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I wanted to be one of those women who handled troubles with grace, who people admire because she stayed joyful in all things, but I wasn’t.
My world was spinning – literally. When I woke up in the morning, I watched the walls dance in circles around me. It didn’t stop for days. I walked around my house with my fingertips pressed to the hallways for balance. I slept long hours for just a bit of a break from the vertigo.
When the vertigo stopped, I was left with a constant rocking feeling, as if I were stuck on a boat out at sea. Fighting that dizziness made my eyes ache and my body tired.
I visited my doctor twice in the span of a few weeks. He diagnosed it as overexertion from my half marathon training. Then he diagnosed it as stress, but I couldn’t shake the dizziness, so I visited two other doctors for opinions. They were both sure it was an inner ear disorder, so they suggested I see an Ear Nose and Throat Specialist.
By this point, I was frustrated that no one seemed to have a clear answer or a shot they could give me for some relief. I couldn’t drive or work or make a run to the store, and I had no idea why. More and more, I was becoming discouraged and more and more, I wondered if God saw me in my sickness.
I flipped out. I cried in the shower and screamed into a pillow. The ENT had ordered an MRI and a balance test to figure out what was causing the dizziness. Someone said the word “tumor.” After weeks of testing and weeks of waiting for results, my MRI was clear, but a test on my balance nerves in my inner ear showed a significant loss of function in my right ear. I would need physical therapy to retrain my brain how to compensate for the loss.
I was glad to have answers, but upset that I had missed so much. In the three months of doctor visits and tests, I had missed my anniversary with my husband and cancelled summer vacation plans.
I wanted to have a good attitude in the face of sickness, but I couldn’t. Instead, I wondered why God had let such a debilitating disorder invade my body. I didn’t understand what kind of test or trial this was, and I began to wonder if God saw me suffering.
However, what I learned is that it’s sometimes OK not to be graceful, because it forces you to require God’s grace.
Not of This World
We’re not called to be perfect pictures of Godliness. We’re human and we’re cursed to stumble. This world is fallen and suffering is part of that. We’re thirsty for God’s grace. Some days, I couldn’t muster the positive attitude. I couldn’t say the “can-do” things, so I quit trying.
The thing about grace is that it’s not of this world. When people see grace, they can’t understand its goodness. It’s a testament to God. When I couldn’t put on the perfect Christian face for my sickness, God’s grace filled me and it pointed to him when I couldn’t.
Ann Voskamp says, “Fullness of joy is discovered only in the emptying of will. And I can empty. I can empty because counting His graces has awakened me to how He cherishes me, holds me, passionately values me. I can empty because I am full of His love. I can trust.”
Letting go of a perfect response doesn’t mean giving into negativity, but earnestly waiting on the Lord. In the months that I’ve been sick, I wrote Psalm 130:5 in my office and on my bathroom mirror. It says: “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits and in his word I put my hope.”
When we keep asking for God’s grace and we keep crying out to him, we hold onto that conversation with him. We keep him near us.
Praying for Peace
I’m three weeks into physical therapy, and some days aren’t as good as others. Some days I’m discouraged. My family and friends remind me though, that I’ve already come a long way, that the dizziness will go away, that I’ll be back to running again soon. My husband has promised to buy me a new pair of running shoes to celebrate my comeback. With their encouragement and their prayers, I’m reminded again of God’s goodness and grace.
Maybe you know the feeling of discouragement. Maybe you feel like God will never heal you or help you, but God’s grace surrounds us in family and friends, in the bit of laughter on a rough day, in the short hours of a good day.
We don’t have to pray that we have the perfect, poised response to sickness. Instead, let’s pray that God’s grace shows up. Let’s cry out for God. Let’s keep coming to him on our knees.
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Texas with her husband. Previously, she worked for the Galveston County Daily News, the Houston Chronicle, the Abilene Reporter-News and the Lufkin Daily News. Currently, she is a team member for HeartSupport, a nonprofit community for young adults. Her website is at http://tx.ag/casanova and you can find her on Twitter @acasanova10.