Grace and Peace to you.
I am not in control.
Tuesday afternoon I had a rotten stomach ache. Wednesday I went to the doctor, and she sent me to the ER, where I spent most of the day dressed in what even I with my terrible fashion sense would never wear in public, lying in pain on a stretcher in the hallway, getting a CT scan, and waiting. Having been relieved of my dignity I was then parted with what hurt even more, which was a lot of chest hair with those stickers they use for the pre-surgical EKG. Then I was sent into Utopia, which literally means “nowhere,” which is where you go under anesthesia. It’s a place. Then I came back, light one appendix. At least the rest of the table of contents is still there. (I’m home now, taking it easy.)
There wasn’t much I had control over: not how I spent my day, what was going on inside me, how I felt, what I wore, where I waited, how long it took, or whether the call button worked. I still have to forego some things I had wanted to do these days. I am at the mercy of things beyond my control. But then, so are you.
How we fool ourselves, thinking we’re in control! You might have gone where you chose yesterday, and worn what you picked out. But in many ways we’re all at the mercy of things beyond us. Whether you are a fisherman battered in a little boat by a frightening storm or a captain commanding a great ship, life begins when you accept what is. Wishing it were otherwise, or imagining that you have the power to change it, or berating yourself because you can’t, only makes it worse. You don’t get to choose a lot of what life deals you. You get to choose how you live it. You embrace your limitations and losses. You let it go. This kind of surrender is not defeat; it’s really living. Your power lies in the grace with which you live this life, not one you only imagine. Even a life marked by difficulty, mediocrity or even failure can still be a beautiful life. It’s not the outcome or the outward appearance, it’s your presence that makes it so.
Life is this, not something else. Live this one.