At Fearless Mom, you will often hear, “I don’t know what my future holds, but I know Who holds my future.” The “who” being our good, gracious, compassionate, intentional, and loving God.
I often repeat that mantra and pray over it. I choose to surrender my fearful anxiety to God daily. Sometimes I have to remind myself hourly. Yet, if I am completely honest, my future still terrifies me.
I have Friedreich’s ataxia (FA), a progressively degenerative neurological disease that affects my central nervous system. Bit by bit, I get a build-up of damaged cells that cause my balance, coordination, speech, energy, and muscles to get worse over time. As an FA patient, I, unfortunately, know what my unavoidable future holds, at least physically. And that affects me emotionally, spiritually, and relationally.
Seeing my body become increasingly disabled despite all my efforts to curb my symptom progression is devastating. What started as unexplained incoordination and uncharacteristic falls during co-ed sand volleyball as a newlywed has progressed to the point that I use a walker full-time to account for my poor balance and coordination. My walker doesn’t make walking easier, but it keeps me walking safely and independently for now.
Even with my walker, my walking is becoming increasingly difficult and dangerous. It helps me get from point A to point B, but lately, that isn’t enough. I am struggling to get off of the ground after playing with my children, cross thresholds, get out of the car to walk 5 or so unassisted steps to get my walker out of my trunk, and I struggle to get up out of chairs.
The part of my future that terrifies me is being disabled to the point where I am confined to a wheelchair. Judging by my rate of progression so far, I will likely be dependent on a wheelchair within 5 years. Yet, in light of my recent mobility struggles, one thought that kept haunting my mind was “maybe being in a wheelchair won’t be so bad… I’ll be safer and not as tired.”
But, boy, was I wrong.
I fell over Labor Day weekend and fractured a bone in my foot. As I am not coordinated enough for crutches, that means that I am to recover while in a wheelchair. It has been incredibly difficult and emotional.
Since I know that a wheelchair is an inevitable part of my future, I am trying to accept this bump in the road gracefully. I am trying to tell myself that God is allowing me to see that life in a wheelchair doesn’t equal the end. But I am having a hard time not stressing about the unfairness of my future and the inevitable impact it will have on my abilities.
This time of emotional and spiritual turmoil has me thinking about my future a lot. I am reminded of the days and weeks after my FA diagnosis in 2013.
I thought that my future had been taken from me. I spent countless nights crying myself to sleep, mourning for the children I would never get to have with my husband, Kyle. I was certain that I would progress quickly, end up in a wheelchair in a few years, and then die of heart failure a few years after that. I thought that it would be more cruel to leave Kyle a single father than just a widower.
After months of praying, speaking with doctors, family, and friends, and armed with a realistic prognosis, we decided to have children. We boldly chose to leave our future in God’s hands, instead of the hands of science and fear. We now have two beautiful and perfectly healthy babies. Brooks (6) and Collins (4).
My motherhood journey hasn’t been all hope, trust, rainbows, and unicorns. I’ve had the same worries that every new parent has: Is my baby eating ok? Is my baby sleeping ok? Am I teaching him the right things? Am I making the right decision? Is this “normal?”
And, because of my disability, I’ve had extra fears: What if I fall while carrying my baby? How can I hold their hands in a parking lot if I’m holding a walker? Are their friends going to make fun of them for having a disabled mom? How will I dance with Brooks at his wedding if I am in a wheelchair? Will I ever get to meet my grandchildren?
When I get in a dark place where I am spiraling into anxiety about the future, I prayerfully bring it back to today. What are the choices I can make and actions I can take that will make today better? What can I control? What is out of my control?
No one is guaranteed tomorrow, and no one knows what the future holds. All we can do is our best, and let God take care of the rest. Surrendering my fears and worries to God, be it willingly, out of desperation, or because I truly had no other choice, has worked out amazingly. God has shown up for me time and time again. In His merciful goodness, I’ve been blessed to live an amazing life, despite my disability. Time and time again, He has shown me that I can trust Him with my fears and worries, so why should I doubt Him now?
The Bible tells us often to “fear not!” For the Bible brings us “good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Here are a few powerful reminders from the one Who holds our future:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 (NIV)
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV)
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
The Lord is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? Psalm 27:1 (NLT)