A sweet friend challenged me this week. Not to post photos on social media or answer 20 questions about myself—she really challenged me, gently bringing up a negative pattern she saw in my life.
We were sorting through some difficult questions when she explained that I carry a heaviness with me. I’ll be honest, my first response was to think, “Darn right I have a heaviness about me. You would too if you were facing what I am.”
But, by God’s grace, I kept my mouth shut, determined to take in her words. When I didn’t respond, she asked a few questions, unwilling to just throw a comment at me and leave me to figure it out alone.
Two questions in and I was crying, surprised at my own tears. We uncovered pretty quickly that part of the heaviness is how I cope day to day with my diagnosis. What can be innocent conversations about future plans for others are usually heart wrenching and utterly overwhelming for me.
When you’re facing a terminal disease that hasn’t surfaced yet, every day can feel as if it’s going to be THE DAY the flip switches and you’re officially symptomatic. Creating dreams and goals just seems like asking for disappointment.
As we talked further, I realized something else: underneath my stoic facade was a shocking amount of bitterness. I truly felt that I somehow deserved a better hand than I had been dealt. I mean, come on, I’ve sort of got my life together. Shouldn’t I receive good things? Shouldn’t my road be easier?
Besides, it seems everywhere I look, other people are walking a fairly simple path. Sure they may have hurdles to climb over and the occasional dip, but they aren’t facing a gaping chasm.
Here’s what’s even crazier—I also had the gall to pray, “God, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. You could have easily left the gene for Huntington’s out! Why allow it? Why me?”
I’m not kidding when I say I thought I had dealt with these things. I thought I had put the anger and bitterness behind me. I think I actually just stuffed it down and let it fester while I fought to maintain some semblance of control.
Discovering all of this drove me to the feet of Jesus, which I suspect is the best place any of us can be. I asked Him to reveal my thoughts and attitudes—to make plain my motivations. He did. Oh how He did. And it wasn’t pretty, friends. I think I’ve spent more time this week in prayer and crying than I have in years. And you know what? It’s been one of the most amazing weeks I’ve had in years.
Here’s what the Lord has showed me so far: I say I trust Him to give me His grace for the road ahead. And I do. I say He is in control and Sovereign. And I really believe He is. But, I’m scared. I’m scared of the pain that is likely coming. And I’m angry. I don’t want a walk a hard road.
In fact, I realized that my attitude has been, “God, I’m going to walk this journey you put before me, but I don’t have to be happy about it.”
Really, Shannon? Really?
Even as I type this it’s mind-boggling to me. How could I have operated this way for so long and not realized it? We really are self-deceptive creatures.
But He gives us more grace. Praise Him for that.
I may have a hard journey ahead, but I’m learning that I also have the privilege of discovering what it means to love God and love others more fully. And, the rockier my road gets, the more I’ll have the opportunity to experience God’s peace.
I know God differently today than I did a week ago. I know myself differently today than I did a week ago. I’m so grateful my friend took a chance and said something that could have been taken the wrong way. I’m so grateful we serve a God who wants to reveal Himself to us—who wants to shape us into His likeness.
So, surprise, surprise, I still don’t know what lies ahead. But I do know the One who holds me. I know the One who is able to give me His joy and strength not just at the end of my journey, but every step of the way.
Can’t wait to stand before Him and say, “What a ride, Lord. What a ride.”