Sometimes when you’re sleeping, it takes a lot to wake you up. Sometimes it doesn’t take much at all. How about when you are sleepwalking through life? Maybe not even sleepwalking, maybe it’s just a matter of going through the motions and not really considering what you’re doing, not asking the hard questions to make sure that you’re moving in the right direction, not paying attention to warning signs that might be going off.
I drove a Toyota and if I don’t or the passenger doesn’t buckle the seatbelt, a very annoying beeping begins. Since I mostly abide by seatbelt laws, it doesn’t happen very often. But occasionally, if I am in a hurry, I don’t buckle and it doesn’t take much time before that beeping commences. Sometimes I will suffer through it Sometimes I will buckle up. Other times I will simply turn up the music louder to drown out the annoying beeping that’s began grating on my nerves the moment it began.
If we take a look around, there are warning signs all over in life, they tell us to pay attention, to stop, to check things out. Sometimes we choose to pay attention and heed the warnings, other times, we choose to ignore them. Just because we choose to ignore the warning signs doesn’t mean that they aren’t there. Just because we choose to ignore the warning signs doesn’t mean the problem goes away. In fact, it usually gets worse.
I’ve been operating at an unsustainable pace for the last four years. I knew it. Others knew it. There were warning signs going off. When my mom was diagnosed with cancer. When we found out we were having a third child. When I was finishing seminary. When my mom died. When my dad got sicker. When my church went through a major transition. When I changed denominations. There were warning signs going off. I knew that they were there, but I think I just turned the music up to drown out the annoying beeping that I was hearing in my ears.
I finally got around to scheduling a physical. They didn’t like an abnormal EKG which sent me to the cardiologist where another abnormal EKG was found. A stress test was run which led to the scheduling of a heart catheterization, all the while my anxiety and stress levels rising and rising, the warning signs raging in the background. Finally, after 41 years, I finally spent the night in the hospital. Tests were run. Results were found. Medicines were given. Changes needed to be made.
Warning signs will make themselves known, whether we heed them early or not. If we decide not to heed them, they will just get louder and louder and usually take the shape and form of something far more serious. We can ignore them for so long before they force us to pay attention. If we ignore them, we can only hope that by the time they force themselves to be heard that the damage is no irreparable.
It’s nice to be loved. I have enough friends around me who hear this news and embrace me, not in a “it’s going to be all right, I’m praying for you” kind of way but in a “get off your @$$ and get moving and get healthy with me” kind of way. Friends are offering to start exercising with me, walking, running, whatever it takes. It’s nice to be loved.
I’ve learned a lot over the past few years. A lot of what I have learned has to do with advocacy, for myself and for others. Generally speaking, you’re going to have to advocate for yourself and the ones that you love, you’re not going to get a whole lot of help and support from certain places. That’s why warning signs are so important, you might be the only one who hears them for yourself. Even if other people do see them or hear them in you, they’re not always likely to address them. When it comes down to it, we can all get pretty selfish and when we’re getting what we want, we might not address warning signs in other people because it will impact what we have to do and whether we get what we want.
So, I’m heeding the warning signs and it didn’t even take me until January 1st to adopt some kind of a resolution. I’m sure that I’ll be blogging on my progress, after all, this is where I go for my confessions!