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Abide: Learning to “Dwell In”

As I talked over allergy medications with my youngest son last weekend, I remembered my abide time. My youngest son was about a year old, and my life was busy with him and his older brothers who were nearly seven and five. Those were restless years, and not only because of sleep deprivation. I thought I should be contributing more and agreed to take on a major project at our church. I gritted my teeth with determination while dealing with various trouble-shooting issues. I will never forget when my middle son–the one with special needs who I am convinced “feels the room”–came over one day and pointed to the computer screen.

“Click ‘X,'” he said.

I did. I closed the program. On the computer screen. That day. But, I continued to work on the project over the next few months.

Then in September I had trouble walking.

It wasn’t the first time. But, I had thought we had figured it out why. The same thing happened when I was in college, and I went through a battery of tests only to get inconclusive results. Stress seemed to be a contributor, but I knew something else was wrong. I had experienced symptoms the previous fall after clipping the back of my neck on a car door and developed migraine headaches. But, like those symptoms, these symptoms gradually went away or became manageable. When I was diagnosed with Graves disease–an autoimmune disorder that causes overactive thyroid function–I discovered that changes in muscle function was a symptom of hyperthyroidism (muscle weakness and paralysis) and hypothyroidism (muscle aches and numbness).

Yet, at the time of this inability to walk, I had been on thyroid replacement for several years. Why now? Was it truly stress? Because I certainly was. Was it the time of year? The flares seemed to happen in the fall. Or were my thyroid levels off? After so many years, I had learned to notice symptoms, and my thyroid levels often fluctuated. My thyroid levels had been checked a few months earlier. Everything had been fine. While we drove to the emergency room and my symptoms intensified, I forced my foggy mind to do a mental checklist. I managed to ask for a thyroid test.

My levels indicated that I was experiencing extreme hypothyroid symptoms. (One treatment for Graves disease or hyperthyroidism is ingesting radioactive iodine; the radioactive iodine shrinks the thyroid gland, reduces its function, and requires life-long replacement hormone to maintain proper levels.) It was as if I wasn’t taking my medication. Which I was. Something was interfering with my thyroid medication. I went through another mental checklist trying to figure out what–besides this new church project–was different within the past few months. Then I figured it out.

I had started taking allergy medication. As the allergy medication built up in my system, its molecular structure was binding with the replacement hormone’s molecular structure and was depleting my levels. It was as it I was a leaky tire slowly losing air until one day I was completely flat.

I stopped taking the allergy medication right away. Even so, it took more tests and more medication adjustments to get my levels back to normal and for my symptoms to subside. It took a year to fully recover.

I also had to give up the church project. I had to click “X” and cross that responsibility off my list. There was no way I could get myself back to full health, care for my family, and do that project.

What convinced me most about that decision was a specific word from God. Abide.

I searched scripture, did a word study, and found myself rooted in John 15 during that year. I discovered that abiding in Christ was the most essential thing I needed to do on a daily basis. I should have known this. But, apparently, I needed a year of recovery to remember.

I have kept up my daily regimen since then. Certainly other setbacks have threatened to distract me from what and in whom I ought to dwell on. Yet, I have learned when to click “X” and make adjustments for my well-being and for my family’s benefit. That restlessness decreased through resting in Him. I realized that to do less was more if that made me better able to dwell in Christ most.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

John 15:4-7 NASB

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