I write this on the sixth of January, 2020. The first year of a brand new decade. I adore change, so how my heart delights in a new season. But though the calendar has turned the time, my dark season has yet to lift, and I find myself feeling no further from a season of suffering as when it first began a few years back. My winter season has felt far too long and every morning I wake up wondering “Is this the day?” Every part of my being longs to feel the warmth of the season changing into the spring sunshine on the skin of my soul again.
Truthfully, I had desperately wanted and thought by now that after three years of health struggles that have since also turned into mental health struggles, I would have found healing…or at least more answers as to why, some sort of resolution.
There have been none. No answers, no healing, mostly silent inward suffering that others cannot see mixed with countless dark days and tears.
It’s been the hardest, loneliest journey of my life. One that while I am incredibly blessed to have the amazing support of a good man and others, mostly feels lonely simply because I choose not to wear my struggle on my sleeve when I’m around others, at least as much as is up to me. And also because my struggle cannot been seen or understood by the medical community and others, and I know that no human being can make a way of escape from the hell of it all.
All of that makes it all feel so deeply lonely, and that alone has been my greatest battle in the midst of the war.
I’ve made massive changes to my life in various ways and done all that is humanly possible on my end. But to be honest, this journey I’m on feels like two steps forward turns into five steps back. I have done more than my share of wrestling to make sense of it all; to make sense of the role of God in it all, or at least the role I expected that He would play.
In the early days of my sickness that first landed me in the ER, which are extremely difficult to explain as there was no definitive diagnosis – there were, and still are random days of unrelenting pain, fatigue, and symptoms that leave me unable to eat and digest food for days at a time. I can be almost perfectly normal one day and wake up the next and it’s as if my entire body came under attack while I slept. Then to top it all off, when that happens, my digestive system, and all that it effects, shuts down and simply decides not to function as it should.
Sickness is one thing. One can endure a great deal of pain when we understand the cause and can see some sort of end in sight; so far there has been neither for me. Thing is, I am young and have always been healthy, so I had understandably imagined that that very first bout with sickness would find a quick resolve and I would heal right back up as I was before.
Yet here we are, three years later and even these past few weeks have revealed the hard truth that three years in, it seems as if things are not better, but worst than when it all began, as an issue that had mostly been localized to my stomach has slowly morphed into more widespread pain and issues that don’t make any sense. Gut health is incredibly complex because it affects every single part of our being, including the brain, which affects the mind and emotions. No one knows just how true that is more than I do, especially as this year has added to the mix severe anxiety and debilitating panic attacks; something I had never struggled with before.
And so, sparing the enormous timeline of details and all the ups and down and various healing modalities, because that isn’t my point in writing – this is the very brief synopsis of where I have been to where I find myself right now.
In the earlier days of this journey I dealt with a bit of denial that it wasn’t just some sort of virus that would run it’s course and leave me alone to get back to my life as usual. As the weeks turned into months with no resolve, the denial slowly gave way to into massive disappointment and anger.
Anger at myself for not being strong enough to just get past it. Angry at God for not taking it all away in a much more timely fashion.
Behind the closed doors of my own bedroom my prayers turned into angry accusations against my Healer. I went through a decently long period of being incredibly angry at God. I don’t know that I’ll ever repeat some of the words I said to Him. After all, I was living for Him, I had sought out His healing as He tells us to in His Word and had also done my part, so why wasn’t He taking it all away? Why wasn’t He holding up His end of the deal? I wrestled with why God wasn’t fixing my problem so that I could get on with accomplishing and running hard after the plans I believed HE had laid out for my life. “Doesn’t God know that I there is no way I can do what He’s called me to do if I’m SICK? What good am I to anybody sick?”
If I am completely honest, there are still days my heart poses these questions: “God, where are you? Do you even care? Why have you left me alone to figure this all out and to suffer in silence? Is this what I get for serving you? Pain? How long God, when will this end?”
I have vacillated between the raw honesty of the accusatory railings of my heart, and my own guilt that I would ever question the sovereignty of the King of the Universe.
Then I started reading the Psalms and the cries of David and realized, I am in good company. I am not the first and will certainly not be the last to ask incredibly hard questions of God.
I have much more of this story to write, but for now I’ll just say that in my suffering and it appearing like God isn’t holding up His end of the deal, I am discovering a God with shoulders strong enough to bear the weight of all my railings and disappointment with all that I do not understand, and eyes that look tenderly into mine and quiet me with the companionship of His presence, IN my mess. I’m finding the God who does merciless war against the forces of darkness to be a strong yet gentle God who isn’t the least bit intimidated or offended by the brutal realness of my humanity. And in my mess, in all of my anger and railings against this season I do not like, the God who doesn’t always make sense to me says, “Come to me. Pour out all that ugly pain on me. I get you. I know you. You are never too much for me, and I’m not going anywhere.”