Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Life’s Little Inconveniences

Will you rely on him for his great strength? Will you leave your heavy work to him?
Job 39:11 (NIV)

Once upon a time there was a young woman who was quite physically strong and fiercely independent. She was known to take on jobs that most women would not be willing to consider. She worked as a roofer, a painter and even as a forest-fire fighter. She was more than willing to get her hands dirty and take care of most challenges in life on her own terms. She did minor car maintenance herself; oil changes, replace spark plugs, rotate tires, check belts, etc. She did not need to call a handy-man to assist with plumbing or carpentry repairs for her home; she gladly tackled such projects on her own. She did not have a gardener. She kept her yard mowed, the hedges trimmed, and the walkway edges clipped. Did I say this woman was quite self-sufficient?

Turn the pages in the book of life. At a relatively young age this woman is now facing a progressive neurological disease: Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. (Just in case there is any doubt, this woman is me.)

My once fierce independence has become incredibly interdependent and dependent. I have been blessed with a wonderful husband and have learned that I can count on him in interdependence. I also have a dependent relationship. I am a child of God, and as such I am blessed with a relationship of utter dependence upon Him.

I no longer fight for independence. I have learned that I am much more blessed and fulfilled when I live in dependence on God and in interdependence with my Husband. I can’t say that I got to this point without a fight. I think that most of the life lessons that I have learned have come about with more than a few battle scars. My dad always said, “Joan has to learn everything the hard way.” He was right!

Now that I am facing an uncertain future with my health limitations, I have had to swallow my pride; yes I said “swallow my pride,” and ask my husband to assist me with many things that I have always done for myself; not only the more physical tasks such as car repairs, carpentry and the like, but also some tasks of daily living. Many days I need assistance to cut my meat at dinner. I am no longer able to beat eggs. I would require assistance to brush my teeth were it not for the use of a battery operated spin-brush. You see, even some small tasks are now impossible because of the quick repetitive motion required.

With Parkinson’s Disease repetitive motion tends to put muscle groups into a state of arrest. Think of the heart when it goes into cardiac arrest. The normal rhythm is interrupted, the beat becomes irregular and then the heart stops altogether. This is very similar to what happens within my nerves and muscles. I can begin the action but as I continue to place my body under the demand of those quick repetitive motions, the neural impulses begin to fire irregularly and the muscle freezes up. Often this will cause muscle cramps and intense pain.

Relying upon my husband’s help for these normal life tasks is, well, humbling to say the least. (Not that I don’t need a good dose of humility from time-to-time.) God has blessed me with a greater love for my husband through these stressful times. My husband is accepting me, assisting me when needed, and loving me in spite of an unknown future. What woman wouldn’t respond to an unconditional love like that?

Within these struggles I am being blessed by learning how to live more fully dependent upon God. He has become my strength in weakness, my comforter when I am feeling down due to the loss of physical abilities, my solid rock during the ever changing progression of symptoms. God is blessing me by growing my faith in Him. He is teaching me that when I am weak, He is strong and mighty. Within these struggles I am being blessed by learning how to live more fully dependent upon God. He is teaching me that my “salvation requires [me] to turn back to [God] and stop [my] silly efforts to save [myself]. [My] strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on [God] — The very thing [I’ve] (for far too long) been unwilling to do.” Isaiah 30:15 (MSG)

I am so grateful that God is a patient God. I am grateful that during my years of stubborn independence He loved me enough to carry me along. I am grateful that He is now teaching me to trust fully in His divine wisdom, plan and calling on my life. In fact, even with the pain, limitations and struggles that PD presents in my life, I have come to realize that this disease is a strange sort of gift to me. God is allowing me to use what was meant for harm to give praise and glory to my God and Savior Jesus. I am learning through suffering, due to illness, not to live my “life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” 1 Peter 4:2 (NIV)

So, if these little life inconveniences are a tool that can be used to focus just a small portion of glory and honor upon the Creator of all life, I say, “Bring it on!”

Related Verses:

Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me— The very thing you've been unwilling to do. Isaiah 30:15 (MSG)

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 1 Peter 4:1&2 (NIV)


Spring Fricks said...

Thank you for sharing. It was awesome and so very true. I was diagnosed with severe scoliosis in 1985. Since that time I have undergone two spinal fusions surgeries and am facing a third. I have had to become, like you, very dependent on God and it has turned into a gift. I am also very thankful for my husband who continually loves me in spite of all my limitations. I pray God will continue to bless you and that you are daily an overcomer! Thanks for visiting my blog and for your king words.

JnL4God said...

I came over from Wendy's blog I'm sure doing the chrono reading together we will get to know each over better. What a nice post and a reminder to lean on God. Thanks for sharing.

judyinTN said...

Wow, Friend! Your comments and heartfelt admissions are so similiar to how I feel! I too used to take great pride in 'gettin er done' so the first time I had to ask my husband to help me get on some panty hose one Sunday morning, I sobbed. So now I just wear slacks and shorter socks!!!!!!!!!!!! And it's true, I never appreciated God's love for me until I gave in and said, OK God, I get it really want to be in my life ALL the time!
Thank you for sharing your heart! I felt like I was looking inside mine at the same time!

Sassafras said...

You put it out there so perfectly for all to see the struggles we must face, but most of all losing our independence. I think that hurts more than any other. Most people, given their druthers, want to do for themselves and find it hard to ask for help. God was so right chosing our mates, but of course God is good all the time as the song goes. thank you for the inspiration to write better and more poignant. You are a delight Sass.

Renee Swope said...

Joanie, I had no idea how very talented you are! I am quite impressed with your determined spirit but I know how our greatest strengths can easily become our biggest weakness because they lead to independence and pride as you so vulnerably shared. This is a powerful story. I'd love for you to consider submitting it as a P31 devo. I think many women would be greatly challenged and encouraged by the powerful lessons God is teaching you through such difficult times. I see that He's already touching many lives on your blog as I read the comments.

I am praying for you today to be encouraged in heart and united in love with your sweet husband who has the honor and privelege of serving you. I am praying for peace that surpasses understanding as you praise and thank Him for all that He is doing and has done.

I love you friend!

And by the way, your comment on my blog about a burly man chasing you made me crack up!! I was afraid one might jump out from the trees along the roads we ran on last night.


Sherri Woodbridge said...

Hi Joanie - What a beautiful post. Thanks for speaking the words that so many of us feel.
Sherri Woodbridge

Nicole BC87 said...

Joanie,you are speaking to me with your words today,your blog is great. Keep praying and writing,it is amazing the gift for ministry with speech and word that PD has unlocked for you,today was perfect for me to read your blog-lonesome, husband out of town and I am on my own,but i remind myself to relax and remember that God is right here too,thanks again
Nicole Freeman

Janice said...

I read your blog yesterday and was overwhelmed by it's words because it could have been my story too. I have always been very independent and spent my life taking care of others as a wife, mother and nurses aide caring for hospice pts. in their homes. Now that I need care I find it hard to accept. Since reading your blog and related scripture, I'm feeling better about being acceptive of help from others. I was dx with PD in 1997. Thanks for your blog, Janice