Throughout the last five years I have struggled in a vicious battle against Lyme Disease. When I was nineteen years old I got a tick bite while camping. It was the first tick bite I had ever gotten. I had no idea that this small tick bite would impact my life from that day forward. Within just a few days I became very sick with flu-like symptoms. Then a bullseye rash appeared on my left hip. I went to the E.R. & was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. I had never even heard of Lyme Disease. So I left the hospital with a game plan & little to no concern over where this was headed. I was going to take the antibiotics & move on with my life.
Unfortunately, I didn't get to just move on with my life. Instead my health deteriorated almost daily. At the time I was a full-time college student & working part-time for the ministry that I still work for today. I remember calling my Mom my sophomore year & saying, "Mama, I can't do this! I hurt so bad every day! I can't take this!" I was heartbroken as this disease slowly took over my life. I felt defeated, ashamed, & angered. It wasn't fair! I was too young to be sick. Yet it didn't matter. I was sick & no amount of "fit-throwing" was going to change that.
My senior year of college I seemed to do a bit better. I still fought migraines every day, joint pain, & a constant exhaustion, but I had learned to live with these symptoms. In fact, I contributed much of my exhaustion to "doing too much." There is no such thing as "part-time" ministry. I was working more hours than expected, planning a wedding, & trying to keep ahead in my studies. Exhaustion was to be expected.
I married my husband in May of 2013. We were so excited to embark on this journey together. He truly is my best friend! Every day with him is an adventure & I am beyond blessed to be the woman he chose to spend his life with. On May 18th we stood before our family & friends & promised to love each other through sickness & health. We had no idea what those words would mean in the months to come. We were blissfully unaware of the path that we would be forced to walk.
In July of 2013 my symptoms worsened to an unbearable level. It didn't seem to matter how much I slept, I could never get enough rest. Every day activities became overwhelming. I remember one day having to rest after taking a shower because just a shower completely wiped me out. I was in excruciating pain every day! I was exhausted from fighting this disease & yet at night I couldn't sleep because of my pain level. It was a never-ending battle!
We knew that we had hit an all-time low for my health. My husband & I began to pray for answers. After several months of trying different things I went back to the naturalist I had seen early on in my diagnosis. She put me on 80 lyme drops a day & thirty-eight pills. For the next year I saw her every six weeks. Each time she would adjust my meds for whatever I was needing at that specific time. Due to Lyme Disease several of my organs have suffered: liver, kidneys, adrenal gland, thyroid, gut, etc. This disease literally took over my body to the point that my body no longer does the things that God created it to do.
As of this last Thursday we are finally beginning to see improvements. My liver is functioning better, there is less stress on my kidney, & my thyroid has began to function. I am not "well" by any means. I have to continue taking all of my meds, but we have finally found a combination of medicine that is working!
I have spent the last forty-eight hours completely overwhelmed! This disease has challenged me to my very core. I am an incredibly strong-willed person. I have fought this disease with everything I have & yet in the last month I simply had to "give up." Two weeks ago I finally accepted that I wasn't going to "get well" & that was okay. God never promised to make me well... He promised to sustain me. I prayed with my husband & decided to lay it down & live life to the full in spite of Lyme Disease.
When I walked in Thursday, I was expecting to see "no improvement" & I had already decided to be "okay" with that. For the last year I have felt like a failure for not being able to "beat" Lyme. I was doing everything the doctor said & yet I wasn't getting well. Therefore, the progress that was found this month shocked me. This is by far the best news we have received on my health in five years. I am so unbelievably thankful!
On the way home I heard a song on the radio & I cried like a baby! The song states, "You were there when it all came down on me. And I was blinded by my fear. And I struggled to believe. But in those unclear moments you were the one keeping me strong. This is how my story's always gone. I have won & I have lost. I got it right sometimes. But sometimes I did not. Life's been a journey. I've seen joy, I've seen regret & You have been my God through all of it. And this is who you are. More constant than the stars up in the sky. All these years of our lives I look back & I see You. Right now I still do & I'm always going to."...You have been my God through all of it...I have been privileged to see God's hand in every step of this horrific battle.
I have learned so many things throughout my battle with Lyme. I have seen the promise of Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the of those who love the Lord, who have been called according to His purpose." This promise does not mean that lyme is "something good." What it does mean is that God will take this ugly, devastating piece of my story & combine it with glorious moments so that others will come to know Him. And that is of far greater good than a life-time of health.
As humans we believe we are invincible! We have dreams & plans & we tend to think that nothing & no one can derail those things. However, that simply isn't the case. Our lives can change in an instant. Our dreams can be shattered into a million pieces. In July of 2010 my life was forever changed, but my life is not over.
I am a huge planner & a bit of a control-freak. Through this battle I have began to learn how to live in the "moment." Matthew 6:34 says, "Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Lyme changes every single day. I am learning to enjoy the good days & worry less about the "bad" days that could lie ahead. After all, we are only promised today. Our lives are only a vapor. While I get to walk this life I want to "live". I don't want to sit around & worry about my health.
Tonight I am thankful for a God who truly has seen us through it all! He has never let me go! He has picked up the pieces of my broken heart numerous times. He has gently reminded me that He has a plan in spite of the pain. He has placed people in my path who speak life when I need it the most. He has given me an amazing husband who never wavers. Curtis is my strength when I don't have any left. I've been blessed with an amazing family & countless friends who spur me on.
Therefore, tonight I lift my hands in victory & leave it all on the "altar." My Lord held nothing back when He placed His son on a cross for our sins. I don't want to hold anything back in my attempt to live this life for His glory! I want to live with abandon & allow Him to write His story on my heart... After all, He has always been the main character. We just get the opportunity to participate in the grace. Our lives become a beautiful path that points back to the one who put us here when we allow Him to use our joys & our sorrows for His glory.
Shortly before His death Jesus uttered the words, "I have told you these things, so that in me you will have peace. In this life you will have trouble, but do not fear for I have overcome the world."- (John 16:33) We were never promised a life free of trouble. In fact, we were warned of the trouble that would come. Our Lord did not promise to "spare" us from trouble. Instead He overcame the world so that we could spend an eternity in His presence. No matter what we face in this life we can "bank" on Christ. Eternal life is coming!
Today I get to celebrate earthly success. I attribute the success of my treatment at this current time to the God who created my body. I am so thankful for less painful days & I will continue to pray for full-healing. Yet if that does not come I have an immense amount of peace knowing that my God can & will sustain me through any trial. The battle belongs to the Lord!
"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run & not grow weary, they will walk & not faint."- Isaiah 40:31