*Disclaimer— This post will talk a lot about my faith. I know there is a lot of controversy on that subject, and while I would never try to push my beliefs on anyone else, I wanted to give you all a fair warning before you dive into this one. Also, I respect your right to believe or not to believe, so please respect my right to believe and write about it as well. I share and write everything I do in hopes that my personal experiences can help others as well. And if religion and faith isn’t your thing then that’s ok, I love you anyways!
Coping with loss
I recently dealt with the death of my grandfather, and while it hasn’t been even a month, its still something I think about daily. The thing about death is that even though a part of your life is now missing, life still goes on around you as if everything is exactly the same. I think that has been the most difficult part for me. He is gone, and it feels like a substantial piece of me is missing, but I have to keep living my life. I know that’s exactly what he would want me to do, but it is harder than I imagined.
The finality scares me
Death is very surreal to me. Even though we knew his time was coming, I didn’t expect to feel this way after he was gone. It doesn’t feel real. It feels like the next time I go to his house to visit he will still be sitting in his recliner to meet me with an ornery grin and ask me how I’m doing. It’s made me rethink life and everything that I know to be true. The craziest thing to me about life is how you do everything in your power to grow to be a good person. Our parents raise us to be functioning members of society, we go off on our own and find our passions and success. We work hard, and we strive to live and to love to the fullest, and then one day we’re gone. When we leave this earth, our families are left to grieve, to preserve our memory and to pick up any of our loose ends. It’s bizarre to me after I’ve had this much time to think about it. He’s just gone, and that’s like a huge punch in my gut. It leaves me breathless and it hurts. I’ve always been scared to lose my loved ones, and losing him was no different in that sense. The finality of it is scary to me. The only thing that makes sense to me when I think about how confusing and life changing this has been is my faith.
How faith has helped me
I was raised in a religious household and knew about Jesus from the time I could walk. That doesn’t mean my faith has always been strong, though. There have been many times in my life where my faith has faltered, and I’ve questioned my beliefs. But, through all of that, something has held me and gently carried me to where I am now. Looking back, now, I have no doubt in my mind that it was God.
Everyone has problems, big and small
I don’t believe I was created to have MS, or that there is a reason for MS. But, I do believe that through MS, my God has a plan for me. I believe He knew MS would be a part of my life and He knew that it would be a reason my faith would be tested. Everyone has problems in their lives, big and small. We all face them at some point. I believe God uses these problems to bring light. Although we can’t see this in the midst of the problem, I have seen firsthand how the Lord has used my personal testimony (everything I went through in the past, especially after diagnosis) as a way to now help and serve others in the same circumstances. I don’t believe God wants any of his children to suffer, but when sin entered this world, that brought all of the bad to the surface. He did not promise us a life without any suffering, but He did promise He would lead us through it. Even when we can’t see it or feel it, God is at work in our lives.
My hope sustains me
Right after being diagnosed at 14, I was angry and hurt. I didn’t see why God would allow something like this to happen to someone so young. I had the “why me” mentality, and I played the victim for a long time. But, now I can see that even then He had a plan. He’s always working even when we don’t understand. I’m by no means a perfect person or a perfect Christian, but I find hope in knowing that He loves me anyways; that even at my lowest He is there to lift me up. Prayer and my faith are one of my biggest strongholds in this disease. I know that faith and religion isn’t everyone’s choice, but I don’t know where I would be without it. It gives me strength even when I feel like I can’t go on. This past month after losing my grandfather, I’ve struggled so much. Physically and emotionally I feel weak and weary, but my faith keeps me going. It’s what I cling to. My faith is what saves me, but my hope sustains me each and every day. I’m only human, so there are days where anger and depression dig their claws into me. I lose focus and forget the beauty of everyday things. But when those days come, I try to redirect myself and remember the verses that give me hope.
Verses that give me hope
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” -James 1:2-4
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. -Philippians 4:6
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:13
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” -2 Corinthians 12:9
Giving me strength on bad days
These are just a few of the many verses that I love. These verses give me hope and strength on the bad days. I hold tightly to these promises, because, in my opinion, nothing else can give me hope like He does. To me, faith and hope go hand in hand. And, without them, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I wouldn’t have hope in a better future, and I wouldn’t be able to continue to wake up every day with a smile on my face. He has turned my life around, He has saved me even when I was at my lowest, and He has given me the strength to continue to fight this disease and whatever else life may bring.