The Healing Crisis

"The Lord replied, 'My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'" - Exodus 33:14

Remember the time I almost died? Well maybe not, but I thought I was dying and I’m trying to convey how I felt. I started a new supplement this past week and it completely knocked me off my feet. I believe I had my first herxheimer reaction (herx) from the medicine. This article explains a mild herx but it’s basically a die-off reaction, also referred to as a “healing crisis”. Medicine kills the pathogens in your body- in my case Lyme, among many other things- and the body reacts to the large amount of toxins released as the pathogens die. The die-off either exacerbates the symptoms you already have or it creates new ones. There’s always something new to discover in the medical wonder that is my body. A daily adventure, if you will. I reached out to the Lyme community and the consensus was, if you’re lying in the fetal position waiting for death, it’s a herx. That about sums up this past week in my life.

During my reaction, I vowed that I would not take the medicine again because it simply wasn’t worth the agony of sleeping on the bathroom floor and the fear that my heart would truly stop beating, nor the worry from my husband who has to watch all of this unfold and still fitfully attempt to get enough sleep for work. But my doctor told me to take two days off the meds and start back very slowly. During those two days of rest I did a lot of thinking and praying. I realized that my joints and glands were not as swollen. I think for the first time, something was actually working. That was the scary part – the realization that it doesn’t matter which medicine accomplishes this task, if I am ever going to get better the pathogens that are causing me to be sick have to die. In order to heal, the evil that is inside of me has to die no matter how much it hurts.

How metaphorical. This is exactly what has to happen in our spiritual lives as well. If we are going to let God heal every part of us, the evil parts have to die no matter how painful the process. 2 Timothy 2:11-12 says, “It is a trustworthy statement: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him.” If I endure the healing crisis allowing the pathogens to die, I will live. If I endure the spiritual healing crises allowing my old self to die, I will live and reign with Christ. What could be better?

Awhile ago, I asked God what I’m supposed to be doing right now. I just feel so irresponsible and useless and it deeply bothers me that Jason has all the responsibilities while pretty much having a second job caring for me. What I heard God say was, “rest and let Me heal you.” Ok God, maybe I heard You wrong. You know I rest all the time. In fact, I feel like I rest so much that I’m restless!! And I’m pretty sure God said something along the lines of, “bingo!” If your spirit/mind/heart is restless, you are not really resting.

I told my counselor about this and she read the definitions of “rest” to me. Rest is a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities; freedom from activity or labor. I assure you I’ve got that one completely covered. Next, rest is peace of mind or spirit. I do not believe I have ever been at rest inside of myself. I truly don’t know what that feels like but I think God wants to show me. Rest is also a rhythmic silence in music, which speaks to my musical side. Rest is something used as support. I liked this one because I could take it to mean that I need to use God as my support. I also need to lay down my pride and start letting others do things for me without feeling guilty. Not easy! The definition that my counselor read multiple times was “the repose of death.” I really did not like that one because it sounded morbid and I didn’t understand why she kept repeating it. It’s awesome how God plants seeds and then later helps us see the reason. I get it now!! In order to rest and let God heal me, the old me has to die no matter how much the process hurts.

I’ve never been as attached to Psalm 23 as many people are, but I think I’ve fallen in love with it anew and will be camped out in this passage for awhile.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” During this time of rest, God will make sure that I lack nothing that is necessary by His standards, not mine. Just as a shepherd knows what the sheep need, God knows what I need.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” In order for God to restore my soul, I must lie down, be quiet, and listen to Him. Rest.

“He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” God has to get rid of the old things that were not leading me down the path He wants for me. And that means those old things must die.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” But while these things die, I do not have to fear because God is with me to comfort me, provide for me, and guide me.

“You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” This is the most beautiful part to me. There is rich meaning in anointing oil. Oil can be used for physical and spiritual healing and I find it so perfectly beautiful that it is included in this passage. As I rest, I allow God to pour His healing over me. Another use for anointing oil is to set aside someone for the service of God. I love this. God is using this time to prepare me to serve Him, likely in a way that I have never imagined. The old me is dying so that the new me can be the person He created me to be. I am so excited to see where God takes me!

