Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Betrayed by My Body, but Not by God

“…For God has said, “I will never, never fail you nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5b (TLB)

I reached back to hook my bra. Nooo…well, maybe…ugh! I gave up. It just wasn’t going to happen today. Perhaps tomorrow I’d try again, and if not then, maybe the next day I would be able to accomplish something I used to take for granted every day. Every day before RA and shoulder surgery, that is.

It’s not just my bra that’s a challenge, either. From opening a jar to shooting baskets with my 10-year-old to losing weight, nothing seems easy anymore and there are some things that just seem impossible now. Some days, I have the patience to deal with my new limitations, while on others, I want to just scream with frustration. I hear myself echoing the same sentiments I encounter on online support boards for people with rheumatoid arthritis and similar chronic illnesses, “What has happened to my body??!!”

The first time I heard someone talk about the effects of this illness, the person gave a short but very succinct testimony, “I was fit and active. Then my body betrayed me.” He went on to explain the daily pain he was now in and the lengths he had gone to in trying to treat and manage his disease, but to no end. He was now struggling to deal with his “new normal” and comparing it to life “before” was not making it any easier.

Change is hard. We grow up not realizing how well our parents cared for us until we are suddenly thrust into adulthood, having to pay our own bills and manage family responsibilities of our own. We can find ourselves overwhelmed and feeling underwater, even when on the surface, things seem good. When trouble – divorce, job loss, or serious illness – comes into our lives, the feelings of “What happened??” are even more intense. We look back at what we thought we had – the perfect marriage, the ideal job, the best body – and even perhaps remember how hard we worked for those – and we are struck with grief over our losses and can’t help but feel betrayed.

In divorce, often that sense of anger and betrayal is focused on the ex-spouse. In job loss, it’s towards the former employer. But what about when you feel your body has betrayed you? Who then to blame? There are only two places that anger goes – towards ourselves and towards God.

I see others with my disease who are accomplishing more, and my jealousy becomes anger turned inwards. “I should be able to do more!” I cry. I feel ashamed and worthless. The pity party begins. Sometimes I can snap out of it. Sometimes I can’t and it becomes a daily depression I must fight just to keep going.

At other times, when I find myself fighting uphill battles that I just can’t win because of my illness, I stop getting mad at me and get mad at God instead. After all, I didn’t cause this disease, did I? No, it just happened. As hard as I have worked and as many treatments I have tried, I can’t get back the life I had and I can’t cure my disease. “God, I want my life back!!” I scream.

And God whispers back, “You still have your life. I’m still here.”

It's then I see the many blessings around me that I didn't even notice because I was too busy being wrapped up in Nevermore.

Fleetwood Mac had it right when they penned the song lyrics, “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow … yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone!” Our lives move forward, not backwards. And as tempting as it is to continue to look in the rear view mirror, yesterday wasn’t perfect either. There were struggles then too. Just of a different kind. God didn’t leave you then and he’s not leaving you now. In fact, He says over and over again in the Bible, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” I know that when I look back over my life, that promise rings true. I can see that one set of footprints in the sand where He carried me. The challenge is keeping my heart open for Him to carry me through whatever I am struggling with today.

One of the obstacles I have been facing lately is some extra weight I have gained that just doesn’t want to come off, no matter how much I diet and exercise. Worried about the impact this might have on my young marriage, I expressed my frustration to my husband. He encouraged me that perhaps I should be more patient. It was then I had to confess my real fear. “But what if I never lose it?” I asked him. “Could you still love me the way I look now…if I never get back to where I used to be?” With the kindest look in his eyes, he gently lifted my face to his. “Don’t you understand? It’s not about how you look or what you can do. I love you!” he said. I knew this was something I needed to hear, something I needed to internalize as the truth. And I knew it wasn’t just my spouse who was telling me this. It was God. My body may have betrayed me, but He did not. I am loved. Just the way I am.

Has your disease or life situation made you feel betrayed? Can you let go of your anger at yourself and God so that He can carry you through what you’re experiencing? You may not be all you used to be, but you are perfectly loved right where you are – and for who you are - today

Betrayed by My Body, but Not by God originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins.  Get even more encouragement by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

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