I often think in terms of loss with this disease. I feel robbed of what was supposed to be the best years of my life. Stolen days, remnants of a social life, distant dreams, and goals that have taken a backseat to my health. My purpose, passions, ambitions – all vanished. I will never get the time back that Lyme disease has ripped from my life and it haunts me daily how much time was “wasted.”
But the Lord continually reminds me that while there may be some loss, so much has been gained through this journey. Not only did I discover a strength of will and courage inside myself that I didn’t know existed, but I found a brave girl buried beneath the one who was raised to live in fear of the world and everything in it. I am no longer living in fear. I am brave. I have become courageous.
Brave. Courageous. Strong. I never would have used those words to describe myself a few years ago. Now I hear many loved ones in my life who encourage me and tell me that I am all of those things. I think I am slowly starting to believe it. Maybe. But it has only been because of HIS strength that I am here at all. Jesus is my courage.
Throughout this journey, I have learned to lean into my Father as I have never had to do before. Debilitating health brings you to your knees like nothing else will. I have cried, shouted, and yelled at God many times over the last few years of pain, frustration, and agony. I have repeated scriptures to myself in the wee hours of the morning and He came in close and stayed with me in the pain. I have heard Jesus along the way, reminding me that He is with me. He isn’t going anywhere and that is more than even family can promise when things get too hard. He understands the loneliness. He gets the ache. It’s more than I can bear, but not more than He can bear. So, I hoist this burden of sickness off my back and he takes it – freely, lovingly, without hesitation. He knows. He sees. He is there. I have prayed loud, bold prayers for healing and have whispered quiet, two-word prayers in the dark – begging Him to take just a little bit of the pain from my body so I could sleep. And He has. He will never leave me or forsake me. He is here in the mess with me and promises to give me a way to endure.
“No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (GNT)
God has brought people into my life that I would have never met if not for Lyme disease. Many nurses, fellow patients and sufferers, loving and concerned doctors who truly fought for me and wanted me well and so many beautiful people who pray for me daily. Letters, emails, calls and messages from strangers have shown me that my battle has not been in vain. Many have a correct diagnosis, are getting treatment, or have prevented themselves or their loved ones from getting Lyme disease because of my story.
A nurse came with me to Bible study when I was beginning my natural treatment journey years ago. We knelt in front of a cross, hand in hand and I had the honor of praying with her as she dedicated her life to Jesus and asked for His peace in her life. Our paths would not have crossed if I had been well.
God has a purpose that is far above my own. Where I may only see an obstacle that needs to be removed, He sees through the struggle and makes beauty out of the ashes of this diseased life. I’m beginning to realize that even in the pain and trials, the struggles and heartache – God creates a plan, a way, a hope. He moves – in spite of me, and in spite of Lyme disease.
I guess it also goes without saying that living with a disease for so many years has given me a profound love and empathy for sufferers of chronic illness. My heart is moved and opened to the sick and hurting in a way that only personal experience can bring. I am drawn to help others who are sick or suffering in any way I can and I’m excited to see how God will use this season to help the hurting.
Through it all, I am reminded every day that I am not alone. God has brought immeasurable good through this journey. I can’t look at my disease through the lens of loss anymore. I now see beloved faces, hear familiar voices, and have many “total God thing” stories to tell about the faithfulness and love of God.
I can honestly say that, even though it may have taken years – I now see my disease through the lens of love.