The Agony of Defeat
Betcha you think this is an all-political post----but it isn't.
Here is a photo of my favorite yard ornament, my donkey all ready for Halloween. He looks so cute I haven't been able to remove his mask yet. Lord knows I've had all week to do it because I've been home. I missed one entire week of school. Eloise is hurting, and when I'm hurting, I like to be around things that make me happy, hence this picture to begin my blog. Here's the story:
Eloise has been in pain for 8, 8, eight, EIGHT!!!! straight days. It's a new experience for me. I have been fortunate enough to have experienced good health most of my life. I've never broken a bone, have had a chronic health condition to contend with, or needed surgery. True physical, on-going pain has given me a new perspective on many things. I'll share some lessons learned with you today.
What caused Eloise to have one trip to the dentist for an X-Ray, two physician phone consults, three chiropractic appointments, and a visit to the Emergency Room resulting in a Cat-Scan, and blood work?
Along the trigeminal nerve in my face, to boot!
It's so bad that I've only been able to get down one cup of coffee a day,
with a straw,
inserted into my left cheek,
If you know me and my coffee
addiction love affair, you just thought,
Man, she's really sick!
I enjoy the benefits of good health because every day I make a conscious effort to live as healthy as possible. It would be my life's dream to never, ever have to visit a doctor's office again (other than my chiropractor).
A pinterest account is a nice visual representation of yourself. My account is loaded with pins like these:
On no excuse workouts,
And what I want to look like after all of that!
(Time to keep scrollin', fellas)
This illness hit me like my sister hit that deer on I-90 a couple of weeks ago---plowed over and flattened! It really showed me that illness and pain can attack anyone at anytime. None of us are above it no matter how much spinach you eat and how many sit ups you do.
This week I found myself thankful for my Health Care Coverage. I kept wondering how much this would have cost me had I been uninsured. Yet, as Mommy and I sat in the ER (yes, I still take my mommy with me when I'm sick AND a blankey), we were surrounded with individuals who were uninsured. The ER waiting room for me became a place of the Haves and the Have Nots. I am not sure what needs to be done about Health Care in America. If I knew, I'd share my ideas with someone. There is something broken that needs fixed, amidst a very sick population of people who desperately need care. If you have some ideas of your own, share them with me. Eloise is the best listener and willing to learn from all sides in search of a solution.
Before bed last night I asked the Good Lord to end my pain. I wanted to wake up refreshed and healed and ready to do His work, knowing He has the power to do that.
When I awoke this morning to pain again, I started to cry. Thoughts like, How much longer? Why me? consumed my mind.
But Eloise is a mom, and I didn't have time to lie there whining long. There was work to be done, a dog to be fed, kids to rouse. Life does not stop when you are sick.
We all know this:
So I got moving.
The sun came up this morning as it always does. The sunrise was a beauty.
I decided to wrap myself in a quilt of keys made for me last weekend by my crafty daughter Ellen.
I spent a little time reading the good book on my front porch, in the glow of the warm, morning sun.
I was lead to this explanation of pain which I really like, and feel that this is what I was meant to share with all of you.
The Bible always leads you to the Book of Job when you're hurting or feel that you've been wronged unjustly. That is exactly where by Bible fell open today as I fanned the pages and let them fall where they may. I wasn't searching for a chapter in particular. So I read, once again, about the plight of poor Job.
If you are unfamiliar with the story, nobody on earth has had it worse than Job. Job cursed the day he was born because of the amount of suffering he was experiencing. Some enemies from the south came and took all his camels, oxen, and (gasp) the donkey, too. Then Job's flock of sheep got fried. A great wind came and collapsed his house on top of all his children, killing them dead. Job then was covered with painful skin lesions. Job's wife, not the most supportive of sorts, suggested that it would be best if he just curse God and die. (Get to know the person a little more before you say I do, Job!)
The cool part of the story is the next part. Job goes off to be by himself and who shows up? His friends! They talk with Job and try to reason through his mess. That is what friends do--they come when you need them, even full well knowing they can't provide all the answers. I can't chew, so I guess that is why Keri brought me soup, Northern brought me chili, and Southern sent me immune boosting smoothie recipes. I have the best friends in the world!
Still Job wasn't satisfied and was undoubtedly in a foul mood when he began demanding answers from God. There is a lot to be learned in what happened next. If you have it in you, your weekend homework assignment is to take a look at Job, chapters 38-42. Gather from it what you can. Discuss it with another Christian or your pastor. See if you can apply the lessons to our world today.
