I had to take Ashley to the doctor today to address a persistent cough/cold. Since we were at the clinic for her appointment I thought it was a good time for the two of us to get our flu shots. Of course Ashley vehemently disagreed.
Those of you that know Ashley well know that she can be a drama queen at times - she must get that from her father. ;) Last year we took all of the kids at once for their flu shots, and let me tell you, Ashley threw the mother of all fits when her turn came to be stuck. She was nine-years-old and the girl was throwing an all-out, screaming, kicking tantrum. It took Matt, the nurse, and the doctor to pin her down for the shots. Meanwhile I had to take the other kids into the waiting room, where the screaming still echoed so loudly that the little girls were leaking traumatized tears.
This afternoon, upon hearing the flu shot news, Ashley’s hysterical twin threatened to resurface. The doctor put her in her place with a generous helping of guilt, however, reminding Ashley that if everyone didn’t get their flu shots then Mommy would get really sick (MS – defective immune system – you get the picture).
The guilt trip worked to keep Ashley from freaking out, but she was still fighting tears when we left the clinic. I know the shot only hurts for a few seconds so I understood that her tearfulness was more a result of residual fear than pain. We talked about her fear on the way home. I explained to her that, yes, I know the shot hurts, but you just have to grit your teeth and bear it for the few seconds the pain lasts – and rest assured that it won’t last long.
A few hours later I found myself giving the same speech to my baby sister who is currently immersed in one of those painful seasons of life where everything seems to be falling apart. You know that season – where the trials of life overwhelm you; the one that eventually leads to immense spiritual growth and maturity. Painful. My sister is understandably afraid of how things are going to work out. She feels powerless against her circumstances.
I even found myself fighting off fear a few days ago. Matt came home one evening and told me about a friend of ours, whose mother has Multiple Sclerosis. She is probably around fifty-years-old and is barely able to move. The only way she can get around at all is through the use of a motorized wheelchair. That is scary! When I am her age Alyssa will barely be graduating from college.
One of the leading causes of premature death for people with MS is suicide. Many people are so overcome with fear over the advancement of their disease that they prefer to end their lives rather than face that fear.
Sometimes people express incredulity over my lack of concern for my future. The truth is, it is easy to become overwhelmed with fear if we dwell on the things we are afraid of – like shots, financial insecurity, or even the effects of a disabling disease. But being afraid doesn’t accomplish anything.
I can’t imagine being so paralyzed that I am unable to care for myself, and frankly, I don’t want to imagine it. Five years ago I would never have imagined that I could raise four kids while living with MS. I never would have believed that I would have to give myself daily shots or learn how to self-cath, yet here I am. I just grit my teeth and bear it, and before I know it, these new obstacles have become part of my daily routine. Things that I was once afraid of turn out to be not as bad as I thought they would be.
What’s the secret? I have a living hope in Jesus Christ. I have seen God’s faithfulness in carrying me through each obstruction, and I believe that He will continue to carry me through each new hurdle as it comes.
Psalm 91:1-2 is my mantra, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’”
Here are a few lines (copied from an e-mail forward, author unknown) that put things in perspective:
1) I asked God to make my handicapped child whole.
-----God said, “No. His spirit is whole, his body is only temporary.”
2) I asked God to grant me patience.
-----God said, “No. Patience is a byproduct of tribulations; it isn't granted, it is learned.”
3) I asked God to spare me pain.
-----God said, “No. Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to Me.”
4) I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life.
-----God said, “No. I will give you life, so that you may enjoy all things.”
God is faithful – and this world, this life, this body is temporary. Don’t be afraid.