Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Beautiful Trials



All the great truths are paradoxical. I can demonstrate with the example of children. They are difficult from the beginning of conception and throughout pregnancy, with morning sickness, sore ribs, heartburn and an endless list of other symptoms. Luckily, most pregnant women I know are so sick of pregnancy by the end of the third trimester they may be willing to join the circus as trampoliners just to induce labor. What else could possibly cause us to long for the beginning of a process that just might produce the worst pain we've ever been felt? And lets not forget the possible complications. Wait, no, lets forget them all. From there we move into the sleepless nights of newborns, the constant chase of toddlers, the sass of growing children, back to sleepless nights of teenagers and I predict the gut-wrenching worries never end for all the days forever and ever. That description sounds fairly bleak. But if we are to believe that all great truths are in fact paradoxical then what about the opposite end? The excitement of a positive pregnancy test. Watching an entire human body move through its' own belly-home. The relief of a clear-lung baby-cry signally the end of a heroic delivery. Love. And the beginning of a soul-replenishing lifetime, filled with fat-cheek kisses and unending, indescribable love. How could we possibly receive something so good we can't find suitable words to describe it without having to work, sometimes painfully, so hard for it? A paradox.

Over the last 11 years I have discovered another paradox in life. I couldn’t have found it without living through it for as long as I have. I was born with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome but the really awful symptoms didn’t start until just over a decade ago. It’s been a long fight. The first few years I spent trying to convince multiple specialists my pain required much more than a psychiatrist. Sometimes I wondered if they were right. But I pressed on until I received a proper diagnosis from my Geneticist a few years ago. I will say very little about my symptoms but chronic pain and fear of the future are among the worst. It has been by far the most difficult trial to grace my 30 earthly years but I would rather write about the opposite side of this paradox.

11 years ago when the pain began I would’ve done anything to make it go away while today I wouldn’t change a thing that's happened. That’s because 11 years ago I thought the greatest miracle in my life would be a physical healing and today I recognize my decade-long change-of-heart is far more miraculous. The pain and fear that gripped my entire being sent me down a Christ-searching path because I was so desperate for relief, help and answers. I prayed constantly on my knees, in my head, everywhere I was. I searched my scriptures for truth and went to the temple often. I knew my only choice to get through this trial gracefully was through His grace. Overtime, and I mean years, I learned to trust more and more in His plan. The future seemed less daunting and I was able to better focus through the lens of eternity. I still needed help in the present and He granted me that too. Merciful revelations came through scriptures, prayer, blessings and the Spirit. Slowly, very slow my fears turned into faith and my pride into humility. I’m not there yet. Not even close. But I know I needed these pains to witness the miracles God can make of us.

I am forever grateful for the empathy seeped slowly into my heart throughout my sickness. Choosing to walk this rocky road alongside Jesus has allowed me to feel with others unlike I ever could. Those who know me best know I feel a whole lot but it seems my feels have been exercised to go more outside myself. For the mentally and physically sick, I consider you my people and I will mourn with you all the way through. For your caregivers, I’ve got extra compassion to spare because I’ve watched the sad desperation in my husbands’ and parent’s eyes every time I suffer. And for those who have been accused of exaggerating or making up their illness to get out of work or other obligations? Well, you have an ally in me. I would rather risk believing you and finding out I was wrong than not believing you and finding out I was wrong. I know that feeling all too well and it is a lonely state to be sick and disbelieved at the same time.

Speaking of caring. I will be irrevocably grateful for the compassion shown to me by every single well wish, hug, flower, food, offer, long talk and compassion shown to me throughout my time in pain. I have seen the Lord’s hands on the bodies of family and friends over and over and I know what charity feels like. One night, I couldn’t sleep, trying to adjust to a new medication. Tyson stayed by my side, rubbing my jittery legs through exhaustion. I remember feeling a depth of love for and from him that was new for me. Never having to doubt his commitment to me, regardless of what we have to deal with together is a precious gift I will never stop feeling blessed to have. This past Sunday, a lovely couple in my ward came over to chat. I had recently told my ward over the pulpit a bit about my illness (my talk was on heavy trials – I got the hint) and most of them hadn’t previously known. The husband told me he had had a dream that Tyson and I were asking him for help. He wanted to let me know that he was there for us anytime we needed anything. It was so selfless and humbly honest I made a mental commitment to take him up on his offer when the time comes.