I will quote directly from the margin notes in my Bible, as there is not a better way for me to paraphrase the summary of Job's story. From page 755 of the NIV Quest Study Bible:
Even though Job never received a reason for his suffering, it was sufficient for him to know that a reason existed. If he had to do it over, Job probably would have tried to trust God a little more and complain a whole lot less.
Eloise believes there is a purpose our pain, and it may not be ours to know, but that indeed a purpose exists. That is enough for me. I took this pretty picture right after I made that connection.
I'm not alone in my pain this week, Readers. Many are experiencing the agony of defeat across my country.
This is Sam on Clark School Voting Day (Monday--the day before the official election).
See his I VOTED sticker? He was very proud.
Politics is always discussed in my house and at school. However I would not tell my children who I was voting for. I urged them to listen to both candidates, and then choose who they thought was best, but they had to offer me an explanation of their reasoning. My sweet Natalie needs a little help with that, so I took the liberty of telling her that she better vote for Obama or Romney was going to cut her out of a group home. "Obama," said Natalie.
Sam was the first to volunteer that he voted for Romney. "Why, Sam?" I asked. "Because it's his turn," he replied. Kindergartners are all about turn taking, you know.
The next day, Election Day, Sam came sliding into my kitchen on his knees after school, where I was presently curled up into a fetal position, in intense pain, awaiting a speedy trip to the ER. Sam threw his arms up in a Victory position and was chanting, Mitt--Rom--Ney! Mitt--Rom---Ney! Over and over. Apparently Romney won the Clark School election. Sam announced Mitt Romney was our new United States President. Ellen tried to explain to him that the election wasn't over and we'd have to wait until later that night to see how the rest of America voted.
The next morning, we all drew straws to be the one to tell Sam that Mitt Romney did not win, and that President Obama would serve a second term. None of us felt like dealing with him, so we just sent him to school completely unaware and let his sweet Kindergarten teacher Mrs. P be the bearer of his bad news.
This was Sam's expression when he got home:
There is more agony from the east coast as clean up and restoration from Hurricane Sandy continues. Some are still without power.
Beautiful homes have been destroyed,
Power still needs to be restored,
and yes, even amusements need to be rebuilt. They are part of America, too.
Eloise can't help but think that as many east coasters were fleeing to inland regions, they were praying to God to spare their homes. It reminds me of Matthew 7:7:
The good people did ask, and then they came home to this:
It surely would be enough to make one lose faith. Especially if you are a Republican living in New York or New Jersey. You may feel like the world is coming to an end after a back to back hurricane and presidential election. But I assure you, it isn't. Your President cares about you, East Coasters. Eloise believes this.
Even the New Jersey Governor believes so. Follow this story behind the photo below if you want to see some ugly American party politics at work.
I was so impressed with how New Jersey Governor Chris Christie responded to this big mess, I looked him up. I found that he was born September 6, 1962, making him 50. I thought he was younger. He's had a pretty good track record on the political front and as a lawyer.
He's under public scrutiny by the crabby half of the United States who supported Romney for his praise of President Obama in the handling of Hurricane Sandy. Christie's direct quote according to John Celock of the Huffington Post, was:
“I appreciated the president’s outreach today in making sure that we know he’s watching this and is concerned about the health and welfare and safety of the people of the state of New Jersey,” he said.
Eloise didn't see any harm in that. In fact, that is just what is needed in my country right now---concern and consideration. Throw in a dash of cooperation and we got ourselves chugging along again, instead of stuck in this quagmire of political hate and distrust.
In my adult life, I've weathered the second term of Clinton and the second term of Bush. Word on the street (the internet was not as widespread back then) was that the country was going to hell both times. It hasn't. We haven't. And I've made up my mind that we won't.
How, Eloise? you ask. Here are my suggestions:
- agree to talk
- and when you do talk, give the other person a fair turn to speak, too
- and when that person has his fair turn, LISTEN to what he says, not sit there and plan what you are going to say next
Those steps above aren't the solution, however. They are just the start. To start anything is always the hardest. Remember the first day you quit the smokes? How about the day you decided to give up sugar? How did your muscles feel after the first day of your Turning Over A New Leaf Fitness Regime? It hurts! It's hard! It's downright painful! But remember what God told Job--there is purpose in pain. It will be well worth the work.
