When Life Throws us…Parkinson’s

My younger brother Fred was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s. It’s devastating news…the kind of news we dread. He had noticed he was having difficulty gripping things, and he occasionally stumbled. Apparently he’s had the disease for a long time; the doctor told him his loss of smell many years ago was probably an early indicater.

I think we all imagine what it would be like to be diagnosed with a debilitating disease. I know I have. When we hear about it happening to someone else, we wonder how we would react under the same circumstances.

Parkinson’s attacks the place in the brain that produces a chemical called dopamine. Our brain relys on chemicals to function the way it is designed to function. Without dopamine, things begin to change, both physically and emotionally. Nerve cells use dopamine to help control muscle movement. Without it, a person experiences tremors and stiffness.

Dopamine also plays an integral part in our emotional state by affecting the reward center in the brain. Most of us do what we do–to some degree–in order to experience some sense of satisfaction…or reward. We enjoy the feeling that follows our accomplishments.

And to some extent, we all rely on our feelings–or emotions–to validate our “okayness.” Without emotional validation, we tend to doubt what we “know” to be true. Spiritually speaking, we have inadvertently tied our faith to our feelings. No one knows this better than a person with Parkinson’s, or with some other condition that affects the production of certain brain chemicals.

How well are we equipped to handle “feelingless faith?” Are we able to press on in our faithfulness, even when it no longer seems to make sense–from our perspective. Can we continue to trust the heart of our Father?

I invite you to share your experience. We help others best when we allow God to use our story to spur one another on in the truth.

My heart is heavy for my brother. We are asking God to lead us in this journey. We need His perspective, because our own perspective doesn’t sustain us through these times. Kinda weird I suppose, but I also believe we will all learn some important lessons as we travel this road together.

When Fred comes to you mind, will you please pray for him–and for others you may know who are also struggling–that the peace of God will saturate his entire being in a way that boggles his dopamine-challenged brain!

When Life Throws us…Life (1)

We tend to get distracted by what we can see with our eyes, and hear with our ears. And we get distracted by what we feel about what we see and hear. It’s easy to loose track of the truth.

We’re making choices all day, every day. Should I change the channel…or just shut the dang thing off. Should I order the steak, or stick with chicken…or fish. Maybe I should just have a salad. Should I let the guy who sped ahead of the line of traffic merge in front of me, or give him what he “deserves.”

Then there are also the bigger choices. I feel so vulnerable; so disconnected at times. How much faith should I place in how I feel? Since we’re designed by our Creator who created us in His image, we know that our emotions have a place in our lives. They provide us with an emotional connection to the world around us. Because we’re able to feel, we’ve experienced indescribable times of pure elation. And because we’re able to feel, we’ve also felt the depths of despair, and hopelessness…at times.

But there are times our emotions “lie” to us… (to be continued)

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