Where do you turn when your heart needs a friend? I’m not talking about the gym friend or the book club friend. Instead, a friend who’s walked through hell and still has a hallelujah in their heart.

When your heart needs a friend, you need someone who’s been where you are, fought similar battles, and survived with joy? Do you have such a friend?

I Woke Up in the Land of Oz in Need of a Friend

I know what it’s like to wake up in an unknown place or circumstance. Like, Dorothy, I also woke up in the Land of Oz. One day, in 2015, I woke up totally paralyzed. Sporadic muscle weakness, which occurred for months, one day led to paralysis. What’s happening to me? How long will I be here? An explosion of unknown experiences surrounded me, like Dorothy in a Technicolor™ new and confusing land.  

Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis

Thirteen months after experiencing debilitating symptoms, doctors renamed the Land of Oz, Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis. Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis affects one per 100,000 people. [1] It is lonely to possess a rare disease. Daily, I battle emotional isolation. No one around me understands the random paralysis, fluctuating weakness, daily pain, and embarrassing impaired cognitive functioning.

My Heart Needed a Friend

My heart needed a friend who shared the same rare illness. God sent Nancy. Mutual friends introduced us via email and we formed an instant connection. (Only God could arrange mutual friends to know two people with our odd illness.) You could imagine my delight when I discovered she had a meeting near my town. Prior to her return flight, we shared a table at Panera. I sat across the table from someone with my illness. I sought comfort in knowing I wasn’t the only Dorothy in the Land of Oz. For the first time, I knew someone truly understood me.

I peppered her with questions about the illness, her treatment, knowledge of doctors, counseling, etc. But most importantly, her friendship filled me with hope. Hope that I’m not alone on this journey. Hope that I have another person who understands this chronic illness. Better than an aromatherapy (which I use) she infused me with hope through prayer and power in Christ’s name. Nancy’s friendship penetrated my weary heart and helped me renew my faith in God.

God doesn’t call us to fix other people’s problems but to walk with them.

A true friend is someone who will listen without jumping in with a “fix-it” mentality. But rather, someone who is “quick to listen and slow to speak” (James 1:19).

We are relational people, not created to live in isolation. This was on Paul’s mind when he wrote, “that you and I be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:12).

You Are Not Alone on this Journey

Friend, whatever battle you are facing, know you are not alone. God sees you and He cares for you. Seek refuge in Him and find comfort in the words penned by David (perhaps when he was in the desert), “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance” (Psalm 32:7).

Singer, songwriter Cody Carnes wrote a beautiful song that captures the essence of this message. I suggest you listen to “Run to the Father” and allow the words and melody to saturate your soul.

If your heart needs a friend, please allow me to be that friend to you. You can reach out to me on my website, subscribe to AprilDawnWhite.com, on Instagram @ aprildawnwhite_author, or on Facebook @AprilDawnWhiteAuthor. Thank you for your patience if I take a few days to respond.

~April Dawn White

© 2016, 2021 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Photos by Tom Wheatley, Gabor Szuts, & Takahiro Sakamo Unsplash.com

[1] http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1171678-overview#a6

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