What follows is an update I just posted on my church’s Facebook page, to my church family. I was thinking of them when I wrote it, but I know this blog is read by many dear friends who care deeply for me and my family, so if you’re one of those people, this is for you as well.
Hello church family. I am in my room at Beaumont, a beautiful private room with a wonderful view. I will be receiving IV steroids over five days. Apparently there is some chance that I will be allowed to take the last couple of days at home, but this is uncertain. I will meet with my MS doctor and this floor’s attending physician in the morning.
As many of you know, this flareup actually began in October. I have had very few healthy days since then, and it seems to have culminated in this — the worst exacerbation I have experienced in my 22 years with the disease. I am so looking forward to lots of rest, peace, prayer, meditation, reading, and solitude during my time here. There is even a Starbucks in the food court, so Christy has assured me that fine coffee will play a part in my healing. It has been so long since I have been a whole person. I hope to do much healing in this mandatory down-time so I can return to you whole (or at least partially whole!), and lead us with an energy and enthusiasm that I have mostly lacked all these long months.
When I think of you I am flooded with a sense of my great and good fortune. So many pastors work for years never knowing if they are valued or appreciated, always feeling their best is never enough. I, on the other hand, am so privileged to work among people who love me, who grant me grace, who encourage me and pray for me, who are cheerleaders, supporters, fans, friends, and family. I know I could not hardly be more blessed. I think now of our dear friend Brent Adams as well, whose struggle with chronic illness continues. I know he still needs and appreciates our kind words and gestures of love.
I want you to know also, and this is important to me, that I have experienced almost no fear at all through any of this. Even the seven hours of severe nerve pain in my leg that kicked off this episode last week, terrible as they were, were not filled with fear or worry, but quietness and hope (and some gasping!). I have far to go on my journey but I have reached a place where I simply know all is well, that I am being held. I trust this implicitly, no matter the circumstances. Of course I am still capable of feeling fear, and there are certain situations of which merely the thought sends shivers down my spine. We never reach a place where we are 100% free of all of the normal cares of life. Still, I know that I am learning the gentle rhythms of grace Jesus talked about. I have no fear either for my present situation or for the future. God simply is all and is in all, and I know it, and I’m okay.
Christy also is experiencing this same peace that passes understanding. You find yourself in the middle of it and you know it is not something you have done, but that it has been done to you, and all you can do is be thankful. Indeed, the sweetness we have experienced between us this past week is impossible to describe. We sometimes feel as if we are almost sailing through things that would have devastated us not long ago. I cannot speak highly enough of the love and grace she has shown to me, of the depth of her sacrifice for me, which she has made without a second thought — the only way real sacrifice is ever made. I must commend my daughters as well who, though they have been sad and scared at times, have loved me with love that I just cannot imagine being surpassed. My family, like any family, is flawed, but it is nevertheless my beautiful circle of sufficiency.
Thank you for your prayers, cards, encouragement, meals, calls, emails, and other shows of support and love. I look forward to coming back to you much more whole than when I left. I am not exactly sure right now when I will see you again next, but you will surely be in my thoughts and prayers from this sweet and healing cloister.