by Jenn Wisnom
Have you ever felt like you were standing at the edge of a precipice? You look across and see that it is too far to jump, you look down and cannot see the bottom, and you look behind and know that there is no turning back? This is where the past six months have led me.
I have struggled with my health on and off for over a decade. Most doctors will agree that I have something wrong with my immune system, but they do not know what it is. Recurring shingles outbreaks, nerve damage, and fatigue often ail me. So, when I became sick again in April 2020 it seemed like nothing new.
Yet this sickness was in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, a country facing social unrest, and a career that went from in-person teaching to virtual teaching overnight. Stress can often trigger my symptoms. So, that’s what it must be…right?
But how do I raise three children, educate others’ children, explain social injustices that plague our society, and calm the fears related to COVID-19? I did what I knew how to do: I plowed forward, kept moving, and worked tirelessly. Over time, I became more and more sick, finally culminating in a night in the ER (the last place you want to be during a pandemic). I went for bloodwork, more doctor’s appointments, a colonoscopy, two COVID tests and then, finally, exploratory surgery.
All while raising my children, running them to sports practices, and trying to be a good wife. I do not share this because I am superwoman. I share this because it almost broke me.
When I woke up from my surgery the first thing I asked was “What did they find?” The response I received was, “Nothing. You will need to follow back up with the surgeon next week.” I instantly began to sob. The “why me?”, “I can’t take anymore”, and “it’s not fair” ran through my head. I wanted to scream, yell, throw something. I was beside myself with frustration and anxiety.
And then it hit me. I have been trying to do all of this on my own. Not in a single parent kind of way, but in a lost child of God kind of way. Oh, I had been praying…superficially. I would pray in the evenings before I fell asleep and then wake up and try and control the world around me. I would say that I was handing things over to the Lord, but there was still that tiny piece I held on to myself. As if I could somehow make things better on my own and the Lord could not.
The week after my surgery was full of physical and spiritual exhaustion. I searched for Bible verses about God taking care of us, and here are some that immediately spoke to me:
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”. Isaiah 41:10
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
These were just a few of the many passages I found to read over. I read them, and read them, and reread them. I put my complete focus on the words and what they meant for me in my life. Because I believe that God sent his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for my sin, all these things are true. I am not alone. I do not have to try to be a wife, raise my children, be an educator, and be healthy all on my own. In fact, I cannot do it on my own. So, I must hand my burdens over to the Lord and trust him to sustain and provide for me.
At the time of writing this blog the doctors are not sure what is wrong with me. I do not know why God is allowing my body to fight for its health right now. But I do have renewed confidence that I am not alone in this fight. Our loving Heavenly Father will sustain me, protect me, and guide me. There is a purpose and a plan for all things he allows to happen. And although I am still in physical pain, my spiritual health is renewed, and my fears have been eased.
Whatever you are struggling with – whether it is physical, like an illness, depression, addiction, or something else entirely – you do not have to go through it alone. Trust in the Lord and you will have the power of the Holy Spirit to calm you and guide you through the situation. This is a lesson that I am sure I will continue to learn as I try and control the situations around me.
Jenn Wisnom is a member of Living Hope Church. She and her husband, Pete, have three children.