The Love Expedition


At the Helm. 2009.

True Confessions (And a Puzzle. Can You Solve It?)

I’ve been whining. [Wait. Everyone seems to think my disappointment is justified. I’m unconvinced. Anyway, that’s the tension I’ve been sorting out lately.]

See, I’ve been sick a lot the last two years. One thing after another, I thought.

I was wrong. Every affliction has been a different aspect of a single problem. Late this summer, we got an answer that makes lots of sense, unfortunately. I have fibromyalgia.

Since then, I’ve  berated myself for being such a weenie: Medically, this isn’t a big deal. Think about your friend battling cancer. Think about your friend whose sweet little child is battling cancer.  I’ve also lost some time to regret and self-pity. I spent a year waiting to feel better before I finish my book. Before I invite friends over to dinner. Before the grandlittles spend a weekend. 

I’m over that fruitless waiting (at least for now.) Instead, I’m realizing that my job is to figure out how to fold this wrinkle into the fabric of my life. Where is the gift in this? 

Finally, I’m beginning to see it.

The gift of fibromyalgia is this: Pain and fatigue will not–cannot–keep me from love. This diagnosis does not rob me of my humanity. It doesn’t take away my soul. 

This past weekend I began reading a  memoir recounting a perilous attempt to sail the treacherous Northwest Passage. In the prologue, the author referred to the Franklin Expedition, a nineteenth-century attempt at the same trip that did not end well.

Expedition. Somehow my soul latched on as that word rendered a peace that’s eluded me for many months.

Explorers head off into the unknown, as well-prepared as they can make themselves but expecting surprises.

And that’s how I want to live: as well-provisioned as I can be, eager to embrace whatever unexpected events weave themselves into the cloth of my life. 

So I’m launching an expedition. Today. Why an expedition? We all know the sagas of the famous expeditions in our past: The Lewis and Clark Expedition. Stanley’s search for Livingstone. Hillary’s attempt on Mount Everest.

These wondrous events all began because someone had a vision, a goal, a specific target.

I have my vision. I have my target. And I have all the resources I need to be well-stocked. This humbling, exhausting condition helps me to remember that love can happen on any budget.

I can’t overspend love. No. My love account has deep pockets when the stamina allotment is depleted. My love account remains rich, rich, rich even when the pain budget is overdrawn.

Today, the love odyssey begins. I’m on mission to love my Lord. To love my husband, children, grandchildren. To love my neighbors. To love my enemies. To love those people who would threaten our freedoms. To love the guy who cuts me off on the way home from work.

To love you.

(And to love myself, too.)

Beginning today, I am on an expedition to spin love into a soft yarn whose strands work easily into every moment.  

I can launch this voyage with confidence, because another gift in this bit of suffering is its portability. I can seek to be loving all day, every day, everywhere, and fibromyalgia won’t weigh me down.

Wish me well, wouldya? 

12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.

1 John 4:12-14

rabbit conga

Now, for the puzzle: 

As I reflect on this, I understand that a scent floats through this expedition that I can’t identify. That’s an odd way to express it, but I have a deep sense that there’s a big chunk of this that eludes my efforts to fit words to it.

If you know those words, please tell me.



  1. the aroma of Christ perfumes your words
    will linger where you have been
    for you carry Him with you as you love…
    I will be sniffing and breathing in deep in Texas 😉

  2. Praying for you as you embark, my sister. I see Him in you. Hugs

  3. The Swede is a huge fan of Ernest Shackleton and his expeditions–He even uses a quote of Shackleton’s in his business correspondence.

    I, on the other hand, prefer to stay home–warm, and safe, and dry. And yet. I affirm you in this expedition of yours, Sheila. You already love well. Looking forward to what God does in and through you in this journey.

    Love you. Truly. Madly, Deeply.

    • That Shackleton dude was something else. I, too, am fond of staying warm. Thanks for your uplifting words, Nancy. I love you too. Bigly. Hugely, even.

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