Life is full of twists and turns. It has surprises-both good and bad and can take you on roads you never meant to travel. Hans Christian Anderson said Every man’s life is a fairy tale written by the finger of God.” GK Chesterton wrote, “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” I think as adults we forget about the lessons of fairy tales. Not the sanitized versions of fairy tales that Disney has given us. (I do love those but they aren’t accurate) The true fairy tales that were collected by the Brothers Grimm in Germany or the romantic French fairy tales or the stories written by Hans Christian Anderson and the ancient fables of Aesop are long forgotten as we enter adulthood and yet we need those lessons even more at this time in life. CS Lewis said, “One day you will be old enough to read fairy tales again.” For me, that time has come.
The last two weeks have been a heavy time for me. Emotionally I fell into a deep depression that made me unable to write this blog. My heart was so heavy with sorrow that I wasn’t sure I would ever write again. When I disclosed this depression to my friend Richard he told me to write when I was ready and not before. I took that advice and I stayed away from my keyboard secretly wondering if I would ever write again. While in this depressed state I woke up one morning and got out of bed and when my feet hit the floor something happened to my left foot. I could just barely walk. There was a stabbing pain every time I took a step. This was a Sunday morning and I dreaded going to the emergency room of any of our local hospitals so I stayed in bed and waited until the next day to call my foot doctor.
I felt very alone and abandoned during this time. The depression hadn’t gone away and my injury of, whatever this was, just made things go darker. Because of all of this and being afraid of falling I canceled a trip to NYC to see Hugh Jackman in The Music Man. I had the tickets for three years. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience but I had to let it go. Doing this, though correct, made things much worse.
I went to the foot doctor the following day and he did X-rays right there in the office. My foot got a whole round of pictures taken. I think to this day there are more pictures of my feet than my head. The X-rays showed that there were no broken bones but a swelling of the bone occurred. It was a flair-up of arthritis in my foot which is severe in both feet, but the left foot seems to take the brunt of everything.
I was told to go home and stay off of it as much as possible. To ice it and cancel my physical therapy until the next week. I was told it would take anywhere from 3 days to 21 days to heal. So I stopped at the market loaded up on provisions and went home.
I was severely depressed, I was confined to my home, I had to cancel a trip that I had waited three years for, and I felt I had no hope. What do you do when you feel you’ve lost everything that matters. First, you eat.
I, without a doubt, have a comfort food addiction and I allowed that addiction to have full control. I bought vanilla icing and spread it on Pop-Tarts. I was eating ice cream and chocolate syrup. I went to McDonald’s for the first time in 4 months. I was binging eating and it was to make the pain I felt go away. It didn’t do that. It just made me feel worse.
This behavior only lasted a couple of days. One morning I woke up and was reading my daily devotionals. I receive, every morning, in my email, a paragraph or two by Henri Nouwen. That morning’s writing was talking about entering the gate thru the narrow road. And as we get to know Jesus through that narrow gate it can be painful. But the pain is good because it helps purify us and changes us into the men and women God created us to be. In other words, it molds us like a sculptor shapes a piece of stone into something beautiful. In other words, God is like Michelangelo as he carved out David.
The email also talked about the Eucharist. How we need communion for strength to get through the journey of our lives. I thought about that. I don’t believe, as the Catholics do, that The Eucharist is the actual blood and body of Jesus. I do believe that something very important takes place when you receive communion. I think God blesses you and his face shines on you and a divine something happens in that moment and a spark of who Jesus is, enters you.
With those thoughts, a peace that I have not felt in a very long time came down on me. The peace that the Bible describes as being beyond our understanding. I felt that everything was going to be alright and though both the road and the gate were narrow I could make it through despite the pain. I began to follow my new diet regime again. I threw out what was left of the Pop-Tarts and frosting. I don’t think there was much more to get rid of. My soul and my house had been cleansed. I felt better.
I am back in physical therapy as of yesterday. The pain in my foot remains but is not as severe. I’m making good food choices and I feel emotionally well. I am glad that I gave in but I didn’t give up.
I read a quote recently that I hope inspires you as much as it inspires me. Life is full of hurdles that seem to be too high to jump and chasms that seem too wide and deep to cross, but we were made for these challenges. We were created to be in this world and to become our best selves despite adversity. The quote comes from a book my friend Beaj recommended to me. The book is called The Gap and the Gain and the quote is “The rule is simple: the person who fails the most will win. If I fail more than you do, I will win. Because in order to keep failing you’ve got to be good enough to keep playing.” The Gap and the Gain is by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy.
I began this blog by talking about fairy tales and dragons. I am on a fairy tale adventure right now. The stories of Hansel and Gretel, Price Phillip slaying the dragon in Sleeping Beauty, and Frodo taking the ring to Mount Doom will inspire me to travel on the road I’m on and to stay with it. I will destroy the dragon of depression and will kill the witch of being overweight. That is my quest and my destiny.
Next week my new weigh-in results and Holy Week.