I'd been feeling a lot of tingling, and some numbness, and I'd fallen a couple times (which I attributed to the shoes I'd been wearing, which I promptly threw away). Along with that, my gallbladder gave up on life so as my doctor referred me to an internal surgeon for the gallbladder and told me to go fat-free for a couple months, she also ordered some lab work and threw in a referral to a neurologist, just for fun. Okay, I'm already trying to sell my house in Washington, find a new house in Oregon, and get our family packed and ready for the move...what's a few doctor appointments thrown in?
After the gallbladder removal, and a result of practically negative levels of vitamin D in my body, and a few MRI's, I met again with the neurologist. Diagnosis: Hepatic Demyelinating Disease, resulting in "innumerable lesions" on the cervical and upper thoracic spinal cord. Translation: I have Multiple Sclerosis. The news came one week before we were to move out of state.
I'm 40. I have three kids aged 13, 11 and 8. My husband and I are moving to Oregon for the purpose of re-planting a church, and having spent most of my career in nonprofit administration and management, I have a pretty significant role to play in this journey. And this is the point in my life when I'm told I now have a medical condition which results in extreme fatigue, parts of the body (including the brain) not working properly, and chronic nerve pain. And it's all exacerbated by heat and stress. Well, it's a good thing I don't live in Arizona! However, a ministry life is not always peaches and sunshine. Stress kinda comes with the job sometimes.
I'll be honest: I had a little emotional breakdown before the diagnosis, when through researching my symptoms the Lord spoke to my heart that the result would be MS. Of course, the inevitable questions: Why? Why me? Why now? Why would God let this happen when we are in the midst of pouring our lives out for His glory? And one part of me wants to say "It's an attack of the enemy! It's Satan's work! He came to steal my health, kill my body and destroy my life! He's trying to stop our ministry! I won't accept it!" It could be true. Just look at Job - that was exactly his story, and he persevered through the pain and loss, and was rewarded by God for his faithfulness, to even greater blessing than he had before his trials.
Sometimes that happens. And I'm not going to close the door in my heart to that hope. But I'm also not going to spend all my waking hours assuming that I am just having a Job experience, and that someday it'll all go away. I don't have the energy to be that girl.
Besides, what if it's not an attack of the enemy? What if it's deserved judgment for sin in my life? God is merciful and loving, but He's also righteous and just. He can't abide sin. He requires holiness from his people. I may not be the same lewd, loose party animal that I was in college but since committing my life to Christ 20 years ago, I'm still certainly no angel! But I know that perfection is not required of me, just a tender and humble heart before the Lord. A willingness to accept His will over mine in any situation, and a daily living, breathing relationship with Him. I got that. I learned long ago that my doing my will and 'following my heart' only leads me astray. I love Jesus more every day, so I don't think this is a consequence of sin.
But I'll continue to pray Psalm 139:23-24:
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my every thought!
See if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in your everlasting way!
I'll pray that every day, and just as Job did, I'll continue trying to mentally process what I'm going through and all the questions that come with it, while not blaming God. This could be an attack, or it could be a consequence. There is one other alternative, though, the thought of which wrings my heart out and drops it to the ground, but which I must consider with all humility and seriousness...
...To be Continued...