Thursday, August 4, 2016


MS is like quicksand. It sucks you in and drags you down. When you thrash and fight in an attempt to escape its clutches, it only tightens its grip. Like quicksand, the symptoms of MS shift quickly and suddenly. One moment they are muscular, the next they are visual and without warning they can shift to downright painful.
When trapped in quicksand the body's natural response is to break free. When legs are held in a vice grip and the earth is swallowing up the lower extremities panic naturally ensues. It is as if the earth has opened up its mouth and begun to swallow the man whole. Who wouldn't put up the fight of their life?
Can you imagine the horror? One second you are upright and unawares, maybe out on a walk or a hike, when all of a sudden the ground beneath your feet begins to sink. You lift up one leg to try to take big steps out of the slimy puddle but it is as if the puddle is made of tar. The leg doesn't budge. In a moment of sheer terror you attempt to lift the other leg but instead of rising up you feel yourself sink down. Panicked, you try to move your legs faster. You attempt to turn around to see if anyone else is nearby. With every movement your body sinks a little lower, a little lower and a little lower.
We've all seen this scene play out a thousand times in movies and TV shows attempting to keep us captivated by suspense. In the movies the tactic works. Maybe that's why 3% of films feature such a scene but in real life the quicksand of MS is certainly not entertaining. It is debilitating. It can't necessarily be escaped with a pill or a routine procedure. Just like a great attempt to break free from earth's sinking sands, MS quicksand doesn't let go by mere force or strength. Attempting to thrash and claw out of MS will work about as well as trying to muscle out of the clay and water of physical quicksands.
The casual moviegoer might never have considered the reality of the dramatic quicksand scenes portrayed on the screen. Could quicksand really swallow a man whole? For most of my life I took the screenwriter's word for it and believed in Hollywood's deadly quicksand. It wasn't until I became stuck in my own MS quicksand that I discovered the truth behind the tale. Quicksand isn't a death sentence. It doesn't swallow men whole. Quicksand will release its victims but only once they stop fighting.
Acceptance of the quicksand and relaxing in it is the only way out, not so unlike MS quicksand. Thrashing against the chronic illness of MS won't make it go away. Tugging away from the reality of MS only puts the victim in deeper despair and depression. There is only one way to escape the life-sucking doom of MS quicksand and that is to accept it, stop fighting the facts and learn to relax in spite of the disease. Then, and only then, can emotional freedom be found.
MS will suck the life and joy out of its victims when they panic in its grips and become fixated on breaking free. All the sufferer can think to do is throw punches and break the disease's grip but MS doesn't let go that easily. It holds onto the body with a death grip and threatens to pull the emotions into a deep pit of hopelessness. But by relaxing in God freedom can be attained. It is when the MSer takes a deep breath and releases the tension of physical dysfunction that the emotional hopelessness that gripped the soul begins to release. God starts to pull the desperate, languishing heart out of the quicksand. When we stop trying to extract ourselves physically, God can free us emotionally.
Once out of the MS quicksand that was so binding, refusing to allow the heart the movement and freedom to trust, hope and experience peace and joy, something mysterious happens to the physical quicksand of MS. It doesn't feel as sticky. Although the symptoms may linger, the perspective of the sufferer sees them with a new pair of eyes. Even physical dysfunction diminishes in devastation when the heart is free to be happy and whole no matter what the body's condition.
Dear friend with MS, even if your body is stuck physically in the quicksand of your condition remember that you need not be emotionally stuck. Relax, breath, release your striving and struggling into the hands of God and let Him set you free. He will release the chains of the quicksand that has kept your heart bound in hopelessness and despair. God alone can free you and He will do it the moment you ask Him to be your rescue. He will break the chains, and the sands, that bind you and make you free. Free indeed.

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