Friday, June 12, 2015

That's Life!

I’m trying to process a change in my outlook on life, so I hope writing it out will help me, and maybe be helpful to others, as well. Most of you know that I've been struggling with a “mystery disease” for over 11 years, which has taken me from an elite amateur athlete to a fully disabled, mostly house-bound person. Through most of this time, I've viewed my illness as a “storm” in life that I need to somehow get through. As a Christian, I've always been taught that God will help us “weather the storm” (Matt. 7:24-25, Phil. 4:13, etc) so that’s what I did. I leaned on God, and He certainly has helped me find the strength to carry on through it all. But it’s been 11 years, and the “storm” isn't over. And, it doesn't look like it will ever be (specialists all over the US are stumped by my case, and have no answers for a diagnosis, let alone a treatment.) So I am faced with the reality of a “storm” that will last the rest of my life – not a pretty thought! How can you keep fighting a storm when you know there will never be an end?

And then it hit me: that’s life.

My illness is just part of my life on this earth. It’s not a “storm” that I have to weather or overcome, it’s just the way my life is now. Instead of bemoaning all the things I can’t do anymore (including Kingdom-building things), I can just do the best I can with what I have now. No, I can’t go on a mission trip. I can’t volunteer at a food bank or rescue mission. Heck, I can’t even make it to church! But I can pray. I can be a friend. I can encourage. I can be a shoulder to cry on. If I keep thinking, “After the storm, I’ll be able to do X” I’m missing the whole point! Life goes on. Bloom where you are planted, as they say. Right now, I’m mostly planted in my chair at home, but that doesn't have to stop me from living life to its fullest. It’s just a different definition of “fullest” than I used to have.

And why do Christians think that life should be trouble-free, anyway? Jesus himself said “You will have trials and sorrows” in this life. (John 16:33) So instead of seeing hard times as some sort of special storm you have to endure, and you just need to keep your head down until it’s over, recognize that “storms” are just a part of life. You don’t need to be on the shelf, waiting for the “storm” to end. It might never end! Just stand on the rock, hold onto God, and get on with life – whatever that might now look like.

So, yeah, I have a crippling disability that no one can figure out. Yeah, there’s a whole ton of stuff that I used to do that I can’t anymore, and that is a major bummer. But, you know what? I’m done fighting this “storm” – it was never a “storm” to begin with. It’s just life. Jesus and I, we’re moving on. (And, friends, when I have a bad spell and get discouraged – as I know I will – remind me of this post. Thanks! ;-)