Monday, November 14, 2016

The Art of Joyful Living, Pt. 3

Dalia Hill - Midland, Michigan
Fear - we all have fears.  They may be hidden deep for no one to see, but they are there.  Often it takes time to realize that a fear is budding, but when we realize it, we can't let it take root and grow because it will begin to block out the light of joy.

Having MS has presented a whole new world of fears to me.  Real and imagined.  Some I've had to face and have been able to accept the new reality and move on.  Like giving myself shots.  The thought horrified me, but after a week the whole daily ordeal seemed rather anti-climatic, and I've been able to accept it and move on.  Occasionally I have a day where I just don't want to poke myself or I'm feeling especially vulnerable so I ask for help.  I let someone else gain a little pleasure from poking me with a needle!  Other things, like driving, I often have to assess myself to make sure I'm seeing well and am not too tired to be behind the wheel.  I've lost my confidence because I don't want to put myself or someone else in an unsafe situation.  

My future is a fear that I don't have to face.  I don't know what it will be, so I simply pull a sheet over the fear and don't look at it.  I avoid thinking about what may or may not be.  There is a woman who goes to my church back home that has MS.  She has been an amazing help and encouragement to my mom.  I know this woman.  She had kids at the same school I attended.  Naturally she was around basketball games, school plays and church picnics.  I was the kid and she was the parent who always had a smile and hug.  She didn't have MS back then.  

A few years after I left home she was diagnosed and the disease has slowly progressed for her.  The first Sunday I was home this fall, I was standing in the back of the church lobby with my parents while people were meandering out of the auditorium following morning service.  My mom caught a glimpse of this friend and commented that I should go talk with her.  Instead, I stood there, rooted to my spot, barely able to breathe.  I watched her walk slowly and purposefully to the exit.  I couldn't move.  The sheet that I had casually thrown over my fear, slipped off and crumbled onto the floor at my feet.  It was exposed and all I could do was turn and run.  

I felt awful.  For the next few days I couldn't stop thinking about my fears.  I rather liked living far away where I didn't have to look at what the future may or may not hold.  As the days passed, I realized how this fear had stolen my joy.  I knew that it would take much longer for me to regain that joy if I faced my fear rather than try to ignore it.

Finally, I borrowed my mom's bike and rode to church where she works.  I chose not to drive the two miles because I needed the time before and after to process.  Propelling the bike along with my own energy help burn off some of the anxiety I was feeling.

Graciously, she showed me into her office and shut the door.  The next hour unfolded into a beautiful time of listening, hearing, sharing my fears, being encouraged and praying for one another.  She took my fear and squashed it like the ugly bug it was.  She showed me that although there is pain, there is a greater closeness to God.  Although there is exhaustion, there is a greater appreciation for life and the gift of today that God has given us.

So fear.  We have a choice to let it run our lives and stop us from enjoying today or we can chose to face our fears and do what is needed to walk through them holding God's hand.

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