The story is told…. a man that had a movement disorder for many, many years maintained a spot on the ground next to a pond of water. It was widely known that from time to time, an angel would come by and stir the water. When the angel did this, the first sick person to enter the water was healed. The man could never get to the water fast enough. Someone else always got there before him.
One day Jesus walked up to the man with the movement disorder and asked him, “Do you want to be well?”
What a strange question to ask a sick person. Of course he wants to be well. I didn’t understand why Jesus asked the question until I got Parkinson’s.
For a year before I was diagnosed, most of the time I was miserable. I had gone from a very happy, content person to someone that felt depressed and filled with anxiety all the time for no reason. Many years before I started to feel like this, I had gone through two terrible life events that would make anyone feel this way, but that had been long ago. Now life was great with a wonderful wife, three beautiful children, a job I loved, and a beautiful home. Life couldn’t have been any better, but I was miserable. I prayed and asked God constantly for relief, but none came. Then things started happening in my body. My left arm stopped swinging when I walked. My left hand would shake when I used it. My left wrist started to hurt. I lost my sense of smell. My voice started to change. I continued to ask God for relief, but none came.
Then one day I went to my doctor for my yearly checkup. Casually, he asked how I was. I told him about the things I was feeling. When I had finished, he looked at me and said,” It sounds like you have Parkinson’s Disease.” I walked out of his office stunned. Then I had a strange feeling, a feeling of relief and happiness. I had been suffering for no reason…. now there was a reason. All of the things that had tormented me turned out to indeed be the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. A week later, with some new knowledge and some pills, I was my old self again. Yes, it’s true I was my old self with Parkinson’s, but the suffering had stopped.
Now back to the strange question Jesus asked, “Do you want to be well?”
It’s been more than four years since I was diagnosed. I started out feeling like my old self, but over time the symptoms have changed and the Parkinson’s has progressed. The main way I have been able to live happy with this fact is to accept it. I try to do all I can to slow the progression, but I know it will continue to progress. For me to deny this would be much more difficult than acceptance. Also, I have been developing defenses to cope with this uninvited intruder. Right or wrong, with acceptance comes familiarity. Although, I fight to keep Parkinson’s at bay, it has become one of the things that defines me.
There is a story of a man that spent almost all of his 60 years in prison. One day a parole board told him he was free to go. They opened the prison bars and released him into the free world. He spent the next week trying to find a way to get arrested again. He had come to the place that life behind bars was all he knew.
I don’t think I’m saying that if I wake up tomorrow without Parkinson’s Disease, I won’t know how to live without it. But I have adjusted to having it. A large part of my acceptance is that even if I am wrong and I am supposed to be healed, God still loves me and is my provider. He will never abandon me.
I do know that if it did go away, something else, maybe even worse, would eventually get me.
One more story;
A group of people were sitting on the floor in a circle. God told them to throw their biggest problem in life into the middle of the circle. They did. Then he told them they each must choose a problem. They could take any one of them. Each person took their own problem back.
Re: John 5: 1-15 (Bible)