Migraine Chronicles: A Matter of Focus

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:1-3

I remember just a short time ago when my three-year-old responded to my admonition that he behave with an outburst somewhat, ahem, telling of his personality: “I am being have!”

Oh, wait… that only seemed like a short time ago. In actuality, it was thirteen years ago, and that same little boy is now driving, holds a purple belt in Wado Ryu karate, and is navigating his first boy-girl relationship that is not based primarily on who is ‘It’ in a game of hide-and-go-seek.

My how time flies…  And time has also softened the edges of that memory so that the humor stands out clearly, unencumbered by the emotional barrier of dealing with a defiant toddler.

Often these days, I look back with fondness at the years when my children were small. However, I have to admit that at the time I often felt overwhelmed by the sheer mass of needs that ruled my day, particularly since it was when they were all small that I first began to struggle with chronic migraine.

Yet today even the towering needs of three toddlers seem trifling in the face of the more complex emotional needs of teenagers. And I know that someday, I will even look back on these hormone-fueled clashes with some degree of nostalgia – as well as with a better understanding of which battles were truly important and which only seemed critical at the time.

Hindsight can be so illuminating. pict0460

To be honest, this is the very thing I have to remember when I’m in the middle of a bad migraine cycle. I must remember that time marches on and one day the long, dreary days of pain and fatigue will be mere memory, softened by time and no longer full of sharp spikes and energy-depleting edges.

Although now the battle against pain is furious and intense; although now pain may color the days in  browns and grays like a typical overcast Tennessee winter, it will not always be this way.

Here in Tennessee, spring has already made an early incursion, and on its heels color slowly seeps back into the landscape until the days are once more awash in lush greens and deep blues with every imaginable shade and combination of reds and yellows mixed in.

Even so, at least for those of us who are in Christ, the pain-filled days are merely the winter of our time of exile here on earth. But spring is coming.

And for those who do not know our God, the invitation remains open to you as well. Come, cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you.

For there will come a day when, just as we look back on the previous trials of our lives, we will look back on all of this life through eyes of experience, and though it is difficult now, it will be but a little moment in the vastness of Eternity.  Then we will remember the days of weariness and toil and be glad of the lessons we learned in the midst of them. Then, too, we will be fully aware of the glory of God which we once overlooked while keeping our eyes locked on the next step of the tiresome path at our feet.

But we do have another option.

Instead of keeping our eyes downcast now, fixed on these earthly problems of pain, why not set our thoughts on the things above?  Through His power at work within us, we truly can shift our focus from this small, shrinking self and onto the eternal nature of our glorious King with full assurance that all of this – even the most agonizing moments – will be used for good in His perfect and eternal purpose.

As a matter of focus, we can learn even now to see slivers of beauty peeping through the links of affliction, for even in pain, our King has walked before us and knows the way.

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