Lyme disease is an inflammatory disease that is caused by a bacterium found in ticks. It can be a deadly disease, but if found in the earlier stages can be treated. My mother, Laurie Paris (the beautiful woman in the picture above), is diagnosed with this disease. She has allowed me to interview her on the journey thus far. All of her answers are honest and transparent. Her hope is that through this blog, people will be encouraged. She wants us to know that in the midst of difficult times, we may not understand everything, but we can trust in God and his unwavering love for us. She has two kids, a husband of 28 years, and has been a Christian for 45 years. She was diagnosed with Lyme disease two years ago and is still battling it.
Here is some of her story…
What’s the hardest part of this journey?
One of the most difficult parts of this journey is the length of the journey. I was diagnosed two years ago with Lyme disease and am still battling it. There is no sign that it will leave my body anytime soon. In a journey that seems more like a marathon than a sprint, there are times where my body undergoes unbearable pain. This physical pain translates into mental pain as I am trapped inside a hurting body. The other difficult part is how it’s not a disease that is well understood. The world is not well aware of this disease and because of this I feel isolated in my journey.
How has this journey challenged your faith?
I used to be a Christian who had daily devotion time with God. I felt God was my delight as I worshipped Him out of delight rather than duty. This journey stripped all of that from under my feet by exposing what my heart truly desired. My desire wasn’t for God; my desire was what He could do for me. I wanted Him to take the disease away. I thought God was my foundation, but once this disease came into my life, my foundation was ripped from under me. I realized I love God for what He is doing for me rather than for who He is.
I was not able to follow my heart’s desire. I wanted to serve God, but couldn’t because of my health. All I could do was lay in bed because my body was in so much pain. Nothing made sense. I had good intentions. In fact, I wanted to serve God. My heart wanted to be elsewhere, but my body confined me to stay in a bed. This challenged me because I didn’t understand why God wouldn’t help me fulfill my plans. It seemed that He was stripping them away from me.
Were there times you wanted to stop fighting and give up? If so, how did you keeping pressing forward?
Yes, absolutely. When the pain was so intense, I wanted to give up. I started to think things like “I don’t want to do this journey anymore” and “I want God to take me home”. I prayed these things to God. After a while, He didn’t answer these prayers and I began to question why He wouldn’t answer me. His choosing to not answer my prayers the way I wanted affected how I viewed Him. I wondered why He wouldn’t end my pain. I questioned how He could let a child of God go through so much.
What kept me pressing forward were my friends and family. As a mom who raised my boys to love the Lord, I wondered what it would say to them if I quit. If I wanted to end this difficult journey, it would have said that God isn’t enough. I also had a husband who supported me emotionally and I couldn’t quit for him. On top of that, I had two extremely supportive friends who never left my side. Without my friends and family, I would not be here.
What questions did you ask God?
Is my relationship with God real? Why is this journey causing me to doubt God? (I asked this because I had no desire to praise God even though I had been a Christian for 45 years). How long do I have to endure before I have my life back? Why me? How could God disable me physically when all I want to do is serve? I did all the right things and followed all the rules, so why is this happening to me?
Where do you find hope when all hope seems lost?
My hope wasn’t in God; it was in what He could do for me. When He didn’t do what I had wanted of Him, my hope faded. In those times where all hope was lost, people brought me hope. Their love was the fuel that kept my fire burning. I was able to experience Christ through their actions. They were able to point out things I couldn’t see. They showed me hope where all I saw was hopelessness. They also pointed me towards Scripture by encouraging me to memorize it. My head took me to negative places, but when I made a commitment to memorize God’s Word, things changed. Memorizing Scripture every morning brought me hope. It allowed to me to focus on God’s Word rather than my own heart. This kept my thoughts focused on reality rather than the lies which lead me astray from God. My fears produced anxiety, but God’s Word produced peace.
How has this situation changed your outlook on life?
I used to be a very goal-oriented and achievement-driven person. My value came from what I could accomplish. This disease stripped a lot from me. I had to quit my job as an educator and retire early. I loved this job and had been doing it for eleven years. The job I once gained my worth from was now gone; I felt worthless because I couldn’t do much.
Another thing that changed is how I live my life. I have plans and want God to support those plans. I want to serve God, but despite my good intentions He had something else in mind. I realized God has plans and I have to adjust my life to fit His plans for me, not the other way around.
What encouragement would you give to someone going through struggles?
Don’t ever stop seeking God. It is a daily choice and a daily surrender. Seek God’s voice by reading His Word on a consistent basis. Also, keep a list of what God has done for you through your journey. Constantly look for God’s fingerprints in the midst of your struggles. Don’t focus solely on the pain; focus on what He is teaching you through the pain. Be a student of God, not a victim of circumstances.
I am very thankful that my mother was willing to share all of this. I hope you are encouraged. My prayer is that her honesty shows you that being a Christian isn’t easy. God never promises us an easy life. Don’t think you have to have it all together because you are a Christian. It’s okay to have questions and experience struggle, but never lose sight of who God is in the midst of it all.
I do realize not all of us have Lyme disease. You may have other struggles that seem more difficult or less extreme. Many of the struggles you go through may seem confusing. You may begin to wonder why you are suffering. The truth is, I don’t know why suffering happens, but regardless of your situation, remember that God loves you. You may have questions for God, you may not know why you are suffering, and you may not know when it will end, but know you serve a sovereign God who loves you unconditionally.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).