My Strength On the Heights

Well, hello there. I thought I would post one more time before my treatment next week. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I was able to get into a very successful clinic for a four-day treatment after waiting well over a year for an appointment. People come from all over the U.S. to see these doctors and I feel privileged to finally be able to go there. I’m looking forward to it but also covet your prayers that the die-off reactions won’t be too severe. I heard that one of the treatments they do is an ionic foot bath so we decided to get one and I tried it out last night. I might be dying. It’s detoxing, for sure, but I’m just so sensitive. I may be re-thinking traveling back and forth each day since the clinic is more than two hours away. I welcome ALL THE PRAYERS. If you want to follow my progress, feel free to friend me on Facebook. I’ll try to update as I am able.

It’s been a rough little patch for me during this weird February heat wave. While most people are celebrating, I’ve fallen into a deeper depression. My biggest POTS trigger is heat and I can’t get even the tiniest bit too hot without feeling foggy, dizzy, and faint. I couldn’t help but think that if the cold is over already (and we barely had a winter. I know some of you will disagree with me on that), I have months… MANY months to feel like absolute poop. I’ve tried to snap out of this ‘blah’ because supposedly the treatment next week is going to cure my POTS. I want so badly to believe it. But you know how I struggle with hope.

I’m afraid of more disappointment crushing me. But I end up expending so much energy trying not to hope that I get sicker and I’m usually unsuccessful anyway. Sometimes hope is an unstoppable force, thanks be to God. And this time I am better equipped to handle the disappointment. Previously, I don’t think I knew what to do with my wounds so I just let myself sink down into them. Of course, they absolutely need to be felt. But now I know how to avoid being irreparably crushed by them. I am no longer afraid to run straight to God and lift up my wounds, to show them to my Father, and to limp into His arms, asking Him to hold me while I pour out the pain. This time I’m trying to hope. Old habits die hard so, at the advice of my wise counselor, I’ve been doing my best to thank God for whatever does or does not happen next week. It’s not easy because, I’m telling you right now that if I don’t feel much better, my heart will be broken again. But thankfully I know what to do with that heartbreak now.

I’ve chosen Habakkuk 3:19 as my theme verse, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.” God is my strength through whatever happens. He is our strength even, as it says in verses 17-18, “though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” I also have issues with ‘joy’ but God’s working on that in me as well. Even if nothing changes after next week, I will still love You, Lord. I will still run to You with my heartbreak.

Through all of this, God is my strength. I looked at the cross-references of this verse to discover what strength actually means here and, in Deuteronomy 33:29, it means that God is our shield and helper. He is our glorious sword. I love that. In Psalm 46:1-5, it means He is our very great reward.

What are the heights on which He enables us to stand? Most of the cross-references talk about battle and trampling on enemies. I am able to go into this battle with God’s strength and I can stand in the presence of my enemy and whatever he uses against me, whether it be Lyme, damaging lies, or shame. With God’s help, I can trample them. I don’t think I can go so far as to say it means I will be delivered from Lyme (though I very well may be), but that I can stand and fight, knowing that my reward is more of God.

I quite frequently watch deer outside my window and nothing seems to stand in their way. They bound over everything. I did a little research on their feet to see just what God is doing when He “makes my feet like the feet of a deer.” The outer hoof of a deer absorbs the shock of every step and gives traction on soft or wet surfaces. The inner hoof provides a cushion for hard surfaces. For these reasons, deer rarely stumble even when leaping into unknown territory.

So next week, I leap. I don’t know what I will find but, with God as my strength, I will not stumble. I will stand firm in the hard places and fight the lies of the enemy knowing that, no matter what happens, God is my very great reward.

Song I’m feeling: Sound of Surviving, by Nichole Nordeman

“They told me I’d never get to tell my story. Too many bullet holes.
It would take a miracle.
These voices inside my head like poison, trying to steal my hope,
silencing my soul.
But my story is only now beginning. Don’t try to write my ending.
Nobody gets to sing my song.
This is the sound of surviving. This is my farewell to fear.
This is my whole heart deciding, I’M STILL HERE.
I’m still here and I’m not done fighting.
This is the sound of SURVIVING.
These pieces, the ones that left me bleeding, intended for my pain
became the GIFT You gave me.
I gathered those pieces into a mountain. My freedom is in view.
I’m stronger than I knew.
And this hill is not the one I die on.
I’m gonna lift my eyes and I’m gonna keep on climbing.”

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How Do We Know We Have Healed?

I see so many people sharing the meme that says, “When you can tell your story and it doesn’t make you cry, that’s when you know you’ve healed.” I wholeheartedly disagree.

