Relapse is a word that I am familiar with. It is not a word I like. In the past week I and another dear friend have been hit with relapses. First, I am not sure if relapse is the right word, but it seems to fit the bill. The dictionary defines it as a deterioration in someone’s state of health after a period of improvement or temporary improvement. I suppose the word temporary is where I am going to camp. The relapses deal directly with our sons, our son’s health as specific.
I know what it is like to have a doctor tell you your son is fine. That he needs to live a certain lifestyle in order to maintain this healthy state, but he is not ” out of his mind’. I have a dear friend who also knows that feeling of joy, actually elation coupled with desperate relaxation that your son is healed. Though the road ahead is filled with things to deal with, at least he is on the way to recovery and a life. This past week we both were hit hard with bad news. Although our sons are separated by 19 years, they are still our sons. It happened so suddenly and then again when you look back there are those tiny tell-tale signs that you may have seen but weren’t quite sure. And here we, as mothers are, sent back to the hospital for our sons. Their conditions could not be more different than they are, but the one thing they have in common is the timing of the week of relapse. And it is a relapse that could be fatal in both cases.
How do I process this in the face of what I know to be true? I know God intervened and sent us a most illogical and unexpected answer to prayer that my son was not mentally ill. That his condition is brought about by means he must stop. Another mother is seeing the evidence of God working miracles in her son’s precious life as day after day prayers are answered and faith turns to confidence in the outcome. But then it hit, that small nag in the pit of our collective stomachs, that mother radar that something is just not right. And then comes the doctors confirmation. What do I do? What do I say? Do I believe? There are those who are ready to tell me that the doctor was wrong the first time and he will always have this ( although “this” is yet to be defined) and we will float between relapse and health for the rest of his life. They don’t believe he was healed or ever will be. Do I listen to them? It seems plausible, I mean it took me by surprise to consider that God had heard our prayers and he was touched. But we did believe, we knew there was a change, we saw the steady progressive steps of healing that began to transform our son. We have a “new normal” for sure, but still we have a definite plumb line to distinguish when he is not himself.
And what of my friend? I have seen such an amazing answer to prayer, an outpouring of community that shows the absolute goodness of people and their dedication and support and belief that her son will come out of this illness whole, even if it is a “new normal”. I have the same conviction for her, I know God is near. But I am reminded of a lesson I recently taught while in a Beth Moore study on Daniel. It was how God always delivers us, but it can come in three different ways. The first is to be removed from the calamity or trial. Many people have been protected and delivered from trauma, trial, and pain due to God removing them from the situation. A door opens and they are able to escape what was coming. I have a couple of friends who fit this category. I admit, I am a tad jealous to see them have such drama free lives and such trouble-free days. But I know God has a plan and it involves all our histories and it involves more than ourselves. He is able and if He plucks you out of trouble, Praise His name!!
2 Then there is being delivered through the trial. This means you go through all the struggle, the pain, the suffering,but He is right there and leads you by the valley of the shadow of death, but it does not come near you. It feels close, almost certain, but God delivers your through this situation. This happened to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, they went through the fire, but God was with them and they didn’t even smell like smoke when they stepped out of the furnace. A furnace so hot it killed the men who were stoking it. The cords that bound them were loosed and burnt off, but they were not even singed and completely smoke free. I have known God to work great miracles in people’s lives and see them come back through a horrific accidents or a tumultuous marriage or even a season of sin that should have left them not only smelling of smoke but burnt up with scars, and yet God saw them through this fiery tribulation.
Then there is the third way He delivers. He delivers us right into His arms from the struggle. My sweet dear friend went through and then after a healing and a relapse she went straight into the arms of Christ where she is right now. I am sure she would have wanted to stay and be with her family, but I dare say if you asked her to come back she would decline. The word of God tells us that we cannot even imagine the things He has planned for us in the life to come. His sheer presence and love would surround her in such peace she would stay and wait for the time her sons and husband would see Jesus face to face as she does now.
As a human soul I of course will vote for being delivered from the trial I don’t even want to go through it, but in my 49 years I must say in all my many experiences, I see God gets me through. If I have been delivered from, then it comes from an unseen force and I am blissfully unaware, but I praise God in all things.
I do not know the road ahead, I am fighting the darkness that ensues when there seems to be no answer. I am so pleased to note that my friend has had an answer. She and her dear son will “go through” again, but it is an amazing answer to prayer again. I know God is in this plan and I and others pray for his strength to do this again. Sometimes it is hard when you know what to expect, but she also knows the strength of God to soar like an eagle. My road is less obvious at this point. We have no earthly idea what to do. I mean we really have no earthly idea, we have no plans, no ideas and in the world of mental health there is so little help or encouragement. So I pray and ask for direction. Some how there must be a way to get him safely out of this state, but it lies beneath the sound I am able to hear.
Relapse is hard, no doubt. It is not a new season; For in order to have relapse one must have had a respite. So I will trust that God has answered prayers, loves my son more than his dad and I, and that He has a plan to protect my son and get him out of harms way, if only in his mind.
I just want you all to know I am just a lone mom on a journey of life with Christ. A journey into the dark depths of mental illness. A place I never knew existed, or that this could even happen to my son. This was not in any baby books, or even teenager books. I have been hit broadside. I do not have answers and fight the desire to crawl back in bed and sleep. When there are no answers, no plan, no way to fix it and people flee from you because they can’t understand why you don’t fix it; you just keep on keeping on. So I will write, read, cling to my Lord and God and know that somehow He has a plan not only for my son, but my friend’s son ( although different illness) and for all those mothers who don’t know why this is happening.