Lyme-MSIDS is tragic in many ways, and one of those is that even if you reach full remission, you are permanently changed. You can certainly return to life, fulfill your dreams, and have a rich, vibrant, and healthy future. But you cannot get your old life back. Even if you manage to repair the biological damage, even if you successfully work through the PTSD, even if you return to the same career, you cannot come out on the other side of Lyme without new memories, emotions, and habits. The way you learned to manage stress is going to stay with you forever (it has to, or you’ll likely relapse). The way you learn to eat for nutrition and control inflammation will always be there. Many people can’t help but work harder for advocacy and education of chronic illness. You will be changed.
Accepting the loss of your life doesn’t have to be a tragedy; personally, I don’t want my old life back. I prefer the new smarter, healthier, more empathetic me. But I find achieving remission isn’t just leaving the old ignorant me behind, and gaining freedom from my current pain and stress, it’s also trading it for a new set of anxieties. The work is never finished. Where I lacked empathy before, I now care too much. Where my ignorance was bliss before, now my knowledge is torture. I have learned, the hard way, the urgency of nutrition, resisting modern conveniences for the sake of health, the importance of insect-bite prevention, the fatal errors of the medical and pharmaceutical systems, and the dangers of media and social ideology. This knowledge saved my life and cured me of many ailments, so naturally I want to share it. But no one listens. No one believes. Now I watch people suffer and I take responsibility for it. Now I’m back to screaming in the wilderness while the city crumbles. Now I am alone in my thinking and isolated from society. What good is surviving when the world I come back to is such a hostile place?
On a simpler, physical plane, now that I know what dangers lurk in every food, product, and environment, I will always have to be vigilant about avoiding or counteracting them. I will always take precautions when stepping on grass, when cooking my food, when shopping. The effects of this disease will never end, because the cure is not in a simple pill or remedy. The cure is in a life change. I am struggling to accept that, because I am so tired, and I’m so alone, and all I want is to rest. I want more than the cure; I want eradication. I won't be completely free of Lyme trauma until bugs stop spreading disease and people stop getting chronic illnesses. In other words, never.
The Cure Caveat
And thus it is with the Christian life. God has cured our sin illness - we will not die in hell because of it. The Bible says we are a new creation. The old self has been cast off and we put on a new self. While sometimes we miss the carefree ignorance of our former lives, we know the new one is better, smarter, and full of hope. But we still struggle with the effects of our Invisible Illness. We still have to remain vigilant, lest sin enter our lives so casually that we embrace it again and forget God’s place. We still need to work hard to build up an immune system of faith and trust, so when we are attacked by spirochetes of sin, we can fight them off. And we will always feel this burden of knowing the truth and the life-saving consequences of it, yet those we love most will not listen, and will not believe. Being a Christian is not a happy life. True, it provides us comfort and joy in our souls when we need it the most, but it is also a tragedy in day-to-day earthly life. It is lonely, it is painful, and God teaches us the greatest lessons through the greatest suffering.
However, unlike the physical diseases of this world, there is a promise from God that He will provide us rest from this weary battle: eradication. This journey will not go on forever. We will not wander in this wilderness, hot and thirsty and ready to collapse for eternity. While Lyme scares us senseless in bringing us face-to-face with the reality of hell, it also shows us a most wonderful blessing in convincing us of the reality of heaven.
We do not have to agonize over whether or not our illness is chronic or terminal. We do not have to tremble in fear that this fight will never end. We do not have to despair over the loss of our dreams, over regrets, over the things we never got to do, and the places we never got to see. We do – I know I do – but there is no need! The cold hard fact, the reality, is that when we die, we are going to a place where all pain and suffering has been eradicated. A very real place, where the God of the universe dwells, together with all His power, glory, creativity, and love. There’s not a single person, a single place, or a single experience on earth that I can miss out on that would have been as good as the direct, real, pure source of inspiration itself. Love on earth is merely a substandard representation of God’s love in heaven. Nature on earth is a corrupted dump heap of God’s original glorious design. The architecture and arts and music that so inspire my soul on earth are poor sketches, just blurry outlines of the genius and creativity that God Himself has imparted from heaven. I know we can’t see it on Instagram, and it’s so very painful to be stuck in bed while everyone else takes on the wonders of this world. But we aren’t missing a thing. If you have accepted Jesus’s gift of salvation and eradication of the sinful life, you have, literally, all of eternity to explore the vast riches of His heaven. For real. Plan on it and anticipate it as much as your next vacation.
For thousands of years, the Jewish people waited and longed for the salvation that God promised. We observe their long wait in the month of December, as the Advent season, leading up to Christmas, when the much-anticipated gift finally appeared on earth. What a glorious celebration it is! And we also observe a new wait, for the second of God’s promises – the eradication – when Jesus comes back to earth again, not as a baby to be sacrificed, but as the ruler to reign, forever and ever. The disease of humanity will be gone forever, and all the scars will be erased. No more torture, no more loneliness, no more shouting in vain in the wilderness. No more struggling and fighting to keep your head above the water. Just rest.
It is coming.
Read: Isaiah 35
2 Corinthians 4:16 – 5:21