My prayer over the past many months has been that I will be an empty vessel for the Lord to fill and use as He wills. This prayer of mine comes from the Bible. Throughout Scripture, people are often described as vessels, or jars of clay, in the the hands of God. He is the Almighty potter.
Last week, Jersey Boy, the kids, and I were immersed in the frenetic swirl of a Disney vacation. Our time together in Disney World was thrilling, exhausting, energizing, and depleting. We had many activities planned, fast passes scheduled, dinner reservations reserved, and princesses to visit. At the Magic Kingdom, we had dinner in the castle at Cinderella’s Royal Table, and in the evening we observed giraffes and zebras outside of our hotel balcony at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. At Epcot, we ate dinner in Germany and we fell from the Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios. It all felt surreal and overwhelming, even as an adult.
But along the way, I started losing feeling on the right side of my body. It was a strange, creeping sensation, that started with mild tingling in my feet but rapidly progressed to total numbness. I ignored the sensation for two days, hopped up on adrenaline and attributing my loss of feeling to a pinched nerve or sore back. By Saturday evening, however, I realized that something was very wrong.
After a frightening visit to the ER in Florida where the doctor confirmed that I was not having a stroke, I was advised to head home to Pennsylvania and seek further medical care. The Lord sustained me throughout the day on Sunday as we awaited our late afternoon flight. As soon as we landed in Pennsylvania my dear friend Maggie gathered me from the airport and drove me directly to the hospital, where I was joined by two other dear friends, Lindsey and Jenn. Jersey Boy brought our littles home, and tucked them safely in their beds as the doctors admitted me to the hospital and told me that I was most likely suffering from myelitis – a rare and potentially debilitating neurological disorder.
I spent several days in the hospital, surrounded by friends and loved ones. I underwent MRIs of my spine and brain, and the doctors confirmed the diagnosis of myelitis, finding an active lesion on my cervical spine. I had a spinal tap and many blood tests, the results of which are still pending. The doctors treated me with five days of high dose IV steroids, and the Lord spared me from experiencing extreme side effects from the medication. Those few days in the hospital were scary and dark.
I do not know what my future holds. I do not know what is causing my myelitis. In the coming days and weeks more answers will likely come as I visit specialists who will try to understand what is going on inside of my body. Some of the possibilities are highly treatable, and others seem more ominous.
But during this time, the Lord has fully displayed his mercy and loving compassion towards me. All of our family’s physical needs are being met by our local friends, both inside and outside of the church. People are bringing us meals, friends are driving my children to their various activities, and loved ones are sacrificing their own personal schedules and plans to take time and just BE WITH US…even in this muck…amidst my tears, and fears…in the sadness, and suffering. People are praying with us, and for us, and I feel God’s love in tangible ways.
I am praying for complete healing, if the Lord wills it. I am praying for God to give me the strength I’ll need to make it through each small step of this unexpected journey. I feel weak and small, like a delicate jar. I am acutely aware of my own fragility, and I am clinging desperately to the potter.
Above all else, my prayer remains the same as before all of this started. I am an empty vessel…a lump of clay in the hands of my God. And I trust Him to have His way in me. I trust Him to fill me and use me as He wills.
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).