There are certain parts of my heart that are hard to share.
And my illness is one of them.
I have no problem talking to others about all of the wonderful things God is doing. It brings me so much joy to share all the ways He has moved. I have no problem sharing that I have this weakness. Talking about it from a surface level is easy.
But it is hard for me to share the things I struggle with on the inside as a result of my illness.
When I was 14, I began having episodes where I collapse and am left with temporary paralysis in my neck, arms, and legs. My entire world changed. At my worst, I had 18 episodes in one month. During this month, I had this temporary paralysis for a week. I would get out of the hospital bed and make it one or two steps before collapsing. In the best scenario, the temporary paralysis goes away after about 30 minutes.
Over the last 6 years, I have had doctors look at me and tell me that I am their hardest patient. I had one doctor tell me I shouldn’t be out of bed more than 45 minutes at a time. Others have looked at me like I’m crazy and referred me to somewhere else. Some have dismissed it by saying “oh, she will grow out of it” and sent me home unable to walk. I’m still a medical enigma without answers.
I would collapse and have the temporary paralysis at school, Walmart, McDonald’s, church, and home. Even after the initial episodes are over, it generally takes me a few days to completely recover. After about a year of this, my mother made the suggestion that we invest in a wheelchair.
Her suggestion was met with complete refusal.
A wheelchair meant I was really sick. It meant I needed help. A wheelchair meant I had a disability and a handicap. A wheelchair meant I was limited.
Even though it was impossible for me most of the time, I wanted to walk away from an episode on my own two feet. Instead, I’ve been awkwardly carried to the car by people I barely know or keep my family waiting as I regain strength and the episodes pass until I can make it to the car on wobbly legs. I think on some level, I felt guilty for needing help and felt like walking out on my own would be my way of not being a further burden.
About a month ago, I was standing up for worship at church whenever I began to feel an episode coming on.
I sat down and continued to worship from my chair. As the service went on, I could feel all of my strength beginning to leave my body as an episode started taking over. But I wanted to stay for the message. I didn’t stand for the welcome and I didn’t take notes like I normally do. I just sat there and listened as our Pastor preached and hoped the episode would pass on it’s own before the service was finished.
Sure enough, when the end of the service rolled around, I was still struggling. My family and I waited for the auditorium to clear out before we tried to make it to the car. I didn’t want anyone to carry me out, I wanted to walk out. But y’all, it just wasn’t happening. About a half hour after the service was out, I was finally in the car…exhausted and emotional.
A week later, there was a ring at the door bell. So I opened the door and there was this giant package. My birthday was just around the corner so my sister and I excitedly began to guess about what it could be and then it hit me. I looked at the package label to confirm my suspicious and I was right…It was a wheelchair.
I brought the package inside and I began to cry.
I did not realize how much I needed this wheelchair. As soon as I knew what was in the package, I felt such a giant relief. It was like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I realized it was okay to need some help. It was okay to allow myself to rest in the reality of my illness. Seeing the wheelchair in my living room felt like permission to be sick.
I called my sweet mother and thanked her for getting me the wheelchair I always said I never wanted.
I realized that my illness does not disqualify me from the things God calls me to. My body may fail me and I might have a disability that makes normal tasks hard for me. However, my illness does not disable the God in me! God is bigger than my temporary paralysis.My illness does not disable the God in me!Click To Tweet
My body does not limit the ways God chooses to use me…it just gives Him the opportunity to display His strength and power through my weakness. I would even dare say that my reality is not the weakness of my body, but in the strength of the God who puts breath in my lungs and opens the doors for me to do the impossible.
But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient of you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
I chose to share this with you today because there are others out there that need to know it is okay to struggle. It’s okay to need some help.
We are free to struggle. You have permission to be broken and to fall apart. But just remember, there is a loving God who is ready to wrap you in His arms. He wants to speak truth to your heart, and restore your soul. Be encouraged, He is not finished with you yet.