What does it mean to be weak? How do you envision strength? These are questions that society would answer very differently from how Scripture would. The following is a real and personal example of how I came to grips with my weakness.
There it was - my brain or at least an image of my brain - on a giant screen.
And there I was shrinking into my paper gown, feeling completely numb as my doctor pointed out the 5 large white blotches that were nestled into the nooks and crannies of my cerebral matter.
I know she was talking. I saw her mouth moving but I cannot tell you what she said. Not after hearing those two life changing words - Multiple Sclerosis. I had to make a follow up appointment so she could fully re-explain it all to me.
I had so many questions. Was it lethal? Was the white matter operable? Was it curable? She literally had to instruct me to take a deep breath. “No,” she answered to all of the above.
I wish I could say praying was the first thing I thought of. I mean I had prayed, leading up to the appointment. But in that instant, I don’t remember doing anything intentionally.
It was quite the opposite - as if someone opened the floodgates of fear. Then I felt a mountain of shame cloud over me. Why wasn’t praying the first thing I did? Why wouldn’t I take things up with my heavenly Father before doing anything else?
There were appointments that followed, scripts written for medications I took like clockwork, and a comprehensive treatment plan that I adhered to. I burned the candle off at every end. I was juggling work, motherhood and being a wife along with this treatment.
I did it all. For years. I treated my doctors as if they were coaches and I ran every play they called. Above all, I did it discreetly. My coworkers and friends had no idea. But to my dismay I got worse. A lot worse. The initial lesions at my diagnostic appointment more than doubled.
My prescriptions switched from pills to injectables. This made it so that I couldn’t be as discreet. I had to request permission from my Human Resources Department to have a mini refrigerator under my desk. My coworkers, clients and subordinates were completely oblivious of the fact that I would self-inject between appointments.
My balance quickly tanked. Soon I suffered a few bad falls that landed me in the hospital for several days. I was visited by a physical therapist who said those unforgettable words, “I have a present for you!” she exclaimed.
There it was. A four-wheeled walker with a seat, brakes and a caddie to boot.
And here was my physical therapist waiting for me to accept what I could not
do on my own, wanting me to take the walker by the handles and use it publicly.
She wanted to take me for a stroll around the fourth floor of the hospital and I all but refused. I was no longer able to hide my affliction. What were people going to think if they saw me with this thing? And why does the sweet elderly lady in the next room have the same exact walker?!
This wasn’t supposed to happen. I did everything right. I was active. I was a runner. I was healthy. Even when they diagnosed me with this wretched illness, I obeyed doctors' orders and did what I was told to. Multiple Sclerosis cost me a career I loved. It cost me my way of life, my marriage and tens of thousands of dollars. I felt so defeated.
I am a believer. I have prayed. I’ve pleaded with the Lord to heal me. Now I am being told I am getting worse? How am I getting worse? How was I supposed to go out with this four legged device? Everyone will realize just how weak my body was. I was afraid and conflicted. Accept my physical limitations and resign to using the much-hated-walker or, refuse as a matter of pride, risking falling to the ground in an instant?
My physical therapist once said that walker could be “my anchor or my wings.”
She didn't share my Christian beliefs but she gave me a great lesson in perspective. It was time to stop masking my weaknesses and start embracing them. Which was quite welcomed after being told by several Christians that I must not have been praying hard enough; that I hadn't received healing because my faith wasn't strong. That agony and sadness go against God.
Then I began to meditate, and I mean, really meditate on:
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that
Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in
insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
It hit me like a ton of bricks. I became quick to judge myself. I questioned my faith, called myself prideful and really struggled with what it was to experience fear as a believer. Now I realize, I was just being human.
Telling yourself not to feel fear when you encounter a scary situation is like telling yourself not to sweat while you're exercising. It’s an innate bodily reaction. One that does not nullify your faith.
Fear did nothing but rob my peace. Big fears carry loud voices. This creates a need to speak the truth, found in Scripture, even louder. Read them, meditate on them, post them up around the house and repeat them over and over again in order to drown out those fears.
I find solace in knowing I am not alone. God is with me and He comforts me. It also helps me to know that there are others that wrestle with chronic illness that also pray to be healed.
Music has always had a a special place in my life. I feel like it gives lyrics, harmony and melody to emotions I tend to have trouble expressing. I came across the testimony of Bart Millard, lead singer for MercyMe. His son has lived with type 1 diabetes since he was two years old. He's a teenager now. Bart and his wife have prayed for years for him to be healed.
He wrote the song, "Even If" in response to this experience. During the song, "Even If," Bart belts out "I know You're able and I know You can, save through the fire with Your mighty hand; but even if You don't, my HOPE is You alone." And I couldn't agree more.
I'd love to tell you I learned my lesson and my faith has carried me through every circumstance since. That it only takes reading Scripture once for me to believe it. Or singing one worship song to have it settled in my heart that the Lord will give me the victory I long for. But I need daily reminders. And I appreciate that the Bible is filled with them.
I am the annoying overachiever. So accepting that my illness has left me disabled is tough. I continue to pray for God to heal my body but I trust Him regardless of whether or not He does. He cares for me and comforts me through it all. Whether or not my physical condition improves in my lifetime, I am grateful for the healing He’s provided me in areas I didn’t even know I needed it.
Let’s discuss this:
When have you felt defeated? How have you come to embrace your weaknesses? How do you counteract fear?
Even If - MercyMe (Worship Song)
Healer - Kari Jobe (Worship Song)
Fear is a Liar - Zach Williams (Worship Song)