“Not my will.”
How many times have I desperately longed for my life of progressive disability to be different? For countless hours upon hours I have agonized, with teenaged hormones raging, wanting a different path, begging to be released from the nevers of my life, from the crippling confines of my disease. Far too weak and dependent for romantic relationships, I deeply desired the possibility of a husband, of children, of a home of my own, painfully frustrated and sad that it could not be.
In sleepless nights even now, I suffer the agony of simply wanting to swing my legs down from the bed and stand up. I don’t want to be dependent upon my aging parents and wake them in the middle of the night for my comfort, no matter how willing they may be to assist me. So I lie still in the dark as my tears sting and burn my eyes, and I can’t wipe them away with my own hands.
I don’t want my disability, this difficult burden of sorrow and painful loss — I don’t want disease to lay upon me and upon the backs and hearts of the people whom I love.
Intimidated and a little terrified by how many Saints have rejoiced at being able to suffer — have in fact asked for physical ailments and pain — I wonder if I will ever become a Saint. I won’t, it seems to me now, if I have to see the suffering of progressive disease and severe dependency as a desirable gift. Grateful to be alive, I accept my disabling disease, making the most of my life, knowing that I have opportunities on this path of life to discover and share unique gifts. But I’m not like the Saints — I’m not grateful for my inability to move. I’m not glad that I have difficulties with breathing and a shortened lifespan. I would not have chosen this course of life. This is not my will.
You, dear reader, no matter what your circumstance, have also felt dissatisfaction with the facts of your life at some point in time. You have experienced, or will experience, a burning desire for things to be different — a sorrow, a grieving, a rage, an agony about what you have to go through, to endure, to suffer.
The life that God chose to live here in the flesh was a simple life, a good life of affection and health that was enjoyed by Him, body, mind, heart, and soul — until it wasn’t.
Jesus, who is fully divine, knew the path of His life would include betrayal, abandonment, cruelty, and torture leading to His painful crucifixion, a path that meant He could free us, His beloved, from the ravages of sin. But this doesn’t mean that He liked the path. Christ didn’t always feel happiness about His own fully human life. He certainly didn’t want to suffer excruciating pain. In fact, knowing what He was about to endure, what His life was about to become, Jesus, filled with agonizing dread, fell to His knees in the dark of night and begged to be released from the divine plan. His human will was for a different path.
We humans suffer in our dread of suffering. We suffer in our heartbreaking, bone-aching desire for the course of life to change. God knows.
He suffered too.
Christ begged for another way.
He who is without sin, whose intellect is not darkened, whose will is not weakened, loves me enough to go through everything that I go through in the painful, perishable nature of my human flesh. He sweats it out with me, falling to His knees, pouring out His very blood for love of me. God is intimately united to me in the flesh, permanently cementing His bond with me through His own blood and tears, profoundly loving me in this terribly beautiful intimacy that is the very human and divine life of Jesus Christ. In His very real agony, He is united with me always and everywhere, now and forever, so that I may never escape the divinely transformative power of His eternal love.
It’s obvious that God’s will for me is that I not be miraculously cured of my genetic flaw. His will is different than mine. Will I choose His will, even if I don’t like it? … Yes …. Grateful for the gift of life, for my existence, I will not perpetually complain to the Giver who is all-knowing and ever-loving. God knows that there’s nothing about this difficult life of mine that will prevent me from knowing the fullness of love and joy. As I write in It’s Good to Be Here, if this way of living is the only way that I, Christina Marie Chase, unique and one-of-a-kind, can live in this world, then I certainly would choose this life over no life at all.
Reflecting upon the suffering of Christ, I don’t believe that God is telling me that I need to like my disease, disability, and dependency, that I need to be happy about it. Christ clearly wasn’t happy about His path of suffering. What God is telling me, I believe, as He tells each and every one of us, is that the whole range of emotions and sensations is part of the pathways to our eternal fulfillments as divinely beautiful creatures of love — if we let God love us fully and intimately, even in the depths of our miseries.
Whenever I experience grief over my life or the desire for relief, or when I fear what the future may bring, I pray that I will always turn to Christ, who felt and experienced my agony as He trembled, fervently yearning and begging in the garden of Gethsemane. As He suffered with me in love, may I now surrender with Him and to Him in love … oh, Lord … and mean it when I say His words: “Not my will, but Thy will be done.”
© 2020 Christina Chase
Although crippled by disease, I am fully alive in love. I write about the profound wonder and terrible beauty of life while living with physical disability and severe dependency. Unafraid to ask life's big questions, I was briefly an atheist and considered other religions before finding, in God's choice to intimately share our humanity, what it truly means to be fully human. A revert to the Catholic Faith, I blog weekly and have written a book called It's Good to Be Here.