I’ve spent moments of my down time the last few months reading some of the writings I’ve written over the years. Taking in the words over the pages of blog posts, I am once again reminded of why I started writing. God gave me my story. And if my story can help someone, encourage someone, make someone feel less alone in this messed up world, then I should share it. But I haven’t been. I haven’t written or shared for quite some time. In fact, I’ve withdrawn to the safety of our home, stepping out once in a while only to take my spot behind the counter at the parts store. I’ve been fighting a battle. And honestly, most days I haven’t fought it very well.
I like the comfort of knowing what to expect. I appreciate a plan and the desire to stick to that plan. Once again, I have been reminded of how little control I actually have. In December my physical health was declining rapidly. I blamed it on working too many hours, trying to homeschool, be a wife and mom, all of that stuff, and the business of the holidays. I continued to push through some pretty tough days. After an appointment with my rheumatologist, and some bloodwork—my reasoning was proven false. My inflammation markers were out of control--“Through the roof” was the professional opinion I received. My body was again at war within itself. My doctor gave me quite a firm talking to that day, and I was told it was time to take the stronger meds--medicines that once fried my liver and almost took me out. It was time to take that risk again. Wait. This wasn’t my plan. This is not how I envisioned this next season of my life. I cried most of the way home from Rochester. My son, Nate, was with me. He listened intently to his mom cry, complain, make excuses and voice random medical questions a 17-year-old has no clue how to answer. He was just there—listening--and good at being a shoulder for his mom that day.
After a weekend of prayer, searching, reading, asking others to pray with me, consulting with my “cheerleaders and support staff” (girlfriends and husband), God revealed to me how out of balance I had allowed life to get. I had lost the focus…again. It always amazes me as to what God uses to get one to step back, be quiet and listen. God convicted me on my work schedule. I love what I do and enjoy (almost) every minute behind the counter. I love (almost all) of my customers and co-workers. But I needed to step back. My health condition and long work hours were not playing well together. Thankfully it was the slower season, and vacations were complete. I was able to step back for a month. God convicted me on what I was shoving in my mouth. With the lack of structure and busy routine, I was not planning meals and shopping. We were eating a lot of things from a box, or can or take out. Not to mention the sweet goodies from the season that I was also regularly partaking in. Additives, sugar and preservatives: all very bad things for a person with an autoimmune disease. After a conversation with my rheumatologist, we decided to wait on the stronger medicines and I began a strict regimen of “clean eating”. Through the last six months of sticking to the plan—better time management and clean eating—I feel so much better and have lost some weight. I was able to resume my physical therapy and daily exercise, which have improved movement and flexibility...except for my left knee.
At my April appointment with my rheumatologist, I was certain he would be impressed with the results. He was, until he saw the blood work. Despite my best efforts to control what was happening in my body, it wasn’t working. The counts were still very elevated. The damage was still being done. I gimped out of his office discouraged and angry. He insisted on new medicines. I refused. “I can get this under control!” was the thought in my head. (Notice all the “I’s”??)
Since that visit, I have had to break down and see an orthopedic doctor who revealed the condition of my left knee. RA has claimed its first major joint in my body. At 49 years old, I am in need of a complete replacement. But—at 49 years old, the doctor strongly discourages this surgery, because I will most likely have to do it again in my lifetime. I am currently awaiting an injection—an “oil change” for my knee, to see if any time can be bought.
Why do I share all of this? This weekend, God convicted me of something once again. I’ve been holding onto this “thing” for a while. I’ve managed to keep pushing it down, packing it away, keeping myself busy enough not to have to deal with it. I was riding with Wayne in his truck, very much a work truck. My swollen, stiff knee was making it very unenjoyable. In a moment of frustration, I said it out loud. “I’m so stinking angry! I’m doing everything RIGHT and this still happens!” Thank God for my “support staff”. Wayne looked at me (almost stopped the truck) and said, “Whoa.” I knew. I knew once I said it out loud. Isn’t it interesting how wrong thoughts sound once voiced out loud? For six months, I have eaten “clean”, I have drunk the water, I have lost weight, I have done the stretches, the exercises. I have said “no” to many things—things I would’ve enjoyed doing, but know they would cause an imbalance. (Notice all the “I’s” again?) Has the way I physically feel improved? Yes. So why do the numbers still read the way they do? This question has been rattling around in my head, causing me to question God and grow cold. My heart has grown hard. Ouch.
Today, I confessed my sin. I am reminded again of how little control I have over “the plan”. I turn to the Scriptures, the foundation of who am I am and what I believe. And right now, though I don’t “feel” it, I know God's promises are true. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. And I trust I will see it again. Even if it isn’t the answer I want, I trust the one who made me knows best for me.
“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the King, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18
Two words: “EVEN IF”.