Since Friday afternoon, I have been thinking a great deal about living with health challenges.
I had just returned from an appointment with a new endocrinologist and had a nicely bruised left antecubital space to prove it. (I learned that word seventeen seconds ago when Googling "opposite side of elbow.")
This visit was vastly different than most. It was the first in a long, long time where I felt the doctor was not only willing to work with me, but desired to. As she listened to me recount my symptoms in the most drawn out fashion, I saw tenderness in her eyes.
Unlike the doctors who told me last fall there was nothing they could do for me, she carried herself in a way that proved her desire to help.
"This is my problem to fix," she whispered gently.
Immediately after her exit, I sat in the waiting chair with little happy tears dotting my cheeks. In my struggle for good health, there are two things I have consistently appreciated: someone who listens and someone who seeks to understand.
She had done both. Suddenly, I did not feel so alone in this.
On the drive home, I thought about people who endure sicknesses of all kinds.
I thought about the selfish and devious twists self pity adds to life. I thought about how I no longer want to be a part of it regardless of my physical state. I thought about a lot of things, much of which is irrelevant to what I am trying to say.
That same day, the day of many thoughts and moments of rejoicing, I purchased an eBook, "Believing is Seeing," written by Laura Lawson Visconti. I think, perhaps, she is the reason I write this post tonight.
Laura is a remarkable creative (artist, writer, speaker) who is losing her eyesight due to a rare degenerative condition of the eye.
As I read through the fifty-five pages in one sitting, all that once seemed so mysterious actually made some sense. Although our journeys differ in magnitude, she spoke a language I could relate to. Again, I did not feel so alone.
Here is the difficult truth I have come to believe with every ounce of my being: He is not concerned with my comfort as much as He is concerned with my heart. This took a very long time to understand, but now that I get it, I can laugh at the negative implications this disease has on my life and instead be grateful for the blessings it has fostered, for the voice I am blessed to have.
"Grateful for the blessings it has fostered."
The blessings. Because in all things and in all seasons, there are blessings.
- Being able to take life much more slowly, enjoying the drawn out moments.
- Returning home for 1+ year with my family and growing together.
- Challenging myself in creative pursuits thanks to beautiful, online friendships.
- Waking up every morning knowing that God's strength will sustain me.
- Beginning to identify with those who are broken, sick, and pained.
- Questioning and seeking – because it has only brought me closer to Truth.
- Learning to cook food that is healthy and nurturing.
These "blessings" used to have negative connotations to them. (i.e. returning home was once so bittersweet because I believed it meant I was too weak to be involved on the mission field). But slowly, my perspective is transforming.
I see pieces from Laura's life now and can't help but be encouraged at the way she continues to live with grace, humility, and freedom.
This struggle with sickness is not to withhold me from living fully. No, it is the stepping stone to bring me into the fullness.
Through it, I am becoming more aware of my constant need for my Savior. It's okay to be a little bit weak and a little bit broken.
In fact, I think it's the best place to start.