That Dirty Rag of Discouragement

03/24/2015 04:02 pm ET | Updated May 24, 2015

I have been stuffing that old nasty rag in my mouth lately...

Ya know the one?

The one that is drenched in those toxic vapors that radiate all kinds of discouragement and defeat.

It tastes awful.

I hate when things don't go my way.

But life is a lot about things that simply don't go our way.

Dreams crushed. Finances strained. Relationships torn. Diseases diagnosed. Not getting that job. Kids failing school. Marriages falling apart. Infertility. Loss.

Pick your poison.

Life doesn't go our way -- often.

So that old rag...

It's soiled in the weight of life's disappointments and how they smell of rotting defeat. It can choke us, if we choose to shove it further down so deep it reaches and takes hold of our hearts. It can suffocate the very life out of us.

I'm certainly not 'there', but I am chewing on some mighty tarnished threads these days.

So while gnawing ferociously on one giant bite of this fabric, I head off to get an MRI on my ankle. (Stay with me.)

I sprained it back in August, and it never healed. How you ask?

While visiting my sister's beautiful home, we played a good ol' game of t-ball out on her front lawn. The perfect summer day for a game and the perfect players chosen for such a thing... us and our kids. I carefully plotted around all the divots in the yard using additional orange cones, so I wouldn't "Sprain my ankle" and as I was running into first base off a great hit (can't really remember the hit, but I need some kind of redeeming grace here) my foot caught one of those undetected divots and I went down.

Well played, irony.

So after months of sharp pains, pulsating aches and lingering pinches I finally went to the doctor. Hence the MRI.

While driving there, I was officially gagging on that rag after receiving even more bad news. Sometimes it feels as if we sink in it, and the mountain of weight keeps piling on us every day. "What next?" We ask ourselves, almost daring the world to pour more on, in a cunning and cruel kind of way.

I'm dreading the appointment, more so because I don't have time for this. I don't have time to be injured, and take care of this mess. But I know I must go, despite the apathetic weary existence I find myself sloshing in these days.

Getting comfy on the hard cold MRI bed, I put my headphones on to listen to my chosen 'playlist' they nicely offered me to drown out the blasts of sound attacks. I chose Worship Music, thinking Lord knows I need it.

(Seriously -- He knows I need it.)

And as the thundering assault of sound began and the waves of reverberation startled my heavy heart, something entirely profound gripped my rag and tore it out -- leaving me to inhale the gasp of freshly formed air...

My mind flashed through the last MRI I had, the one checking for cancer. Then came the flood of thoughts of people I know and the ones I don't, that have passed and so many more that endure the grueling onslaught of treatments and pain and countless MRIs listening to these bombs go off as they lay still wondering what the images will find. I thought of the countless sick children, who must be terrified of this experience in a world where they barely escape fear.

And then the music started to play... with the rhythmic drums going off right behind it, barely allowing the song to be heard.

But, I listened...

And took in that palpable air. And I knew.

This life?

It's a gift.

Even the bad parts. The discouragement. The things that don't go our way.

If we are here, even sucking on bitter moldy rags --

It's a gift.

The valleys, the mountains and each climb or fall in between.

Cherish it all. This life is to be savored.

Even the crappy parts that leave us gnawing on our rancid rags.

An original version of this post was published at