My philosophy on life for as long as I can remember has been to move forward.
Work through the trials, learn from the mistakes, let go of the regrets, and walk forward to the next thing. I’m not a huge crier, and can count on one hand the times I would describe myself as having wept. I have mourned many things, big and small. However, until about 7 years ago, there was an imaginary line in my mind, delineating what was deeply sacred and “worthy” of many tears and what simply needed to be pushed through stoically until I reached the other side.
By the time I was 12 years old, I had been diagnosed with 2 chronic diseases, both of which were very manageable. Nevertheless, I developed a strong distaste for hospitals and doctors, always fearing a new diagnosis of some kind. Health became very important to me, and I began to avail myself of as many quality resources as possible in this arena, researching assiduously both for myself and for my family.
Then, in 2008, I suffered a debilitating health crisis.
In one week, I inadvertently overdosed on some very strong medication and also drastically threw off the electrolytes in my body. My neurological system went haywire, and I found myself almost completely bedridden with intense fatigue, a racing heart, panic attacks, “crawling” nerves, and numerous other strange symptoms.
After adjusting the electrolytes and doing all that was possible to clean up and care for the overdose, many of the symptoms unexpectedly remained, and so I began to do what had become my norm: research. As I had energy, I spent my time searching for answers my doctor couldn’t provide.
My buried fear of another disease had come to surface.
But in this illness I faced something even worse than what I had feared – this was a disease I wasn’t able to manage and which the doctors could not diagnose.
My husband and I began praying earnestly for healing and God led me to the book of Job. I remember reading Job 3:5 and Job 23:2-5. The words on the pages seemed to sound from my very heart.
“For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.” Job 3:25
“Even today is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning. Oh that I knew where I might find him! That I might come even to his seat! I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know the words which he would answer me, and understand what he would say unto me.” Job 23:2-5
I did cry, then, all stoicism gone.
Lying on my bed, tired, with the fingers of a panic attack at the edges of my mind, I turned into my pillow and yelled those words of Job to God. I yelled to know why He would give me my greatest fear, and not just my greatest fear, but worse? And yelled, again, and again:
WHERE WAS HE?
I heard no answer, then.
But over the next few weeks, God did speak to me, quietly, gently and with great love. I began to understand: this fear of sickness was what He wanted from me.
“ I may not heal you – ever – but you, worship me.”
At first, I mourned the fact that I might live with this new “disease” forever. I mourned the loss of yet another aspect of my health. I mourned the inability to go about and do as I pleased, like a healthy person could do. I mourned the frustration of not even knowing what I was dealing with.
Then I did what I didn’t feel like doing:
I began to worship Him in my mourning.
It was a dry obedience, but God touched it with water. As I worshiped, I saw that I was being freed from the fear of the very thing for which I was mourning the loss. I mourned the loss of my health, but the sickness in my body was no longer a prison I feared. Perhaps I would live with this sickness for life, but the chains by which my fear bound me were loosed.
It is very like God – magical in the only true sense of the word – to heal in mourning; to ask for worship in the midst of tears, to use the former as a healing balm for the latter. God has mercifully healed most of the symptoms from that time, but I can say with truth that the fear was more binding than both the severest symptoms at the height of the crisis and the remaining physical limitations with which I have since lived. He is good, in the darkest hour, and worthy of my praise.
About The Author
Katie – yes, that’s K-A-T-I-E not Kathy (just to be clear) – is currently enjoying motherhood in what she jokingly refers to as “her old age.” (“Just call us Abraham and Sarah!” she likes to say). She is quite averse to sharing public information online (no, you can’t see pics of her kids) and did consider using the pseudonym “Ismelda Snodgrass” for this post. (“Very pleasant and rolls off the tongue,” she said. I agreed.) Katie is one of my dearest friends in the world, faithful to the end, and, no matter what she leads you to believe, is about as soft-hearted, witty, and tender as they come. I wouldn’t want to do life without her. 🙂
This post is part of Survivor Songs, a 31-Day series. A full list of posts is found here.