As an EDS Mama, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about death. There were times we were not sure if our daughter would pull through. I could write an entire book on that emotional subject alone. In order for me to continue to be a healthy person and be all that I need to be for my family, I have to address all areas of healing, so today my thoughts go beyond life with EDS and dysautonomia. My own mother passed away six years ago from ovarian cancer. I’ve had some dear friends pass on as well and it was hard to say goodbye to them. A sweet, old man I befriended because I passed him sitting in a chair with his head down died this week. My grandmother passed away a few days ago. Death causes me to think about not only the life of the deceased, but also my own life. Why is it that death sometimes brings to mind all the ways a person has hurt us? And yet when I’m at the end of my life, I think I will be wishing I could undo the times I have caused injury and instead have more time to love deeply. We are not so quick sometimes to extend forgiveness to those who have wronged us, but I can picture myself on my deathbed desperately wanting forgiveness to set me free.
Matthew 6:15 NIV says, “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” I believe Jesus meant this when He said it. I do not want to test Him in this area. I don’t want to get to the end of my life, thinking I was a child of the King only to be told, “You did not forgive others. You yourself have not been forgiven either.” Wow! Wouldn’t that be a shock! Philippians 3:13 NIV tells me, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” If I keep dwelling on the past of how someone has hurt me, I cannot move forward. For me to be a healthy person, I have to be able to forgive, leave the past in the past, and live my life the way Christ would want me to. Sometimes that means firm boundaries need to be established so that we can forgive but not continue to enable poor behavior from individuals. Often, that means humbling ourselves, accepting people where they are at with all their shortcomings, and loving them anyway. Is that not how you want others to treat you?
We do have some choice about what our end of life will be like. I don’t want to be bitter and dying. I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Just like I have had to do with others, my own children, family, and friends will have to sift my life, forgiving the ways I’ve hurt them and remembering the good. I want to model forgiveness for my children so that they will learn not to be held captive by anger and bitterness. I want Christ to tell me I forgave others like He forgave me. And boy, when I think about how much He has had to forgive me over and over and over (you get the idea), it helps me to be able to forgive as well. In Luke 23, we get a picture of the enormity of the forgiveness Jesus extended when He prays to the Father, saying in verse 34, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Jesus knows how hard it is for us to forgive, but through Christ we can be set free from the past! In what areas are you harboring unforgiveness? Is it with a family member? Is it with an insensitive nurse or doctor? Is it with your child who has made poor choices? Is it with your spouse? Is it that you cannot forgive yourself? Jesus says to us in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Christ died to forgive it all! Are you enjoying life to the full or are you unwilling to forgive and limiting Christ’s work in you? Dear one, choose to forgive today.
This post definitely applies to everyone, no matter what trial you are facing, so we won't limit ourselves to EDS today. I have been humbled hearing others’ stories because so often I realize that my difficulties are so trivial compared to what others may be dealing with. Your challenge may be health related, work related, relationship related, anything. But whatever it is, you have to be coping somehow. There is something that you are putting your trust in to make it through. Where are you getting your strength from? Maybe you are counting on yourself. You think you have a pretty bright mind and can handle this all on your own. You have the ability to make rational decisions. You cannot rely on anyone else. Nobody else really understands anyway. Your family and friends want to help, but there is so much you just have to do on your own. Your own husband or wife may not even be on the same page as you are. Are you running on overdrive from sunrise to sundown? Bearing it all on your own shoulders takes A LOT of energy.
Allow me to share with you how I was coping. I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior when I was in fifth grade. My parents had taken me to church all my life and it was there that I learned I was a sinner from birth and there was nothing I could do to get to Heaven on my own merit. When we believe Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sins with His own blood and we accept His free gift of salvation, it is a done deal. We become His children FOREVER, NO MATTER WHAT and when we die, we will meet Him in Heaven and live there for eternity! That does not mean life will be easy after that. In fact, I went through a really rough patch trying to cope. I was trying to figure out how my God whom I loved since childhood could be allowing my family to suffer such hardship. How could I have served Him all my life and then have Him abandon me like this, or so I thought?
I almost turned my back on Christ and my family. (Now thank goodness, we can never run away from God. He will remain faithful even when we are not.) When I think of how difficult it was just coping with a child who had EDS along with other conditions, I think of Christ. I had Him in my life, sealed in my heart, and I felt like I couldn’t handle the circumstances HE HAD ALLOWED in my life! You may be wondering, “Why would I want Christ then if it didn’t change your circumstances and you still had trouble coping?” What God taught me is that although I was His child, although I had accepted His gift of salvation, He had to teach me to trust Him more each day and not trust in myself. When I finally surrendered fully to Him, I had peace. For me, this is a daily process even still. I continue to find areas I need to lay at His feet and trust Him completely. I cannot imagine trying to get through this lifetime all on my own or through human effort.
What about you? Are you tired of navigating through this nightmare on your own? Have you asked the Heavenly Father to come into your life and help you? And if you have, are you trusting Him COMPLETELY so that peace can fill you? “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV.
Scripture for further study: Romans 3:22-26, Romans 3:10, Isaiah 64:6, Romans 6:23, John 3, Ephesians 2:8-9, John 1:12-13, Romans 10:9-10, John 17:3.