To some it may seem crazy, but to me there is so much beauty in my pain. I barely got started on these few pages and would love to add more about listening to the relentless prayers of my innocent kids asking for a healing miracle for their mother or how giving up my fitness career made room for a new writing job that has become one of the greatest blessings in my life. What it came down to and always comes down to is the choice to take the Lord’s way through. He has made all the difference in a potentially life-draining situation. To change for the better (at least a bit) on the inside while my body grows more painful on the outside is a part of this great paradox I was blessed enough to discover. And with all the unknowns of the future, I do know this: Walking the road with Him means faith will overcome fear, joy will overcome despair, and love will always win. 

Always,

Audy

Let me know about how your trials have become beautiful to you by commenting below. Your feedback is the gas to my writing car (hahahaha).

11 comments:

  1. I love every one of those qualities about you! It is a beautiful thing that so much good can come from such pain.

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  2. Ang, you're the best reader ever!! You get to it before I even post it on FB or Insta. Unfortunately, you got to it before I edited it this morning but the same thoughts are there. Thanks, sis. I could write a book on the qualities I like about you. Next post maybe?!?

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  3. I really enjoyed this post! Thank u do much for sharing this message about trials... my trials have become beautiful . Because I have learned that I'm not going through my trials alone. Heavenly Father and our Savior our close by to help me through it. I also have wonderful support from family and friends and this is a huge blessing and comfort to me too. So I don't look at my trials as something I want to end but as a learning experience and opportunity to draw closer to our Heavenly Father and Savior!! Have a great day!

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    1. Thank you, Elizabeth! You're right! We are never alone.

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  4. Goodness you are a beautiful writer. I could create one of those pretty quote images from your words. "I thought the greatest miracle in my life would be a physical healing and today I recognize my decade-long change-of-heart is far more miraculous." Thanks for being willing to share yourself. I was talking to a friend who has been in a wheelchair for 20 years because of an accident. She said to me "It has been a privilege to go through this trial." Wow! Your strength and insight reminded me of her. It is true the Lord will consecrate all things for our good. I love to see how He has done that is other people's lives. It strengthens my faith!

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  5. Thank you, Amber! Your friend sounds pretty great! And if you ever make one of those pretty quotes send me a copy 😂. It's on my very long to-do list.

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  6. I think this one is my favorite. Such a great lesson for me. Thank you.

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  7. I so love this! I have also had the experience of pain in my life. Pain so intense that it has the incredible ability to reunite the physical body with the spirit as if the two had never met before. The pain I have experienced in life has not just been the physical however. Oh how I am truly grateful for the experiences I have had that have made me become so much more aware of the healing power of Christ's atonement! Thank you for your words and reminding me of what I already know. If you'd like to read of one of my experiences with pain you can read it here http://heisaware.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-greatest-gift.html?m=1

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  8. Tears were running down my face as I read this to my 21 year old daughter, who is currently hospitalized from unusual complications of Ehlers Danlos. I read a statement in your article about grace regarding your genetic trial, and the spirit whispered to me that you also have EDS, so I searched your other essays and read this. You have touched our loves and hearts today, and I thank you for sharing your spiritual lessons, insight and love. -gentle hugs- (may i please copy and paste this on my daughter's Facebook group- Chasing Chickens? We have dear friends with EDS (many we have met at Ronald Mcdonald houses near EDS speciality neurosurgeons). They have great faith, and will appreciate This, no matter the differences in our religions.

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    1. Absolutely you can share it. I'm so sorry to hear about your daughter. I wish no one had to have this disease and the pain and complications that come with it. But God has allowed us to live with this trial because it's the only way we can learn what we need to. I'm positive He would be the first to heal us if that wasn't the case. Gentle hugs in return to you and your family.

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Please leave me your thoughts. It's so much better than talking to myself:)