The words that are written here are not the words that were supposed to be here. I had planned on writing words about babies and pictures and social media; words that would be relevant to several of the people who occupy my Facebook friends list. That post will still be written as it continues to take shape inside my head. Those thoughts, though, were abruptly interrupted by a short video I watched this morning. I won’t go into detail on the video. I can’t even post a place where you could watch it since I stumbled across it through a link somewhere. All I know is that the video brought tears to my eyes and left me with a tremendous heartache. Given the nature of that video, the heartache should have been for the woman featured in it whose husband had been killed in a horrific car accident. That same accident critically injured their fourteen week old baby boy. The baby was air lifted to a hospital where doctors told her it did not look good and to not get her hopes up. Ten years later, this mom was on a mission to thank everyone involved in saving the life of her now ten year old son—from nurses to doctors to pilots—anyone who had a role in the process was invited to an event to thank them for their care for her little baby.
Tears streamed down my face as I watched this video, partly because of the emotional impact of watching the beginnings of this baby’s life—a brand new mommy and daddy celebrating the birth of their first baby and just fourteen weeks later, the life of this brand new daddy being suddenly taken away leaving this new mommy alone with what appeared to be a dying baby. In an instant life went from perfect to incredibly painful. The tears, though, stemmed from other reasons as well. You see, the last few weeks, maybe months, I have realized that my heart has become increasingly hardened. Oh, I can put on a show as good as Will Ferrell playing an elf in a role quite uncharacteristic of his repertoire. I can usually make it seem like things are bearable; difficult, certainly, but bearable. I resist help when offered. I have always been independent and certainly don’t need help now. I go to church. I sing songs. I often even shed tears as those songs pierce the outer edge of this hardened heart. For a short time during worship, my heart softens enough to begin to melt away the hardened exterior that has developed. The process is similar to that of the Winter Warlock in the classic Christmas cartoon Santa Clause is Coming to Town. I actually watched that last night. As Kris gave Mr. Warlock one last toy he had saved—a choo-choo—the warlock’s hardened exterior melted and he admitted what a mean and despicable creature he really was. That starts to happen every Sunday as our worship pastor leads us in some song that just is too much for this hard heart and the melting process begins. But, worship can only last so long when dealing with time constraints of a church service. A few hours after leaving the service, life’s realities are right in my face reminding me of how difficult things are right now. The cane in my right hand reminds me that I can no longer move as quickly as I used to. The spinning sensation in my head reminds me that neurologically, something isn’t right. The pain in my body reminds me that I am not the person I used to be The fatigue that literally knocks me off my feet reminds me that I can no longer accomplish everything I need to do. My heart hardens as I wonder again why God allows so much pain and difficulties in life—mine and so many others I know who suffer.
Last night, I found myself thinking of all that needs to be done with the upcoming holidays. I quickly became overwhelmed and my brain shut down. I wanted nothing more than to escape the pressure that is life right now. As I began to wallow in my little pity pool, my husband reminded me of a friend going through something so much more difficult than I am. I’m not sure he realizes that doesn’t actually help. I already know that so many others are going through so many more difficult things than I am. That just adds guilt to the guilt already there. I do know, though, that he means well and is trying to help me through the mud that I tend to get stuck in. The thing is, I have learned, is my pain is my pain. I can compare it to others’ pain and rate it higher or lower, yet it doesn’t change the fact that it is my pain. I can look at a friend facing something much more difficult and rate my pain a little less, but then I can also look at someone else who seems to have everything going for them and the rate of my pain skyrockets in comparison. The word “unfair” has been known to come from my lips as I go through the latter scenario. It’s unfair that _______________ gets _______________ …that unfairness goes both ways. I also find it unfair that I have friends suffering worse than me.
The bottom line of all this, though, is I have grown to hate myself. I hate the way I compare myself to others and never quite measure up. I hate the way I think about the unfairness of my disease and the limitations it has brought. I hate the thoughts that bombard and tell me that I’ll never measure up anyway because I can’t do this or that for God now. I hate the voices that tell me I am just worthless now because I used to be able to do __________ and now struggle to get out of bed. I hate that I barely understand and accept the limitations of my illness so I certainly don’t expect others to understand. I hate that I can’t get out of my own head so much.
An article I read this morning asked the question, “What is one desire you have of God?” That question started this snowball of emotions—I desire God to show Himself to be real to me in the midst of this mess I am living. It happens on Sundays; the rest of the week I feel as though I’m on my own as God disappears from the pain. Again, I “know” that isn’t the case. I just need to start acting on what I know and pray that the feelings follow. Like Mr. Warlock, I really am a mean and despicable creature at heart and even though I really want to change, even though I really want GOD to change me, it is so hard and such a slow process that I fear God has stopped His work in me. As my disease has stopped connections that used to be normal in my brain, perhaps God has stopped the work He began in me. Intellectually, though, that can’t be for it says in His Word that He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it. Oh Lord, I need you—I need faith to believe this is true and strength to persevere to get there.
A Postscript: I know this post makes me vulnerable to all sorts of feedback. I know some will think less of me because of my honesty. I write it anyway. The promise I made to myself was that I would write for my own record; therefore, I need to be brutally honest as I write. Someday, I hope to look back on this post and marvel at just how far God has brought me since December 10, 2014. I hope to look at where I was and see where I may be and be filled with praise that God did continue His good work in me. If you feel the need to criticize me for my honesty, please either refrain from doing so or do so gently. My heart is fragile right now.