I get a surprising number of emails in response to this blog. I guess it's surprising because I never thought anyone would read it except a few family members. *laughs* Goes to show you, never underestimate the power of the internet.
I have noticed something, very often people end their emails by saying they're keeping me in their prayers, but they follow it by something like "hope that doesn't offend you" or "it's meant in a good way not religious". It's as though because of the times we live in, people feel the need to excuse or explain their spiritual beliefs. So, though I fully recognize this could be a hot button topic, I feel the need to hit it anyway. Faith and dealing with MS.
Yes, for the record, I am a Christian. I do not consider myself any specific denomination, but simply believe in Jesus Christ and that He is the way to salvation. Now, before my emails blow up with people debating me on Christianity- you may as well save your breath. Nothing you can say or do is going to sway me from what I know to be the Truth. I'm not making this post to stir up atheists or convert anyone to Christianity. What I do want to touch on is how faith can help you deal with not only MS, but any chronic illness.
The sad reality is, life is rough. Even under the best of circumstances, we all have our issues to deal with and burdens to carry. For me, knowing this life is only a stepping stone rather than an ending helps to deal with it. I know it wasn't God's desire for me to develop Multiple Sclerosis. Just like all loving fathers, He wants His children happy and healthy. But also like mortal dads, He also will allow His children to struggle if by doing so it will serve a higher purpose in their lives. I like to compare it to having a child who doesn't know the value of the dollar. Say your daughter wants a $100 pair of shoes. Sure, she's a great kid, and yes you can afford it. But you also know by making her earn that $100 she will not only appreciate those shoes, but learn the value of money, hence making her a better person.
Now, that doesn't mean that daughter isn't going to be a bit ticked off that you won't simply buy them for her. She may even resent you for having to give up some of her free time to work. You may even find yourself in a sticky situation along the way. Say at this after school job, she has a boss that's a real jerk. Day after day, she comes home complaining how rude and arrogant this boss is, and how she swears he thrives on making her miserable. As a parent, your gut instinct is to run down there and ring the dude's neck. That's your little girl he's upsetting! But as a loving parent, you also realize the job is the boss's domain, and she will have to deal with unlikeable people her entire life. It's a good that she starts to learn how to deal with them now while you're there to guide her through it.
Like the daughter in this example... I too get resentful. I get angry as heck that God has allows me to have to suffer through this stupid disease. I am willing to admit God and I have had more than one little 'talk' that has consisted mostly of me screaming and swearing about how unfair this is and how I seriously pissed I am at Him for allowing it. As I mentioned before in this blog, I sank into a rather deep depression after my diagnosis, and didn't snap out of it until a relapse showed me how "good" I really was while at my baseline. In that way, whatever the circumstances in our life, we all play the role of the child that is forced to live our lives as our parent allows, whether we understand the reasoning behind it or not.
That...is where faith comes in. We have to have faith if we are going to survive this world. I have faith that God is looking out for me whether I see or not. Just like the daughter being in the jerky boss's domain, I am stuck here with everyone else in Satan's domain. Thus... I have to deal with the fact my crappy job is to live with MS. Why is God allowing me to live with this? I don't know. I wish like crazy I did. But again, that is where faith comes in. I have faith that God's plan for my life is greater than anything I could plan for myself, and I have faith He will see me through the obstacles and trials along the way.
You see, it's faith that can keep you going. If I woke every day thinking when I die, I'm just gone forever into worm food and nothing else, I'd have probably given up years ago. What would be the purpose of being here? Especially with MS? But I know there is more, and I know God is seeing me through it every step of the way until I finally come home to Him.
In the meantime, I am blessed to say I DO see little glimpses of the reason God allows me to live with MS. I have an appreciation for my life, as well as those in it, that I didn't have before. I also have met some amazing people I may not have if didn't have MS. For instance, I have a dear friend who's mother also has MS. It was that common bond that really started our dialog, thus allowing us to grow from passing strangers into something real. Ironically, he also shares my spiritual beliefs, so not only did God put someone in my life who can understand my struggles, but someone I can talk to on a spiritual level as well. Then of course, there is my activism to educate others on what Multiple Sclerosis really is and what it's like to live with. I know I've heard from more than a few they've learned something, either from this blog or speaking to me about MS, that they've taken into their daily lives. So you see, while I still pray for a cure for this wicked disease, I am also able to see the little hidden blessings that wouldn't exist if I didn't have it.
It's my faith that sustains me, and it's my faith that helps me wake up every morning and see more good around me than bad. It's my faith that allows me to rest easy knowing despite this horrible disease I live with, there are incredible reasons behind me having it... even if I have to have faith that they are there despite my inability to see them during this lifetime. It's my faith that allows me the comfort in the knowledge I'm not suffering for nothing.
So for all you emailing me with closings lines including "I'll keep you in my prayers"- thanks! Just don't ever feel the need to explain or excuse your faith. Not to me, not to anyone. :)
May God Bless You All,