When the doorbell rang at 7:30 in the morning, I wasn’t sure I should answer it. Who would be coming over so early in the morning? I peeked out the window and saw it was a FedEx delivery man. Did I order something online? I was briefly excited for the morning surprise.
As I grabbed the box, I remembered.
Oh. I have M.S. I now get medicine shipped to me overnight in little refrigerated cartons. I have to learn to give myself a shot.
I stared at that little box in my foyer. It was my first such package; a home health nurse was coming over later that day to teach me what to do with the contents of that little refrigerated carton sitting on my foyer floor. I sat down next to the box and stared at it for a moment. The noises of the kids’ morning shuffle were all around me, but it faded into the background as the box seemed to be emanating sounds of its own. The noise from the box was soft and pervasive, not penetrating my ears, rather moving in through my chest. Although wordless, I felt there was a message coming to me from that box: you are not ever going to be the same. You are now broken, and I will come to your doorstep every month to remind you of all the things you cannot do anymore. I’ll be there in your refrigerator every day so you can notice, and never ever forget – you are not whole.
I cried in my foyer that morning. I cried for a long time. I sat on the hard floor and mourned the loss of every single thing that wasn’t, or couldn’t, be mine anymore. My husband came and sat on the floor with me for a while, sitting quietly stroking my hair, trying to muffle out the box’s declaration with his hug.
The box won that morning.
With great slowness, the noise of the real world trickled back into my ears; I pulled myself up off the floor and put the box in the fridge. And although I couldn’t see it anymore, the message stayed with me for a long time. The life I had planned to live, that life was over.
There are always great plans to be made when we’re twenty years old, sitting on the bed with our university roommates, planning out what our lives will look like, what kind of children we want, how beautiful things will be. We imagine certain details, certain events, certain friendships. For me it involved, among a lot of other things, a testimony that the Lord loves me, a motivated and loving man, a child (MAYBE two), a successful career in law, traveling, a mission with my husband, an Arts and Crafts aesthetic home, and a beautiful garden in my backyard.
Those dreams from college have, in almost every measure, not looked like I imagined them at the time. I DO have a motivated and loving husband, and I DO know the Lord loves me. But I have been forced to recognize that pretty much everything else on my long list of expectations has fallen by the wayside. Some of the changes from ‘the plan’ have been enormous blessings. Five children rather than one are a blessing I never expected to be so immense and overpowering. Leaving my career was both difficult and incredibly easy. The garden is indeed in the backyard, but beautiful isn’t something I’d ascribe to it.
Some of these departures from ‘the plan’ have been easy to roll with. Others have required intense periods of mourning.
And now, I face disability. It clearly wasn’t part of ‘the plan’. But a few hours after I peeled my tear-soaked body off the foyer floor, as a couple of fantastic friends called to check in on me, I started to run through the list of every person in the world that I love and care about. Not one has had their life go perfectly according to their ‘plan’. Cancer really does afflict people I know. Stillborn babies really are born sometimes. Car accidents, unemployment, failed businesses, depression, aging parents, divorce and infidelity really do happen to people I love. The list of things that are never on anyone’s ‘plan’ seems long and invasive.
And so it was that I found myself sticking a needle into me that afternoon, injecting a medicine into my thigh that might help me ‘survive longer’. I still cried about it; in fact I spent weeks still mourning the loss of who I was, of one more – or maybe a hundred more – things that were gone from ‘the plan’. But in the long months and now years that have followed, there emerged a new plan. This new plan didn’t actually have any expectations in it; rather it held my plan for right now.
The plan involved living. Right now. No more waiting for convenient times to “re-tool my plan”. No more waiting at all, in fact. Because right now I can walk. Right now I can use my hands. Right now I can play on the floor with my children. The blessings of ‘right now’ are all around me, they are staggering in their enormity, and they always have been. Was the Lord just waiting for those last few vestiges from my own plan to fall away so He could introduce me to the real plan, the one that would actually bring me more happiness than I thought was possible? So now although there is still a list of things I cannot do, I’ve left it on the foyer floor with the tears that hopefully drowned it.
M.S. brought me my new plan. M.S. opened my eyes to my new life, and it is still beautiful.
How has your plan changed?