This post is from a couple of weeks ago when we had our last blizzard of the year. My good friend, Becki Casey, always told us at The Barn, “Look for the parables.” So, here is what I learned on a day when it rained and it poured, or rather when it snowed and it blizzarded. It’s also a glimpse into one of our hard days of facing chronic illness as a family.
Lyme Disease Diagnosed
Mark’s Lyme disease diagnosis has been a huge blessing and a huge frustration. We are thankful for a knowledgeable and skilled doctor to help us maneuver and navigate this path. We are also thankful for the circle of family and friends surrounding us to help with just about everything. We are truly blessed. However, in some ways, our family still has to walk our path alone. We have our Abba right beside us, of course, but still, we have to apply elbow grease to our life.
Today is a very good example. Yesterday, our kids were riding their bikes, rollerblading and enjoying the green, wide open spaces. This morning, in a matter of hours, we were barely able to shovel the thick, wet, and heavy snow in our driveway. To make matters worse, the snow plow had gone by before we could get out and shovel, making it seem more like an igloo at the end of the driveway, rather than a mound of snow to be removed.
I also work at the hotel today. It is a blessing to help us pay the bills, and a frustration to try to accomplish all that needs to be done before I leave this afternoon. Thankfully, I will be able to put the suburban into four-wheel drive and slowly make my way down the roads.
In the process of shoveling, the kids and I yelled, cried, and together eventually got the driveway and the sidewalk shoveled. Mark’s disease prevents him from heavy lifting, and his fatigue does not allow him to help. We are very careful about where he puts his energy, therefore, the kids and I do the bulk of the heavy lifting around our house.
I can’t protect our kids from everything
I have come to peace with not being able to protect our kids from the emotional and mental pain, and harsh realities of a sick parent. I can’t protect them, but I can walk beside them. I can coach them, mentor them, and then let them decide. It has never worked to force anyone to do anything. In the end, each of us must choose the course of our life. It is hard to not step in and rescue our kids. I am always reminded of Father training Almanzo in the book Farmer Boy. Specifically, the scene where Almanzo is training his oxen to pull logs from the forest. Together he and Father go back and forth, back and forth. Except Almanzo gets stuck more often than he is successful. Father does not stop and help pull him out, though he does continue to go back and forth to check on him. He makes sure Almanzo is safe and ok, but doesn’t rescue him from the frustration. Father knows if he lets Almanzo struggle through it, he will be better for it in the end. Almanzo eventually learns how to work together with his team to be successful, and I am confident, our kids will do the same.
Looking for teachable moments
Oddly, like Almanzo, our training ground also involved a large pile of snow. As we shoveled, Maddie was faced with learning she could trump her emotions. She learned just because she felt angry, did not mean she had to live out and act out the anger. She could claim what scripture says is true of her, and choose joy. Sometimes we have to force ourselves past the pain and bitterness, and step into joy and peace. This does not mean she stuffed it down and ignored the pain. That is entirely different and destructive and would still have to be faced down the road. It means she acknowledged, before God, how painful and heavy shoveling was. She goes before the Lord right then and there to tell Him exactly what she thinks of her circumstance. She is able to process right then and there, then let it go and step into peaceful elbow grease. Sometimes the peaceful elbow grease still requires tears because even though she is willing to continue shoveling, it’s still hard, heavy, wet snow.
My prayer through Mark’s illness is that it would draw us closer together as a family. I want it to give us more compassion and understanding to give to a hurting world. We can allow our circumstance to separate us and drive us apart, or we can draw closer to the Lord, to each other and to the world.
We are excited as a family as we pursue a treatment for Mark that we believe is going to aid in his healing. The kids and I are excited to help Mark with tasks around the house. It allows him to focus his energy to create beautiful websites that allow businesses to fulfill their mission. He is able to create and do what he loves, which gives me happy energy. The happy energy that aids in his healing gives him purpose and allows us to tackle life the way our family functions best.
Together, we tackle Lyme disease. Together we say we hate chronic illness. Together we find peace in accepting the way life has unfolded. Together, like the three Hebrews, we say, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if he does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”