Marie’s note: I wrote this post a while ago. I haven’t fallen this year, so far. Praise God.
I fell again that day. It was not a bad fall. I had been kneeling on the floor, looking in a file drawer. My legs are not strong, so I had to pull up with my hands, leveraging with my stronger right leg. I was fully upright and stable, then turned to walk toward my office door. My upper body moved, but my feet didn’t move in sync, so I lost my balance. I caught myself on the arm of my La-Z-boy chair, but my left upper arm and shoulder fell hard against a cabinet. Today that arm is bruised and tender.
It could have been much worse. I am grateful.
Falling is one of the hazards of living with Multiple Sclerosis. Over the years there have been many falls. I once broke my left shoulder when I tripped as I walked into church for a choir rehearsal. One year I fell four times in the same month. One of those falls was on our concrete driveway just moments before ladies arrived for our Bible study. What seemed to be a small bump on my forehead resulted in a nasty black eye.
Because my balance is so unstable, I wear Clarks shoes for sturdy footing. (I had to give up wearing heels long ago.) We live in a handicap accessible home and the furniture placement allows for wide, clear areas for walking. When I am among other people, I am always watching the path in front of me. I have to remind the grandchildren not to walk in front of me, but by my side. I have my iPhone on my person at all times – even when I get up during the night. My iPhone is my emergency contact in the event of falling.
I will say it again. I am grateful.
When I was finally given a positive diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, my initial reaction was euphoric. Finally there was a conclusion to the round of doctors and tests! I felt somehow validated. I had researched enough about MS to know what I might expect in terms of disability. I was not afraid. It was easier to face a known “enemy” than to be ambushed by random attacks that some of my doctors seemed to think were in my mind.
Initially, of course, I asked, “Why, me, Lord?” Almost immediately, I said, “Why not me, Lord?” I had spent enough time in Bible study to know that God is faithful, that He is sovereign, that He has purpose in what He allows in our lives, and that He can be trusted.
From the beginning, I made up my mind that I would praise God in spite of having Multiple Sclerosis. I knew that He would give me the strength to endure whatever I had to face.
I was not afraid of living a life with MS, but I had three specific requests of God. I asked Him to allow me to raise my boys. I asked Him to allow me to keep teaching Sunday School. I asked Him to allow me to keep singing in choir and Chorale. I can praise Him with joy. God was faithful to answer all those requests.
It was not many years before I learned to praise God FOR my MS. I believe I would never have learned the sweet lessons He has taught me without MS.
I am a first-born child. I have always been strong-willed and determined. My parents tell a story of when I was about two years old. I had knocked over a box of buttons. My dad told me to pick them up. I refused. It wasn’t that I couldn’t pick them up. It was a toddler power play. I was told again to obey. Again I refused. The buttons were finally picked up. My dad put his big hand around my tiny one and made me pick up the buttons. I’m not sure who won that power play.
Surrender does not come easily to the strong-willed. I was raised in a Christian home and was in church from infancy. I heard the plan of salvation all my life. Yet I did not truly come to the point of surrender to Christ for salvation until I was twenty-three. A serious kidney infection put me in the hospital for several days. Flat on my back, sick, and helpless, I finally had to look UP and confess that I needed a Savior.
With the perspective of sixty-seven years, I can now look back and see that God has used physical ailments throughout my life to get my attention. Our family lived in Beirut, Lebanon, for four years. During that time I contracted Hepatitis A on a vacation in Turkey. I had been a competitive swimmer as a young teen. Hepatitis left me so weak I never returned to competition. I can remember falling several times in high school. Perhaps those falls were early signs of MS. There is no way to know. Hepatitis, nephritis, endometriosis, infertility, Multiple Sclerosis…there is surely a pattern of physical suffering in my life.
The uncertainty of living with MS has taught me that I am not in control of my life. God is in control.
And I say it again: I am grateful.