Over the past few years, I have spoken with dozens of Lyme disease sufferers who have lost loved ones over their disease. Friends and family who promised to be there for them through their difficulties, disappeared during their darkest hour of need. Husbands have left their wives and wives their husbands; friends have distanced themselves from the ailing, parents have refused to help their children and children their parents, and so on. In my early days with Lyme, I experienced this with a couple of friends, and again recently with another close friend, just as another layer of my Lyme onion has reared its ugly head and I have been once again thrust into a desert of physical and emotional hardship. Boy, it’s been awhile since I’ve had to endure this. I forgot how difficult it is.
It’s confounding and painful when those who valiantly promised to be there for you, or who were once there for you but who have now tired of your endless Lyme problem suddenly vanish. Removing the salt of unforgiveness from your already gaping wounds can be incredibly challenging, especially when all is not right with your neurons and your drugs make you hate the whole world anyway.
I speak from experience. I’m discovering that Mepron makes me grow horns and there are days when I want to tear off a head or two. I am a docile, patient person for the most part, but the medications and the Herx reactions that they cause can really do a number on my brain and exacerbate any feelings of hurt that I may have against another.
But that’s beside the point. I mention it only because I believe it can be difficult to see the forest for the trees when you don’t feel well. And the truth is, your family and friends may have loved you to the best of their ability, but they were weak. You may believe that they were content to leave you and go on their merry way in life, but if they loved you, in order to live with their betrayal, they had to harden their hearts against the love that God would have desired to pour into them, and then upon you. This is sad, for they have forsaken an opportunity to rise above their selfishness and give to their spouse or sister in need.
And because the love that they could have given remains locked inside of their tormented souls, over the long haul, their departure hurts them more than it hurts you.
That is, provided you are able to release them from what they have done to you, and that you too, don’t harden your heart. That you may now be alone in your pain, that you suffer day after day in isolation, may be an invitation for you to wallow in your grief. You may notice, for example, that the house is a mess, and in your misery, you may think, If only my wife were here to help me with the laundry!…Indeed, if only your boyfriend were around to make you dinner when you can’t get up off the sofa, if only your friend were available to take your hand when you feel like you are walking along a precipice of insanity…
How do you let it go? How do you forgive your loved ones for their inability to be there for you? How do you find joy in a trecherous journey that must sometimes be walked alone?
I’ll get back to that in a moment.
I have noticed something interesting about hardship, in my own life as well as in the lives of others. Those whom you expect to be there for you during trials sometimes are not, and those whom you don’t expect, are. Not always, of course, as many people have loving friends and family who are there for them until the bitter, or blissful, end of Lyme. Yet sometimes, it isn’t your best friend, parent or spouse who reaches out with arms of love, but a friend from afar, an acquaintance, or even a stranger.
While I have been mostly fortunate to have friends and family around to help me through the trials of Lyme, there have been dry spells, and during these times, God has sometimes sent an unexpected friend to help pull me through. This is truly a blessing, and while I, while you, may long for the ones who were nearest and dearest to our hearts, we must embrace the new gifts and the new people that God puts into our lives, knowing that He has done so for our good and because He loves us.
And then sometimes, there are no friends or family close by, but only God. When your loved ones have vanished, or when you are too sick to get out and about to spend time with them, God is there. Or perhaps, you walk this path alone because you just don’t want to drain the people in your life anymore with your ongoing grief, because you know it hurts them, too, and why make the whole world sad? But you still need to take that sadness somewhere…
So there is God.
Sometimes, in my days of frustration, I think, Who cares about God? God can’t hug me, He often doesn’t respond to me when I ask Him for help, and well, He’s just plain distant at times! But then there are days, when I take the time to be still before Him and persist in my pursuit of Him, that He comforts me and gives me peace, and tells me that this place of solitude is where I am supposed to be, because what greater privilege than to have the time and space to get to know the One who will never leave me nor forsake me! Even though the process of knowing is slow and the privilege brings pain, with time, I find myself growing in wisdom and in love towards my creator, which is ultimately, the best gift I could ever hope to get out of life.
God tells me to love people, but to put my trust in only Him. People are fallible, but if we can love them without expectations, then we will be at peace. When, in our grief, we can rise above our bitter thoughts and embrace the humanity of those who have failed us, then we have wisdom. When we can see them through the eyes of God, then our hearts are healed, as we release them from our clenches of unforgiveness.
It’s a process, and not one that can be undertaken by willpower alone. We must get on our knees and cry out to God, again and again, and release the torrent of grief that has been locked up inside of us for so long. We must implore Him for wisdom and discernment, confess our unforgiveness, and ask Him for eyes to see our loved ones as He sees them. Above all, we must ask for a powerful revelation of His love towards us, that our brokenness may be healed. That revelation may come in words, through prayer, but it may also come through impressions, visions, people, books and circumstances. God is creative, and can speak in a multitude of ways, if we only believe that He desires to talk to us. And I think He does, because I have experienced it; long, run-on sentences that speak truth into my soul, and especially when my hunger for Him is deep and driven by desperation.
But to hear Him I believe that we must get quiet, humble our hearts, listen and live with awareness. Constantly. Again and again, day after day, persisting and persevering, through tears, doubts and fears, pressing on, laying low and laboring, face to the ground, hour after hour, until the dawn comes…