Let the Rivers Flow

Today I am tired. With the blessing of my provider, I had taken a week off of treatment because it has been so hard on me. That week is up today so, here we go again. It also happens to be full moon time and since my nasty little bugs like to come out and play during that period, I always double-treat for the five days over the full moon. This type of treatment usually leaves me so exhausted that I struggle to lift my head, but ironically struggle to sleep. I had trouble falling asleep last night and then woke up at 2 AM. I seem to deal with quite the dose of paranoia and when I wake up in the night, I have a nearly insurmountable fear that something terrible has happened to someone somewhere. So I tell myself I’ll look at my phone real quick to make sure all’s quiet on the loved-ones front. But the problem is, any amount of light signals to the brain that it’s time to wake up and I have trouble going back to sleep. I only take Melatonin in an emergency because it makes my restless leg syndrome worse. But after attempts to return to sleep, I thought the combination of 2 AM and the fact that lack of sleep compounds my symptoms exponentially constituted an emergency. So¬†today I’m dealing with a Melatonin hangover. I can’t seem to fully awaken my brain. As I was attempting to search for the beauty this morning, I thought of the first whiff of coffee from a brand new container. Good one, huh? I was proud of myself for recognizing it and and taking the picture to document it but then proceeded to ‘brew’ the coffee without water. It doesn’t work like that.

Coffee seems to be my one vice. I’ve given up so much. Why should I take away the last life-giving substance I have to enjoy? Perhaps my POTS would slightly improve if I gave it up but if you have POTS with bradycardia (me), “they” actually recommend caffeine, so who on earth really knows? I was longing for the warm, indulgent pick-me-up, but I forgot the water.

I’m reading a book by Kate Merrick called, “And Still She Laughs.” Thus far, it is truly heart-wrenching. This dear woman’s suffering causes mine to pale if I give into the comparison temptation. She sugar-coats nothing, making my heart twist and want to run as she recounts the horror. As she talks about the likely well-meaning but unhelpful ‘balm’ she has received for her suffering, she says, “I have yet to hear the reason why. Oh, I’ve heard ‘answers’ from the well-meaning. Answers that leave me thirsty and malnourished, sickened, or downright angry. I’ve heard every clich√©, every Bible verse taken out of context, every offering of comfort said hurriedly with hopes of plugging up neatly what is spilling out of every crack of my being; sloppy, messy, dangerous.” She was thirsty for comfort, but as she was drowning in the mess of the well-meaning, she forgot the Water. Oh, how I can relate.

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” – Psalm 63:1

Expecting comfort from other things instead of God can leave us bitter. Did I say coffee was my only vice? Perhaps I was wrong. The dry, biting taste of resentment mixed with the indulgent flow of sarcasm and snark just might be even more of an addiction. Reveling in this sick ‘pleasure’ has sucked the life out of me for quite some time. But I told myself it was ok because it often manifests as humor. Dark, scoffing, not-funny-at-all humor, but humor nonetheless. “I realized I was living life with the limp of one who has been injured but not correctly healed. All my nasty, grievous attitudes were feeding the bitter beast in me, and it manifested itself in snappish humor. I took everything personally, was easily offended, and used dry humor as my shield… We secretly laugh in mockery when we think of blessings coming our way. We laugh in disbelief. We have begun the unraveling of faith, working the pile of loose thread into a picture of despair” (KM).

Ouch. Boy, do I have some snark in me. And part of me really thought that was ok because, at least I was being honest instead of faking fine. But I do believe it has driven several of my people away, leaving me to drown in my own misery. And was I really being honest? Not at all… and I’m not sure I even fully knew that until now. The snark and bitter humor are only defense mechanisms, protecting me from having to face the seemingly unbearable heartbreak underneath. It’s because when I leak bitterness from my concrete walls, my heart doesn’t have to be vulnerable to hurt again. It’s amazing how God gives me the right things to read at the right time because I had already written about this in my journal several days before beginning the book. As Kate says, “I thought, if I don’t believe God’s goodness for me personally, then I can’t be disappointed in him. If I don’t ask him for anything, then he can’t slam the door in my face again.” If I drown in the bitterness, my walls won’t crumble under the crushing flow of loss threatening to break the dam. The “sloppy, messy, dangerous” stuff that I, and many others, are trying to keep trapped within me with flippant positivity, avoidance, and sarcastic humor, threatens to come out when the bitterness isn’t there. Kate says bitter humor is just “emotional desperation”. When it is there, I don’t have to fall apart. If I don’t face what’s underneath, maybe I’ll be ok. But a life of bitterness is a dry desert where there is no water. It is not ok.

Maybe if I let the Living Water flow it would break my walls, mix with my flow of heartbreak, and refresh my aching heart with healing. Maybe I could believe Jesus’ tears flow with the release of mine. “It takes faith to come out of the self-defensiveness of grief and disappointment” (KM). And the only way to get that faith is to let the Living Water flow. To let God’s truth speak to my heart. To open my floodgates and let the torrential downpours uproot my bitterness. It sounds terrifying but if I let myself be honest, how I ache for it. My heart is in dry desert agony, but I’ve not just forgotten the water. I’ve often refused it.

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” – John 7:38

It would take another post or five to explore why I fear the water’s flow, but at least this moment I can admit my ache for it. I’d rather have the Living Water flow through me, bringing with it whatever pain it releases, than the exhaustion of trying to plug up the leaks with bitterness. I long to be filled with the Truth. I’m tired, lonely, and thirsty. Let the rivers flow.

But we were talking about coffee, weren’t we? The brain fog of treatment is increasing by the moment so I’ll risk a lack of coherent proofreading and hope for the best. I’ll leave you with today’s beauty thus far – The freshest moment of coffee, yellow flowers still hanging on, the never-tiresome sea of purple, watery reflections of the real and metaphorical, and a new book from my hubby who knows what I need.

Song I’m currently feeling: JJ Heller’s Sound of a Living Heart.
“I could hide myself away somewhere safe, far from pain. But if I refuse to feel, I’ll never bleed but I’ll never heal. I hear Jesus calling me out of the grave I’ve been sleeping in. With new lungs I’ll begin again, lift my voice and sing my part. This is the sound of a living heart.”

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Author: Karina Baker

Hello, my dear friends! Glad to see you here. Thank you for reading about my beautiful rubble - my struggles with life, faith, and autoimmunity. Feel free to share your stories in the comments. My love and prayers to all of you!

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