I'm going to skip all the intervening details of life and go right to what I wanted to write about today....well, maybe not right to it!
I have been doing a "Whole 30". (No, that is not what this is about, it's the intro...) The most quoted line in Whole 30 (and It Starts With Food) is “It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.”
Well...I agree. I have a friend who was diagnosed with what doctors would call terminal brain cancer. The chances of remission of that kind of cancer are very slim to none and almost everyone diagnosed is gone from this life within five years. He is currently cancer free after just the first round of chemo and radiation. (No, this is not what the post is about either although I could write a book about this man's courage in the face of a "hard thing"....He would want you to make no mistake, his courage is all from God and not at all from his own strength.)
For a while I have been having what I call "health weirdness". I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis back in 2009. I have taken Synthroid almost every day since then, except for a short time I thought I could control it with diet and stopped taking the meds. It obviously didn't work, in case you were wondering... My "numbers" are managed by a really good Endocrinologist here in Huntsville, Dr Dwain Woode. His office staff left something to be desired early on, but they have come a long way and I think his is the best office in town to manage thyroid issues. (He is also a diabetes dr but that is WAY off topic!) No, I do not want to write about my thyroid, but I am narrowing down to the real topic at hand.
In December my "health weirdness" started getting much worse. Just a few of the symptoms I was having: trouble finding the next word I wanted to say*, TERRIBLE "brain fog", headaches, fatigue, irritability, dizziness, my leg would give out while I was running every now and then, I would sometimes fall over in the shower or while walking, and I felt like my hands were on the wrong side of the keyboard while I was typing sometimes. I can't describe how I was feeling other than to say it felt like my brain wasn't working the way it should and I knew it, but couldn't do anything about it. One day I didn't know how to get out of my own car. That was the symptom that finally pushed me to seek a doctor appointment.
My husband noticed some of these symptoms and pushed for a neurological consult. Naturally I had to go to my family doctor first for blood work (all normal, not even my most common issues of low vitamin D and iron). She sent me for a brain MRI with and without contrast (also "unremarkable"). She then sent me to a neurologist who turned out to be a headache specialist (not the right doctor for my symptoms). That doctor wanted to send me to a colleague. Friends were worried (okay, I was also worried) it might be MS so I wanted to go to a doctor who specializes in MS in Cullman (Laganke). My doctor wanted me to see Scott Hitchcock here in Huntsville. Well...she was right. (Side note, my appointment was originally set for April 19th but a friend of mine is good friends with him. She talked to him and he got me in six weeks earlier that that!)
After a full battery of tests and a month of waiting I got a diagnosis. Hashimoto's Encephalopathy. If you click the link you will see it's a scary thing. It's not cancer scary, but it's scary. Left untreated (or misdiagnosed) it can cause seizures, paralysis, coma and death. I was diagnosed (I think correctly) last week; I started treatment yesterday so I think I'm not going to progress that far because of this disease.
But, let's be clear,
As human beings we have a terminal disease called mortality. The current death rate is 100%. We don’t like to ‘think about death,’ especially our own, yet, worldwide, 3 people die every second, 180 every minute, and nearly 11,000 every hour. That’s 250,000 a day who transition from this life. (excerpt from Randy Alcorn, HEAVEN)
I believe in God the Father of Jesus Christ. I believe once I pass from this life I will have eternal life with Christ in Heavenly Places. But even that isn't what I wanted to focus on today.
Here's the thing. This (fill in the blank) is not hard. EVERYONE has struggles that seem to them to be hard in the context of their life. (The AC is broken, Starbucks is out of carmel topping, traffic is backed up for some unknown reason, the ice in the tea has melted making it watered down... #firstworldproblems.) You know what I'm talking about. We all "struggle" at some point in our life...or what we call struggle.
But, no matter what you are going through, this (thing) is not (really) hard. Not facing the struggle is hard. Not talking about and dealing with the struggle is hard. Not working to overcome the struggle (in the best way you know how) is hard. Ignorance is hard. Not seeking answers is hard.
I haven't really wanted to research or learn about my current "life boogie man" because I have confidence in my doctor. I realized this morning not knowing what life is throwing at me leaves me at a disadvantage. But I refuse to focus on the flaming arrows. True, my faith in God allows me to feel very protected in His armor, but I have to PUT IT ON. It's not a magical protection. I can't pretend to know what it would be like to live a life outside of that faith, but even as a Believer in Christ, I have a part to play. I have a role. I have to work out my faith. When David defeated Goliath, he had to pick up the ((pitchfork, slingblade...*)) sling shot and fire off the tiny pebble that "miraculously" made contact in exactly the right place. (I believe God directed this pebble, but it wasn't going to get there if David hadn't done his part.)
My belief only gets me so far. Stepping out in faith on that belief and behaving in accordance with the belief...that's what it's all about. And...it's not hard when my belief is strong and my truth is real. Because when I test the water of my faith, I stand firm. If my faith were built on something less, I wouldn't have a leg to stand on!
This is not hard. No weapons formed against me shall prosper. I can walk through the fire and not be burned. I will still feel the heat of the flame, but it will be a refiner's fire, not a firey death. Standing on the belief that this world is not my true home helps a lot because even in Earthly death there is life-eternal life.
This wasn't intended to be a sermon. I'm not ever going to tell anyone else what they should believe. That has nothing to do with me! But I want to ask the question if you feel you can stand firm on what you DO believe? If so, hallelujah!! If not, I'm going to leave you with this...standing on ever-shaky ground (or shaky legs)--that is HARD. (If you can't see the embedded video, you can see it here: https://youtu.be/rbLo6su6lHc)
Thanks for sticking with me. My goal is to write more often again. I hope you'll join me, either before or after you go face the hard thing in your life, just not in place of facing it!
*BTW...this is a good example of what happens way to often to be normal. I have a word I want to say and I think of other words instead. I have to say this example is pretty benign. Usually it has been a COMPLETELY wrong word, sometimes even completely made up words that don't exist in common language. I don't usually SAY the word without meaning to, but most of the time when this happens, it helps to say the word so I can find the right word. :D