’s because of Him, not because of me.

I recently wrote a short story with this same lesson: When a Lifetime Comes. It’s a lesson that keeps coming back for those of us with health problems, one that somehow never fully gets learned. But step by step, we grow a little more every day, becoming more like the person God is molding us to be.

Life isn’t about how much you can do. Life is about how you do what you do… how you choose to live the life you have. May I have the grace to live completely.