Courage Wins

Fear is real. Those who live with a chronic illness may deal with it on a daily basis. It robs you of the joy of in your journey, the thrill of tomorrow, the delight of your day. It steals your contentment, empties you of enjoying the now, replaces wonder with worry.

What do you do when the worry ogre comes to call? When fear capsizes its ship in your harbor and leaves you to deal with the wreckage? How do you handle fear?

I’ve been enjoying Max Lucado’s book, Fearless. He pinpoints fears relating to finances, children, violence and more, but as I read, I don’t read about fears dealing with chronic illnesses. I doubt that I will and yet, isn’t tackling the fear of unemployment, our children’s safety, chronic illnesses, etc. all dealt with in basically the same way?

Fear is a feeling or emotion about a perceived threat – real or imagined. It’s the condition of being afraid. It is a feeling of dread and hopelessness. It is assuming something terrible is going to come out of a situation. Having Parkinson’s Disease or another chronic disease or illness can make you feel like that: afraid, threatened, hopeless, and more.

We fear losing our ability to talk coherently. To sing or dance. To write, read, paint, draw. We fear the inability to hold our children or grandchildren, to hug our spouse. We fear having to depend on others for helping with everyday tasks we ideally should be able to do until we die. We fear there will be no cure.

Fear can engulf us. Maybe for a moment, an afternoon, a week, a year. It can grab us and refuse to let go. But it doesn’t have to control us.

Courage is the opposite of fear. Courage embraces bravery. It kicks fear in the guts and dares to live. It has the audacity to stand and fight when fear breaths down its neck. Courage grabs the overflowing fountain of fear and flings it into the darkness from where it originated.

Courage faces chronic diseases, terminal diseases and refuses to stand down. It may sit in a wheel chair, lean on a walker, take the arm of one more steady, but it will not crumble. Courage, like fear, is a state of mind that, instead of cowering to what-ifs, lives the here and now. It experiences the ups and downs of the day to day game of life and plays again tomorrow regardless of the rules. Courage allows the players to win. Fear keeps them on the benches.

I have seen and met countless people with chronic illnesses. I have looked into their eyes and have seen courage. I have heard their stories of fear and rejoiced in their victories over it. I have watched them struggle with the reality life has dealt them and laugh at it out loud.

Do they have a secret that allows them immunity over the fear factor of PD? No, but they have chosen to replace fear with the quality of being courageous. Courage is what heroes are made of. Courage breeds hope for a better world. It expects better things to come and looks forward with an optimistic outlook for a better day – a day without walkers or wheelchairs or the worry of what’s to come.

I have seen courage on the faces of those with PD and other chronic illnesses and those who care for them. It may be mixed with weariness and weakness but it is there. It has said “I refuse to give up.” It allows the broken and battered to fight to the end.

To all those who may sit or stand, walk or run, move or remain immobile, I applaud you. Though fear has come and threatened to claim your spirit, you have remained immovable and have been an inspiration to many.

When the fear ogre comes to steal your courage, know that you have a band of others who stand on that front line with you and stand (or sit) ready to fight, ready to win on your behalf.

So don’t give up. You are not alone. At this moment you may feel as if the load you carry is intolerable and you wonder if you can make it another day with pain, stiffness, immobility and more, grasping for your attention – remember to embrace the courage within you and grab hold of the hope that it offers. Stand strong with an optimistic attitude that something better is coming. And don’t forget – you are somebody’s hero.

“Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.” – Dorothy Thompson

A Restless Heart

Roses like Peonies
Roses like Peonies

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. Psalm 37:3-7a NIV

 

When my Parkinson’s Disease started making itself known, one of its symptoms was RLS, otherwise known as Restless Leg Syndrome. RLS is a condition that can manifest itself in others who do not necessarily have Parkinson’s and yet, both groups find it, shall I say, quite annoying.

 

RLS makes your legs feel tingly and jumpy—restless—just like its name. You feel like your nerves are going to leap right out of your limbs (usually, but not always limited to, the legs) and can eventually find yourself walking in circles in the wee hours of the night (or morning!) to try to get it stopped.

 

Having this annoying condition has reminded me of Psalm 37, where David talks about being patient and trusting the Lord. When we grow restless and decide not to trust God, however unconsciously that choice may be, we tend to take matters into our own hands. We think we need to ‘fix’ the things in our lives that we feel are not working properly or are just plain – broken. We walk (or often run) around, trying to solve annoying issues, fix broken relationships, or whatever is ailing us.

 

David learned a much better way. He trusted God and in doing so, he found rest, which is obviously the opposite of restlessness. He rested by learning to dwell, to be settled and stay right where he was and enjoy God there. David was able to delight in the Lord and find pleasure in Him because his focus was vertical (his eyes were on God) and not horizontal (on his problems).

 

It took patience. He had to learn to be still and to wait. However, it didn’t come overnight. Remember his affair with Bathsheba and his attempt to fix what he had done? He spent many restless days trying to fix what went wrong in his life, only to make the situation worse with each attempt. While David’s situation was a sin issue, aren’t they all when it comes to not trusting God to deal with the issues in our lives?

 

I came face to face one day with God over the matter of trust. Trust is the opposite of doubt, mistrust, disbelief and skepticism. If I am not trusting, I am, instead, doubting that God can handle my situation. I am believing He isn’t going to come through for me. I am skeptical that He can or will do what He said he will do on my behalf. In essence, no matter how hard I may try to justify my thoughts or feelings or water down the truth, the truth is – I was calling God a liar. For me, that was sin as I felt I needed to take matters into my own hands. To think I need to fix what seems to be broken because somewhere inside of me, for some reason, I don’t believe that God will fix what I view as, my problem. To think that He isn’t going to fix it when I feel it needs fixing… now.

 

I’ve often ‘super-glued’ vases back together (if they weren’t shattered, as I’m not that talented!) right after I have broken it. It is often our tendency, for whatever reason (fear of discipline, forgetfulness to fix it later, etc.), to put aside what we were doing when the item was broken and to fix it right away. God, however, may not see the need to remedy our situations immediately. After all, when we try to put something back together quickly, it’s often in haste and doesn’t look so great. Again, we can look at David’s attempt to remedy his situation and see evidence of a job poorly done.

 

The answer to the super-glue attempt at life is trusting in a God who promises to give us the desires of our heart when we delight in Him. When God makes a promise, He will do it. He does not lie and can be trusted explicitly.

 

Are you restless about something? Are you struggling with trusting God to come through for you? Give over to Him now what ails you and claim His promises in Psalm 37. Wait patiently for Him to do it. The restlessness will cease and His fearpeace will come. Trust Him.