…must always be made in union with the story God is writing upon our hearts.
Tonight, I won’t be singing the Divine Mercy Chaplet prayer with Fr. Paul Yi and the Ascension Catholic Community I love so much.
I look so forward to this all year. And I pray to be back soon…next week, God willin’! (And I’m most grateful to my kind, wonderfully gifted friend, Barbara Schwartzenburg for offering her beautiful voice in prayer tonight!)
So…yes, I’m disappointed. And concerned about disappointing people I care about. And frustrated at the damage that asthma wreaks on my voice and my health, and the time it takes to recover. And tempted towards discouragement. And just generally annoyed at having my overall plans and schedule interrupted. And..well..I’m sure you can get the picture.
Though there are legitimate concerns to which respect is due, I must confess to entertaining a wee bit of a “pity party”…’cause I just do not want to deal with this.
I was “up with the chickens” before dawn this morning, struggling to breathe…quite literally…and responding to the aggressive treatment I’m once again undergoing in to attempt to ward off a more serious asthma exacerbation….which has not been fruitful this go-round. Let’s just say that the side effects of treatment can sometimes be experienced as an additional source of suffering…..at least for me.
It is difficult…and humbling…to cope with lung disease.
It’s a cross I didn’t create, and one I try not to complicate or make worse than it is.
It’s one I didn’t choose – it’s one among others that have been lovingly chosen just for me to bring me to the sanctification I need for my soul to be made holy to one day meet the Lord.
In the example of St. Paul, I’ve asked for this thorn to be removed…because I can serve God better without asthma, right?
But likewise as with St. Paul (at least thus far) my loving Father Who has my every good as His intention has said,
“Sweetheart…remember always that ‘My grace is sufficient for you.'”
“Keep your eyes on Me.”
That’s how Papa speaks to my heart, and I can deny Him nothing, even when He asks me to serve Him through the sufferings caused through a serious, significant lung disease. In reality, in my humanness, it’s really hard, not gonna sugar-coat it.
Still, I give you my Fiat, Lord. Please do not allow me to ever waste an ounce of suffering.
I choose to give Him my Fiat (though I’d gladly kick asthma to the curb). Freely (though I desire healing of this with all my heart).
I freely give Him my Fiat over and over again. As many times as He asks – in love and union with Christ’s Sacred Heart, and in solidarity with His particular suffering on the cross that speaks to me so deeply – that of the sheer agony of His struggle to breathe while dying on the cross….for me. And for you…
I often reflect on that specific reality of His Passion because it so closely mirrors my own struggle to breathe and cope with asthma. It gives me a “home”, a place of understanding and rest if you will, for the crosses of each uncomfortable symptom, each painful experience, each awful manifestation of this significant, chronic lung condition – while simultaneously offering me fresh hope like no other.
And very quickly, it helps me put my little puny suffering into a right-hearted perspective – the Heart of Christ.
It leads me to be ever mindful that I’ve been invited to carry only a mere splinter of that cross.
I receive that splinter, Lord, for love of you.
Breathing peacefully with a healthy, well-functioning respiratory system is a true, great gift…and speaking from the heart of one who, at times, struggles very hard to breathe – may I presume to say that it’s a incredible gift that should never be taken for granted.
How I would treasure that gift for loved ones and myself who struggle with lung issues!
FIND OUT MORE HERE
about the wealth of educational resources and information about lung diseases and conditions offered by the American Thoracic Society, developed for both lay persons as well as health care professionals.
Many of you already know this about me – that I battle mightily with severe asthma, but I know that there are many who do not.
If my experience can be of some value to anyone (minus the physical aspects that I will save for another day), I would first offer that it calls me – each and every exacerbation – to deep courage and perseverance, and the humility of abandonment to Divine Providence. And at the most difficult moments, I am strengthened by the hope that is given through the graces of growing in every single virtue, and the knowledge in my heart that Christ never abandons me.
