I used to be afraid.
When I was little, I had such a fear of something happening to my parents… I would wake up from dreams of them dying or disappearing… not being able to fathom how life could exist without them.
What would I do?
Where would I go?
My godmother was a Presentation Sister, so I wondered if I would go live with her at the Mother House with all of the nuns if something happened to my parents.
[Not that I would’ve minded that option. They were obviously grooming me early anyway. ]
Regardless, I worried. I wondered. I let fear overtake my dreams.
Mom would sit on the bed and tell me they had no plans of ever going anywhere. She’d tell me she was healthy; she’d remind me of how strong Dad was and that if he could lift me and throw me above his head, he was certainly strong enough to conquer just about anything else that came his way. I figured that made sense.
Besides, she was my mom. I trusted her. That’s really all it took.
When I got sick in my 20s, that fear crept back in. Not of losing my parents this time, but of losing my life. I wasn’t afraid that I would die, but that I would get to a point where I wouldn’t really be living anymore.
I knew how hard it was to cope with the pain and the changes this disease was bringing into my life already, and each time I would do a little research… trying to be informed and ready for whatever lay ahead… I would read about how much more could happen to me.
The progression of Ankylosing Spondylitis is different for everyone. Not everyone becomes disabled, not everyone has all of their systems affected, not everyone becomes like I am today. But I knew it could happen because I had read the stories.
I was, once again, afraid.
But this time, so was everyone else. The look of fear that flickered across the faces of those who loved me when they would ask how bad it could get simply reflected the fear in my own. No one knew the answers. I still don’t know the answer. I only know what I’ll go through as I go through it.
And going through it has been scary. And I have been afraid.
But then one day, the thought passed through my head that if I really trusted God, if I really believed that He cared about every hair on my head, I had nothing to fear. Regardless of what would come into my life, He would make sure I was well.
I had an image in my head of me, standing on a beach with the water lapping against the shoreline. I pictured a line being drawn in the sand and I knew in that moment I could choose Him, or I could choose fear. But I couldn’t choose both…they couldn’t coexist together.
I chose Him.
I chose to believe in God just as much as I believed in my mother’s words when I was a scared little girl.
I chose to trust Him.
Recently, I’ve been asked by many people how I can do that. How can I trust someone, even if that someone is God, when I know that He could have spared me from all of this? How can I trust a God who allows hurt to happen when He has the power to take it all away?
My answer: God fixes what is broken. I trust Him to fix my broken places.
But you can’t fix what isn’t broken.
I don’t believe God did this to me to teach a lesson or to prove a point. There are many reasons I could be sick, and Him inflicting this on me isn’t one of them. But I do believe He didn’t stop it for a reason. Life breaks us sometimes. We have the free will to make decisions that will break us. Other people have the free will to take actions that will break us. Genetics can play a role in making us sick, and that can break us.
I have been through things that have broken my life. And I trust Him to never leave me there. He is the Father who will pick me up when I am fallen, broken, hurt, tired. And He is the Father who fixes me in those broken places. He fixes my spirit, my heart, my sadness, my loneliness. He brings joy and peace and refuge so I am stronger now than before I was broken.
He watched the pieces fall apart, but only so He could put me back together the right way. When life happens and I feel like things are falling apart, breaking into pieces, I just remind myself that He can’t fix what isn’t broken.
And I trust Him to make me whole in the image of His sight, not mine.
As it should be.