Have you noticed how many people, especially aging people, like to talk about their aches, pains and physical problems? Sometimes there’s even a little pride like comparing heroic war wounds or something: “You think that’s bad? Well, get a load of this,” kind of exchange, as a person proceeds to pull up a pant leg and roll down a sock for the big reveal. As I age, the more I hear such things, have taken part of such things, and yet depart from these discussions less cheerfully. If you haven’t known an individual, or clusters of acquaintances complaining about health issues, you’ll most likely see plenty of posts and pictures on social media. There’s also the constant campaign of ads and commercials on medications. I think it’s safe to say there’s brokenness in our society over health, but the overwhelming need to chew over conditions without end can be equally draining.
I’m not referring to the serious diseases and terminal illnesses, afflictions and real medical emergencies that require our understanding and compassion, and that can also expand our testimonies. I mean the day-to-day discussions that seem to vie for center stage when they don’t need to and probably shouldn’t. Maybe it’s not you doing the talking, but you’d lived with a hypochondriac, or worked with a malingerer, for years; that can be its own sort of burden. The negative concentration after a great length of time can be a real drag, when everything about a person, or that comes out of their mouth, is about their ailments, mild, moderate, or imaginary. It's like a verbal mountain of affliction, and you’re caught on its strange and precarious ledge between feeling numb and hypersensitive. Whether it’s you or someone else, aside from trying to fix sincere problems or addressing them with prayer, dwelling on them can be a thought ravager and praise stealer.
God is a healer and restorer. He also desires our focus and attention. I’m not in denial that with aging comes decaying; this curse came with the Fall, our own undoing, that we all must endure. But it’s come to the forefront of how much I don’t want to focus on the process of pains but on praise. A small example would be if someone asked me how my day was going, and I answered, “Well, I got this pain in my hip, and when I move my wrist this way it pops, and I didn’t sleep very well last night…” and then junk is on the table. I don’t want to behave that way. Even if I’m hurting, I want to suck it up, work through it if I can, and not spread the psychological residue, the “crown” of physical discomfort. Instead, have an answer ready on my lips, “My day is good because God is good all the time. Praise the Lord. How are YOU?” Or “I’m still kickin’, thank the Lord–and thanks for asking! How’s YOUR day going?” I don’t want to whittle an opportunity to brighten someone else’s day by dwelling on problems, especially my problems. And if I need prayer, then why not just ask for it, then move on with thankfulness? Some days, I have a spring in my step. Some days, eh, not so much. I am learning the fine line between when to ask for (or offer) prayer and keep quiet being careful not to complain.
So when I’ve caught myself lately near joining the valetudinarian collective (such as beginning my last blog by explaining my recent bouts, and longing for my slipped youth), I hear the Lord say, “Stop. In your weakness, I am made strong,” with emphasis on WHO is made strong. The next time I’m feeling blue about getting older and dealing with aged issues (could be again tomorrow!)—the magic word, “Stop,” is followed by “Praise you, Lord. Prepare me for the best years of my life!” And also, to take special care to reporting glorious healings and answered prayers!
If you are upwards of age 50, I hope you embrace words of praise over pain. It’s okay to ask for prayer; we’re supposed to support each other and give good ear to listen with compassion and kindness. Give and receive. But at certain points, we might do well to fine-tune our focus, redirecting our thoughts from our bodies to Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who Heals. This is one I’ve heard a thousand times, but it never gets old: let go and let God. From the heart, out of the mouth, may we strive to put the Lord first in all things and linger there.
And this concludes my two- day/blog posts on age and body. I’m moving on.
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance and my God.”–Psalm 42:11
Choices make destinies. Destinies can also change.
A short story
In a year when thirty people jumped from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge to commit suicide and succeeded, one person determined to join their throng.
Near light pole numbered sixty-nine, he swan-dives off the ledge, traveling at a velocity of eighty mph, free-falling 250 feet at low tide. Bound to converge on the despondent crowd of over 1,600 who preceded him in death since the majestic span erected in 1937, something shifts. Instant regret consumes him the second he unhands the viaduct. But the chance for survival after the four-second drop stands at less than one percent.
What if somewhere between his last contact with the steel bridge and the impact of the frigid, bone-crushing bay, hovers an alternative Courtroom in the Sky? A panel of Judges who reviews the motives in a person’s life.
Here enters Ralph “Specter” Specht, the famous frontman for the rock band, Ghosts of Fleas. In the eyes of the world, he led a good life; talented, successful, and spoiled. Nobody thought he could do such a thing, fling himself over the edge, even him. Not until the dark impulse.
The defendant on trial crosses the threshold into weighted proceedings. With a blooming change of mind, Ralph wonders if he will find a different sentence than what he first intended. His verdict awaits.
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Kind of feels like we’re in a slip of mass hysteria. We’ll remember it by the Toilet Paper Commemorative 2020. But did you know that over 40,000 people die from car accidents per year in the United States, more than 95 people per day? It might behoove us to practice safer, kinder, focused, and more patient driving practices as opposed to mindlessly ripping the road up as if we’re in a video game and can’t get hurt or hurt others. Yet, today, panic over a certain illness has taken precedence as fear spreads fear among humans. Maybe we’ve watched one too many viral-zombie apocalypse movies—I don’t know, but there can be moments where the observational reaction is suffocating.
So as I was experiencing one of those high-anxiety moments the other day, I stepped outside on my back porch, looked to the skies and earth, and was struck at the normalcy of nature. It breathes, “All’s well here; life goes on greatly and without concern.” Birds frolic in the sky dotted with clouds moved by a breeze, as cheerful songs trill and chirp from those happy little beaks; dogs trot along, their tongues hanging in joyful slobber; rabbits are getting frisky; and the deer still tiptoe to the silver stream lapping refreshing water to quench a moment of thirst. Then they all move on their way to wherever they go and do what they do. These things of nature, they don’t worry about tomorrow. As the Word says—and the Word is life—tomorrow will take care of itself.
So, sure, maybe we humans take reasonable precautions, just as we should when getting behind the steering wheel with our incredibly well-washed hands. But maybe at this time we should strive more to do as the following scripture tells us. We go about our business taking one day at a time, our souls seeking after the Father, the only true balm, the only real soother, our only pure provider when the world has gone mad.
is a storyteller, and a transcript editor. She's also a Romans 8:28 kind of Jewish girl ...