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Enjoy the Ride (and the view)

“NO SINGLE RIDERS.”

The rules were printed in big, bold red letters and displayed so prominently they couldn’t be missed. Solo rides were not allowed on the amusement park Ferris wheel…under any conditions.

A ride on the Ferris wheel was the sole reason I had entered the amusement park in the first place. It was a perfect summer evening to take in the view of the sun setting over the lake and I planned to enjoy it riding in a solo Ferris wheel car. In hand I had the four tickets needed for one person to enter the ride. I was all set for a single’s adventure until I saw the sign.

Despite the crystal clear no non-sense warning, I paused at the ride’s entrance and considered my options. I wondered if maybe, after waiting in line and putting on my sweetest (most pathetic) face, I could persuade the ride operator to make an exception. If that didn’t work out, maybe I could join a small group that had room to spare in their car. If I asked nicely, I might be able to snag the extra seat.

For a few minutes I stood by the ride’s entrance as groups of teens, families with small kids and couples on dates went dashing up the walkway prepared to enjoy a ride on the Ferris wheel. I couldn’t bring myself to encroach on anyone’s evening nor was it proper to ask for a solo rider exception. So, with four unused tickets in hand, I turned and walked away from the Ferris wheel.

Dejected but not defeated, I decided I would use my tickets and find a different ride that welcomes singles. I heard the roller coaster off in the distance and, for a moment, thought that might be a fun adventure. But the roller coaster ride is over so quickly there would be no time to enjoy a view of the sunset.

To my right I could see single passenger swings flying high up in the air and decided that would be the right ride for me. I was about to walk in that direction until I heard yelling above my head. I looked up and was filled with joy when I saw the perfect attraction for a solo rider.

The Sky Ride.

Fifteen minutes and three tickets later, I was up in the air traveling slowly above the amusement park. The Sky ride didn’t ban singles from riding. In fact, the bench seats were filled with solo travelers enjoying a peaceful ride above the park while taking in a breathtaking sunset view.

On my solo amusement park adventure I was reminded that while traveling through life there are rides that aren’t suited for singles. There are particular adventures, events and occasions that only welcome couples and groups. Certain life experiences cannot be enjoyed alone. But that doesn’t mean that singles should leave the park of life dejected with perfectly good, unused tickets in hand. Attached isn’t the only way to ride through life while enjoying a beautiful view.

The park of life is full of rides that welcome single riders. If one ride in particular can’t be enjoyed alone you need not walk away dejected or throw away your opportunity to experience a full life. All you need to do is look up and out to discover that there are countless opportunities to use the ticket God has given you. In the park of life God has filled it with rides and attractions perfectly suited for singles to enjoy. And they boast beautiful views, too.

Whether single or attached, enter the park, buy the ticket, and live life to the fullest by enjoying the ride that’s just right for you.

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Re-Infected

Disbelief.

That’s the only word to describe how I felt when, six months after finally clearing my chronic case of Lyme disease, I found a tick embedded in my left leg.  I carefully extracted the blood-sucking bug but it was too late. His disease spreading deed was already done. Within days sickness and symptoms returned and my health deteriorated before my very eyes.

For the first two weeks post tick bite I attempted to deny the obvious decline and embraced the mantra “fake it till you make it.” I did my best to live a lie of health while, in reality, I was becoming sicker each day.

But by week three the pain was so intense I had to give up the act. The muscle spasms, head aches, itching and back pain had returned with such vengeance that they couldn’t be ignored. I had to get real with my doctor and voice my concerns.

When I heard the word “re-infected” I held back tears with a lump in my throat. It was one thing to know in my own gut that I was sick but having it confirmed was a different story. The doctor’s diagnosis made it a reality.

After eight years of waiting to be on the steady road to recovery and physical restoration the last news I wanted to hear was about re-infection. The last update I wanted to give to my friends and family was “I have Lyme…again.”

As I left the doctor’s office stunned and saddened by the return of Lyme, the words of Jesus came to mind…“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

Jesus made it clear that dealing in truth isn’t just a good idea. Truth isn’t a suggestion. Truth is a demand. Truth is an order for how I am to live my life. To be freed from the sadness and sorrow of sickness I have to be truthful about my condition. I cannot live a lie of health and be well in my soul. I cannot fake physical healing and experience spiritual recovery. I have to be honest about my re-infection to be free and whole in Christ.

 

The truth is that I have been re-infected with Lyme.

The truth is that I have encountered a set back, but not the end of my story.

The truth is I have been delayed, not given a death sentence.

The truth is I am still traveling on the long and winding road to physical recovery.

And, the most important truth is, I am still on the glorious road to spiritual recovery.

 

Speaking the truth of Lyme in my life has set me free to experience the spiritual growth God has planned on this part of my journey. By denying the presence of the disease I was denying God’s purpose for it. When I was busy pretending I wasn’t sick I missed the peace and joy of living in honesty and truth.

Re-infection is not an accident. I know that to be true because God doesn’t make mistakes. He always has a plan and a purpose. Not once has He ever allowed sickness to strike my body without using it to sanctify my ailing soul. Every pain has had a greater purpose. Every symptom has been employed to strengthen my need for Jesus and increase my dependence on the indwelling of His Holy Spirit.

The truth is that I was meant to be re-infected with Lyme because it is part of God’s perfect plan to purify my soul and unify my heart with my His Son, my Savior, Jesus Christ.