by Annette Bridges. ©2006. All rights reserved.
When our care becomes the responsibility of loved ones, they could be faced with decisions that shouldn’t be theirs to make.

During the past few weeks, we’ve heard the life ending-sustaining debate between Terri Schiavo’s husband and parents. While each side wanted a different outcome, they seemed united in motive. Both felt they were carrying out Terri’s wishes and honoring her rights.

Supporters of each position were also united by their empathy toward Terri’s family members, their saddened hearts toward her plight, as well as their passionate beliefs about life. Yes, even the argument for death was about life – the belief that Terri’s own wishes would be to end a life that had a medical prognosis for a hopeless and dismal future.

This case has received much political and media attention. Through its course, folks have been encouraged to take the legal steps required so their families will not have to endure the decision-making battle of Terri’s family.

As I give thought to such decisions, I find myself arguing on the side of life. But more, a desire to make certain my own care and healing possibilities are not necessarily limited to one source of treatment. In so saying, I don’t want to belittle medical treatment or any other source of treatment. It’s more about a “leave no stone unturned” approach in a search for cure and healing.

I’ve read of numerous cases in which medical treatment had reached its limits and still healing appeared unattainable. And in these same cases, whether quickly or slowly, healing came about through persistent prayer, treatment in Christian Science or other alternative healing practices.

Such examples strengthen my hope and fortify my consecration to live. They teach me to never give up on the possibility for a life of health, productivity and potential. I guess my desire is for no one to give up on my life. Could this be selfish of me? I have known the anguish of caring for a loved one with a medically-concluded terminal diagnosis, watching them grow worse until their passing. But I can’t help but believe and hope that healing remains possible for every one and in every case.

While I feel I’ve reached a decision for my life, I do believe everyone must come to terms for his or her own life. That no one else should have that authority —or imposition — placed upon them.

Recently, I heard a song by Christian folksinger, Mindy Jostyn, called “Pool of Bethesda.” It tells the story from the book of John in the Bible, of a man healed by Christ Jesus. What inspires me about this story is that although this man was, as the song says, “crippled for most of his life, twisted by time, dammed by despair,” he apparently still waited for healing with some glimmer of hope. And his hope was finally realized through Christ Jesus. Yet, being healed by Christ Jesus was not how he expected to be healed.

He had been waiting to be placed in the pool of Bethesda at a certain time that brought the promise of healing. But years went by with him missing that perfect time. Still, he didn’t give up. While his healing came in an unexpected way, it did come.

For me, this Biblical healing account, while teaching not to give up on life and remain firm in hope, also teaches me to remain open-minded about the method in which healing can come. Not to limit my options and helplessly accept any diagnosis or fear as the final word on my life. Mary Baker Eddy, who named the healing system she discovered and practiced Christian Science, wrote, “The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God – a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love.”

I don’t know what the future holds for my life. Nor can I outline with certainty the source of treatment I will choose through the remaining years of my life. But my hope is that I will never lose hope. That I will never give up on life. That I will remain expectant and firm in my faith that healing is possible.

“…..all things are possible to God….”

Yes, I do choose to put my faith in that promise. And I ask my loved ones to understand, accept and see my wishes through.