Winter here in North Dakota can be (and usually is) quite brutal. Despite the blizzards and severely sub-zero temperatures, there is beauty to be found. Whether that beauty comes in the form of the ferocity of the wind or in the delicate artwork of a frosted window, it puts a new perspective on that harshest of seasons: winter. I feel the same way about my diagnosis.
Although the words “Multiple Sclerosis” can seem very daunting, it is surprising what a relief it is to finally have an answer for so many of the odd things that have happened over the last few years. To finally be able to lose my embarrassment over the way I need to get out of my car (both feet firmly on the ground first), or the way I will run into a wall. Although I might sigh, I no longer berate myself for needing to have a death grip on a hand railing going down stairs because I don’t trust my knees to get me safely to the bottom.
Quite often I have felt as though my body was going berserk on me and I’ve chalked it up to being out of shape, overweight, getting older, clumsiness, etc. To stumble, to have my legs start jerking erratically, to have my hand not be able to control a pen properly, to feel exhausted when I have not really done much has been completely baffling. God has blessed me with a sense of humor and so I often will respond with, “That’s why my mother didn’t name me Grace!” but there is still that deep, nagging feeling that things are going crazy or maybe it’s all in my head and I’m just trying to subconsciously get attention. (By the way, it is all in my head! There are lesions on my brain causing this! 😄) So to have someone tell me, at last, that there is actually a reason for what is going on has brought me an incredible sense of relief.
Although this diagnosis has thrown me for a loop, I cannot say that it has been devastating. For one, I am not looking at imminent death. For another, I am not anticipating chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or any of the other horrors that come with a cancer diagnosis. Even if I would have the worst type of MS I would still have a number of years to live before it would take me.
The thought ran through my head one time that at times like this people might ask, “Why me?” However, I have thought for some time that the proper response to some of these things is, “Why not me?” For what reason would I ever believe that somehow I should be exempt from the suffering in this world? There is nothing special nor exceptional about me that would preclude me from this. I also recognize that God has allowed this to happen.
Does that make God cruel? No, it doesn’t. You see, I might struggle with some of the horrible things that happen in this world and wonder why God allows them, but the fact is that those horrors are usually caused by other people. God gives us all free will and our free will can harm others. However, MS is not something self-inflicted nor caused by anyone else. God has allowed this to happen to me and I believe that it is because He’s going to use it in my life and hopefully in the lives of others to bring Him glory and to help me to become the best-version -of-myself that He envisioned when He created me (Romans 5:3-5).
I have many friends and relatives praying for me. Some of them are asking God for complete healing and, if that is His will, I will be glad to have it! However, I realize that He might have a different purpose for it.
Now someone might say, “But, Tracy, you’re not in any real pain. You’re not really suffering very much just yet. How do you know that when the pain truly comes that you will see it this way?” I don’t know. I haven’t been there yet, but I can hope that I will endure whatever suffering this disease might bring with grace and patience with an eye on the eternal. After all, this disease will not be for eternity, but only for a time. At some point God is going to call me from this life into the next and whatever I have suffered here on earth will be swallowed up in His love and mercy. Perhaps, when I’m on that Other Side, He’ll even show me what it all meant here on earth.