For nearly a decade, I wandered around in a Lyme disease-induced stupor, my days filled with tears, agony, prayers, treatments and many hours spent in bed. For a long time, time became surreal and one year blended into another as I sought God for answers to my healing.
I can't believe I'm 40 now. I know life passes like the wind but time takes on an even more surreal dimension when you're sick, and hours seem like minutes; days like hours, and years like months. My 30s were marked by some wonderful experiences, to be sure, but the days mostly passed like dark, somber shadows; and depression, pain and fatigue were, for many years, the hallmark of my existence.
That's just how it is with Lyme. And I would be lying if I didn't say that I'm still working through the regrets of all the things that I missed in my 30s and which I used to love to do- recreational events like camping, hiking, skiing and traveling. Not to mention all the "normal" things that people in their 30s often do, like get established in a career; date and get married, and have kids.
I have sometimes wondered why I had to get sick at age 30. Why couldn't it have happened at age 70? The 30s seem to be prime years of one's life, but I guess every decade has its benefits and if I were 70 I probably would have wished that it had happened in a different season- if it had to happen at all.
But regrets aside, I find myself stepping into 40 with a renewed optimism and faith that the next 10 years will be the best of my life, and that this coming decade will be light years better than the last. I already feel better physically at age 40 than I did at age 30- but emotionally and spiritually I feel better than I ever have in my life. And I see God starting to redeem the time that the locusts have stolen away.
As I celebrate going "over the hill" today, I can't help but feel that I'm actually climbing a new hill, and that there is a fantastic summit and sunrise awaiting me at the top.
I haven't come this far on my own. God has heard my pleas and tears and over the past 10 years, has strategically placed people, opportunities and healing in my path, so that I could get to where I am now- to a place where I no longer cry daily and spend most of my days in isolation, but instead am able to work, travel, and enjoy outings and events with others.
I no longer have the body of a spring chicken but I have a powerful, more peaceful spirit; the inner strength of an ox and the wisdom of a woman who has lived through extreme adversity and not only survived, but learned and grown from it...and a knowledge about what really matters in life- which is love, God and relationships. I guess I could go on.
And I've learned a lot about what it means to be well- in body, mind and spirit- and somehow have managed to produce, during my long battle with infirmity- eight books on holistic wellness, including Lyme, cancer, environmental illness, spiritual healing and nutrition (the latter three to be released this summer!).
It wasn't easy, but when I'm tempted to view my 30s as a huge waste of life, I have to recall the books that God allowed me to write and bless others with, and the deep inner healing that God has worked in me and through me during these difficult years. I don't believe God ordained the pain I went through- but He did indeed use the adversity for good.
God has sent so many people to hold up my arms throughout this journey, and to help me get to where I am today. If you are one of those people and are reading this, I want you to know- I would not be here without you! Foremost are my boyfriend Bill Gonseaux, several of my girlfriends, my family and my doctors. I love and appreciate every one of you, and know that God sent you to me because He knew I might drown in the sea of hell called Lyme disease if I didn't have great warriors to pray for me, provide for me, hold my hand, and care for my broken heart when I didn't think I'd make it another day.
I'm also deeply grateful for every one of my friends who has also suffered from Lyme disease. Your prayers, comfort, and compassion, along with your praise reports and encouraging words about my work have enabled me to keep going, and keep writing- even while my back ached, brain fog raged and endless insomnia and fatigue tortured me for years. It is because of you that I continue to write and help people through what I have learned about healing.
But in the end, it is God and the Lord Jesus Christ who have brought me to where I am today. Ironically, ten years ago, in September, 2004, I went to Colombia to share the love of God with others, and three weeks following that trip, my body broke down and I could no longer work, travel or do much of anything. Now, ten years later, I am returning to Colombia this August/September- still not a perfect vessel, but a much more healed one than I was when I first went there.
I believe it is strategic, and I feel as if God is saying to me, "The years in the wilderness are over." And it's time to go back to Colombia to serve God. Only this time, I'm going back with a more powerful healing anointing, and greater wisdom and compassion (not to mention better health!) than when I went there 10 years ago.
Thank you, Jesus. Thank you God. May this next decade be blessed!