I have no doubt in my mind that getting a difficult health prognosis has to be one of the top hardest things to deal with in life, as I again discovered yesterday. I bet a lot of you who have also walked this road would agree with me.
I know people who have told me how they wonder at times how I manage have to joy in the midst of the journey I walk, how I am able to be so brave, how I continue to have hope even though things look bleak at times.
I believe how I’m able to process what I’m feeling is key to getting through a really difficult situation and being able to hang on for the roller-coaster ride I’ve been on.
I sat in my new neurologist’s office yesterday as he looked at my brain MRI I had done last week, listening to him say things like “Your MS is bad”, “This is going to effect you your whole life”, “your brain is covered with lots of lesions from the years of MS so far. I can see how it’s trying to repair itself but there is still scarring that will be there”…etc etc.
I sat there in silence, my head spinning, thinking ” I can’t believe this is my life. It’s so far from any thing I have wanted or ever desired to deal with.” I felt so much despair wash over me. At one point I found myself think how much I hated my life….but I quickly realized that wasn’t the truth at all and corrected that thought with, “no way do I hate my life! I have an amazing life and I love it. What I hate is this illness.”
I left the doctor’s office with my sweet husband and sat in his car, weeping over the update from my doctor, feeling the gravity of my situation, as he comforted me. I called my sister and wept some more. I picked my daughter up from school with tears still spilling over. I came back home and spent the rest of evening weeping as my kind husband took care of literally everything so I didn’t have to do a thing. And now, I’m sitting here now with many tears again.
I have dealt with this awful disease for 10 years but there are certain points where I come face to face with it and I feel so much grief for how much it has already impacted me, and how my future could possibly look.
There used to be times where I tried to be strong in my own strength–I believed strong looked like pushing my pain down and pressing forward as if I didn’t have a care in the world, while I quietly began to die little by little inside.
However, as I have learned better ways to cope now and as I have grown closer and closer with the Lord, I have found a new way to deal with my grief. I allow myself to feel it completely.
I let myself feel the full weight of my grief, my fear, my anxiety, my desperation, my despair..I kid you not, I felt as if I had a million emotions trying to get themselves out of my brain all at once yesterday. It was very overwhelming, but I just let the tears flow because I needed release from the pain I was feeling.
Here’s the game changer though: My grief as a follower of Jesus Christ is unique. It is very different from the way the world grieves. I grieve but not without hope.
Even as I wept yesterday, I was still able to tell my sister through my tears that I believe God still has a plan for my life, I am confident he knows exactly what he is doing even though I don’t have a clue, and I know there has to be joy and laughter somewhere on the other side. I can say all of these things with confidence as I look back and see God’s faithfulness in my life, and how he has proven himself worthy of my trust.
This has now changed the way I look at grief.
I am not afraid to go to that place of tears and deep anguish anymore. It’s not a scary place that takes me down a deep hole of despair, but instead it’s like a safety net. I’m acknowledging my pain and processing through it, while at the same time knowing that He is God and he is near, collecting all of my tears.
I believe my tears make a way for joy. If don’t tap into my sorrows and pain, I can’t tap into the joy God wants to give me. I love how it says that he catches our tears in a bottle. They are precious to him. “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle.You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 and then the promise he makes, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5.
Ecclessiastes 3:4 also says “there is a time for weeping, and a time for laughter.” I was reminded of this verse yesterday; that now is my time for weeping, but it says there will again be a time for laughter coming. I am believing that this is not the end. God has the last word in my life.
Equally important as I’m processing my deep pain and sorrow has been reading God’s word, which is such a comfort to my heart. I especially like to read the Psalms during times like these as David voices all of his emotions, just like I’m trying to do. I love how real he is, and it encourages me to be real also.
I like to also journal and write down my thoughts and feelings, helping get them out of my head and on paper. It truly does free up brain space and leave more room in my mind and heart to hear God speaking to me, and be able to receive it.
Lastly, there are no words for how grateful I am that a friend gave me a copy of “Chase the Lion” by Mark Batterson, the night before my difficult day yesterday. God’s timing truly is perfect, and has been such a tremendous encouragement to me.
It is a book about dreaming big and I have decided that I am going to do just that this year. Dreaming gives me a sense of empowerment, that I believe God wants all of us to have. Even though I feel like I have lost parts of my health and it’s completely out of my control, it can’t stop me from dreaming. And it certainly can’t stop God from fulfilling these dreams through me in my lifetime.
I’m going to end this with a couple of quotes that really stuck out to me yesterday as I read through parts of this powerful book. I hope it encourages you as much as it did me!
Bless you as you walk through your hard places and process your grief. Our heavenly Father is ever-present, walking with us and He truly cares. I pray you feel his presence even in the midst of your grief and pain as much as I have.
“If you want to live an epic life, you have to overcome some epic challenges. You have to take some epic risks, make some epic sacrifices.”
“A God-sized dream dream will always beyond your ability, beyond your resources. Unless God does it, it cannot be done! But that’s how God gets the glory. If your dream doesn’t scare you, it’s too small. It also falls short of God’s glory by not giving him an opportunity to show up and show off his power.”