The Best Medicine
Perched on his mobility scooter, my Uncle Chuck surveyed the scene. His grandchildren toddled about on the sandy beach under the watchful eye of their parents. I stood on the porch next to him at the cottage on Little John Lake, unable - or unwilling - to jump into their carefree play.
Sensing my discomfort, Uncle Chuck asked how my husband and I were doing with our infertility struggle.
"O.K.," I answered. "It's just tough, you know."
If anyone knew about tough, it was my uncle. He had spent the last twenty years battling multiple sclerosis, losing his faculties one by one. At first able to walk with a cane, then with crutches, he now required wheels to get around. Lately, his muscles had become so weak that he needed help eating.
"Well," Uncle Chuck replied, "I've got a little advice that might help."
Here we go, I thought. My uncle is going to join the hundreds who believe I just need to relax in order to make a baby.
"Oh yeah, what's that?" I asked, bracing myself.
Uncle Chuck charged ahead.
"Well, your Aunt Judy and I like to turn up the passion by talking when we make love. She says, 'Beige...I think we should paint the ceiling beige.'"
I shook my head and snickered at his dry wit; then I snapped out of my self pity.
This 60-year old guy on a scooter had every reason to be bitter and self absorbed, yet I couldn't remember ever hearing him complain. What I could recall is his laugh. His wacky sense of humor. His tall tales. His enthusiasm for tickling other people's funny bones. My uncle could've spent his days decrying life's injustices. Instead, he chose to live his best life and lighten others' loads along the way.
Uncle Chuck knew the secret of Proverbs 17:22, which states "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."
In the middle of suffering, often the only choice we have is one of attitude; it is a free and powerful remedy that requires no prescription.
In The Book of Proverbs, Bruce K. Waltke says, "The difference between a joyful heart and a broken spirit depends more on a person's spiritual resources than on his circumstances."
Don't get me wrong. There is a time for pity parties. But as believers, our spiritual resources trump our circumstances every time. Drawing from the bottomless well of God's mercy can help us tackle chronic infertility with grace and even a smile.
Uncle Chuck died last week after a 35 year battle against a grisly enemy. He left behind love and belly laughs and the conviction that we can all make a choice to stand strong on the side of hope.
So pause to say thank you when you wake up tomorrow. Slap on a smile if you must and greet the day with expectancy. Then, keep your eyes open to others in need of a dose of your cheerful heart. From cane to crutches to scooter to a hospital bed, my Uncle Chuck did it for 35 years. We can certainly rise to the challenge.