I’m so grateful for the exceptional medical care I receive which – coupled with my own informed, intentional decisions directed towards healthy choices and a whole lotta grace – keeps me quite healthy and active the majority of the time, despite the severity of asthma that I have struggled with for so many years.
I do find it…well, interesting…that it has zapped me yet again at this particular moment, at this time of year.
My favorite liturgical season is upon us…Lent. The one in which we are drawn back to the Heart of Christ, to the Father, in and through the Holy Spirit.
And the annual Divine Mercy Novena sung prayer novena starts tonight…without my ability to serve. I know that they will be absolutely fine without me, but my heart longs to be there.
While there are most certainly biologic/scientific reasons to explain the pathophysiology of asthma, it is equally important to acknowledge the spiritual element of our battles as well – for to do otherwise is to our peril.
Scripture, church teaching, and life experiences have taught me that “ole red legs” vehemently hates when I offer my voice in song and speaking for Our Lord. Both become difficult, and at times like this present moment, even impossible due to the grip and confinement of asthma. Thankfully, the Lord allows me to be well most of the time to serve Him in the ways that He has gifted and called me.
It is when my cross is a bit heavier, when in these times of more intense struggle, that I know I am being invited to unite with Him more intimately. In a different way. In a way divergent from my own plans. In a way that necessitates silence, but brings peace within the trial.
Through this present cross, I am experiencing His Passion, His love, mercy, tenderness – and yes, even His goodness and beauty – amidst the divine silence that envelopes me in the sacrament of this present moment – this moment of abandonment to Divine Providence. You captivate my heart Lord.
Divine Silence requires neither song, nor speaking. Just a still, humble, trusting heart, stretching to open more and more to the Beloved, desiring to receive all that He allows for our ultimate good.
I’m not always stellar at accepting this invitation, but I do know in my body that He loves even the very least of my little efforts.
I’ve been preparing for Lent this year by reading The Way of Trust and Love: A Retreat Guided by St. Therese’ of Lisieux by Fr. Jacques Phillippe. I highly recommend it, and in fact, anything by Fr. Phillippe if you desire to draw more deeply into the Heart of Christ.
Did you know that St. Therese’ is patroness of lung diseases? Therese’ suffered terribly from tuberculosis, which was the cause of her demise at age 24.
The oh-so-many ways in which I am drawn to and called by Therese’ did not escape my attention in the wee hours of this morning. In this present moment of necessary silence, I’ve been experiencing a very poignant solidarity with her specifically through her mighty struggle with tuberculosis, and the way in which she served God – and each one of us – through her suffering with significant, debilitating, and deadly lung disease.
My nurse practitioner self has been thinking for a quite a while now about persons struggling with chronic lung diseases and conditions, and more specific, focused means by which I can best be of help from a faith +reason primary prevention perspective.
This present exacerbation has brought that thinking into clearer focus, and elevated the level of priority a notch or two – a time of suffering will do that, won’t it?
As Ben Franklin famously once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” And I couldn’t agree more.
Disease prevention and health promotion are important areas of practice focus for nurse practitioners, and one after my own heart which permeates everything I do. I’ve found it’s very challenging for persons to wade through the massive amounts of available information to try to determine whether said information is solid and reliable, so that good decisions about personal and family health and well-being can be made. Helping people find the information and resources that are pertinent to their lives, families and specific situations in an effort to ward off problems, and facilitate personal and relational flourishing is one of the most rewarding parts of my work – and will be an even more intentional part of my work moving forward.
However…in the meantime…
All of the lists, ideas, people, and projects that are in motion, on my agenda, or still swimming in my head when I have a moment of feeling better – well, they just have to wait a bit.
I’ve been invited once again to just be still, to rest in divine silence. To hear the still, soft whisper of His voice speaking to my heart. Less “Doing”. More “Being”. Despite the discomforts of times of sufferings, the fruits of suffering done well do tend to flower beautifully into a future “doing” that is even more rooted in the “being” in union with Him. And that is very, very good.
The fresh mercies of this morning brought to my mind that there is still something that I can give, even in these moments that frustrate me, when I cannot do what I’d planned to do. In fact, what I can offer is the most precious, most efficacious gift of self that can be given!
