(This is part 2 of 2 articles; you can read part 1 here.)
A terrible thing happened after I sorted out these thoughts: I lost the will to live.
Not in the suicidal way, but as an unintended consequence of finding peace with dying, I no longer felt any responsibility to survive. Now that I had released myself from any obligation to do good with my experience, I let go of all the yearnings to hang on and be an inspiration.
(Admittedly, it could very well have been something I ate. Certain foods trigger my depression and mood swings.)
However, it happens, regardless. Just like we sometimes want to take God’s forgiveness for granted and excuse ourselves for sinning (Romans 6), I could easily take God’s glory for granted and excuse myself from witnessing.
This is why I’m sharing now, before the lessons are done being learned, before I can say I was cured, before I can stop being embarrassed by how raw and vulnerable it is, before this all blows up in my face; I’m still alive. I still have the Spirit in me, willing me to speak.
Things still could take a turn for the worse, and if they do, I’m back to being Job’s daughter. Until they do, I have to be Job.
So on the one hand, I want to end where I did last time: fear not. Many with Lyme, or cancer, or any other devastating condition are in much worse shape than I ever was. If you wake up every morning with negative spoons, if it’s all you can do to open your eyes and breathe, God loves you.
To those who are tempted to offer the “comforting” advice of “You are still an important part of the body of Christ – use this time to pray,” let me stop you right there and say no, we are not even obligated to do that. The brain fog and mind games that Lyme plays on us are indescribable. I cannot tell you how many times I beat myself up for failing to pray, knowing that I needed to draw close to God now more than ever, and simply couldn’t get my mind to focus any more than the idea. It really was the thought that counted; somewhere deep inside I knew there was a prayer, but my brain literally couldn’t find it.
In the moments when we actually are able to form words in our minds, it’s often only the loop of “My God, help me,” that ever makes it through the pain. It is not selfish to only have the mental capacity to think of yourself. In the deepest most painful part of this journey, “think positive” does not apply to you (though it’s my mantra otherwise). Cry out to God. Allow yourself to suffer. Cling to Him with whatever you have left. It is enough. Not even Christ himself ended with “Father, forgive them.” It was “My God, why have you forsaken me?” and “I thirst,” and “Into your hands I commend my spirit.” There’s a reason he didn’t sing hymns with his dying breath – he was human. He felt unspeakable pain.
If Christ is not guilty in suffering, neither are we.
There is a time to break down. There is a time to weep. There is a time to mourn. There is a time to be silent. (Ecclesiastes 3). Take it, and have peace. God’s joy was to create you in His image, and your duty was to love him. Check and check.
On the other hand, some of us recover. And we teeter on this fine line of finding peace in death and having hope for life, until that beautiful day of remission when we feel free to move on. As my mental capacity expands and my moments of clarity become more frequent, I pick up where I left off. There is a time to heal. There is a time to dance. There is a time to build up. There is a time to speak. A few well-placed sermons convicted me that my times have changed and so have my duties.
It’s a roller coaster recovery. Every moment of every day can present a different “time.” The obligation now is to know how to read the clock.