"For we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
This last semester wasn't easy. A lot of difficult things were going on, and between grad school and that "rest of life" that grad students often forget they have, I was feeling pretty frayed at the ends. Then, in early April, I started getting really sick. I have CFIDS--Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (aka Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, CFS, or Myalgic Encephalomylitis, ME, which, if you ask me, is by far the cooler name)--and I crashed for about six weeks. Weekdays were spent dragging myself to classes and desperately trying to do enough to get by, and weekends were spent laying almost paralyzed on my couch, sometimes with brain fog so thick that even watching an episode of a TV show was too much for my eyes and brain to handle and reading was entirely out of the question.
Two things happened somewhere in the course of those six weeks. Maybe three. First, I was reading through the book of Romans. I had been having a hard time trusting God to fix my life situations and finding my worth in him, and Romans is such a good book for showing us that we really are undeserving of anything good but that God delights in making much of us, in taking us out of our disgusting, sinful situations and making us his so that we can glorify him forever. And it also shows us that he provides for us and "works all things for the good of those who love him." When I came across Romans 8:28 this time, I was struck anew by how God promises that everything in our life is there for a reason, and that the reason ultimately ends in our benefit.
This began to transform the way I thought about CFS. My pastor, John Piper, had cancer a few years ago, and he wrote an article about "not wasting your cancer." This past Spring, I decided that I did not want to waste my CFS. I wanted to be searching for things that God was teaching me through it and I wanted others to see Jesus through the way that I faced my illness.
But two other things happened. The second thing was that I found out that I could afford to take the summer off and move somewhere with a clinic that specialized in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and similar illnesses. After a very intense two weeks of searching, praying, a few tears, and lots and lots of phone calls, I decided to go to a clinic in Pittsburgh that deals with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. One of my best friends from college lives in Pittsburgh, so it was also great that not only could I go to a great clinic, but be with an awesome friend all summer.
The other thing that happened occurred when I was home sick from church one Sunday, listening to an online sermon by Pastor Piper. I want to go back to listen through the sermon now, because I don't remember the exact connections that brought me to this place. But I think it was at the point that he was talking about living and dying for the glory of Christ that I began thinking through how I thought my life would glorify God all growing up and through college--overseas missions--and how I felt so helpless to do anything to glorify God when I was lying on the couch barely able to make it through a recorded sermon. And then, I felt like God was very clearly encouraging me to do something: write a blog.
Saying that might be one of the less common explanations for why people start blogs, but I really think that blogging this summer will be good for two reasons. I'm hoping that by doing it, I can write things that a) keep my focus on the good that God is doing in my life and b) encourage others to do the same. So, for the next two months or so that I am in Pittsburgh, I will try to write here on at least a weekly basis. It will probably be a conglomerate of many things . . . me sharing ways that God encourages me, talking about CFS, sharing frustrations, fears, and worries (I'm so glad that the psalms show us that God can use those too) and also just talking about what's happening in my day to day life.
Okay, possibly this is the longest introductory blog entry in the history of blog entries. Well, probably not. But it has been long. I'll try not to write so much in every entry. I do want to thank those of you who reached the end of this entry, though, for reading my blog and joining with me in this next summer's venture to trust God with CFS and all the rest of my life!