I had just put the last of my mom’s personal belongings into the white plastic bag the hospital had given to me. A few sticks of gum, one package of cough drops, a cell phone, a pair of shoes, and one pair of clothes, that was it. Outside, the ambulance waited to transport her to the next location of her long road to what we hope and pray will be recovery. The pain medication likely made her unaware of my presence, but I hugged her goodbye anyway.
I walked downstairs to my car, with the white bags sagging my shoulders and weighing down each of my hands, praying and hoping I would not be back for a while. Visiting hours had long ended and the night was serene and very cold. As I sat in my car and placed the bags on the passenger’s side, I noticed that her clothes were still stained from the blood which saturated them the day she fell. I came to the realization that this bag was all that marked the last 15 days of her grueling stay in the hospital. All she had talked about in those 15 days was leaving, and now we were finally leaving.
But she wasn’t much better and she wasn’t going home. She was just going to the next place and the next chapter. The road ahead still seemed long and arduous. I breathed in the crisp, cold air, closed my eyes, and exhaled for probably the first time in two weeks. I held the moment close to my chest for just a minute. At least I was exhaling for a change and not hyperventilating. At least it’s a step. It wasn’t much, but it was something.
As I began to thank the Lord for the “something” in that moment, I began to realize how much my life overflows with “something.” Though the last two weeks of my life had been characterized by stress, trauma, and crisis, it was still completely swallowed up by “something.”
Every night after I left the hospital, I came home to a wife and three boys. That was something. I had a warm bed and a soft mattress. That was something. I had water that actually flows out of a faucet on demand. I can even change the temperature of the water with the turn of a nozzle. That is something. Clothes on my back, shoes on my feet, a temperature-controlled house. That’s something. A pantry full of food, mostly due to church members who love and support me. Boy, that’s something. I grab a fork, bend my elbow, and bring food to my mouth with the most precise level of coordination. That is something. I know because it’s something I had to do for mom the first few days of her stay in the hospital, because she couldn’t do it herself. Sadly, you really don’t realize how littered your life is with the blessing of “something” until the trauma of life threatens to take it away or disrupt it.
The “somethings” of life are those commonplace activities and rhythms of life that take place in the mundane moments of what we assume to be conventional life. They are generally creviced and wedged in between the trauma and crisis we try to avoid and resist, and the next big thing or pleasurable moment we live or hope for. We rarely notice them because we take them for granted and form the notion that they are somehow owed to us. And yet, they are the very things that are meant to give life its fullness, because they are gifts from God, given specifically to us on a daily basis.
The Scriptures tell us in Ecclesiastes 3:12-13, “I know there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.” Eating, drinking, everyday living, working, toil, and all the things that happen in the remarkable routine of life, the things we generally take for granted, these are all “gifts of God.” They all find their gathering in the folder of “something,” and they are quite miraculous.
Are you aware of how many optic nerves have to align just so you can see to make that left turn on the way to work? Gift. That is something. Are you aware how the brain filters out all the irrelevant sounds around you so that you can hear that song or that person’s voice? Gift. Miracle. That is something. It would be enough for us to put food in our mouths and swallow it just to survive. But God actually gave us taste buds so that we could enjoy the process. Amazing gift. That’s something.
Because my mother had trouble getting food from the plate to her mouth, there were many meals during my mom’s hospital stay when I ate by myself and marveled at the miracle of simply being able to bend my elbow, bring food to my mouth, have the teeth to chew it up, the saliva glands to push it down my throat, and the stomach to process it. But most of all, the taste buds to taste it and the pleasure that brought to me. Gift. That’s something.
Emotions to produce tears. That’s something. At least you feel it. When your cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing too hard, that’s something. The difficulty making a choice on the menu and realizing you not only have money in your pocket to pay for food, but actually have choices for food. That’s something. When you realize your pain, loss, and suffering are the beginning of your insight and offer the opportunity to be better. That’s something. When you face a personal crisis and you are collectively surrounded, and you realize that life actually moves at the pace of relationship and not technology. That’s something.
But the best part about “something” is found in Ecclesiastes 3:14-“I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.” So, if the routine “somethings” of my life (everyday living, eating, drinking, toil, work) are all a “gift of God,” and all of these will “endure forever,” that means every single “something” of my life is eternal and has meaning and purpose. Every “something” of my life is not just for here, but also for eternity. Every “something” is doing something and none of it is random, no matter how routine it may seem.
When the waters rise and life closes in, remember your “somethings.” Your life is littered with them, and they have a purpose. They are not routine, random, or commonplace. They are meant to remind you of just how full this life can be, even when it’s hard. But they are also meant to remind you that this is very temporary and leading to something beyond description. The glory to come. That’s something.