I do not like maybes, no I do not. I prefer to dwell in black and white, where gray must choose a side or risk obliteration.
Perhaps this is why I became an engineer. Either the answer is right or it’s wrong, as defined by fundamental truths.
But I do not get to paint my story nor choose the palette. This health struggle has found me right in the thick of the Gray. The Gray has not only pervaded my space, it has seeped into my mind like a thick fog.
On the inside, it is blurring crisp lines, scrambling memories, and hijacking my logical thought process. I try to swim above it, grasping for the light, but it just grows thicker, more opaque, more disorienting.
On the outside, it’s a spinning in circles, swirling, which-way-is-up kind of Gray. It looks like doctors offices and specialists and blood tests and needles and medications and a whole lot of conflicting opinions.
Even the pain is gray. Describing it leaves me short on words (gasp).
I suppose it feels like being punched in the shoulder. Or hitting your hip on the corner of the counter. Or your funny bone meeting any form of hard surface. Except all that at once. But only sometimes; sometimes it’s different. And from the inside. It’s not an overall ache, but acute pain that moves from joint to joint; my feet one morning, shoulder by 10am, knees and hands after noon, and back and ribs all night. Of course as I type this, it’s my fingers; stiff and stubborn. Sometimes it all hurts at once. The next day is always different. I can’t pin it down, put it in a box, and label it.
You can imagine how I, I writer, a lover of all the words, feel when the words elude me. I find myself saying “I don’t know how to describe it,” all too often. Or just losing train of thought mid-sentence (choo-choo!). I feel like a blubbering fool every time I leave my home.
My past 7 weeks have been lived by the Living Word:
This week I had a glimpse of some black: a positive test. Finally. I grabbed ahold and studied closer, only to find…dark Gray.
A different test for the same condition has been negative twice before.
There are many differing opinions in the medical community on the duration, effects, and symptoms.
No one agrees on the proper treatment or prognosis, and no one has evidence to back it up.
Nonetheless, the Gray swirls and a faint, barely discernible phrase emerges:
This is my working diagnosis, in all of its hazy grayness. It is not an official diagnosis. This is all the clarity I get right now, and it’s enough.
We are hitting it hard with antibiotics, Doxycycline and Rifampin, and taking it one day at a time.
Please do not look at my Gray and label it black or white; I can assure you, it’s neither. No one can step in and make this black or white for me, and maybe that is not what I need after all.
Because in my world of black and white, God cannot exist. From my perspective, I am spiraling downward, drowning in gray and I honestly have no idea where this is leading.
But I can choose to open my eyes to the world of color. He IS color: hue, value, saturation. He is indulgently complex, yet delightfully simple. How do I escape the Gray and land in His kingdom of color?
I choose to walk by faith and not by sight.
When we walk by faith, we are given sight: not the whole picture, but the precise glimpses we need.
He takes my hand and reveals this story painfully slowly, a lumen at a time. Rather than allowing me to fix my eyes on the horizon and lose sight of the ground, He shines light on my path one footstep at a time, forcing me into the sweetness of slowness and stillness and helpless dependence.
The journey is not futile, a valley to be simply endured before again reaching a peak. It is true that fog often settles in valleys. But the same fog that clouds my vision quenches the thirst of the fruit-bearing plants that flourish here.
When I walk by faith, I perceive that I am surrounded by colorful absolutes, a rainbow of promises.
His voice is clear in the Gray:
“The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.'” – Psalm 32:8 NLT
“Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.” – Psalm 103:2-3 NLT
“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19 NLT
From the almost comically literal:
“They swarmed around me like bees;
they blazed against me like a crackling fire.
But I destroyed them all with the authority of the Lord.” – Psalm 118:12 NLT
To the ultimate end-all:
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” – Revelation 21:4 NLT
His words have been piercing the Gray all along. I just needed to close my eyes, quiet my mind, and open my heart.