Let your trouble be your teacher

special guest

by Sara Hesley



When Life hands you lemons, make lemon-aid.

But what do you do when Life hands you Lyme disease?

For a long while, several years actually, I was stuck with the question that many people ask when faced with an unexpected, tragic situation. WHY? Why did this have to happen? Over and over I asked it, only to be met with silence. Over and over I turned this question in my mind while stuck in bed or confined to the house for weeks on end. I’m a natural-born problem solver, a fixer. And this question of WHY was really a desperate notion that, if I had an answer, I would also have a solution, some kind of control over the problem, perhaps some insight about how to fix the broken being that I’d become. Little did I know.

As the cycles of my illness waxed and waned over several years, I had a lot of time to think about it, to open my heart and my mind to the answer. It finally came. For so long, though, with no answer to WHY, I was left to my own reflections, introspections and the lessons of Life I’ve been taught by my friends, family and teachers. I realized that there was not and never will be any tangible answer to WHY, at least none that will provide a solution to or control over the physical and physiological damage done by this disease. But somehow, by realizing and accepting my complete inability to change it or control it, yet still asking in moments of fear and anger, the WHY was finally elucidated from some higher place: “More than anyone with love can ever give you, this disease, this challenge, is your greatest teacher. Learn from it and share what you learn so that others don’t have to stumble down this same, terrible path.”

In the moment of that epiphany, WHY disappeared. It was replaced by a sense of hopeful purpose- a feeling that, if this is my irreversible fate, then I will do whatever it takes to help some other fearless spirit out there not lose herself to this disease. Had I met someone like the present me before I ventured off into the tick-infested forest, I would’ve done anything possible to get antibiotics the minute that bull’s eye rash appeared. I would’ve not taken seriously the ignorance spouted from the health department that Lyme isn’t in Kentucky. I would’ve never gone down this road. But I did. And I’ve learned more than I ever wanted from this teacher, from this disease. And through sharing a teeny-tiny bit of what I’ve learned with the singular hope that it’ll keep someone out there from stumbling as I have, maybe it’ll all somehow be worth it later on.

Somewhere long ago, before my path took this turn, I adopted the mantra “Let your trouble be your teacher.” Those words have seen me through so much and provided incredible opportunities to enrich my perspective, to change my point of view, to make lemon-aid out of Life’s lemons. While the words that finally answered WHY haven’t changed the nature of this disease in my body, they’ve created a profound transformation in my heart and my mind. They’ve given me a strength that only comes from acceptance and surrender to Life’s teachers and their lessons, even the ones I never wanted but received nonetheless.


When she is able, Sara writes on her blog Lost in the Grass about her journey with Lyme disease, her fight to recover her health, her encounters with the pervasive ignorance in her part of the world, and her work to help others avoid the nightmare that she’s survived.

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