Today's post is by Sarah Galloway.
Are you discouraged? Are you weary? Are you simply still and stagnant in your faith? Have you been suffering?
I have been all these things and more. It leads me to ask constant questions of life and of God.
Why is this happening? When will it stop?
In late 2013 I woke up on a consultation floor blissfully unaware that the life I had known and loved had been broken beyond repair. The moment passed and I remembered. Shocking things, unimaginably strange and scary things that would haunt me in flash backs for years to come.
Psychosis is not an experience that is easy to describe. But it is a categorically bad experience.
Attempted suicide, in some cases very nearly successful suicide, is not an experience that is easy to live alongside. But it is a categorically bad experience.
Memory loss both short and long term is easier to describe - it’s like living in a fog and a constant state of surprise. I’ve got nothing to anchor myself to, it affects my identity as well as my ability. It too is a bad experience.
Seeing your life and the lives of those you love sucked in around you because of this invisible illness, this disease that works like a black hole drawing in the light and life and resources is a scary thing.
The uncertainty of everything has been the hardest burden to bear. Many times I have come to God with the simple prayer ‘Make it stop, make it stop.’
But it didn’t and it hasn’t. I still suffer from a form of encephalitis whereby the body attacks the brain. I can’t work, I can’t cook, I can’t live alone, I can’t concentrate, I can’t control my emotion... in fact let's go to the can do list, as that is shorter. I can eat. I can sleep. I can paint. And I can pray.
So what is it that keeps me going? What’s the driving force? What has God taught me through this suffering? A very simple thing. I have learned that I don’t always need to learn something through my suffering. Some things are bad and wrong and grieve God’s heart as well as mine. Some things steal from you. Some things break you. And that’s ok.
I can rest and not stress about finding that silver lining, or finding more faith. If I can’t feel God’s presence in the middle of my struggle I know that’s just another form of theft; it’s not my fault that it happened and it’s not my job to fix. There is such relief in this way of thinking and being before God.
Suffering draws you into the immediate, the now, the moment of pain. God works through the big picture, the journey, the long haul. I might not win this battle, I may yet suffer psychotic episodes, I may yet feel so low that life is too much. But I know the real battle is won.
I don’t have to strive, or struggle, or suffer under suffering. I can lean into God and rest. I can find that feast amid fear, that sleep through the storm and that resistance against temptation. God has given me an identity and an inheritance that no sickness, sin or suffering can touch, not even death. So in my incomplete, disease ridden life I can be in complete and hope ridden faith.