I don’t remember much from my childhood, just specific scenes. I don’t always remember when exactly they happened, but I can still see images and remember conversations as if they are a picture that is always there, even when I don’t look at it for a while. I was in elementary school. Coming up from Sunday School to go to church, I announced to my mom that I didn’t think this Jesus stuff was real. He was too perfect to actually have been a human. My mom, horrified, hurried to shush me. She told me later that if I didn’t believe that he was real, then I wouldn’t go to heaven. By then, I was old enough to understand that this would be a significant problem. So, I believed. I even remember telling my sisters that they had to believe, too, or they wouldn’t get into heaven.
Another scene from my elementary school years is my family at the supper table.
“Where does Jesus live?” my dad asked. I pointed heavenward, but one of my sisters pointed to her heart. “Yes, he lives up there, too, but Jesus lives in your heart!” I don’t remember many more specific scenes in my faith life, but I do know that I asked God into my heart a number of times, thinking that I would feel different. I’ve always looked up to my parents for good models of Christian faith. They prayed with us before 4-H judging and before a test. They talked to Jesus like he was in the room, and I learned to pray out loud and in my head in the same fashion. When something was wrong, they looked to Jesus. So I learned to do the same thing. I trusted Jesus with my all.
In seventh grade, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The average age of diagnosis is between the ages of 20 and 40, and here I was, just 13 years old. I was the youngest person I knew with the disease by 50 years, at least. MS was something old people like my grandma had—and she had continued deteriorating until she was completely unable to move on her own. Was I going to end up like that? Soon after my diagnosis, I became completely overwhelmed, defeated, and depressed.
I’d spent almost a year in my doldrums before my dad pointed out to me that God has a reason. He wouldn’t have chosen me if I couldn’t handle it. By this time, I was on the second medicine that had failed and not worked for me. Though I had accepted the fact that I had MS, id didn’t make it any easier. Medicine after medicine failed me. After two years, I had tried almost every medicine on the market—almost. Then, when I had nowhere else to turn, we found it. The FDA came out with a new medicine that summer. That November, I started on the medicine that still works for me. It is unfortunate that I didn’t get on this medicine sooner, because I still have invisible scars and effects from those first years. But God provided the medicine I needed! As Paul said in his letter to the Romans, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Since my diagnoses, I have struggled with worry for what the future will bring. MS is an unpredictable disease—what will happen in a year, in two years, in five? Ten? Where will I be? Will I finish school without any problems? Will I still have use of my fingers, will I still be able to play? Will I get a job? Will I still be able to walk? How will I support myself, with this extra financial burden? Questions upon questions have always haunted me. Then I found a passage in the gospel of Matthew: “”Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” I found myself bawling as I finally handed everything over to God—worries about my MS, about the future in general.
I have hope because of my relationship with God. Jesus is real—I have asked him to be my Savior—and He is changing me little by little every day.