“The problem,” my retired friend said, “Is that now that I don’t have to get up early for work, I can’t sleep.”
“The problem,” his wife, who is still working, said, “Is that he’s awake but he still doesn’t get anything done in the morning because it takes him so long to get moving.”
“The problem,” he said, looking at his wife over the rim of his glasses, “Is that at this age something always hurts. Retirement is not for the inexperienced.”
I have seen people marvelously healed from all manner of painful conditions in response to the prayer of faith. I have also seen beautiful people, full of faith, who live with chronic pain. For some folks pain of some sort every day has been a life-long reality. For others the aches and pains that pop up as they deal with the idiosyncrasies of an aging body is a revelation that they have hitherto lived a life of privilege. A privilege they want back.
I’ve never been a morning person. I wake up slowly. The jokes about not speaking before the second cup of coffee hold no humour for me until early afternoon. My husband is a morning person. I tease him about giving up so soon when he shuffles off to bed before the movie is over. He doesn’t laugh.
Here’s a marriage survival hint. We have lasted 45 years together because we finally agreed that I will not bring up any topics requiring emotional engagement after 10 p.m. and he will not tell me anything I need to remember before 9 a.m.. He just leaves a message on my desk. I email him links. Works for us.
Lately I have slowly woken to the reality my friend spoke of. Something always hurts. Pain mumbles in the background during the day, but in the morning it yells and makes a ruckus like an annoying alarm clock you can’t shut off because it hurts to stretch that far. The worst part is that my default attitude upon waking is not one I am proud of. My first utterance of the day is often a moan.
I remember the advice a friend gave me. She was a professional rodeo cowgirl and bore the dents and scrapes of her calling with dignity.
“I never get out of bed until I have found the peace I know God has provided for my day,” she said. “Sometimes I stay there for a long time. There are chores to be done and horses to be fed, but I know I will be no good to anyone until I have peace. When it’s there, life runs much more smoothly — not just for me, but for everyone around me as well,” she said.
I’m learning to make adjustments to my attitude by seeking “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow” by thanking God and praising him in all circumstances. (In not necessarily for. I don’t praise God for sin.) Praise changes things. It focuses on the Source that strengthens us instead of the pain that drains us.
This I know — from far too much experience. Negativity, complaining, whining, obsessing, and worrying are like beacons that attract the attention of the enemy of our souls. It’s his worship language. “Oh, you’re worried. I can help you with that.”
When we worship God through praise and thankfulness for past blessings, it attracts the angel armies of heaven – the ones God sends to assist us. “Oh, you’re praising God. We can help you with that!”
Sometimes I think I have discovered something new, when out of the treasury comes something old that confirms a timeless truth. I came across a song by Bach that expresses the necessity of receiving a fresh download of God’s goodness every morning. The English translation:
Most High God, make your goodness
new every morning from now on.
Then to your fatherly love
a thankful spirit in us in turn
through a devout life will show
that we are called your children.
It’s probably a lamp, but the white vessel on the floor, the one beside the woman in the painting featured on the video, looks a bit like my coffee thermos. I think I’ll join her. Good old Johann Sebastien wrote a song for that too.