"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." - John 10:10
::EDIT:: I started writing this on 3/17, just finished today, 3/23, so if there are tense problems or anything else, you can decide whether to blame it on that of on brain fog/Lyme brain ::
I hope this post makes as much sense when written as it does in my head.
The theme: Lyme and friends as an allegory for Satan.
The reason: St. Patrick's Day, UK Starting off their March Madness run, and my inability to express excitement or joy over these two things. Some may call it apathy, I call it the work of Satan–who comes to steal, kill, and destroy.
I've written many times about how and what this disease steals from us, so I don't want to get on a diatribe about that again, but I will say this: when you're unable to enjoy your favorite holiday, and unable to get excited about the fact that the winningest program in college basketball history is kicking off their NCAA tournament bid tonight, you're once again confronted with the reality that these diseases steal. They steal so much.
But they steal so much more than socializing, partying, working, walking, cooking, speaking, (the list goes on)–they also steal your happiness, your ability to get excited in anticipation, your smile, and more, until one day, like today (and some others), for me, where you're hit with the reality of just how very much these diseases have stolen from your life.
I love St. Patrick's Day. It's my favorite holiday, outside of the Christian reasons for Christmas and Easter. We go all out for St Patrick's Day at this house, and it's something I've done since I was in high school. Evidence from a few previous years below:
Like I said, we go all out for St. Patrick's Day. Except when we can't.
Last year I had an appointment with my doctor on St. Patrick's Day (5ish hours away), and it was a time where mom and a family friend took me because Rog had stuff to do here at home. When we returned around 10-11pm, as soon as we drove up to the house, I saw there were window clings all over the front door, a wreath hanging, and a few miscellaneous decorations--little did I know this was one of the "things" Rog had to do while we were gone, because I had said not to fool with decorating that year because I didn't have my usual St. Patrick's Day Spirit.
Then he carried me into our house. The inside of which was also decked out in all kinds of decorations–it was a St Patrick's Day wonderland! There were streamers, a St. Patrick's Day tablecloth on which he had placed a St. Patrick's Day goody basket for me (stickers, other little things, green lantern/other comic con merch, since he had just returned), and wall clings everywhere. He even put up a few decorations in the bedroom since that's where (even a year ago) I was rarely unable to leave.
This year, Lyme stole even that from me. I didn't wear any green this year, because I didn't feel up to changing into real clothes, so bedridden in my pajamas is where I stayed. I had Rog bring the box of decorations up from the basement before he left for work...and it remained in the hallway until he got home because not only did I not have the energy, strength, and pain relief to get them out, I also had a sense of apathy I've honestly never felt on/about St. Patrick's Day. It was more confirmation in my mind that Satan is using these diseases to steal my joy.
The same was true for the UK basketball game that day. I can't imagine anyone who's read this before would be surprised by this confession: I am a member of Big Blue Nation, bleeding blue for the Cats my entire life, and usually, on game day, everyone who sees me knows that without having to ask. At least, that was the case until a couple years ago, when I no longer was able to put on my game day outfit of the year, simply because it took too much energy, but I wanted to share a few pictures from years past to illustrate what I mean when I say "game day outfit":
I'm fully aware my degree of blue seems ridiculous, and likely so do my excessively green St. Patrick's Day get-ups, but this is part of what makes me me. This year, my joy for both the holiday and the UK game was somewhere far from here–perhaps ice skating somewhere while simultaneously reading and writing and public speaking and driving all over town with other things that have temporarily been stolen by these diseases–and it all happened to fall on the first day of March Madness, the coincidence of which, in past years, required multiple full-color outfit changes (ask anyone who went to college with me).
Yet, I instead found myself in bed, in my pajamas, in too much pain and with far less brain power than needed to write this on that day, texting my mom in the hopeless manner that has become the norm lately, proclaiming that I have no joy, nothing brings me joy, even the earthly things that should brighten my day the most were bringing me feelings of frustration, defeat, and ultimately apathy to do anything, because that's the effect these diseases have–they steal the joy you once had for things you loved, and they force you to try to fake a smile for those around you, because you don't want to hurt their feelings, especially when one of them immediately comes home from work and does the following in our bedroom because he knows how mentally bad the day has been for me:
This is why I have to smile; I can't keep letting those closest to me go out of their way to put a smile on my face to only be met with more tears and frustration. So I put on my happy mask, convincing myself it's okay to break my self-imposed "no mask" rule, because I'm protecting the feelings of those who love me. But inside, my body is screaming at me in pain and my mind is taunting me with a fresh load of laundry full of UK apparel I can't put on, and my brain feels like it wants to physically explode, but all it can manage is its new equilibrium: the mental equivalent of an explosion.
So before I write too much more, I want to say this:
If you've ever felt these diseases steal the joy from your life; If you've ever been forced to give up on something you love because these diseases render you unable to engage or enjoy; If you've ever sent a text to someone telling them you're not suicidal but you're ready for God to just take you home in your sleep because you can't find joy in any of the things that previously brought you joy–you are not alone.
But here's the thing of which I'm reminded looking back on that date this year: this week is Holy Week. Meaning, it's the days that led up to Jesus' crucifixion and then resurrection. While there have been times lately when I've felt too weary and broken down to even pray, thinking about what went on during each day of this week (step-by-step messages of the day from a dear sister in Christ help me focus on the events surrounding the most important event in history), and the brutality Jesus endured to save me, well, I feel absolutely selfish for begging Him, more times than I'd like to admit, to just take me home.
Satan (or these diseases) can try to steal my earthly joy, and boy, do they succeed! But they can't take away the eternal joy that awaits me in heaven whenever it IS God's time to call me home, so until that day I'll have to remind myself that my joy is found in Jesus, even when in nothing else, and that's okay because when you get right to it, Jesus is enough...if only we (I) sit back, accept this current reality, and tryst that God's ways and plans are so far higher than we can begin to comprehend with our human minds.
We can afford to lose our earthly joy–and I'd be lying if I said there weren't times I scream at God, telling Him there's no way He could let this happen if He were truly good–but I always eventually come back to my senses and beg for His forgiveness, which he gives freely with overflowing grace and mercy, and to help me resist falling into the traps of doubt and hopelessness, put in my mind by Satan, the deceiver, the vehicle being these illnesses.
This earth is not my home. This body is on lease. These diseases are earthly maladies from which God will deliver me in His time. While I may not always feel joyful, I know there is a joy deep in my soul that no one, no disease, no circumstance can steal from me...I just have to be adamant about intentionally channeling that joy on days where it seems least likely to come, on the days I feel the most hopeless.
Friends, I do hope you're able to find your joy this week, even if only in moments, and I hope you're also able to meditate on what this week signifies, culminating with attending church on Sunday, if you physically can (if you can't, you can watch our service (with Rog in the praise band) via the wildwood church of God app on the App Store/Google play–we have 3 services: 9, 10, and 11:15 EST) from the comfort of your own home. That's what I'll be doing and I can't wait to worship "with" my church family again this Sunday via my tablet.
May God bless each and every one of you during this Holy Week and beyond, and may He give you the strength to keep fighting daily, knowing there's a greater purpose in store.