Life with only one arm is difficult. Some days are better than others. At my best, I can be grateful that I still have one arm, and I can thank God for the time I had both. I mean, I could've NEVER had that arm, so even though it's absence is huge in my life, I wouldn't trade my "two-armed" days for anything.
But there are also bad days. At times, I look around with jealousy at all the people who have two good arms. I hear them complain about a pain in their elbow or whine because they don't like the size of their wrists, and I just want to scream, "AT LEAST YOU HAVE TWO HEALTHY ARMS! LOOK AT ME... LOOK AT WHAT I AM MISSING... I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE WHAT YOU HAVE! SO STOP YOUR COMPLAINING AND GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES AND THANK THE GOOD LORD ABOVE FOR YOUR FULL-OF-PAIN, FAT-WRISTED ARMS!"
Fortunately, I haven't ever actually screamed that out loud.
One problem I have is that I really want to be able to look at my one-armed life without seeing what's missing. I want to see the arm that I have, love and appreciate having it, without longing for another one.... without remembering how good life was with both. Well, it's OK to remember that life, I just don't want to long for it to such a degree that I miss the blessing of my life today. But that's hard to do. I mean, my two arms got along so well! They were meant to work together, and they did! It is a constant challenge to see what I HAVE and not to obsess over what I DON'T have.
Life with one arm is possible, it's just difficult. I mean, I can actually survive with only one arm, I just have to get used to doing things differently than I did before. I have to allow myself time to adjust to living differently. I have a different perspective than I used to, and I can choose for that perspective to be a cynical, unhappy one, or I can choose the perspective of promise... God's promise that all of our circumstances here on earth are for the purpose of drawing us into Himself, and equipping us for good works "...which He prepared beforehand."
Recently, I was reading a book that was given to me by another one-armed mom, Marlo. In it, there is an interesting story about an emperor moth. The author writes about witnessing the moth emerge from its cocoon:
The great disparity between the size of the opening and the size of the imprisoned insect makes a person wonder how the moth ever exits at all. Of course, it is never accomplished without great labor and difficulty. It is believed that pressure to which the moth's body is subjected when passing through such a narrow opening is nature's way of freeing fluids into the wings, since they are less developed at the time of emerging from the cocoon than other insects.
All morning I watched the moth patiently striving and struggling to be free. It never seemed able to get beyond a certain point, and at last my patience was exhausted. I thought I was wiser and more compassionate than its Maker, so I resolved to give a helping hand. With the point of my scissors, I snipped the confining threads to make the exit just a little easier. Immediately and with perfect ease, my moth crawled out, dragging a huge swollen body and little shriveled wings!...My misplaced tenderness had proved to be its ruin. The moth suffered an aborted life, crawling painfully through its brief existence instead of flying through the air on rainbow wings.
I want to fly!!... I don't want to crawl. And even though it doesn't make sense to me that I would fly with only one arm, I choose to trust that the Lord is building within me a jet engine... in spite of my efforts to thwart His every move.
And so, I pray that even though I still have those bad days when I am cynical, belligerent and wallowing in my misery, I will recognize the situation as such and make a choice to change my perspective.
Of course, the above is only an analogy. One difference between actually losing an arm and my real life is that no one you're meeting for the first time ever asks, "How many arms do you have?"
Well, every analogy breaks down somewhere...