In 1997, I was told by a neurologist that he believed that the cause of the symptoms for which I had gone to see him was Parkinson’s disease (PD). Those first mild symptoms to which he referred had been intermittent enough over the three years prior to then that I had not pushed for an earlier diagnosis. Those three years were important years that were filled with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and I didn’t want anyone in our family to miss out on being able to participate in any of them.
Don’t think for a moment, though, that I was being noble, for I wasn’t. The truth is that my attitude at the time of the diagnosis was actually more dangerous to the future of my family and me than was the diagnosis of the disease itself. God never said, “If anyone lives long enough, they’re bound to get some kind of sickness, so you may as well accept whatever it is that you get.” Yet, that’s actually what I thought at the time, condoning a disease that was taking my life.
Sometimes in life, we need a good nudging to first get us up and to then get us going. At the time, I thought that PD was apparently the nudge that I needed, but it wasn’t, but a lot of years would come and go before I would know that. When I left the doctor’s office that day with the diagnosis, I was right in knowing that my life from then on would never again be the same, and it surely hasn’t been. But I had no way of knowing at that time in my life, the kinds of changes that lay ahead in my future, and that they, unlike the PD, would come from God. But I did learn one fact rather quickly: I’d have to leave my comfort zone in order to receive many of the changes were that were coming, time and again.
The first change occurred when I was asked to fill a new teaching position that had just been created at the high school where I’d been teaching for years. The job was a little bit intimidating, as well as challenging, and it kept me constantly on my toes. I was expected to walk into a different classroom each morning of whatever math or science teacher couldn’t be present and teach the material as if I were their regular teacher.
Then a few years later, when I felt the necessity of taking a disability retirement, I was nudged again by PD (or so I thought) not to stay where I was, doing nothing, but to keep moving on, doing something. So I accepted the challenge of turning my hobby into a small business. I did so opening a Trash-to-Treasure type shop that gave me the opportunity to take people’s discards and give them new meaning in life.
The next nudge came when my husband accepted an early retirement package for which he had met all of the eligibility requirements. So, exactly one year-to-the-day after I’d opened my shop, I sold every piece of my inventory to a woman for a nice little profit. My husband and I then sold our home and packed our belongings and moved to a mountain community in a neighboring state. There we used the remodeling skills that we had been learning throughout our marriage to help build Habitat for Humanity homes in the area.
Are you beginning now to be able to see in your mind some of the good that came from those nudges? But the good that was done was not the result of the PD diagnosis itself that I had been given. It was the result of a good God fighting my battles and always triumphing over evil.
A few years after my husband and I moved, I felt a pretty good nudge to join a women’s Bible study that was regularly held at our community Chapel. Sometime after I did, in another time and place, I “met” the Holy Spirit of God, whose familiar nudging I recognized, as soon as I felt one.
It was God all along who had been nudging me on—getting me up and keeping me going. He knew the danger of my becoming complacent, of accepting my lot in life and forfeiting freedom. Had I stayed where I was (physically and spiritually) at the time of the diagnosis, I never would have “traveled” to all of the places I’ve been; now, would I?