I chuckled as I hung up the phone. My brother Jeff had been complaining, “They have me working twelve-hour shifts down at the shop, and to top it off, my new TV got fried by lightning.” Apparently the two years he had spent learning how to fix cars hadn’t taught him how to cope with the daily burdens of adulthood.
I remembered back to when we were kids playing house. In the world of make-believe I could be the mother of ten kids or a high-powered corporate executive. My brother always pretended to be a toy designer or a video game tester. Our childhood fantasies never took into account the realities of broken washing machines or unpaid bills.
Shaking free of my nostalgic interlude I thought of my closing comment to my brother, “Welcome to life, my friend.” I was sure he wouldn’t appreciate my sarcastic attitude, but my life had been so full of disappointment that I found it hard to dredge up any sympathy.
Ten years ago I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I dropped out of college during my sophomore year so I could concentrate on getting treatment. The seizures were so frequent that I could not hold a full time job, forcing me to move back home with my parents.
My epilepsy had slowly stabilized since those years, but I still struggled with physical limitations. It didn’t seem fair that other women my age were living out their childhood dreams by simultaneously having families and fast-paced careers, while I struggled with my part-time telemarketing job and paying the rent on my small apartment.
The microwave beep-beeped at me obnoxiously. I unfolded my legs and stiffly rose from my chair. The avocado green recliner, along with a radio and the faded TV stand that held my Bible, were all that furnished my tiny living room. As I pulled the cardboard plate of turkey and stuffing out of the microwave, I fondly remembered the pasta dishes smothered in rich sauces that my ex-husband Charlie used to fix for me.
As weird as it sounds, I think Charlie was initially attracted to me because of my epilepsy. Being a physical therapist, he seemed to naturally gravitate toward my vulnerability. When we were dating he always told me, “Taking care of you is my hobby.” We only dated for a few months before getting married, and our marriage barely lasted a year before being burned alive by the fiery trials of life.
By the end of that first year Charlie had transformed from the proverbial doting husband into a weary man tinged with bitterness. At first he was very sweet, caring for me and cooking me dinner every night. But after several months of emergency room visits and a stack of doctor bills that must have been responsible for the death of several trees, his affection for me waned. He was unable to cope with the hardships that pounded on our marriage like a hammer. Charlie filed for divorce on our first anniversary, leaving me heartbroken and disillusioned.
It seemed that lately I could not concentrate on a task long enough to complete it. I grabbed my cooled microwave dinner and navigated back toward my recliner. As I walked through the living room I was again distracted, this time by the sight of my Bible. I set my dinner down on the tray and picked up the Bible, fingering the worn leather cover.
I had been through so many trials during my adulthood, and this Bible represented the one constant in my life. The first seeds of faith had been planted during my initial struggle with epilepsy. I then turned to God’s word for consolation after my marriage had crumbled to dust like a piece of chalk.
It was deep inside those pages that I found the only thing of which I was completely sure. God’s love for me would never fade. I had hope, if not in this life, then in the promise of eternal life that I had through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The phone rang, startling me so that I nearly dropped my Bible. I picked up the phone and recognized my brother’s number on the caller ID. I smiled as I answered his call, knowing that this conversation would prove more fruitful than our discussion earlier that morning. Instead of listening to his complaints unsympathetically, I could share with him the key to surviving the trials of adulthood: a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
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