I can freely offer up to the Lord my own “little cross” that I’m carrying right now as an intercessory prayer for you and your needs.
I realize, too, that the invitation to offer it for you is in itself (in a way made sensible only through the mystery of the cross of Christ) a gift to me as well. And I’m grateful for that kiss of Christ amidst this trial. (And thank you, St. Therese’, for this vital little reminder this morning:)
May I ask for the kindness of your prayers?
I have felt a strong movement in my heart to intercede on behalf of those struggling with lung conditions, and those that love them, in this present moment of my own suffering.
Would you join me in prayer and intercession for these souls?
Through your prayers and mine, bound together with God’s super abundant, completely sufficient grace, I will be made able to join my cross of asthma to the suffering of Christ on the cross, as an offering for all souls, for the ongoing intentions of my heart for my family, friends and loved ones that the Lord knows so well, and in a very special way at this present time for:
Persons who are struggling to breathe from genetic/non-preventable lung diseases such as Asthma, Cystic Fibrosis, etc. – and those who love and take care of them
Persons who are struggling to breathe from acquired/preventable lung diseases such as COPD/Emphysema, & Lung Cancer from 1st, 2nd, or 3rd hand smoke of any kind from any substance – and those who love and take care of them
Persons who are struggling to breathe from lung or other related infections, conditions, or circumstances leading to bronchitis, pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, etc. – and those who love and take care of them
Persons who are struggling to breathe who have had, or who are awaiting, lung transplant – and those who love and take care of them
Persons who are temporarily or permanently on ventilators or another type of artificial breathing apparatus that keeps them confined/isolated, or persons who require oxygen to move about their home or community – and those who love and take care of them.
Persons who are struggling to breathe who have had, or who are awaiting, lung surgery, who have lost parts of the lung, who struggle from structural maladies, or other conditions that impact lung function and perfusion – and those who love and take care of them
Persons who struggle to breathe – or will one day struggle to breathe – as a consequence of their work or home environments – and those who love and will take care of them
Persons who have suffered near-drowning (or souls that died as a result of drowning), or who have suffered an accident or other neuromuscular event that has resulted in paralysis of the body and respiratory system – and those who love and take care of them
Children and other innocent persons who are – or who will in the future – struggle with preventable or unpreventable lung diseases – and those who love and take care of them
Parents, grandparents, and family of children who currently, or will in the future as adults, struggle with preventable or unpreventable lung diseases – the crosses of agony press in mightily upon the hearts of parents and grandparents with the weight measured by the experience of helplessness as we suffer watching our children or grandchildren suffer, no matter the age, no matter the source of the suffering
The souls of persons (and those who love them) who have died from lung diseases and conditions caused by unintended consequences resultant from their own choices, and those for whom it was not their choice. For the agony of regrets, mistakes, missed opportunities, and openness to truths too late
Persons who have lost loved ones from any form of lung disease and/or diseases caused by or related in any way to smoking or inhaling any substance, or smoke from fire, or any kind of natural or unnatural inhalation – for forgiveness, and freedom from the wounds of anger, rejection, abandonment, and regret
Health care providers taking care of persons struggling with all diseases and conditions of the lung, and working towards prevention of lung diseases – for your own health and protection, and with gratitude for your selfless gift of service
Persons contemplating or currently smoking or inhaling anything into your lungs…please trust that you don’t want this to invite this future suffering in. No momentary half-pleasure is worth what you risk in future health consequences
Any person, condition, disease, situation, or intention that I have missed
Out of love for Jesus Christ, our Bridegroom and Redeemer, for Our Lady, and for each and every soul to whom the graces from this suffering will be poured out upon, let’s join together in prayer, and to the Lord offer our fiat in whatever the circumstance you are in, whatever struggle you may be suffering, trusting in His plan, His Love, and His endless, unfathomable Mercy.
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion,
Have Mercy on Us, and on the Whole World.
Please let me know how I can pray for YOU!