Friday, November 7, 2014

Licking the (Yummy) Filling of an Oreo Sandwich Cookie

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." - Philippians 4:8

Out of all that happened this past week, three things stand out: 1) I had to take my car into the repair shop for the nth time this month, due to the inadvisability of driving with the engine light on, 2) My husband and I watched a gorgeous sunset (from our kayaks) across a beautiful little private lake during our annual fall weekend getaway, and 3) I painfully endured a series of excruciating migraines, aching joints, and an agonizing tooth infection.  

Do you see the order in which I wrote that account? Bad, good, bad. Now try and remember what those three things were. It’s easy to focus on the bad, when it’s at both the beginning and end of the story, isn’t it? In fact, it’s tempting to just ignore the middle all together. When you look at it that way, it’s easy to sum up my week as pretty icky. Yes, there was that sunset, but hey, the majority of it was spent feeling physically wrecked and emotionally wrung out. 

Unfortunately, the above is often how I see my circumstances. It is so easy to get bogged down in all of life’s low moments, especially when they are numerous or extreme, that I can easily skim over the good parts of my days and weeks. Pretty soon, if I’m not careful to check my attitude, my life can look and feel pretty bleak. 

At the same time as I was experiencing all of this, I read the sad account of a beautiful 29-year-old with cancer who took her own life under Oregon’s “Die with Dignity” law. While I understood her pain as she suffered from massive headaches and seizures (I have had both), what I didn’t understand was her timing. Just two days beforehand, she had said she was postponing her planned overdose, because she was experiencing so much joy with her friends and family. Truthfully, I was shocked when I heard on the news that she was dead. “What happened???” I thought to myself. How could she be so happy to be alive one day, only to take her own life shortly thereafter? 

As I reflected on this question, the answer became clear. More importantly, the answer became pertinent to my own life. It’s very simple. Life is like an Oreo sandwich cookie: brown and crunchy on the outside, with some awesomely yummy vanilla frosting on the inside. Sadly, that young woman just ate hers the wrong way. 

 If you grew up in the United States and saw the Oreo commercials, you know that the “proper” (and best) way to eat an Oreo is to pull the two cookies apart, lick the delicious icing first, and then consume the crunchy pieces that are left. Even better, dip them in milk so that the cookies will soften a bit too. YUM!  

If you’ve ever tried eating an Oreo in the same way as you would a different kind of cookie, you’ll know it’s just not the same. When you bite through both cookies at once, it’s easy to miss the taste of the best part – the icing – all together. And yet, that’s how we often go through life, isn’t it? We look at our overall “Oreo” called life, and it looks very crunchy. We think about how hard and painful it can be, especially if we take the experiences of our past and project them onto our future; and the prospect of enjoying it just doesn’t seem very good, much less “delightful.” This is especially true for those of us struggling with chronic pain, which can suck the life out of our daily activities, either incapacitating us all together or just hampering our efforts to live normally by making even the simplest tasks so very, very difficult.  

What I realized over the weekend getaway with Ben, which began with a morning migraine and ended with an aching tooth, was that the key to enjoying – and valuing – life on life’s terms (which can be messy, even for those without serious problems) is to really, really, REALLY enjoy the beautiful moments sandwiched in between the painful parts. If I can just approach the “Oreo” of my life the right way, focused on the delicious experience of “licking the icing” from the middle, my whole perspective changes. It tastes so good that I can better deal with the “crunchy” bits and realize that even when life is hard, the good times are worth enduring the bad.
My father, who endured Stage IV cancer for two years, knew what it was to approach life that way. Although he was in extreme pain much of the time, he held onto and enjoyed every morsel of goodness he could find in his life, despite his circumstances. He held out for the icing! And in the end, I know he was grateful for each one of those delicious moments “in between.” 

I saw a Facebook post this week from a fellow RA blogger who clearly knows how to focus on the “filling” of her Oreo sandwich cookie life. She posted that she had taken some time to spend with friends that day and then had to come home to take her (pain) meds and was resting. Her thought on the day? “Worth it! J 

How do you look at the “Oreo” of your life? Do you try and take it all in with one bite and feel “crunched”? Or do you take the time to enjoy licking the yummy icing in the middle?

Licking the (Yummy) Filling of an Oreo Sandwich Cookie originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins.  Get even more encouragement by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

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