When someone we love dies, do we ever stop grieving? Do we really want to? When we experience any loss at all, there is grief. And grief means the person or circumstance was important to us and is part of our story. Is an end to grief really healing or just ignoring and trying to forget? Sure, tears may dissipate, but I don’t believe they have to disappear in order to heal. In fact, I would argue that allowing them brings far more healing. I believe every moment of our lives, good or bad, is an important part of our story and should never be forgotten. We need to remember our pain so that one day we can recognize and celebrate the good that God made from it. When we look back and see the beauty that was brought from our brokenness, do tears of gratitude or even continued sadness that it happened mean lack of healing?

My thinking on this has only recently begun changing. I used to agree with, and probably even shared, the meme in the past. For so long I thought that if I forgave someone or let God have control of a hurtful situation, I shouldn’t feel pain anymore. I beat myself up as unforgiving because seeing the person who hurt me or thinking about the situation still caused tremendous pain. I thought that feeling hurt or angry meant that I hadn’t really let something go; that I hadn’t truly released it from my grasp. But we can’t just stop pain and anger like that. Our feelings are a gift from God meant to be felt, not repressed. I hope I never stop becoming emotional about my story because it means that every bit of it was important to me. And every bit of it is important to God.

So, if lack of tears isn’t an indicator that we’ve forgiven, released, or let something go, how do we know that part of us has truly healed? I’m not entirely sure and am open to suggestion but I have some ideas. I suspect that we have truly forgiven when we can pray blessings on the person who hurt us and truly mean it, or we can be grateful for someone’s joy even when we don’t feel it ourselves. I wonder if healing looks like smiling at the memories of loved ones even through tears. Maybe it has to do with being able to think and talk about the terrible wrong that was done to us without fear because God hasn’t given us that spirit, but one of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Jesus said “do not fear” quite a few times but I’m pretty certain He never said, “do not cry.” He would have looked pretty hypocritical if He did. I wonder if releasing something means we stop feeling powerless under it because God is powerful in us. Maybe it really means I have released myself, allowing myself to feel the way that I feel without shame. I wonder if it means we have sound minds because the broken person or circumstance is not plaguing our thoughts constantly, dipping us further and further into despair. I wonder if healing means believing that we no longer need whatever caused our hurt because we have all that we need in Christ. We may still want what we lost in our lives and wish things were different, but we admit that we don’t actually need it. Maybe we accept that we may never get what we want but we start to believe that’s okay because we will always have what God knows we truly need.

One of the definitions of release is to disentangle. I have a hunch that the things I still haven’t let go of are the things that are still tangled up in my identity or the way I believe and think. If the hurtful thing that happened is governing the way I think or act on a daily basis, I don’t think it has yet been released. Another definition is to allow something to move or act freely. If someone’s actions continue to cause me great distress, I don’t think I’ve let go of my control. I can still grieve, yes, but harm myself with constant stress over someone not acting how I think they should act is more than just grief.

One of the hardest definitions of release for me personally is to remove restrictions or obligations so that they become available for other activity. The problem is, I don’t WANT them to be available for other activity because that means they’ve truly left me, that something else was more important to them than me. I really struggle accepting that rejection and loss. So I wonder if healing in that area might be a strong sense that I am never rejected by God and that His acceptance and presence is more important to me than that of others. I think maybe I’m allowed to be sad that these people or circumstances are out of my life, but perhaps healing means that I don’t feel ultimately rejected because I know that I always matter to God. I think healing is a strong sense of who I am to God overpowering who I am/am not to the person who rejected me.

Another definition of release is allow to return to its resting position by ceasing to put pressure on it. This one is all about control. I’ve tried so hard to manage every circumstance and every person in my life so that I never have to get hurt in any way. But all of this pressure just ends up hurting me even more and ruins my relationships anyway. Healing = rest. There’s that ‘rest’ again.

The last definition of release that I’ll mention is to discharge a debt or surrender a right. If someone hurts me, I want justice. Technically, I deserve justice. But justice is not mine to take. It is God’s. Healing in this area may mean to stop thinking in terms of what the person owes me, but of the gratitude that we both owe to God for not enacting His justice on us.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). I speak this verse to myself more often than any others and I think it may have a lot to tell us about knowing when we have truly released something into the care of God. When we have forgiven or let something go, we can receive healing when it no longer fills us with fear. We are no longer afraid of rejection or ashamed of the way we feel. We recognize God’s power in us to overcome that shame and to know who we are in Him. We are able to love and bless others without fear of rejection even when they hurt us, because of God’s love in us. And we have a soundness of mind, a mind that no longer spins with anxiety and “what ifs” and “I should have done thats”. We have a mind at rest when we release the control of hurtful situations to God.

Healing doesn’t mean we stop crying. I think it means we cry without fear or shame. I think we have truly let go of control when we are no longer controlled by what happened. I think we have released when, despite continued pain, we are at rest with our heads on our Father’s chest, even if we are still crying in His arms. So, don’t be fooled by inaccurate memes. Our Father cares about our tears.

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