I am learning to hold things loosely.
Corrie Ten Boom once said, “Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”
He is prying open mine.
I have always been guilty of discontentment–always looking to the next thing and to the next. It never mattered how great the “now” was, I eagerly awaited the future. The next week. The next month. The next year.
My illness, strangely enough, has helped me in my fight against this.
My future greatly depends on my health–or lack thereof. If I never get well, my future drastically changes. I won’t get “what I want”.
If I never get well, I cannot finish my degree and become a teacher. I would most likely never get married or have children. I would not be able to travel or serve years overseas. My illness limits. My illness clips my wings desperate to fly. My illness does not give me what I want.
Yet, in the heightened “unknown-ness” of my future, a future that once troubled and worried me before I became ill, the Lord has oddly set my heart at peace.
I do not know the future. Nor can I control it. And, through my battle with chronic illness, the Lord has lovingly loosened my grip–loosened my fingers that held my future tightly in my hands.
When living with a chronic illness, you live from day to day–sometimes hour to hour. You begin to describe days as “good days” or “really bad days”. You don’t think so much about next summer because you have a marathon of a” today” to get through.
I have learned to appreciate the little things. My prayers of thanksgiving have flourished during this past year. I thank God all the time for helping me through little things–like grocery shopping or sitting in class. I have learned the pure joy of going for a walk outside. Treasuring that walk. Because the next day I might not get it.
When all you have is today–you learn to live in “today”. Tomorrow doesn’t matter as much. You’re not there yet. You just get today. And, I’ve learned, through the pain, to find joy in “today.”
I don’t have many victories. But, I feel like this has been a small victory–although it remains a “learning” and not a “learned”. I have, at last, begun to trust the Lord with my tomorrow and my “next years”. I think, largely, because a chronic illness reveals to you your utter dependency on Christ. I need Him to get me through today and, by His grace, carry me into tomorrow. I think I felt far more self-sufficient when I was well. I have realized, what was true all along, that He knows my future. He is already there. And He alone can get me there.
And, through all of this, I am learning to hold my future loosely. Because my desires for my future may not be His. I may not ever be “okay” again. My future may not involve anything that I have dreamed it would. God might not give me what I want.
But in Him not giving me what I want, He is giving me something better. In Him not giving me what I want, He is loving me. In Him not giving me what I want, He is doing the best thing for me. He is working all things together for my good (to be made into the likeness of Christ) and for His glory.
I am learning to hold my wants loosely–ready to surrender them for His. This is not easy. I cried earlier today thinking about all that I might never have or get to do.
But the Lord is not content to always give me what I want–what I think will make me happy. He is not content to give me my idols, but, graciously, albeit painfully, works to rip them away. One by one. Prying my fingers open. He works to teach me to long for something better–to long for someone better–to long for Him instead. To replace my idols with Him, the only One who can satisfy my deepest longings, the only One who can give me true and lasting joy.
I am thankful for today. Today I spent time with friends and went for a long walk in the woods. Today was a good day.
I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. But I know God is there.
And He who has been faithful today will be faithful tomorrow.
Elisabeth Elliot writes,
“The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be lived – not always looked forward to as though the “real” living were around the next corner. It is today for which we are responsible. God still owns tomorrow.”
God still owns tomorrow. And even if it’s never “what I want”, He is good. And will give me only what is the best thing for me. I have no need to worry. I have no need to fear.
And, by His grace, I am thankful for today.