Sitting on the edge of the bed I reach for the Kleenex box. Once again I am in tears. Tears from pain and the inability to handle it on my own. Parenting isn't for the weak at heart, and parenting with an incurable illness takes the hand of God.
For years I have struggled with a disease that no one can see. "No cause, no cure" is what the doctors say. Prescriptions have been tried with horrible consequences...crushing chest pain, the inability to break down the medication so it becomes toxic in my system and many others.
When a body, designed by God, turns against itself, life gets complicated. And parenting in the midst of it all takes on challenges of its own. Some days are spent with me cocooned on the couch, trying my best to still be mom and invest in the lives of my children. Some days things appear fine and we go about as usual. However, the fear is always there, "When will it strike again?"
Questions of, "How are you today?" are often met with half-truths. On the outside I appear fine but inside my body can be wracked with pain. There are a few who have learned to read the cues and can tell when all is not right, but I don't want to be someone constantly complaining about hurting.
If you have ever experienced the contractions that go along with labor, you can begin to identify with my almost daily struggle. The pain comes in waves of intensity, sometimes easily overlooked, other times causing me to double over in trying to deal with it.
Stress can cause this disease to flare up, so one challenge in parenting with this illness is to parent in a healthy way, avoiding added stress. (Hmmm, with teenagers?)
I confess I have questioned God many times, "I know you can heal, why haven't you healed me?" It plagued me for years and infected my relationship with Him. Knowing that He can heal, but hasn't kept me at a distance. Thankfully, God hasn't given up and me and He has taught me His faithfulness in the midst of my pain.
One passage of Scripture that ministered to my heart this year was from 2 Corinthians chapter 12. In this passage Paul spoke of getting a "thorn in his flesh" and "Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'" The thing that hit me was that Paul was such a powerful servant of God and had an incredible ministry. He was close to God and yet, God in His goodness allowed the thorn to remain. That encouraged my heart. You see for years I have wondered, "What am I doing wrong?" and "Maybe there is something still in my life that God wants to prune first." I kept thinking that if only I could do something better, then maybe I could be healed. This verse changed my perspective completely. Paul was not perfect, none of us are, but I believe He had such an intimate relationship with God and yet God allowed his thorn to remain. So it's not just that I need to "get it right" but that I need to trust Him through it.
Today I believe was a break through. As I was sitting on the edge of the bed crying, I was also praying and surrendering...with all my will to choose His joy in the midst, knowing that He suffered and died to give me life. Yes, the trial remains, but I do have His grace and mercy to see me through.