Hi friends and welcome to the Arise, Beloved blog. We have an amazing team of writers behind this blog and our desire is to speak truth into the lies that cripple us and shine light into the darkness that isolates us because we believe that now, more than ever, the Church desperately needs women to be restored so that the world can be set ablaze. Our hope is that you find comfort, solace, and peace in knowing that you are not alone, you are not too far gone and there is ALWAYS hope to be found.
By Marianna Schmiesing
“I can’t breathe.”
That thought controlled, and continues to control, a large part of my life.
I’ve had bad asthma since I was about six. I’ve been hospitalized approximately 10 times for it, and occasionally, in place of hospitalization, I would have to go to doctor’s every day for a week to get shots. I’ve been on steroids and antibiotics a few times a year since kindergarten, and have undergone two major surgeries, including one that straightened my deviated septum and cleared out my sinuses of abnormal tissue growth (every infection I get in my head eventually moves down to my lungs). I’ve missed a lot of school, whether it was going to doctor’s appointments or staying at home just so I could struggle through breathing while resting. My mom homeschooled me in 4th grade so that I wouldn’t have to call in sick so often. For 5 years, starting in junior high, I had weekly or biweekly shots to control my allergies. In college, I had a nurse tell me that I could die in my sleep.
Even today as I write this, I’m using a nebulizer (breathing machine) that vaporizes medicine so I can inhale it. The medicine leaves me shaky and weak. But at least I can breathe.
Thankfully, the past few years have brought a small respite. I’ve been off medication for a while. I’ve climbed mountains. I can run. I can play the saxophone. There are a lot of things that I am able to do and have done, despite being preconditioned to stop breathing.
I hoped that I would outgrow my asthma, or at least only have to take a puff of my inhaler every once in a while. I hoped that I would one day just be able to travel somewhere without going through a checklist of medication. That someday I would be able to freely say yes to whatever came my way without any thought of the ways my body might fail me.
But here I am. Hopped up on albuterol and plowing through my second round of prednisone in less than three weeks.
The life I live is compromised.
Asthma is the most obvious shackle. But there are more.
I’m also supposed to wear glasses, but due to a mixture of pride and my inability to pick out glasses that I like for longer than a week, I don’t often wear them, and the world around me is ever-so-slightly blurry. When people wave at me from further than 30 feet away and I don’t recognize their body shape, I have to squint and ask them who they are.
When I lived in Austria, there was a creek that we jumped in every so often, but I also frequently wore mascara that wasn’t waterproof (I bought it accidentally. I will never make that mistake again.) When my friends wanted to go on an impromptu creek jump, I often held back because I didn’t want to look like the matchmaker from Mulan after she gets tea splashed on her face.
Not wearing glasses and wearing mascara compromise me, but I can easily fix these.
I can’t cure asthma, however. And I can’t fix humanity’s fallen state.
As fallen men and women, we are already living a compromised life. We do not yet have the fullness of joy and happiness that is heaven. We will readily follow the path of least resistance into sin. Our passions are out of order, we walk as though blind, we forget the resolutions of yesterday for the temptations of today.
But always, we see the level where we want to be. We can imagine the freedom. And in brief, exhilarating moments, we sometimes experience it.
We have our asthma attacks. We can’t breathe. Our weakness becomes so painfully evident.
It’s taken me awhile, but I’m starting to get better at figuring out when I’m sick. Some people might say I’m ridiculous, that I should know when I’m sick. But when I was used to always being compromised, to always being somewhat sick, I found there was a grey area between “still functioning” and “dead.” I learned to live in that grey area, to float along and hope no one (my mom) noticed.
To be sick was something shameful. To be sick showed I needed to be dependent, that I had to rely on someone else to make it through the day. As a young woman trying to survive in a world that screams at me to be independent, admitting weakness is even more difficult.
And so I push off healing. I think, “I just have to ride this out. I can handle this. I don’t have to let anyone else know.” But then it would get out of control. I would wake up in the night, not only being unable to breathe, but also in the middle of a panic attack.
There is, however, a better way to live in a compromised state.
Having a long-lasting sickness has slowly made me more aware of my dependence, not only on other people but on the Healer of Souls. Every day, I need to become aware of my needs, aches, and desires so that I can communicate how I’ve been improving and how I still need help. There is great humility is maintaining one’s soul.
Soul maintenance requires you to ask: How long has it been since I sat in silence and prayed? How long has it been since I’ve been to confession? An honest confession? Prayer and confession are medicine for the soul. Don’t wait until you can’t breathe to turn to them.
A greater familiarity with one’s soul, one’s body, and one’s emotions not only leads us to a greater awareness of our needs, but also to a fuller understanding of ourselves. We understand our particular strengths and the particular ways we need love and healing.
I’m tired of being sick. I’m tired of being a sinner. But that doesn’t take away the reality.
My body will fail me. My resolve will fail me.
But the healing power of Christ never fails.
Learn to lean. As we lean, and as we increase our dependence on the strength of the Father of Heaven, we are more able to peacefully await the fulfillment of the freedom of heaven.