Sara Frankl is an amazing woman, although she would heartily disagree with that, I'm sure....She has been captive in an apartment of three rooms for some years now, because of severe allergic reactions which are complications of her disease, Ankylosing Spondilitis, which is a type of arthritic autoimmune disease in which slowly the spine fuses itself completely....Her allergies even include fresh air and they don't make her sneeze...they stop her from breathing.
I find lots to relate to in her posts....because due to my illnesses slowly - and now more quickly progressing- my world has become reduced almost exclusively to this house. We both suffer immense pain from our diseases...and finally but not lastly, I relate to her faith in God...However when i read her writing, she often puts me to shame because she is NOT a whiner and I definitely am. I'm not a whiner in the sense that I refuse to do things which I am still able to do...Nor do I walk around all "woe is me." But I am a lot more verbal about my pain than Sara is and I talk less about the lessons in all of it than she does....
Recently she's read two books which I've also read, (see her blogsite for more on these: http://gitzengirl.blogspot.com/ )
One of which was Phil Yancy's book, "The Problem of Pain"--which sits on my bookshelf amongst the three shelves devoted to books by Christian writers, thinkers and sufferers in regard to pain and the sovereignty and goodness of God--and all of which I've read, sometimes more than once.
But in her post , "Changed", Sara discusses a thought of Yancy's which is that the whole purpose of our existence is not to seek pleasure and comfort for ourselves, but to become changed into the person God wants for us to be. And she then went on to discuss how, in her life, control was such an issue, particularly in the area of weight management...because she also - as well as I - had been anorexic, beginning at the age of 16 and said that, like me, the thinking spawned by that disease has never gone away. The belief that, "Everything in my life will be OK, if I can just get control of my weight" rang so true in my experience as well as hers. She even made statements such as these which have fallen from my very lips (or at least have been lodged deeply in my heart and mind):
- "Once I got off the steroids my weight would stabilize.
- Once they controlled my pain I would work out again.
- Once I got control of the circumstances in my life, I could arrange my future the way I envisioned it."
Yeah...I STILL tell myself these things. True, I've modified my workout attempts to chair exercises now rather than doing Jillian Michal's "30 Day Shred" etc....but as I found out sadly today, with my two fairly new artificial hips and with the severe pain in the rest of my body...even these are --well --impossible. I didn't cry. But I really wanted to. Were I a "crier" I probably would have.
And then Sara said something which smacked me in the face:
I've come to understand that the only thing I can control is whether or not I open my heart. Open it to embrace my circumstances. Open it to be who He needs me to be in the here and now rather than assume happiness can come from the "if only…" and "when I get…". Open it enough to let Him in and change me here so I can be with Him there.
And I realized very very sadly - with greater sadness than I had when I couldn't do the exercises - that this is what I'd done. I'd closed my heart to God - because HE obviously is not taking me anywhere I want to go....So basically, I'd withdrawn my hand from His and said, "Thanks Lord, I'll take it from here." At least this is what has been occurring at some level - deep inside my heart. I have REFUSED to believe that I will not bounce back to the level of health I was at, even a year ago....REFUSED to admit that my own best efforts could not control my weight against the steroid treatments which , due to my asthma and arthritis, are inevitable. REFUSED to look at the fact that this disease is a one way ticket....there is not any return trip, when I can look behind me and say, "Whew, am I glad THAT's over!" And even the fact that, in my recent hospital stay, I learned that my heart is at the point just prior to an aortic aneurysm - due to my elevated blood pressure caused by my severe pain; all this failed to point these things out to me.
Sara, I honestly wish I could fast forward my spiritual maturity level and attain the state of heart where you are right now...but maybe that will come only as my body gets to the place where yours is now....And it will only come if I seek it, and allow it. Put down my fists and open my hands to receive whatever it is that God wants to place in them