Monday, October 4, 2010

I Want a Quick Fix!

I want a quick fix. I do, I confess, I’m one of those people. I like things to have an easy fix like finding the missing battery to the remote control under the couch when you know you have no others hidden in a drawer somewhere. I like going to someone else for answers, letting their voice govern my choices. When my kids are sick, I want a medicine to make them well. I suppose its human nature to want things to be easy, and the nature of the world to place obstacles in our paths. Life is mysterious, and so is the one who created it, so why do I feel the inclination toward easy answers when there are so many complex systems at work all around me?

My faith tells me to trust in Jesus, the creator and redeemer of all things, with this fallen life, and give him control. That, I can honestly say, is easier said than done. I had recently asked a friend to pray for me, I am struggling with a physical ailment that is relentless, and he asked me what I wanted from prayer, what my motives were. I couldn’t easily answer. The relief from pain and discomfort, or something more?

Rewind five years at the onset of illness. The doctors said it was an unfortunate and rare skin disorder that was exacerbated by my other condition, a hormonal imbalance called PCOS. The disease causes wounds to open and not heal easily, the ones I now bear have been open for five months, the scar tissue causes wrinkle-like pockets underneath my skin and become painfully swollen. The diagnosis did little to help, and neither did the subsequent courses of antibiotics. My body has become tolerant to some and allergic to others, and I have at times altogether indifferent to any medical treatment. The area that causes the majority of pain has worsened. Finally, in desperation I went back to my primary care physician who had treated me at the beginning of all this. She looked at the affected area and then into my eyes and said simply, “It’s time.”

I knew she meant surgery. I had researched the procedure the first time she had mentioned it some years ago. I saw the gruesome photos of those who have gone before me with scared arms and legs, and open wounds. A long and involved recovery that included skin grafting, and wound care, and I was horrified. The thought of the pain described by others was excruciating, and intolerable, and I’m scared.

About a month ago, with pain so severe I couldn’t eat dinner with my family, I looked at my husband and said, “I can’t live like this anymore, it’s time.” He agreed. We’ve now set forth on a journey toward surgery; the first surgeon one took one look at me and referred me to a plastic surgeon due to the severity of the damage that exists. I’m going to need the surgical removal of the affected area and possible skin grafts to reconstruct it, he explained. It’s a sobering thought, the comfort of indifference had at last worn off and I am now faced with an undertaking that seems overwhelming. It’s nothing like cancer or heart disease, I know, but it’s daunting. I suppose I shouldn’t be afraid, but I am.

These open wounds I carry with me wherever I go have had authority in my life for far too long. It’s time that they go. I have altered my lifestyle in order to accommodate them. I’ve avoided soccer games and marching competitions when things were too painful. Walking outside in the heat of the day promised painful repercussions, I'd avoid it if at all possible.

Other alterations have helped me to grow stronger, little by little, I am making healthier choices pertaining to diet and taking medications and vitamins regularly. There has been a positive change in the illness as a result, it’s now isolated to one area of my body when before it had spread. I have endured the pain and limitations it handed out, hoping and praying for that one area to heal up as well as the others and yet it never does. It only worsens, the damage is too severe to heal on it’s own now, the doctors tell me, the area is completely deformed. I have come to agree with my Doctor, it is time.

Where is God in all this? I often ask myself. I’ve prayed, for years for God to heal me. My faith lies not in the presence or the absence of illness, but in the one who is Master of all. Though at times my emotions betray my choice to believe, I press on. I’m faced with what I can only imagine will be a painful path, and I do believe, it’s time. Time to let go, time to see my life differently than that of a woman walking wounded unable to endure a day of watching my kid’s soccer games and be fully functional the next day. Time to put myself in the hands of another and come to the place where I can trust that even in illness my life will be impacted by one more powerful than I. Not the Plastic Surgeon with a God complex, but a God who will guide the hands of a surgeon.

Sounds somewhat familiar? Metaphorically this story is much more than my physical challenges… I can hear these words swimming around in my mind, sharper than any two edged sword, able to separate bone and marrow, soul and spirit, my flesh and my fears from my faith. The division of me from my sin, unable to live with the wounds of a fallen life, separating me from them as far as the east is from the west. It’s time for healing at the hands of the expert. I am finally acknowledging the depth of my need, and my inability to heal myself I can hear my heart’s cry, “Have mercy on me Son of David.” and I trust that He will, and in many ways He already has.