Illness, Accidents, Medical Conditions: The Adaptive Role of Love
Would that life continued in full health. It does not. We age. We develop maladies. We suffer accidents and medical conditions that turn lives upside down. Sometimes we are born with debilitating conditions. How could a loving God allow this to happen? That is the subject of a later section. For now, we will remain closer to home. How might Love help us adapt and move forward?
It goes without saying that comfort, companionship and support from others can be invaluable, just as we share our love and support with others facing difficulties. That is part of the two-way flow, and one of the reasons love is so essential.
But what of the internal struggles with which we need to grapple? If I have been athletic and strong throughout my life, how does love help me deal with a now fragile heart, bad back, worn out knees? If I have enjoyed visual beauty, how do I grapple with macular degeneration? What is the role of love?
Certainly, medical conditions can represent a loss. Just as certainly, we may undergo a grieving process. But, though we may lost something, remember from the chapter in Self-Grounding that we have many goods in our store. They may change over time, and may be different if we have a major change or event. But we can find them if we look. We can build them.
It may be that we have historically emphasized one set of traits. If that is no longer possible, is it simply a loss to be mourned, or a call and opportunity to move on to a different skill? Certainly, we can pine over what we have lost, rather than what we have if that is our choice. We can sink into anger, depression, a sense of hopelessness. But does that not just compound the loss? Why not move forward with other resources, some of which have been hidden or eclipsed in the past?
Love is the choice of optimism, growth, strength and joy in the face of challenge. But it does require choice and will on our part. Love cannot fully engage unless we engage. For it to work, we must look to and use its tools, wisdom and resources, even in the hardest of times. If we do not make that choice, no one can do it for us.
Even if we can no longer lift weights, run, play tennis, can we adopt some new activities that will keep us healthy and in tone? Can we adapt? Can we shift our focus to new areas: play piano or guitar, write, focus on the mind and learning? Setbacks by their inherent nature are limited in scope: something definable that is no longer there. Other opportunities are essentially unlimited.
Beyond rebuilding that which we are and can be, we can share our experience with others, another facet of love and self-worth. Help them. What would that look like? It is certainly proper to relate our doubts and struggles as well as our successes since those newly anointed with medical issues are facing them.
And remember gratitude. That may seem like a strange notion if we are afflicted. But if we inventory and find the ability to rebuild, to share—resilience—are there not things for which we can be grateful? The retention of gratitude staves off the negatives. The energy of gratitude moves us forward in the path of fulfillment and joy.
The principles and practices of love help us react and move through loss. Love is about refocusing and optimism. The present and future. In all is learning. In all, opportunities. If we so choose. Challenges build strength, adaptability, and confidence—if we let them. Choose that which nourishes and builds over depression, anger and giving up. Learn, teach, grow. Help and understand others as they go through their trials. A loss, any loss, is a transition in life. It need not the end of life’s joy unless that is our decision.