When John turned 50, he wanted to compete in a Spartan race in Las Vegas. He told me that it would require an 8+ mile run. You never know until you get there. I heard 8 miles. (This part is important.)
It was a beautiful day in the middle of a desert. Gravel hills were everywhere and 20+ obstacles were riddled throughout the terrain.
This Spartan race resembles a great image of what our lives have been like since November of 2014. We have been faced with John losing his eyesight, headaches, spinal fluid that would not drain, treatments, tests, and in the end, a conclusion that what he has was very rare. They found blood clots in his brain that caused intracranial hypertension. The solution wasn’t a quick dose of medicine and you will be better in 6 weeks. (that is what we wanted) This journey has been ongoing for two years with different obstacles every few months.
We are both very intense people, but approach things completely different. When we came to an obstacle, he just put his head down and did it. I, on the other hand, looked at the obstacle and in my head thought, “Nope. Yep. Nope. You have to do this. There he goes. Uhhhh…here I go.” My worst one was in the mud. There were barbed wires on the top and hills of rocks throughout the obstacle just to make it harder. I remember seeing him standing at the end waiting for me and I thought, “I must keep going.”
In the past two years, there have been months that I felt like we were crawling through the mud. Slowly and cautiously, we lived one minute at a time. We lived waiting on doctor’s appointments, tests, watching symptoms, and responding to symptoms. Our world slowed down to a pace that wasn’t recognizable. We would plow through an obstacle, catch our breath, only to find another obstacle as we turned the corner. I remember seeing him lying in bed and thinking, “I must keep going.”
Each obstacle seems to teach me things that have similar themes:
I do not want to be busy.
I realized that I have spent most of my life being so busy doing things to make myself feel important, that I forgot what was important. My family and close friends are important. I need to serve them well. I always liked serving others more because I got recognition and a pat on my back. Now, I want to serve my family and friends and I do not expect anything in return.
Every day is a gift whether it is spent in bed or outside. Treasure it.
It is not “if” something happens, but “when” something happens. You will be forced to look at life completely different when you realize your life will never be the same. I have always been the one saying, “Let’s go! Let’s go!” and now I find myself loving the slower pace. When he has a good day, we celebrate. When he has a bad day, we just relax and do nothing. We do not fear that we are missing out. We are savoring every minute.
When you live in the “unknown”, you must surrender your control.
We realized quickly that we had to learn to wait…not just days or weeks, but months that have turned into years. The healing process cannot be rushed. The details of the process matter. It was not easy at first, John and I are both very good at being in control. We now know that we are not in control of anything, EXCEPT our response. We had to wait on doctor’s appointments, tests, results, and healing. We learned how to wait with grace, a smile, and complete peace. It is a life changing place to be.
When we were racing in Las Vegas, I thought the race was 8 miles. I like a definite beginning and end (because you know…control). When we arrived at the six mile mark, I thought, “Okay. I can do anything for 2 miles.” I often get through tough workouts or moments in life by saying, “Okay, Nik, you can do anything for ________”. John had to be the one to point out the sign in front of me that said:
3 MILES TO YOUR FREE BEER
That meant that the race was 9 miles!!!! My response was not lady like or gracious. John had to push me on because running in gravel was really not my thing….well any running isn’t my thing.
We went to Hopkins this week. We had been in a holding pattern in decreasing his medicine for four months because the blood clots were not dissolving. We can begin that again. But, once the medicine is complete, there will be more to do. IT WAS JUST LIKE THE SPARTAN RACE!!!!! WHAT????
“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
Each and every one of us has a race marked out in front of us. Our races are different and so are our struggles. Yours may not be sickness, but all the obstacles matter. That doesn’t make any of our races any less important. The important part to learn is that we need to strip off the things that weigh us down. For us, there have been so many things we have had to let go of in this process. For me, pride and control were two big sin areas. These things hide nicely between our good works and obligations, but they are there. For you, it may be something else.
We are unclear where our finish line might be and we are okay with that. The fix has never been quick. The finish line isn’t as important as we thought. We know we will finish well and our endurance will be strong. Our eyes are on Jesus and learning to be more like Him….one obstacle at a time.