I live with an autoimmune illness that, for many years, was debilitating and kept me in constant pain.
Many years ago, before the diagnosis, I went through a very dark time in my life. I could barely take care of myself –let alone my family. My home looked like that of a hoarder, not because I am a hoarder– I’m not, but because I was physically unable to clean it.
I went to a doctor to try to get help. When I started explaining to him what was going on –instead of helping me– he threatened to turn me into Child Protective Services and gave me 2 weeks to have my whole house clean and bring pictures to prove it.
I simply couldn’t clean. But I didn’t know why. I didn’t know why I was so weak and so sick. So I went to friends and family to get help.
Some people were very understanding and helpful –others were not. I was labeled as “lazy” and “ungodly” by people who claimed to love and support me.
Someone threatened to go to court to have my children removed from my home unless I promised to take care of the house and children to their standards. Of course I promised over and over that I would never let my house get that bad again. What else could I say? It was a lie. I didn’t have it within me to keep the house clean. But I wouldn’t risk losing my kids by being honest with him.
That wasn’t the hardest part. The hardest part was my relationship with my husband. You have to understand that both of us had unresolved health issues at the time. We didn’t know at the time that he was suffering from an undiagnosed mental health issue. I didn’t know that his untreated mental illness combined with the stress of the doctor’s threat had sent him into severe depression and anxiety. I thought he was going to leave me.
I can remember being on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor barely able to walk, holding onto walls as I braced myself to get up and hobble through the house.
I remember hobbling into the bathroom, turning the shower on so my children couldn’t hear me, laying prostrate on the linoleum and sobbing, moaning, crying out to God, begging, pleading with Him for my children, my husband, my marriage.
It was during these times –probably the lowest time in my life– I simply began to pray for grace. That the Lord would give me the grace to handle whatever happened in a way that would honor Him. That no matter how much pressure was put on me, I would be refined and found pure as gold and honorable to Him. That I would come out better on the other side.
The phrase “Grace Under Pressure” emerged. I would whisper that phrase to remind myself what kind of woman I wanted to be — the kind who has grace under pressure.
Many things have changed since then –many years filled with tears, prayers, and trials. I’m have a diagnosis for my illness thanks to a doctor who actually helped. The treatment plan is mostly working, and I’m no longer immobile or in pain.
My husband’s mental illness has been diagnosed and treated. We’re both still a work in progress, but we’re more in love now than ever. It took about two years before my husband and I were able to talk through what had happened with the doctor. Scott never planned to leave me.
We have removed ourselves from the people who threatened or criticized when we truly needed help. This included leaving our church which was unaccepting and unsupportive. I have promised myself that I will never –ever, ever, ever– treat others as I have been treated.
Throught it all God was there, and He was faithful.
I still deal with the daily effects of my illness which make me less than the ideal wife, but I have come to peace with that and –for the most part– so has Scott. (I believe that my situation gives me perspective on Proverbs 31.) I believe that God understands my situation even better than I do and only expects from me what I am able to give.
Living with grace under pressure requires us to understand God’s grace so that we can extend it to ourselves and others.
Wherever you find yourself today, no matter what trials you face, just remember that He’s there, He understands better than you do, He’s working in you through this, and He never, ever fails us. The Refiner’s fire isn’t pleasant, but He refines the ones He loves. So, if you’re in a trial, that means you’re also very loved.
I will loudly proclaim God’s faithfulness even in the hardest times. My story is certainly not the worst thing that could happen. To some people, it might not seem that bad compared to what they have faced. But if my story encourages others and turns them to the Lord in their times of struggle, then it was worth sharing. I will never stop proclaiming what the Lord has done in my life!
The definition of Grace:
simple elegance or refinement of movement.
- (in Christian belief) the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.