Do you like roller coasters? I love them! There has never been a coaster that I have met that has scared me away from climbing into one of its cars, pulling down the lap bar, and hanging on for dear life as I enjoy the twists, turns, and loops it has to offer. I remember one of my very first big roller coaster rides. We were at Crystal Beach in Ontario, Canada. My mom, my brother Mike and myself were enjoying the day with my mom’s friend and her kids–Mrs. Brown (she will always be Mrs. to me), Sharon, and Jeff. Crystal Beach had one of the tallest wooden roller coasters in North America at the time. It was called “The Comet”. I don’t remember specifics but I know it was right on the edge of Lake Ontario and it was blue. I was 7 years old and I wanted to ride that roller coaster in the worst way. My mom did not do roller coasters, but Mrs. Brown did. As she and I approached the gate, the ride attendant kind of looked at me, then her, then back at me. “I’m sorry,” he said, “She is not tall enough to ride.” I don’t remember the exact exchange but I do remember the attendant telling her that if something happened to me, she could sue the park. She looked at him, very innocently, and said, “Now, I would NEVER do something like that.” A few minutes later I was sitting in a seat with her next to me. The coaster began its ascent and when we crested the top, I literally came up out of my seat as we plunged down the hill. I couldn’t scream because I had no breath to do so. It was an absolutely thrilling ride–and I think it set the stage for the thrill seeker I have been ever since. Stand up coasters, dangling leg coasters, looping, twisting, whatever–bring ’em on!
(The Comet at Crystal Beach)
Since March, I have been riding a different kind of ride. It has turns and twists and even loops at times. It is a learning curve that keeps me guessing what may come next. Unlike a roller coaster, though, there is no predictability to its path. Once I rode The Comet for the first time, each subsequent ride was a little less thrilling. I knew what the descent down the hill would feel like, I knew where the turns were, and I knew that the tunnel would be short lived. The ride now, though, is not predictable. In fact, one thing I am learning on this ride is to give up even trying to predict what turn or twist may come next.
Now I realize that, to some degree, every one lives that way. We think we know what tomorrow will hold. We plan around our expectations of it. We even look ahead months and make plans for the future. In reality, we aren’t guaranteed that any of our plans will be carried out. Still, it’s wise to plan. After all, you wouldn’t expect to get married without some planning going into a wedding. For most people, it is assumed that the next day’s plans will come to fruition.
On my ride, though, I no longer can count on the fact that most likely tomorrow will be just like today. I am learning that one of the most frustrating aspects of a chronic illness is its unpredictability.
For example, yesterday I woke up feeling good. I didn’t struggle much to get out of bed. I mentally went through all the things that I could do since I was having a good day. I was quite happy that I was able to check several things off my to-do list. Yes, I was tired by end of day, but there was a sense of accomplishment I often don’t get to experience. I prayed and hoped that this was the start of my ride being on level track for a while. That didn’t happen though. Instead, this morning I was barely able to get out of bed and it took me an hour to actually talk myself into doing that. I had a mental to-do list of course, but none of it got done. I literally was unable to do anything on that list.
I am back to hanging on as I wait the next turn on my ride. Perhaps it will be a small one; perhaps not. Regardless, it is a ride I cannot get off. It is what God has dealt me and I am thankful He is giving me strength to hang on. This ride isn’t nearly as fun as the Comet was, but it is an adventure none the less.