Last Spring, right before Easter, I went into the doctor and found out I had a kidney infection. They put me on IV antibiotics right away and had me come in for the next three days to receive IV treatments in addition to my antibiotics. The last day of my IV was on Good Friday and I remember sitting there with tears in my eyes thinking about how scared I felt through this whole process. In that moment of reflection, I couldn’t even imagine the agony of our Lord or the agony of so many who are constantly fighting health battles. I prayed for everyone who was carrying a much heavier cross than I was that day.
Easter Sunday came and I could barely make it through mass because of the extreme exhaustion. I sat there and began to cry. “This isn’t how I wanted to spend my Easter”, I thought. I was disappointed that my suffering wasn’t coming to an end yet. After a long Lent and my recent health struggles, I wanted so badly to experience the joy and the hope of the Resurrection in that moment. I was so sad that my body and my spirit felt so tired and joy-less.
After about three weeks of pure exhaustion, I finally felt back to my normal self. Since then, I have been plagued with infection after infection and have been on antibiotics three different times this summer. I have been to more doctors appointments this past year than I probably have my entire life and it’s been really difficult for me to have peace and joy in the midst of all this.
I have found myself interiorly complaining, feeling sad for myself, being angry that I continually don’t have the energy I want, and then feeling ashamed that I haven’t suffered more gracefully through all this. My anxiety has been crippling because of my constant fear of another infection and the calls from the doctor telling me I need “two more weeks” of antibiotics. I am over all this. And yet, I have no real control over any of this or when it will “end”. That is where surrender comes in and I have struggled, struggled, struggled with that part of this trial.
While in the midst of my infections, my husband and I have been struggling with infertility, and have gone through a series of tests to figure out why my body has not yet been able to bring forth life. I’ve been commuting to visit a Catholic Napro Doctor to help us conceive naturally through learning the underlying symptoms that are affecting my fertility. While I am so incredibly grateful for the amazing support that my doctor has provided me and the loving embrace of my husband who has held me in his arms as I have wept many times, the journey towards conception has been overwhelming at times, especially when I have already been in a fragile state. As much as I have tried to keep a strong spirit and remind myself that my fertility is in Jesus’ hands and His timing is perfect, the added stress of my recurring infections and not feeling good has combined for a difficult period for me. (I will write more on my struggle with infertility at another time since I know many women are going through this).
What has caused me the most suffering through all this, has not been the infections themselves or the sadness of my infertility, but my fear of the unknown and the loss of control I feel in not being able to manage or “fix” these things on my own. I know intellectually that the list of things that I actually have control over is very small. Yet, I still struggle with the compulsion to try and take things into my hands that don’t belong there. I have often judged Adam and Eve for being so ridiculous when they ate of the fruit in the garden after God told them not to, but if I am honest with myself, there are many times I grasp for the fruit too. There are many times where I am tempted to believe that God will not provide for my every need. This broken part of my humanity breaks my heart because I know that God is faithful. I don’t want to doubt or grasp or be self-reliant in moments where I need to completely rely on God’s providence, grace and faithfulness. Oh Lord, when will I learn to fully leave so many of my burdens at the foot of your cross and not pick them back up again? When will I stop grasping for my own will to be fulfilled? I pray for the grace to be faithful and to grow in trust of YOUR FAITHFULNESS.
The humbling part of any kind of suffering is that we can’t manage it on our own. That’s also supposed to be the liberating part. Jesus never said once in Scripture, “It’s up to you to manage everything on your own, and to just plow your way gracefully through every trial.” It’s supposed to be messy. Suffering is supposed to stretch us and be uncomfortable. As my therapist likes to remind me, “You’re supposed to suck at this.” We are human and unless we have experiences where we get to see how poorly we suffer and how self-reliant we often are, then we will never learn how to suffer better, how to surrender more and how to let Jesus be in total, complete control.
A couple weeks ago I went to confession and poured my heart out to the priest about all my interior struggles and as the priest gave me absolution, I began to weep. It felt so liberating to finally release so much of the weight and fear that I have been carrying. It felt so freeing to be honest with myself and the priest about my struggle to truly trust that God will carry me through all this. I remember a priest years ago during one of my confessions, ask me if I believed in this Scripture verse:
“And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are the called according to His purpose.”- Romans 8:28
I have been humbled years later when I have to really ask myself, “do I truly believe this?” In my head I am saying “Amen,” but in my heart where fear often comes knocking, it can be a difficult truth to fully internalize. I continually remind myself that Jesus will carry me and He won’t abandon me underneath the weight of my little trials.
I always pray to have more trust because often times my trust is very selective. This is where I’m at. I’m tempted on some days to beat myself up and feel like a crappy Christian because I stink at letting go of control. I’m frustrated with myself at times for struggling with surrender. But, this is where I am, and I have to be gentle with myself because I know Jesus will lead me to deeper surrender. It will be by His grace and His grace alone. It’s not up to me to move myself there on my own, but my prayer is to learn a little bit more about suffering, trusting and surrendering through all of this.
I want to be fully healthy. I want to conceive a child. I want to have more energy during my day. But in the gap where these wants, prayers, and needs, seem to go unmet, or I am left waiting to see how these things will play out, I have only my trust to carry me through. Today I will pray that these words sink in a little deeper for you and most especially for myself: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
2018 Drewe DeJesus
Photo by Arto Martinnen from Freely Photos