God, Grow My Gratitude

I fully admit I’m having a pity party today. It’s only April 10 and it’s already too hot for me and it’s just not fair. Sometimes I have to be honest and ask the tough questions. Why would God have created an intense longing in me to be outdoors, to be present in these mountains all around me, and not somehow make a way for me to be there without fainting? Heat is still my biggest trigger and I can barely even walk my dog. Sometimes I wonder if I can truly make it through five more months of even hotter weather. It sucks. I used to love the summer. I moved to TN so that I could hike those beautiful mountains. And now I just have to stare at them through my window. I have to watch everyone else enjoy their days in the sun without a care. It is not fair. I know I sound like a petulant child. Thank God He can take it.

I had an amazing day on Sunday. It was the first time I was able to attend church in ages. I was able to stand up for some of the singing and even go to the grocery store afterward. These are huge accomplishments and I celebrated them. I invited others to celebrate them with me. But the next day, my autonomic nervous system went completely haywire and it has not recovered. I feel utterly out of control. I never know what’s going to happen next. Will my blood sugar drop? Will my blood pressure drop? Will my heart rate drop? Will all three of them drop? I was alone on Monday when the first episode of near-unconsiousness hit. And I’ve been living in fear of it happening again ever since. God has not given me a spirit of fear. I know that. I repeat that. I’m still afraid. But not all the time, thanks be to God.

I should be grateful for Sunday. And, oh, how I am! But I have to be honest and say this one step forward, two steps back business is HARD. It’s exhausting. I’m tired of this dance. So tired. And I’m also tired of telling everyone how good I’m doing only to have to tell them again how bad I’m doing. It hurts, and for some reason I still carry a load of shame for not being able to get it together enough for a true celebration – the celebration I know everyone wants for me. I know God doesn’t want that shame for me and He wants to take away the pressure that I feel to “get it together.” Most days I can let that sink into my heart. But other days…

One of the questions posed recently in my recovery group was something along the lines of, “In your past, what have you been ungrateful for?” I was reminded that I have not been grateful for my life. At all. The ungratefulness is not just in my past either. I am not grateful for my life even today. I am grateful for things IN my life. But not my life itself. I don’t think I’m still angry at God for giving me life, but I look at it as something to endure. I can’t even imagine enjoying it. I’m still mulling over whether or not I think there’s anything wrong with that. Sure, there’s that passage about Jesus coming to give me life to the full. But, what exactly does that mean? You may have to stay tuned.

One of my song obsessions lately is “Scars”, by I Am They. Before I could make it to the piano to play it in an attempt to climb out of the pity party today, the words smacked me in the face. “I’m thankful for the scars ’cause, without them, I wouldn’t know Your heart.” I wonder. Without this life, would I truly be able to know God’s heart? I believe the answer to that is, no. How could I possibly know how much love He has for me even when I hurt, even when I pity, even when I rage, even when I sin… if I wasn’t here on earth? How could I know how He carries me through the pain if I never had any pain? How could I remember the comfort and the beautiful binding He offers my wounds if I never had any scars? Maybe this is the beginning of gratitude for my life. My knock-down, drag-out, beautiful life.

I hate having to say I’ve taken two steps back after one step forward. But should I just stop celebrating the step forward? I have to admit, I’m tempted. But that one step forward matters just as much as the two steps back. So, I’ll keep celebrating. And maybe what I need to remember even more is that those two steps back are just as important, and real, as the one step forward. They are happening and they are HARD. They are not to be ignored and they are not to cause me shame. They are to help me experience more God. I long to be on a different dance floor, one where every step is perfect and pain-free for all eternity. But I am thankful for the practice I’m getting right now. I have the best dance partner to teach me all of these forward and backward steps, and He’ll still be my partner then. Dancing with God now is a dear reflection, rippled but still breathtaking, of the gift of eternity with Him forever. I’m thankful for the dance. I’m thankful for the scars. I’m thankful for this life. May God grow this gratitude in me.

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song." - Psalm 28:7

Song I’m feeling: Scars, by I Am They
“I’m thankful for the scars
‘Cause, without them, I wouldn’t know Your heart
And I know they’ll always tell of who You are
So forever, I am thankful for the scars.”

 

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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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