“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” God only has goodness and love in store for me. And what better promise could there be than that?

When I allow God to heal me spiritually, it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. I do nothing in my own strength. Therefore, I am at rest as I rely on Him. My heart yearns for this healing rest. I also want to be healed physically, as much as the process scares me. So I need help! I need to be surrounded by the support part of rest. I need my brothers and sisters to pray for physical and emotional strength. At this point in my weakness, my 9-pound dog can pull me over. During my weakness, I need to feel God’s presence with me to help me through. I need His perfect love to cast out my fear. Today I stared at the medicine bottles for a good half hour, took a break for an hour, came back, held Jason’s hand and took them, panic and all. There’s a reason they call this a “healing crisis”. But if I’m ever going to heal, I need to let the medicine heal me even when it feels like death. And if I’m going to heal spiritually, I need to let God heal every part of me, no matter how painful it is and how much it takes out of me. Both processes will take nothing from me that I need, only the things that harm me.

There must be a reason this song has been on replay in my house for quite some time, “Oh, Lord I lay it down. Help me to lay it down. Oh, let this be where I die. My Lord, with Thee, crucified. Be lifted high as my kingdoms fall once and for all” (Lauren Daigle). God, I’m ready for the dying part of rest. I’m ready for you to heal me once and for all. I’m ready for my kingdoms to fall and Yours to build. I lay it all down. I trust You! Let the healing come as I rest in You.

"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength." - Isaiah 30:15
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The Beauty of the Rubble

He will show you a new beauty. That’s the post I wrote one year ago when I decided to start naming the beauty I see in the midst of the brokenness. Beauty in the rubble.

I had been in a very dark place before that time. And I’m not saying this year of noticing the beauty has been bright. In fact, it’s possibly been more painful than the last. But slowly it transitioned into a different kind of pain. Instead of drowning in darkness, it has been a pain from which I’m generally able to see the light all around me. I started watching sunsets again. I had stopped doing that. I enjoyed nature again. Instead of constantly doing, I’ve been able to just observe God’s beautiful people at work. When I felt like I was drowning in pain I could look outside of myself and notice beauty.

Noticing the beauty this year helped get me out of my head at least once a day. It’s a scary place in there sometimes. Counting the beauty helped me praise God and notice his gifts. It helped me to see something positive amidst all of the negative. This year was jam-packed full of beauty that I would not have noticed if I had not purposely gone looking for it. God’s gifts to me. Beauty in the rubble.

But, the most surprising thing I have learned is that it is actually possible to see the beauty OF the rubble. Sometimes I may have to squint a little, maybe tilt my head or turn around. Or maybe I can’t see it now but I know I will see it eventually. The rubble is beautiful because of what God is doing with it. He said so in Romans 8:28.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28

You know, it wasn’t that long ago that I only thought of that verse as God working the greater good for other people. I took comfort in the thought that my pain could help others and I definitely still think that can be the case. But I finally realized that God is working it for MY good as well. It’s difficult to see it that way because it doesn’t feel good, but it IS good. It is good for ME… because God said so.

I realized recently that I often thank God for the things I originally begged him to take away. I begged him to let me stay in Tennessee instead of moving back to Pennsylvania for awhile and now those Pennsylvania years are very precious to me. They were some of the last times I spent with my grandparents, among other blessings. I’ve begged God countless times to take away this illness. But if you were to ask me if I wish it had never happened, I would firmly, wholeheartedly say “NO.” This illness has gifted me in unbelievable ways. I can feel God’s presence with me like I had never felt before. I can see how this brokenness is allowing God to mold me into a better person. I can feel it stripping away the things in me that do not matter and slowly putting the broken pieces back where they belonged in the first place. It is a very painful beauty, but a beauty nonetheless. When I finally started pulling myself away from the darkness and started focusing on God, my eyes began to adjust to the Light.

This is certainly a beauty I have never seen before. All I needed to do was turn around.

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