How easy it would be to be a hater, so staunch and unchanging in your ways! It's EASY to make up your mind, stand to the far right or far left, and call everyone else who doesn't agree with you a dumb@$$. It is much, much harder to be a moderate, in the middle ground in search of a compromise. Those are the individuals we should honor most--the peacemakers.
That's Jimmy Carter, Slovenians. Eloise thinks he was the best man ever to be president. Circumstances at the time did not allow him the best presidency, however. He's written many books and my favorites are on faith. If you want something to restore yours during this unsettling time, I suggest reading one he penned. This one is my favorite:
When you put yourself into the public arena like I do with this blog, as I keep it open and free for anyone to read, I'm bound to have a hater or two out here. Someone just cringed looking at the picture of Chris Christie and President Obama grasping hands and wretched at the smiling photo of Jimmy Carter. Staunch Republican, eh?
There could even be someone reading this who hates me personally--a former student I wrongly kept in for recess or something and still is holding a grudge. He or she is rejoicing in my personal pain from the shingles thinking I deserve it. There's an actual term for that, you know. It's called schadenfreude, a German word.
Schadenfreude when broken down is this: schaden (damage, harm) and freude (joy). There was some research done on this tendency of people to celebrate in the misfortune of others in 2002. Researchers found that those who suffer from low self-esteem are more likely to display schadenfreude than those with high self-esteem.
Interestingly, schadenfreude is very commonly displayed in the world of sports. Do you know anyone who hates a sports team and constantly tells us why? If they do, these people are more likely to also display hate in the sport of politics. It was stated that "the domain of politics is prime territory for feelings of schnadenfreude, especially for those who strongly identify with their political party." Does this sound like someone you know? Look in the mirror, or better yet, check your facebook page. Is it you?
This In Your Face attitude gets us nowhere, Readers. I am uncomfortable with the world knowing that the United States is a "country divided." That is when the enemy is most likely to strike--when we're busy squabbling amongst ourselves about how the money should be spent.
Remember Eloise urging you to read this book?
If you haven't yet, now that some of you have spent a week without power, I'd suggest you find the website and give the Foreword by Newt Gingrich a few minutes of your time. Imagine the absence of fuel and electrical power in New York and New Jersey happening across the entire country from an EMP strike. An entire country incommunicado. Now that I've spent a week in pain, the term Nerve Gas takes on a whole new meaning.
We have many problems to solve in this country but just many reasons to celebrate. Education is the key, and not just of ourselves, but also the next generations coming up. Parents, talk about problems with your children, but also brainstorm solutions. To give them hope, retell the tales of the kindness that has been extended to the people of New York and New Jersey. Teach them to support agencies like The Red Cross. Remind them to pray and keep the faith, and that God always answers in His time.
Just as I admitted early in this blog that I am not immune to illness and pain; I am also not above schadenfreude myself. I know it's wrong, but still, I find myself finding some sort of joy in this woman's pain:
This beautiful lady is the talented country music star Faith Hill. She's married to my Handsome, Tim McGraw. I am filled with jealous envy that she's got one inch in height on me and has me by 30 pounds. She looks great in leather pants AND she gets to sleep next to Handsome. He probably sings her a lullabye every night.
I was envious of her beauty at the Country Music Awards last week, and then I noticed something:
Look closely. Faith got braces!
All this week I've been secretly been hoping she's been experiencing mouth pain, too. See, I'm just as much of a schadenfreuder (jerk) as the next person.
But I did get some news to make me smile out of the left side of my mouth:
So to wrap up this blog that I chipped away at paragraph by paragraph all week---I'll end with a reminder about the agony of defeat. There is no agony, Folks. We are not defeated, no matter which political party holds office for the next four years. We're free.
And who better to remind us of that than my new faves, The Zac Brown Band.
I love the lead singer. He's the burly looking, bearded guy up front, always sporting a hat. He looks more like an Offensive Tackle than a country singer, but his voice is smooth.
Their 2010 hit Free played in the background of a few political ads I saw this fall. It is a nice song, really about love, not politics. But, yet aren't those the two things we can't control? You can't control how the country decides to vote, you can only cast your own and hope for the best. You also can't control love. You can't be told who to love or what you love. You love because you just do, and that, My Friends is a beautiful thing.
I was too sick to take many photos this week, so instead, here is the Zac Brown Band performing the song Free, on Late Night with David Letterman.