I walked breathlessly into the sanctuary after dropping our two children at Sunday School. Thirty minutes late, I was anxious to catch any of the sermon - I knew I had no hope of hearing its entirety. I found a seat with my husband and tried to center myself on God. It had been a frustrating morning. The previous week had been horrible with regard to my health, so my capacity - and temper - were extremely diminished. Add to that a son in the midst of the "terrible three's" and, well, you get the picture. We had all recovered well, but I was still reeling a bit.
I knew I was upset by much more than the hard interaction with my son. The finality of Friday's appointment with my endocrinologist was just beginning to sink in: I suffer from adrenal insufficiency - it's official. This condition only gets worse if left untreated and has no cure. The best I can hope for is maintenance, barring a miracle from God Himself. I will be on medicine for the rest of my life, and I will have to closely monitor my stress and overall wellness daily.
On top of that, my body needs constant help with regard to maintaining Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D levels, both necessary and important. The Vitamin B seems to be critical; it, along with the hormones secreted by my adrenal glands, enables my body to maintain "essential life functions" (or so the websites tell me).
Essential life functions? I think while the sermon plays in the background. Am I going to die?
Irrational, I berate myself, shaking my head. Don't go there. But then a more rational voice speaks: you need to go there, if only to be prepared. You have children and a husband; you need to have a plan just in case.
WHAT THE HELL?!? the other voice screams. I'm thirty-three years old; it's not supposed to be like this.
A phrase from a meeting my husband and I had with our priest when we were coming to grips with what it means for Justin to have epilepsy pops into my head: "This is your new normal. You need to re-define your expectations for the go-forward."
At that time, my husband was twenty-nine, and I was thirty-one. Our son was nine months old. We were in the middle of four to five seizures a day with no end in sight. The epilepsy had come on unexpectedly in October of 2008. After months of survival-mode, we crashed our priest's office after one particularly challenging meeting with Justin's neurologist. Denial was over: this was not going away, and we had to learn how to deal with it. The grief was overwhelming.
So, here we are, two-and-a-half years forward but back in the same place: time to redefine our expectations, to evaluate the new normal. Again.
Hmmm, my new normal...my new normal involves limits. And being born again. Something about cycles - their necessity and their life-giving, versus life-taking, properties.
These are the thoughts that have been perculating in the back of my mind, simmering with persistence against the louder, ebb-and-flow power of the flesh-based thoughts. The ones that contain fear and lies and despair and self-pity. It's interesting, therefore, given this internal battle, that the one phrase I registered from the tail-end of the sermon was: wouldn't it be amazing if we could all be born again?
I have no idea what the context was (other than: Nicodemus). I wasn't there for the Daily Readings. I could have heard more but was preoccupied with thoughts of my own mortality. I didn't know it at the time, but something changed in the moment I paid attention to the Word of the Day. It wasn't a lightning bolt, "aha" moment. It was much simpler than that, much quieter. Something like the whisper of a breeze speaking: "pay attention little one, pay attention."
During the Prayers of the People I asked God to heal me - that's when I knew something was different. Tears streaming down my face I realized that was the first time I had actually prayed for healing. I've been struggling with physical ailment my entire life, and with this particular, "enhanced" version for the better part of three-and-a-half years, and I had never "put pen to paper", as it were. I had never asked for what I know is in His power to grant, if He so chooses.
As I spoke the prayer silently I knew that it came from a deep reservoir of peace, a pool deeper than the tumult of despair I more often live from. Somewhere way down deep inside of me the Truth lives. I actually, truly believe. In that place, there is hope. And on Sunday morning, I had access to that place. With no real, good, practical reason, I chose hope over despair, healing over chronic illness, faith over doubt. At the end of one of my worst week's yet.
I'm linking up with Michelle at Hear it on Sunday, use it on Monday. Pop over and read some of the wonderful folks that gather here weekly.