I was getting to know a male coworker who had just found out that I had Multiple Sclerosis. He was shocked that I had this disabling disease because he saw me as a young successful physician just starting to experience the fruit of all the years of training. His next question was, “So, are you married?”
I don’t remember his exact words after my response as I think he was thinking out loud and didn’t even realize the impact of what he said next. Essentially he said it’s going to be tough to find the kind of man who would choose to walk that path with me. I had been living with MS for 5 years at that point, and it was the first time I realized that this diagnosis would affect my marriage potential. I had already seen how MS affected my career and my involvement in international missions but it never occurred to me that I now had baggage coming into a relationship!
In the months following that conversation, I started requiring a cane to walk. I confess that’s probably when the confidence I once had became more of a struggle. Deep down I’m still a girly girl who’s just had to accept reality. When the only shoes you can wear without falling are tennis shoes, your fashion choices are seriously limited!
Despite all the rude and socially inappropriate comments I’ve endured over the years, God always redirects my focus to Him and His opinion of me. He has brought me to the place where I know that He is more than enough and He satisfies any longing of my heart above and beyond anything I could imagine from any other relationship.
He will never leave me nor forsake me.
He loves me unconditionally and cherishes me.
Through Christ, I am beautiful to Him and complete in Him.
From my first symptom 12 years ago, He has been the ultimate Caregiver. I was in the middle of medical school when the symptoms started and I became concerned about the possibilities. I knew just enough to be dangerous at that point!
I didn’t start sharing my concerns with family and friends until 6 months into it, right before my diagnosis. That was the most precious time learning to depend on my Creator, Savior, and Sustainer. As a physician, I often have to tell patients bad news and they usually have a spouse or family member with them at these appointments. From the day I was diagnosed until just a few months ago, I had always been to my appointments alone.
God continues to provide family and friends to help me anytime I have practical needs that usually would be met by a spouse. I’ve come to value Community in a way this independent introvert might never have without MS. I am so grateful for the Body of Christ, and it breaks my heart when I see patients who don’t yet know Christ much less have the benefit of His Body on which to call.
I’m thankful His Spirit keeps my eyes on things above, not on earthly things and my limitations here. I’m humbled that He chooses to let me be a part of His work as He’s brought so much good from my living with MS.
I came across 1 Thessalonians 5:18 in my quiet time recently and while I was thanking God for all He had done in my life, the question came to my spirit, “But what about MS?”
I was honestly able to thank my Savior in that moment for MS.
I know God could have shown me His faithfulness, grace, and love without MS, but if that’s what it took for me to know Him as I know Him now, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. No “healthy” life path that I dreamed for myself could compare to the joy, faith, security, and peace that passes understanding that Christ has abundantly given me as He’s walked with me through His perfect plan.
If He has ordained a husband to walk with me as part of His plan for my time on this earth, I will praise Him for it. If He has other plans for me that do not include a relationship, I will praise Him for that too. We exist for His glory. Our light and momentary troubles are for His glory. I’ve seen His glory in my sickness and I’ve seen His glory in my health.
Only He knows which brings Him the most glory, and it is a daily decision to trust His sovereignty.
A physician for the past 10 years, Stacy is an avid LSU, New Orleans Saints, and Atlanta Braves fan. She loves the burn of a Diet Coke first thing in the morning, could eat chips and salsa for every meal, and needs an Epipen if nuts are anywhere in the room. You can find Third Day on her iPod, Jane Austen on her bookshelves, and lots of reality tv on her DVR.
*Photo credit: Val Entertainment