The last two days have been hard. Really hard. Unexpectedly so. Two days ago, I drafted my letter to my family asking them for their pledges and support while I participated in the upcoming bike ride. While I was writing it, my mom suggested that I include some information about what MS is, for those that aren’t familiar. I thought this was probably a good idea so I logged on the internet and poked around until I found some info to include. While I poked, however, I also found a whole myriad of possibilities for those with MS. None of them were good. Blindness. Paralysis. Dementia. Awesome.
Of course, I know about these things and the potential to develop them myself. But I had chosen to stay very focused on my own disease, my own treatment, my own experiences, and not let others bring me into a whirlwind of anxious “what if'”s. That is until two days ago.
The last two days, all I’ve been able to think about are the “what if'”s. All that keeps running through my head is how futile it is for me to have a bike rack installed on my manual transmission car (my husband’s latest and greatest idea), if I might lose the ability to drive, let alone bike. I’ve had bad allergies and am taking allergy medicine in addition to all the other preventative measures I’m taking, and the last few days I’ve been just exhausted. And I’ve had a headache. And I’ve been terrified that this could be some kind of flare-up of the MS, that maybe my brain was developing more lesions. I know that this is not likely, but the last couple of days I’ve just been scared, and fear is not known for it’s rationality.
The neurologist that said that at my one year mark, I’d have another MRI. He said that if those scans were clean, I could start thinking about all the things I wanted to do with my life, maybe even have a child, because the treatment was effective. And he said that he has great confidence that my scans will be clean. But the last 48 hours, I’ve been thinking a lot about the alternative.
So tonight, as I was cooking dinner, I was playing some of that “christian rock & roll”, as my husband calls it, and a few things occurred to me. First, in Matthew 11:29-30 Jesus says “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” I heard this verse in a song and scoffed a little- THIS burden doesn’t seem light, THIS yoke sure as hell doesn’t seem easy. How can he say this? How can he claim that if we draw close to him it’ll be all rainbows and puppy tails? Easy and light? Was he thinking of MS when he said this? And then it occurred to me- it isn’t easy because it isn’t hard work. It’s light and easy because he’s helping me, and the burden is easier to bear with him. In fact, because he’s so strong, he’ll bear the brunt of it.
As I was ruminating on these ideas, another song came on. The lyrics say “when the darkness closes in still I will say, blessed be the name of the Lord, blessed be your name.” And I was thinking, I really don’t FEEL like blessing you for a yoke, a burden, no matter how light you say it’ll be, no matter how much you say you’ll be helping me. And then the next line “my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name.” Ah, there it is. CHOOSE. I won’t praise his name because I feel like it. I won’t praise his name because it’s all peachy keen and roses. I won’t praise his name because I have no burdens or even because he promises to make them light. I will praise his name because he deserves it and because I CHOOSE to. I’m certainly not always going to feel like doing it. I’m certainly not always going to want to. I will have days, even weeks, where I’m scared or life is hard or this burden feels heavy. And in the midst of that, I will have to CHOOSE to praise his name, to say blessed be the name of the Lord. Because this action, this defiant decision in the face of my circumstance, directs me back to him, back to truth.
I remember one Sunday, years ago, when I was talking with a friend at church about a particularly painful experience I was going through. I had just broken an engagement and it all felt very public, very terrible, very difficult- I couldn’t imagine anything harder. And as I was talking with her, I was pouring out how hurt I was and interspersing it with how good God was, she interrupted me and said “Laurin, have you noticed that whenever you talk about the situation and how you feel, whenever the focus is that, you burst into tears. But whenever you talk about God and state the things that you know to be true, you stop crying, you’re much more calm?” It was an epiphany. It was a lightbulb moment. When I focused on God and his truth more than my circumstance, which was painful, I was solid, sure, peaceful even. This is still true today.
I will bless the name of the Lord when it is hard because he deserves it. I will bless the name of the Lord when I am irrationally afraid because it is good for my soul, it reassures me. I will bless the name of the Lord even though this situation sucks because I know him and I know that even though this isn’t MY plan, it is a good plan, because he is good. So take that fear! I’m choosing to bless him anyway. Even if it isn’t easy.