Posted on February 12th, 2014
By Catherine Patterson
Me have mono? You’ve got to be kidding! But the doctor wasn’t kidding. The blood test said it was Mono and by the next day, I couldn’t hold my head up.
Sleep escaped me, it was never enough. A thousand pounds weighed my eyes down. This sickness battled against me, it was a jailer who had held me captive longer than I deserved. My bones ached and longed for peace like a wilted flower longs for rain. I wondered how long would this sickness last?
For three months I battled with mononucleosis. The physical fatigue, muscle aches, and high fever on top of the never ending mound of school work were enough to make me crazy. Simply walking down the stairs each morning exhausted any ounce of strength left in me. No amount of sleep ever satisfied my lack of rest.
No medicine soothed the constant ache in my bones. And most of all, nothing gave me peace. My brain was a breeding ground for anxiety. I was constantly worrying over how to finish my homework, how to focus in class, and how to gather up strength to make it through the next day. It was a challenge to sit through a class without surrendering to my craving for sleep. My arms were so weak that I could not even hold my violin that weighs all of one pound. My life consisted of going to school, doing homework, and sleeping. I had a bedtime before most toddlers, although I was sometimes wild and stayed up until 8:15pm.
Mono completely consumed my life until I was physically and emotionally drained of any strength. But despite this, I never let it consume my hope. My initial struggle was not primarily founded in my physical weaknesses, but in my inability to control my anxieties. I realized I could not attain any rest or peace since I was constantly trying to clutch the control I thought I had, instead of surrendering my cares to God.
It was during these three months that I realized that God truly is our Shepherd, who takes care of us and gives us rest. He was there, waiting to give me the rest I so desperately needed. With this outlook, I did not need to worry about how to make it through the next day, because God gave me the peace that I was thirsting for in my weakness.
I am reminded of the hymn, It is Well with My Soul, by Horatio G. Spafford. The third and fourth lines of the first verse read, “Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well, with my soul.” Though my struggle was not enjoyable, I learned to trust God. He never gives us anything we cannot handle, we just have to rely on His strength.
I never want to experience mono again. Although the symptoms are gone, the virus will live in my system forever. It even reactivated the following year, but due to my previous experience I did not let it defeat me or fill me with anxiety!
Looking back, I consider my bout with mono a blessing. It took stripping me of all my strength to teach me how to surrender my cares to God, ironically making me stronger in the process.
Are you struggling with something? Do you experience anxiety? Maybe the words below will encourage you.
When peace, like a river, attends my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot,
You have taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Horatio G. Spafford, 1826-1888
Comments? Questions? Suggestions?
©Catherine Patterson 2013