Out of the Darkness, Into the Life

by Frank Powell

Life is weird. I could use a different word there, a more truthful one. Maybe I should. In my mind, I already have. But I’ve been out for a while, so I’ll keep it between the lines.

I lived like a normal human most of my days. I graduated college, punched clocks, got married, started a family. Normal stuff, you know? I switched career paths, from engineering to ministry. I challenged myself. I failed at some stuff. I got back up. I learned. I kept going. I traveled, enjoyed life. Normal people stuff.

Then something happened – a chronic illness – and I haven’t been normal since. 

From that day – six-and-a-half years ago – til this one, I have dredged the depths of hell. I mean that figuratively, of course. But I also mean it literally. I know no other way to describe life with a chronic illness. It is hell, the nightmare of nightmares, an abyss, a dreadful abyss. On my worst days, every cell in my body was on fire. The depth and breadth of this pain unimaginable unless you’ve been there.

I searched for answers, for help, for relief. I traveled to the mecca of western medicine, the Mayo Clinic. I saw Lyme doctors. I saw Mast Cell doctors. I saw homeopathic doctors. I tried allergy elimination techniques. I hung upside down three hours everyday.

That’s not true, that last sentence. You get the point, though.

I tried everything. And if anything, all my trying made me worse.

I lost hope. I thought about taking my own life. I thought about it more than once. There is more to living than having breathe in your lungs, which seems absurd, even blasphemous. Until you find yourself in hell. Six years removed from the normal world, and, man, I longed for even the worst day of my former life.

I consigned to living with a chronic illness for the rest of my life. There is peace in accepting you will forever have a chronic illness rather than riding the hamster wheel of disappointment. Twisted, distorted logic, I know. But when you’re on the other side, most things are just that, twisted and distorted.

Then, something happened. My mom sent me an article, something about Mast Cell Activation Disorder as I recall. I typically didn’t open these articles. Because, why? For whatever reason, though, call it divine intervention, I opened this one. I scanned it. The key to treating Mast Cell Activation Disorder….blah, blah, blah. Towards the end of this article, however, something caught my eye, a new treatment. DNRS. Dynamic Neural Retraining System.

My gut told me to chase this rabbit, that maybe, just maybe, this was something.

So I did. With chronic illness, you chase many rabbits down many weird and windy trails. Most are dead ends. But within fifteen minutes, I knew this was something. More than a rabbit trail, this was my path to healing. I watched the testimonials. These people were me. And (my God is this possible?) they were worse than me. And now? Healed. All of them. Time stood still. I cried. I cried more. Then I ordered the DVDs.

I won’t go into detail about the program, I’ll just say it’s based on neuroplasticity. And it works.

I started the exercises a month ago. I feel better than I have in years. Years! I have ceased taking all my medications and supplements. I haven’t spent a day in bed in over a month (a loaves-and-fishes level miracle, I promise you). I look forward to being healthier than ever. I have hope again. I’m dreaming again. I’m enjoying life again.

I’m writing again. I haven’t been able to think clearly enough to write (or do life, in general) in a year-and-a-half.

When I started the program, the coaches and leaders talked about the importance of engaging in activities that give you joy. That’s why I’m here, doing this. Writing gives me joy. They also discuss the importance of minimizing illness-related talk – symptoms and stuff like that. But I need to write this post to get back in the game.

Living in hell, in the throws of darkness, gives you a unique perspective. I would never wish this perspective on anyone, not even my worst enemy. I know the journey required to obtain it. But the perspective is unique. I see things different now. I have a peace about things.

In my darkest days, when rolling over in the bed seemed a Herculean effort, when pain overwhelmed me and I could not fathom another day in this state, when I was helpless and had  nothing to offer, I would hear a soft, almost audible, voice, say:

Everything is going to be okay.

This was not my voice. I was not authoring these words. I believe now God was speaking to me. I was not sure at the time. But now I am. I believe this because the voice didn’t promise to heal me. The voice didn’t assure me I would return to the normal world. It assured me that everything would be okay, whether I returned there or not.

In the moments after hearing this voice, a peace came over me. I stopped worrying about how my kids would turn out if they never got their dad back or how Tiffani would make it if I didn’t or how the ever-growing stack of bills would get paid.

It’s a very human thing to desire health. I’m not sure it’s a God thing, though. God can do anything. And he (or she) might heal people. But the promise of God in suffering is NOT that he will heal us, but that he will be WITH us. And peace, the kind that surpasses understanding, will sustain us.

I have no idea what the future holds, what I will write about and stuff. I know I am not the same person who wrote most of the content on this site. And that’s okay. I’m fine with that. Questions like “What will people think if they come to my site to read this post and find that post?” no longer consume real estate in my mind. I’m just grateful to have my life back, to have the cognitive awareness to put sentences together, to have the physical stamina to work out and golf, to hang out with my kids and have conversations with my wife. I don’t take these things for granted, not any more.

I am sure, though, that my future includes writing and a full return to normal life.

To everyone who prayed for me over the years and to those who suffered along with me – Tiffani and the kids, my mom and sisters and in-laws and many others…Thank you! Yes, the journey to full health continues. But hope now paves the road. The end is near. I know it.

Here’s to the future.

To God be the glory forever. Amen.

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