I’m no one all that important or unique. And what I mean by that is I haven’t performed brain surgery or composed a symphony. I’m a thirty-seven-year-old wife and mother of three boys. I teach Sunday School and substitute teach at my children’s school. But each moment of every day, God is the author of my story.
About a year and a half ago, I started noticing strange things happening to my body. I couldn’t run up the steps in my house anymore. In fact, by the fifth or sixth step, my legs felt really weird and wobbly. The weakness in my legs became worse and began to spread to my shoulders and arms. I had debilitating pain in my back, neck and upper legs. I felt exhausted all the time.
I kept thinking about my late grandmother, whom had difficulty walking as long as I could remember. She was not able to climb stairs at all and eventually was bound to a wheelchair. But I did not bring this up with my doctors.
I went to several specialists and had many tests done. Finally, I saw a neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic, who recognized, upon examination, the signs of neuromuscular disease. A trip that was supposed to last two days turned into a week, as this doctor urged me to stay and see a neuromuscular specialist. The grace of God led my husband and brother-in-law to encourage me to talk to this neuromuscular specialist about the details of my grandmother’s condition. I was finally ready. That week, I was diagnosed with adult onset muscular dystrophy. And a few months later, this was confirmed by genetic testing. Without the knowledge of my family history, my doctors had been looking for a diagnosis in all the wrong places.
It didn’t help matters that along the way, I was diagnosed with a spine condition that can cause some of the same symptoms. I was actually relieved when this was discovered because I thought I could be “fixed” with medication or surgery. And while it is true that I did not know my grandmother’s specific diagnosis, talking to my doctors about the symptoms of my grandmother’s condition certainly would have been helpful.
So why bring up past embarrassingly moronic denial? Because sometimes, when the road ahead seems long, it is good to retrace our steps and see how far we’ve come. And because I am willing to let people “see” my stumbling around in the dark in order to show God’s grace. He doesn’t let me stay in dark places. He patiently teaches and tenderly molds me into someone a little more illuminated by His light.
I now understand that my denial was really a desperate attempt to control the situation. And, eventually, it only highlighted ever so brightly, my complete inability to control anything!
As I continue to journey, this realization occasionally breaks me all over again. I have no control over this disease. I have no control over what happens to my kids. I have no control over the future. Sometimes, I have no control of putting one foot in front of the other because, well, some days my legs don’t work all that well.
But then my mind turns to truth and my heart recalls cause to hope.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6
Sometimes it feels easier to rely on the illusion that I have some control instead of having faith in the truth. But the former inevitably leads to failure while the latter always lead to HOPE. God is sovereign. God is GOOD. I find solace in trusting that God often uses difficult circumstances to bring about positive change in our character. The result of God working on my heart is more patience and compassion. I become less self-centered and more loving and considerate toward others.
You may think this belief that God works difficult things for good is simply a coping mechanism. But I have already seen evidence of this in my life. I was diagnosed with MD only nine months ago, and I am not the person I was then. I still say and do plenty of dumb things. I still feel anger, frustration and fear. But my faith in truth has grown exponentially.
In my weakness, I must continually call on Jesus for help. As I lean on His strength and not my own, He walks with me. When I feel like giving up, He gently pushes me forward. I imagine Him cupping my chin with His hand. As He reaches out, I see the nail scarred palm and am reminded that I am accompanied by my Savior, who purchased my soul with his own blood. Surely, He won’t let me break beyond His repair or fall beneath His reach. He tilts my head upward and points me face first into the unknown. (unknown to me, not Him)
So I resume moving forward, very conscious that each step is covered by His grace.
Perhaps you can relate to wanting to control or trying in vain to control the difficult situations and circumstances in your life. Or even trying to control the good stuff. Or other people. I can tell you that there is so much more peace and joy in relinquishing this desire and our futile attempts. Replacing them, instead, with trust in a God who is bigger and more wise and more loving and more powerful. And we don’t need to clean up our act before we call out for help. Jesus will come and meet us right in the middle of our mess. Grace be with you, my friends.