Part 5

I sallied forth to visit my parents this past week. Travel didn’t used to be a big deal. I was raised in a road-trip-taking family. We drove all night, listening to late night radio. We hiked over the top of 14,000-foot peaks. Crossing multiple states by car or train was commonplace.

As a young married, my husband and I followed the same model. We took our firstborn as an eight month old for a two-week camping trip to Colorado, staying in a tent and hiking even more challenging peaks, kid strapped to our backs. We camped with four kids across the mid-section of America during the summer heat. All-night car trips to reach the mountains by morning were common. Five times we’ve moved cross country with a passel of six kids.

I was the adventurous mom. When my husband had to work long hours, I carted all the kids to their events as the lone parent. I attended all-day swim meets, gymnastics meets, baseball games, and debate or soccer tournaments with several younger children in tow. They always knew Mom was fully stocked with food and games for the day, and I have fond memories of their sweet cooperation. I loved this life so much!

Then twenty years in, everything changed.

Drastic health issues began to alter the way I was able live. On the outside I looked the same. My inner desires never altered. I still yearned to do the things I was accustomed to doing, and I attempted with all my might to continue.

But this resulted in embarrassing mishaps, resulting stress, and anxiety increasing with each trip away from home – even simply to go to the grocery store. Eventually debilitating panic attacks occurred whenever I ventured forth. Even then, I kept going. Ten years in, I found myself frozen at home with agoraphobia.

As my health challenges all worked like tributaries in a river, each one adding to the sum total until the mighty Mississippi surged oceanward, everything combined to form a conglomeration of autoimmune diseases. These require piles of supplements, medications, medical procedures, physical therapies, and lifelong maintenance, even though, of the more than one hundred such diseases, mine are relatively mild.

These trials were carefully crafted by God for my refining. And, refine they do indeed. As part of life’s journey, we are often remade.

These trials were carefully crafted by God for my refining. And, refine they do indeed. As part of life's journey, we are often remade. Click To Tweet

Thus, a simple trip to visit my parents required careful menu planning for weeks before, during, and after. Medications had to be ordered, packaged together for specific times with every possible scenario seriously considered, so the “as needed” drugs could be ready. Clothing had to be carefully planned for any eventuality or mishap. Packing took a day and a half for one small carryon. Routes and travel times were chosen with care, according to physical complications that typically occur at particular times.

This is the tedious lifestyle of the chronically ill. Sometimes it simply crushes the spirit right out of an adventurer. Yet, I still attempt it. I love my family. I love to go. I love to see new things. I seek to do what I know the Lord would have me to do. I persist.

The trip was entirely worth it. One of our sons and his family joined us. As my father’s health slowly but surely continues to decline and my mother tirelessly cares for him, this trip was essential. I would do it all over again, even with the required maintenance, preventatives, pills, dietary rules, necessary inconveniences, and inevitable collapse when I arrived back home.

Finding my identity in Christ has been the lifesaver. Identifying with Jesus in each discomfort, embarrassment, and potential social disaster has made all the difference.

Finding my identity in Christ has been the lifesaver. Identifying with Jesus in each discomfort, embarrassment, and potential social disaster has made all the difference. Click To Tweet
In each and every pain or embarrassing accident, I have felt the camaraderie of Jesus – he who was crucified naked and who publicly underwent the worst torture devised by humankind. In each sleepless night or agonizing day, I remember him, how he lived, and what he suffered, receiving comfort from him and thus enabling me to comfort others. I’m glad for this journey he has given me. It is well with my soul.

I never would have chosen these complications, yet I intend to hold his hand all the way home, for the rest of life’s journey, come what may. I surrender.

We never know what curves and bends lie ahead on this road called life. But may we use each and every one to cling ever more tightly to Jesus.

We never know what curves and bends lie ahead on this road called life. But may we use each and every one to cling ever more tightly to Jesus. Click To Tweet

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3-7 NIV).

To find my faith-filled fiction, simply click on the picture of me.