This past weekend I had the joy of being in Chicago with my husband and oldest son. We were there visiting my younger son who attends Bible college in downtown Chicago. He is a soccer player for his school and I try to watch him play at least once each fall. This year he is goalie, so I am pretty sure I developed an ulcer in those 90 minutes. If you are wondering, his team did win AND he had a shutout. A proud mom moment for me. Anyway, this post isn’t really about Chicago or soccer, but is about what happened after those days spent in the Windy City.
Sometimes I forget that I have a chronic disease. When days go well and aren’t packed with things to do, I feel like I did ten years ago. It usually doesn’t take too much, though, to remind me of my illness. A weekend of walking, eating nothing but unhealthy food, and long hours driving brings it to the forefront quickly. By the time we reached home Sunday evening, I was feeling rather lousy. Sunday night I was in bed before 9:00pm…and asleep within minutes. For this night owl, that was unheard of. I expected to feel better as Monday morning dawned.
That didn’t happen.
Monday was spent doing nothing. Literally nothing. It took every ounce of strength I had to even get out of bed and shower. I had no appetite. I felt like I was in slow motion all day. I had pain that went higher on the scale than normal. My eyes felt like they had weights on them and I fought to keep them open. I lost that fight most of the day. I don’t remember feeling that run down after childbirth. (Of course, that was over eighteen years ago) As Monday night came around, once again my head was on my pillow before 9:00pm. Surely Tuesday would bring relief.
Strike two. Tuesday was worse than Monday, for now my emotions were taking a hit. I felt useless. For the first time in a while I thought that dying would be so much better than living–at least living like this. Dying would mean I would be home with my Savior. My body would be free of this disease that often wreaks havoc on it. I began to entertain thoughts of life without pain, fatigue, dizziness, and depression. Thankfully, I recognized the negative thinking pattern and took action to stop it. Of course, by then it was late evening, but better late than never I guess.
I turned on some music. Music is one of the top ways I interrupt destructive thinking patterns. I have an MP3 player loaded with nothing but Jesus music–worship songs, praise songs, Southern gospel songs. The song that happened to play was an oldie by Rich Mullins. The words were familiar, yet they struck my heart with the force of a hammer driving a nail into a two by four:
“Surrender don’t come natural to me
I’d rather fight You for something I don’t really want
Than to take what You give that I need.
And I’ve beat my head against so many walls
Now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees…
So hold me Jesus ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace.”
Wow. Is God really giving me what I need? I know what I want–I want energy and health. Is a chronic illness really what I need? I ruminated on that thought for a bit. How could MS be what I need? What good has it done me? I honestly didn’t think I’d come up with any answers to those questions. Once again, though, I was wrong. MS has been a good thing in my life. It has:
- shown me what I used to take for granted
- made me thankful for the little things I can do
- given me periods of rest
- brought me closer to my Savior
I believe the Bible when it says that God is aware and in control of everything that happens in my life. I won’t go so far as to say that God gave me MS; however, I will say that God allowed me to have MS. Since He allowed it, I will strive to consider it a gift from Him–a gift to open my eyes to things I may not otherwise have noticed. I used to think I knew what it meant to be tired. After all, I had four kids in 5 years! But, that kind of tired pales compared to the extreme fatigue that accompanies my chronic illness. I used to think I appreciated good days. I didn’t really know what a good day was until I experienced bad days ruled by an illness.
Just like the singer of the song, surrender doesn’t come naturally to me either. But, I find when I am in the throes of fatigue or a day of pain, I have no choice but to surrender to the only One who can do anything about it. I no longer look to Him and expect Him to take it all away. No. I now look to Him just to be with Him, knowing that He wants to be my Prince of Peace.