Sarah's Story: Overcoming Chronic Illness
Hello, friends! I’m Sarah. I live in Southern California with my husband, Jay and our pet succulent, Mella.
Jay and I met on a dating app when I was 32. I had pretty much given up hope of meeting a good man, because my dating experience as an older gal was mostly: DRY BARREN WASTELAND. (Cue the “Elephant Graveyard” soundtrack from The Lion King). And also: I was in the throes of working to heal*, after spending the better part of six years in bed with chronic invisible illness, and my health package didn’t exactly scream: “I AM YOUR DREAM WIFE.”
But two months into our relationship, Jay decided I was his dream wife. “Everything I like about you fits in a bed,” he said one sunny afternoon, after I’d weathered a particularly hard flare-up in bed. He’d meant that he didn't love me for my ability to run fast over hurdles, or earn graduate degrees, or travel the world. He liked me for me, and five months later we got married.
I like telling the happy, I-can’t-believe-God-brought-me-a-husband chapter of my story, but there's another chapter — or rather, a whole set of chapters — I like telling more. These chapters are full of disappointment and disillusionment, and I like telling them because I know so many of you feel like your life has been drenched in darkness, and you are aching and lonely and maybe even teetering on the edge of hopelessness, and I want you to know: there is hope. You will not stay where you are forever, and darkness will not have the last word. I know because my darkest chapters didn't stay dark.
My sickness started with a viral co-infection that morphed into a cluster of insidious syndromes and disorders. Doctors threw lots of labels at me — lyme disease, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, and Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome; but the labels didn't help me find effective treatment, and as the diagnoses accumulated so did my losses. Illness is ravenous, devouring financial stability, community, careers, and the capacity for travel, for church, for dinner parties and movie nights.
I did not expect that loss would be so disorienting, but my losses felt like rough hands pushing me off the side of a cliff, flailing and afraid. When you've been pushed off a cliff, the most natural thing in the world is to assume things will not end well (this is Gravity 101), but mid-fall I discovered three little words that formed a ledge jutting from the side of the cliff, catching me before I fell into the gut of the ravine:
“But then God.”
These three words are all throughout the Bible. The small nation of Israel was surrounded by enemies, vulnerable and afraid, but then God raised up judges — leaders to protect and guide the nation to safety and prosperity (Judges 2). We were lost in the dark, alone and afraid, having run away from God, but then God came to us to show us that Jesus is the way back to Him. (Hebrews 7).
We were in a bad way, but then God made it good.
When I’m feeling especially lost and low, I look back on my most painful life chapters and gather up all the "But then God" moments. They are beams of light invading the darkness, reminding me that darkness will not have the last word:
I was too weak to cook food, but then God sent someone to my door with a hot meal.
I couldn't pay my medical bills, but then God prompted someone to mail me anonymous checks.
I was alone, but then God sent a friend.
Sometimes, though, these "But then God" moments look different than I think they will.
Jonah’s story exemplifies this:
Jonah was angry with God for giving the horrible people of the city of Nineveh a second chance, so he settled under a lush tree to sulk in the shade, but then God sent a worm to gobble up the shady leaves, and Jonah got angry at the tree. God used Jonah’s response to the barren tree as an object lesson: “Why is it okay for you to grow angry with this tree but it’s not okay for me to grow tender toward the people of Nineveh?” (Jonah 4)
God took Jonah’s shade to give him a deeper understanding of His love. It was a good exchange, but a painful one. I think the painful "But then God" moments are the most world-changing:
I was healthy and active, but then God used pervasive sickness to teach me his steady, tender love.
I was happy but then God used depression to cultivate in me a compassion for others.
I was an elite athlete, but then God used physical weakness to teach me to love my body
Our "But Then God" moments are sign posts pointing to the most wondrous "But then God" moment in all of history: Jesus was in the tomb, dead on account of our sins, but then God raised Him to life and Christ conquered sin, and it's this moment in history that assures us that loss and sadness are not the end of our story. Dead things won't stay dead; darkness won't stay dark. At some point, Christ will take your darkness and spin it into gold, and then He will ask you to give and give and give your gold away.
If you are falling, flailing, wishing your life felt sturdy and safe, know this: there is a "But then God" waiting to catch you. It may look and feel different than you think it will, but God will always give you more than you could have hoped or imagined.
Soon, you will be watching God make the bad thing good.
Soon, you will be flinging gold to all you meet.
*After six years of illness, Sarah discovered that her limbic system had been injured by the viral infection, and she began rehabilitating her limbic system using a program called the Dynamic Neural Retraining System (DNRS). So many people with POTS, lyme disease, CIRS, ME and more struggle to heal because of similar limbic system injuries and have found incredible healing with DNRS. If you have chronic invisible illness and are interested in learning more about the healing Sarah has found using DNRS, she'd love to connect with you to share more of her journey! (Sarah doesn’t work for DNRS; she just wants to help people find healing).
If you are interested in learning more about my health journey, including DNRS, they can:
1) follow me on Instagram 2) read my blog (http://sarahchristinejackson.blogspot.com/)
3) watch my YouTube series on DNRS (most people use my YouTube series to learn more, since it's the most thorough info I have out there. My channel is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCltmU7rWMaNgoszb0nPCvFA?view_as=subscriber).
© by sjp