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Facing My Future With Hope in Life With Rheumatoid Arthritis

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I am sure I was quite a sight this morning. A 46-year-old man, driving down the road, windows down, singing “Oh, Oh, Oh, Life is dynamite…” right along with BTS. Not something you see every day, and certainly not something you see from someone my age. However it looked, my mood was lifted, and my spirit encouraged as I prepared to face another day with rheumatoid arthritis.

It is a cool autumn morning. The sun shines bright after a long night. It has been a little bit of a slow start, mainly due to the fact that last night I took my weekly medication, which always makes the next day a little more “fun.” Already tired before the day started, “Dynamite” popped onto my playlist, and for me, it was a good reminder — life really is dynamite.

One of the biggest struggles I and others face with rheumatoid arthritis, aside from the pain, is the mental and emotional drain that comes with battling something day-in and day-out. Sometimes in the midst of medication, pain, stiffness, more medication, more stiffness, and more pain it can be easy to become discouraged and even lose hope. When you are faced with a lifelong journey that involves constant pain, it can get old and exhausting, and seeing the light only looks like the train heading down the tracks for you.

Today, that song “Dynamite” was a reminder to me of all that is good in my life, and all the reasons I can face tomorrow with hope. For one, I have family and friends walking with me. My daughter introduced me to this song, and as she has grown older, I have watched our relationship grow and blossom and this song is a memory of that bond.

Music is special to me, and it is always a reminder of the fun times I have had, like taking my son to see Jimmy Buffett and Frankie Valli (I love that I can share this with my 18-year-old and that he enjoys it). Was all the walking hard to get to the concert? Yes. Was the late-night hard on these old bones? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

As I drove, I thought back to this weekend. I was tired and in pain and just took it easy. I did not get some things done I wanted, but I got to lay in bed beside my wife and watch football, talk, and just share some time together (now if I end up beating her this week in fantasy football, that might change, LOL).

As I continued to drive to a job that I started nine months ago, I thought about how blessed I was to be able to do this. It has been a total change from elementary education (something I loved and was forced to give up due to my health), but it has been good. It has also opened up opportunities and time to minister to others walking through trials. I have found a new purpose.

But all these little things put together remind me that there is hope, today is a new day, and there are still many things to live for. With chronic illness, most of us had to give up some things, lost others, and had dramatic life changes, but how we choose to view it can make all the difference.

As a person of faith, I have hope and one day I know I will no longer be suffering. I know the Lord will strengthen me for the path before me. Somedays, the pain and exhaustion make it hard to see that. On those days, it is so important for me to remember that there are so many blessings and so many reasons to keep pushing forward.

Jim Croce once said, “Tomorrow’s Gonna Be a Brighter Day,” and he was right. Yes, my future is dark in some ways, but in others, it is so bright, because I have so much to be thankful for, and so many blessings. Each day, while I mourn the losses, I just need to be sure to remember all that I have to live for, and that will help me see that not only is life “Dynamite,” but “Tomorrow’s Gonna Be a Brighter Day.”

Getty image by Kateryna Kravchuk-Rudomotkina.

Originally published: October 4, 2021
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