The Great Equalizer

Just as there are seasons in the weather, there are seasons in our lives–happy, sad, difficult, mournful, peaceful, challenging. With any luck those more difficult seasons, like a harsh winter, do not last very long and we can look forward to the welcoming warmth of Spring. It is the promise of that “rebirth” that gets us through the cold and dismal times–the hope that things will get better and life will move forward once again.

I am currently in the midst of one of those difficult seasons as my RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) has decided to invade itself upon my happy little world once again. (Yes, I personify my RA.) In the more than 30 years that I have had RA, there have only been a handful of times that the disease has worsened, and the past few months it has shown no mercy. For the first time in my working career I have had to go on medical leave because of the pain, and it has taken its toll on me emotionally and spiritually, as well as physically.

Like being snowed in during a cruel winter, so is my body and mind. For the last month my body has been unable to go out into the world as it once did and my mind has been stuck pondering all the what ifs that go along with the acknowledgment of a disease that is progressing.

I have given a name to this latest season of my life and my RA–The Great Equalizer.

There was once a time that my RA was not so harsh–not so advanced. I could do pretty much what everyone else did, with only a few limitations. I reveled in the fact that I was one of the lucky few that had a very slow progressing disease. But this season of my RA has been especially unforgiving and it has made me come to terms with my own invincibility. Things I used to take advantage of being able to “do” are no longer givens, and I must learn to ask for help.

I have not been able to do much during this time except rest, which is a luxury I rarely give myself, hence the “equalizing.” This rest, while needed and helpful, has also led to some anxiety and questions about what lies next for me in life.

As a person of faith, I am told, “ do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, ESV) How very easy it is to know this verse–how very difficult to follow through with, especially during times of uncertainty while lying awake at night.

It is in these sleepless nights, however, that I have been reminded of yet another verse–one of my go to-s in times of despair.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, ESV)

My body is broken right now, and may never fully be the same. But what I have learned during this time is that I am absolutely not in control. (Hard pill for this control freak to swallow). The Lord is in control of this snow storm and it is my job to slow down and rest–something that He knows I need and would not give myself otherwise. I need to come to terms with my limitations and trust that He is preparing the way for me. I need to be content with my weaknesses so that His glory and strength can be seen and I can move towards the new life He wants me to lead.

I will weather this stormy season and faithfully await the welcoming warmth of Spring.