Friday, October 26, 2012

Life is a Chronic Condition

One of the benefits of being married to a doc is adding a few medical terms to my vocabulary. I cannot pronounce, explain or spell most of them--but there are a couple of gems that the nonmedical world is missing out on. Case in point: chronic vs. acute. The hyperlink will take you to an extensive definition of the differences, but basically an acute problem has a sudden onset, whereas a chronic one is more of a slow growing process.

In my own life, the importance of understanding this difference has come about with my children. Specifically, this Summer, as we were struggling with the great "medicate/don't medicate" debate for my child with an ADHD diagnosis. (Not feeling led to open that can of worms here at this point ;-)

As we pondered, prayed and discussed, one of my greatest aha moments in the ADHD journey came from the comments of a friend I consulted. She is a teacher and a mother of a child with the diagnosis, so I appreciated her multi-perspective take: "You can't think of it as an ailment to be cured, but instead as a chronic condition to be managed. Make the decision you need to make now, knowing it will likely be tweaked and changed over time."

In essence, she was telling me that this is a journey that will take twists and turns requiring me to adjust my course...not a puzzle to be solved once and for all. As insightful as her opinion was, frankly, I wanted to bang my head against a wall. I am a doer. I want to fix things once and for all, tie them up in neat little packages with knotted bows and place them on the shelf with a cute little tag defining the lesson I learned.

I became even more frustrated when I realized the implications of this on other issues I am dealing with in my child's struggle with self control, another's issues with performance, my pride, challenging relationships. There are certainly acute life events--illnesses, accidents, unexpected circumstances--but the older I get, the more I am learning that MOST of life is chronic, not acute.

Perhaps this is the mellowness that comes with age...recognizing that we must pace ourselves for the long haul rather than constantly being bounced around emotionally and spiritually by the circumstances of life. These aren't the obstacles of life--these events ARE life. God is not surprised by them, He is active in them.

"All of those frustrations in work and personal life, family and faith, wherever we confront them, are part of our sanctification. They are part of our journey toward holiness. They are the steps we trod. The wonderful truth hidden in this realization is that every little thing greatly matters. It all has significance, the deadlines, the soccer practice, traffic tickets, marriage conflicts, skinned knees, oil changes, all of it. We don’t need to experience a singular, defining triumph to win in life. We’re not going to get one anyway. We are given a million little steps that bring us closer to God." -Joel J. Miller

Most of you probably figured this out a long time ago, but it is revolutionary for me--to stop trying to treat circumstances (and people-yikes!) like I can fix them once and for all--but instead to deal with the symptoms at the moment (other people's AND mine) and recognize them all as a part of the chronic human condition. Our sin condition has only one cure--and it won't be fully realized this side of heaven. We have to wake up every day, surrender ourselves to God's authority and deal with the way brokenness manifests itself in life.

We cling to the cross. We pray for peace & strength. We take what comes, trusting the One who holds the healing balm (and sometimes the scalpel) in our journey towards eternal wholeness.


Deidre said...

I love the perspective those 2 words give. One of my daughter deals with anxiety. My need to 'fix' her frustrated the entire family mainly because I didnt know how and my own selfish pride was making it worse. I will say we have had a beautiful journey over the past year. Watching her, as well as myself, rely on God instead of our own empty solutions has been amazing. It is certainly a 'process' and keeps us leaning on Him.

susan said...

Found this entry at modobjectathome. SUCH a timely word for me today! Thank you for this encouragement!