Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thanks - for absences

The last few days, I've had occasion to think about many things I take for granted. I'd like to take a few moments today to be thankful for the absence of things that could (and when/if they are present, do) make my life so much more difficult.  

The absence of pain.  I don't even notice when it's not there.  Pain - I keep telling people - is a gift. It alerts people to the fact that there is something wrong.  But when there is nothing wrong anymore, and the pain subsides, the pain-free state becomes the new normal and I think very little, if at all, about it.  So I am purposefully thankful this morning - in the midst of pain - for the absence of it.  Whether it is because of prescribed medication, or it just comes about through the body healing itself, it is one of those things for which I can thank my Creator.  

The absence of war.  Millions of people today woke up keenly aware that they did not know if they would live through the day.  Wars are going on, people are being murdered, starved, and tortured right now.  Personal safety - especially where I live - is pretty much a fact of life, and the rule of law is usually trustworthy.  The kind of political and/or religious corruption that exists in war-torn countries doesn't exist here.  I am so fortunate to live in a place where I don't wonder whether some uniformed person will come up to me and end my life.  

The absence of sickness.  As much as folks gripe about the health care system in this country, we don't succumb to the illnesses that kill so many people world-wide every day (thanks to vaccinations and other measures like clean water): dysentery, malaria, cholera, whooping cough - just to name a few.  

The absence of strife.  Even in this country, there are those who live in a constant state of strife with family members, with communities that are rife with violence and crime.  There, but for God's grace, I would be. Had I stayed where I was when I was a teen, I might have gotten involved in some of that.  I am so grateful that that atmosphere is no longer a reality in my life.  I am so thankful for renewed relationships with family members based on mutual love and respect.  What a gift! 

Photo (through Google Images) is at
The absence of bugs, strange as it sounds.  Yes, there are times when I sit inside my house and thank God that whatever type of bug is outside (be it June bug, mosquito or carpenter ant) stays outside.  The child sponsorship scene which drives me nuts when I see it on television is the typical one of the little African kid with a tear-streaked face and a fly crawling on its face - not even bothering to shoo it away.  (shudder)  When insects (or arachnids) come inside the house, that's when you see me getting snaky.  It's probably one of only two things I like about winter: the bugs either die or they hibernate.  

The absence of a high crime rate.  This is the other thing I like about our six-month-long Maritime winters (I love it that they call it a "temperate climate" - NOT!) and living on an island in particular.  The crime rate is so low - I believe, at least in part - because smart criminals don't like the cold either, and especially on the Island.  Who wants to risk going outside in 40 below weather to break into a house and then have to get chased through howling winds and poor road conditions only to get caught at or before being able to leave the island?  

The absence of fear.  On a more personal level, I'm so grateful that because of this healing process and being rid of the wrappings of the past, that cold blanket of nameless fear and dread is being evaporated like so much frost on a sunny fall morning.  I could sit and psychoanalyze it, but instead I think I'll just be thankful that it's leaving.  One of my favorite scenes in the Lord of the Rings trilogy is in the 2nd film, when Smeagol tells Gollum to "go away and never come back."  And Gollum leaves ... and Smeagol is free! he scampers like a carefree puppy in joy that his real oppressor is gone.  I know the feeling of freedom when that spiteful thing leaves.  It's tremendous! 

The absence of the Superman cape.  This is huge for me.  I used to think it was my job to save the world - or at least the people in my world - from the things in their lives which were destroying them (of course, I also decided what was destroying them).  Learning that I have boundaries - and so do they - is freeing me from the obsession to do a job I was never designed to do: God's.  It's allowing me to accept people the way they are and not try to change them.  It's giving me a measure of contentment I never knew before.  As I learn to let go, I can focus more on my own side of the boundary - and I am finding that if I do, then God is better able to do in me (and in them - who knew?) what He wanted to do in the first place, but couldn't because I had to have a hand in it. In essence, I was hindering His work by trying to help Him out!!  Today, I am able to sit back, take my hands off things over which I have no control anyway, and watch Him work - and I am often in awe of the miracles I see.

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