It’s been a difficult season. It’s okay to admit that, and to share with others how you are feeling. Six months ago when we were celebrating a new year and a new decade, no one could expect the challenges that awaited us. 2020, you’ve definitely thrown some curve balls.
Every person that I speak to has had some kind of disappointment these last few months. Cancelled vacations, celebrations, postponed events that they were looking forward to. In my own home, we experienced sadness at the loss of our yearly summer visit with my family – I look forward to seeing my little neices every year, and thinking about how two years will have passed before I see them again seems almost unbearable. My boys also were disappointed with school celebrations that were cancelled and an extra long summer at home with Mom. (Hey! I’m not so bad…)
There’s also this one thing that was so huge and so exciting that was postponed. I’ve only mentioned it to close friends and family, but I’m going to share it with the world now because it’s part of something bigger I feel I need to tell.
As many of you may know, I have late stage Lipedema. It’s a painful fat disorder that affects your limbs, and in late stage can spread throughout your entire body. In short, it’s ugly. I’ve lived with this disease for over 20 years, gradually getting worse. There’s no cure for Lipedema, and diet and exercise won’t do anything to get rid of it (trust me, I’ve tried). There are several treatments to make it more manageable, including a specialized massage and compression therapy. I’ve been fortunate to have both of those. But the real treatment is liposuction – not only does it help get the diseased fat out, it gives back quality of life and takes away much of the pain.
This year, I was supposed to be able to have the first of several lymphatic sparing liposuction surgeries with a surgeon skilled to work with women in late stages. I can’t even explain how much having these surgeries would be life changing for me. And maybe I don’t need to. Now, with all that is happening in the world they’ve been postponed until next year at the earliest. But here’s the thing. I am not disappointed, or even sad…
This morning, I was reading Psalm 91, again. It’s been my go to during this season. Hear the beauty of these words…
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust him. For He will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished. If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet. The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation. (NLT)
I’ve taken the liberty to highlight my favourite parts that soothe my soul in the midst of this pandemic. It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But this morning, I read it after I’d read the story of Joseph. I know I’m taking liberties again, since Joseph lived and died before the writer of this Psalm ever put pen to papyrus – but imagine what it would be like for Joseph to read this while sitting in prison serving a sentence for something he didn’t do, after being sold into slavery by his own brothers? Ouch. If I was Joseph, I might feel discouraged. I might feel like the writer of this Psalm didn’t have a clue. Joseph did make the Lord His refuge. Joseph did make the Most High his shelter. And yet he sat in prison, watching days stretch into weeks and months and even years. Eventually, Joseph would leave that prison and would become the right hand man to the king of Egypt. But right there, in that prison, he didn’t know. He was given the ability by the Lord to interpret dreams, but not to see into his own future.
In the end, Joseph became a wealthy and powerful man. He was able to reconnect with his family and restore broken relationships with the same brothers who once plotted to kill him. It took years for Joseph to arrive at that point in his life. It’s not clear how long, but many years stretched between the day his brothers sold him to a traveller and the day he saw them again, this time with their lives in his hands. But the Bible is clear on one thing. In all those years from slavery to success, the Lord was with Joseph and was working and showing favour towards him. In Potiphar’s house, they experienced wealth and favour because Joseph was among them (Gen 39:5). In prison, Joseph was given privileges and became a leader, even as a captive himself (Gen 39:21).
Joseph’s story is an exciting, rags to riches tale. But it’s so much more than that. It’s a testimony to how God’s timing is perfect, and how God is working in our lives and hearts even when the day to day seems long, tiring and unsuccessful. If the God of Joseph is the same God today, how can I expect any less for my own life?
My Lipedema journey has been long, exhausting, and if I’m honest it been heartbreaking at times. There’s been very long wait times. It took almost 20 years just to get a diagnosis, let alone have any treatments. But I believe in God’s timing. And here’s why:
- In 2016, I was diagnosed by a doctor at a Lipedema clinic. It only remained open for about six months. I was planning on waiting to go when it was more convenient, not right in the middle of back to school time (which is tricky for my kids). Instead, I was encouraged to book an appointment immediately and able to get in. Had I waited, I would have missed it altogether.
- In 2018, a full year and a half later, I started receiving massage and compression therapy. It seems like a long time to wait, and it was. Still, if it had been immediate, I’d have had to drive an hour each way to a clinic in another city three times a week. When my name came up on the waiting list, there was a clinic in my own town.
- In 2019, I was fitted for custom compression after a year and a half of treatments. At that time, I was able to work with a professional who understands Lipedema and is compassionate and caring. Had it not taken so long, I’d have had to work with someone else.
- In 2020, I heard about a surgeon who could perform multiple surgeries to give me back my body. And he will. When God says the time is right.
Good and perfect things come from a Lord who loves us. Psalm 91 declares it – safety, rescue, protection, honour, and salvation. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that good things don’t always come when we want them to. But rest assured, the King is on His throne. He is ruling, and reigning even now. An end to this pandemic will come, in His time. My surgery will be rescheduled. We will see family and friends again. But don’t miss the beauty of this broken season. Stop and rest in His perfect love and experience the goodness He has for you in the midst of it all. His timing is perfect. ❤️