First off let me say that I would not wish MS on anyone. Nor do I believe that God gives people MS either as a blessing or a curse; MS, like all diseases, is a consequence of a fallen world and Adam and Eve’s free choice to disobey God. That said, I believe God can use the hard times in our lives to strengthen and bless us.
I must admit that I don’t particularly appreciate it when someone tells me that “God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle.” Most of the time, I want to respond that His idea of what I can handle and mine are worlds apart, but I have to admit that for the most part, that saying is true. Or maybe it’s not. What I have found is that God doesn’t expect me to handle it alone.
I’m someone who wants to be in total control of my life. I don’t like the unexpected. I plan everything. I do not leave things to the last minute just in case something might come up. I like to know what’s happening and I want to have closure. One of the hardest things for me to learn as my caregiving requirements have increased is how to handle not being in control. I’ve had to learn to trust God. I’ve had to learn that I cannot do everything myself. I have to acknowledge that I am not superwoman, and I need help. It’s through all that I’ve had to learn that I have realized my greatest blessings.
When Lynn and I got married, we both loved the churches we belonged to before marriage, so we decided rather than either of us give up our church home, we would find another one. We looked around but felt the most at home at Gethsemane Church of Christ in Mechanicsville. We both liked to sing, and I wanted to act. Lynn was a very talented tenor, and I was a passable alto, so we joined the choir. Through that, we became part of the cast annually for a Christmas dinner theater. We also joined the handbell choir, and Lynn became the drummer for the church praise band. I helped with the start-up of a support group called Discover Freedom (the group was initially started to support people with addictions but was soon found to help people with all types of needs). I also helped create a drama team and helped both write and present many of the scripts. We were at church 4 out of seven days and loved it. We made so many friends and received so many blessings from participation.
Then Lynn started getting weaker. First, he had to drop out of the choir. His fatigue was too much to allow him to sing or to stand and perform. Then he had trouble holding the drum sticks plus his legs got too stiff to drive safely, so he had to drop out of both the worship band and bells. I continued participating for a while until one day he fell while I was not at home and had to lie on the floor for three hours before I could get back to help him up. The trauma of that experience and the fact he became very overheated and dehydrated lying next to the heat register caused him to become very weak. I ended up having to work more from home. He had to stop going to church and eventually so did I so I could stay home to help him. We missed the fellowship from church and the opportunity to worship with our church family.
When we stopped going, it would have been easy for the church to forget us, but they didn’t. We get cards and phone calls all the time. The entire choir came last Christmas to sing Christmas carols. The church collected money, and one of the members built a beautiful wheelchair ramp for us. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Lynn was continuously in the hospital. A group came over to our house and decorated both inside and out so we would come home to Christmas cheer. While at our house they saw our refrigerator was almost worn out and they brought in a second-hand one that was in much better condition than ours. A few months later, they collected money to put in a handicap shower, and two of the members installed it. Another group came by in the spring and helped remove several broken-down things in our yard. One of the members is cooking our meals, and several are donating money to her to do so. Someone else is baking us bread every week, and another one is helping Lynn with reviewing the books he is writing. The blessings of this group are overwhelming! We are so taken care of and so loved that even though we are not able to do as much as we used to, all we have to do is mention something to someone and the next thing we know, it’s done.
Then there is also the blessings of my job. My supervisor is a wonderful caring woman who has supported my need to work from home. She has approved me to have computer equipment set up so that I can work whatever hours I can so I can care for Lynn and still meet the demands of my job. My team is fantastic as well–doing whatever I need to help me get information and keep up with things at work. My coworkers often offer their support and encouragement, and they’ve been known to send me extra help like getting carpets shampooed and delivering meals.
Our children are always doing things for us and helping us out. Our parents and siblings do the same. So as you can see, we have had a blessing upon blessing. Though God hasn’t chosen to remove Lynn’s MS, He has given us so much instead, and when I can’t do things myself, He sends someone along to help me/us out.
I hope you have a church home. If not, I encourage you to find a church like ours–one that lives their faith and puts into practice what Jesus taught to love your neighbors as yourself. God’s blessing can be more than you ever imagined.