chronic lyme disease with a taste of nut
Who would have thought that a national holiday would bring me such ache and sadness?
It was one year ago today that I remember being bed-ridden for the first time. My family wanted to go to the fireworks display like we always do on the 4th and I had this strange viral outbreak causing my legs to burn, pin-prick, and go numb. They went on sadly without me and I stayed home on the couch with my cat.
Had I known that, one year later, I would be home, indoors, once again during the 4th of July festivities that I love so much, I don’t think you would have convinced me to see any hope whatsoever.
It’s a tough anniversary. An annoying pity party and I am once again the only one in attendance and the party is so awful that my moodiness tries to keep playing depressing music and sitting me in the corner.
Wait, that was prom.
Ok, seriously now – I’m in a house and, again, hear fireworks go off, little firecrackers crackle and sizzle. So much activity happening everywhere else but in my little room.
See how easy it is to slip and fall into the pit?
“What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness? – Psalm 30:9
I have pondered that verse often. Of course I can’t praise God if I’m too busy feeling sorry for myself and throwing up my victim confetti. I know all about what I should do; it’s what I want to do – or what I find myself doing by default – that is the problem. Pity parties are notorious for being:
At pity parties we tell the same story over and over again. The nostalgia game makes those in attendance and even the host want to vomit. “Remember when I used to walk normally? Remember when I could go to the fireworks and barbecue out and eat the food everyone else eats? Remember when…” blah blah blah [insert Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice here].
I used to be an expert pity party host. But I’m realizing that I need this one crashed – not just crashed, but burned.
I need this party to be disseminated and dispersed. What good is there in it? How can I possibly feel better?
How can I possibly be who I am when I am too busy being who I was?
So will I continue sinking in the muck and play in the ashes? There is so much hope today as opposed to last year – hope I can see and hope I can make appointments with and hope I can take with water in the morning, noon, 4:00, and bedtime. The other kind of hope – the kind Jesus gives – I had last year and the year before and so back and back before my beginning. That is sustaining hope. The hope that stays.
Will I worship illness instead of my God? Will I give in to what the world says and forget the promises my Father gives?
That’s a difficult door-closing when you’re used to soaking in the seduction of nostalgic sadness and pity. I look at others’ Facebook pictures of happy families going to picnics and awestruck children gazing up at the sky’s light display. I miss that so much. But I’m closing the door on the “but I….”
I’m closing the door on the “Remember when I could…”
Because I forget that I can. I forget that I can praise God in the middle of the wilderness just like I can in the middle of a season of plenty.
On the day that celebrates our country’s freedom, I can celebrate the freedom I have in Christ. I may be stuck in bed or on the couch or in the staleness of air conditioning, but I guarantee there are people who can’t be free in their country, in their bodies, or in their faith. I know there are people bound in wheelchairs who have gobs more faith than I do and there are people who can’t even access clean water or wheelchairs who have heaps more hope than I do in my clean, American, nicely-decorated bedroom.
I can rejoice in the fact that I have all that I do and I can realize that all that I have can be taken away in an instant – and that’s okay because God will never leave nor forsake me.
So I will have a big party tonight, thank you very much. I will not go down into the pit – not this July 4th. Not on this anniversary. I will not turn to dust and mourn all night long. I will focus on Jesus and my freedom in Him.
I still ponder Psalm 30:9 and how, in a favorite song of mine by Audra Lynn – “Jesus Make Me Yours” – she uses that verse and sings:
what good is there in me
when I go down to the pit
will the dust yet praise you?
Will the rocks all cry out?
I know that, sometimes, we do go down in the pit. Sometimes we are dust and ashes. What does God do with ashes? He turns them into beauty (Isaiah 61:3). In Audra Lynn’s wording of Psalm 30, it almost sounds like it’s a dare – when we are in the pit, will we praise Him? When we are dust, will we praise Him still?
It’s such a testimony to His faithfulness and unfailing love to thank Him in the Hard, not just in the Easy. In the Drought, not just in the Drenched.
So I’m going to have that party. I’m proclaiming God’s goodness and faithfulness. I’m throwing off the chains of complaining and wistful wishing and declaring that God’s plans for me are bigger and better than any plans I might mourn or imagine for myself.
My if-only’s are you-will-be’s to God!
So, yes, in the pit I will praise Him. If I am dust, I will run after Him unflinchingly and praise His might and power and thank Him for giving me the opportunity to worship Him and not anything so small as chronic illness.
What can you celebrate today? What thing might be yanking you down into the pit and how can you climb out in victory?
I am here
for one purpose
I am here
for one thing
just to praise You…
just to praise You…
– “Jesus Make Me Yours” by Audra Lynn
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