Hello, dear readers. It’s been awhile since I’ve written so I thought I would at least check in and let you know what’s going on with me and, hopefully, encourage you a bit.
One of the reasons I haven’t written is because I just haven’t had the time. I know it sounds weird because it seems like I have all the time in the world. But what most people don’t realize is that taking care of yourself as a person with chronic illness can absolutely be a full-time job. I spend more hours in bed than most people, trying to get the rest that my body needs. I’ve started exercising at home at least three times a week as much as my body will allow. I have started back with DNRS (The Dynamic Neural Retraining System), which takes at least one hour a day. I’ve also been spending more time communicating with friends via regular porch visits or phone dates. We aren’t meant to do life alone and this entering back into community is doing tremendous good for my heart.
Another reason I’ve been fairly absent from writing is that I’ve been pursuing deeper intimacy with God. Don’t let that fool you into thinking I’m ultra-spiritual because, while I’ve been privileged to learn the benefits of a life intimately connected to God, I have also felt like I have no other choice due to the desperation of my circumstances. Lately, I’ve been feeling Peter’s statement in my heart, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Life is a perpetual struggle and sometimes I can only scoot up closer to Jesus and ask Him to hold me for awhile. I haven’t had much to say due to what feels a bit like burn-out, but where else or to whom else would I go? He’s the One who knows the way. I’ve had very few words but am so thankful the Lord doesn’t require them. He loves me enough to invite me to take shelter under His wing while His Spirit intercedes for me (Romans 8:26). Even though life is unbelievably difficult, sometimes miraculously all that comes out of me is, “I love You, God. Can you please sit here with me.” I’m just smitten with Him… when my previous tendency was to get mad at Him. I’m not saying I don’t still have that temptation, but as I continue to slide closer and closer as life gets harder and harder, I’m learning to trust.
One thing He’s working on is helping me find a balance between standing up under negative emotions and feeling what I need to feel. It’s a very tricky balance. Unfortunately, the part of DNRS I struggle with is the necessity of a perpetually uplifted mood. To me, that’s denying very real, God-given emotions. At the same time, wallowing in negativity keeps the brain in a trauma loop, so I understand both perspectives. One of the authors I follow said that she started closing the door on fear and eventually became free from it, which sounds impossible to me. But, you know what? I tried it a couple Sundays ago. We went to church and as I stood in unfamiliar public territory, I reminded myself that Jesus has already set me free and now I need to walk in that freedom. I said “no” to fear and it actually worked. I calmed down and was able to worship. On the other end of the spectrum, I was heading to the chiropractor today, which does not sound like a big deal but it is to me, simply due to my anxiety issues in a car and arranging rides. Also, I’ve realized my body doesn’t understand the difference between anticipation and anxiety. I could be about to spend time talking with a friend, something that I dearly love and need, but the anticipation is often mistaken by my body as anxiety. So, in anticipation of the chiropractor today, my body was surging with anxiety. I did everything I knew to fend it off (prayer, DNRS, meditation) but the surges did not stop. I remembered something my counselor recently said to me, “Honor your pain. You’re re-burdening yourself when you think you’ve failed because you feel something.” I realize how very hard I fight against anxiety and feel guilty when I can’t fight it off, but sometimes it’s not me, my brain is stuck. So today when the fight wouldn’t end I thought, “I wonder what would happen if I just let the anxiety come.” So, I did. I was expecting a panic attack, but the attack never arrived. As I let the anxiety come, the surges eventually fizzled out and I calmed down.
Now, as far as how one discerns when to allow the emotions or close the door on them, I’m still learning. That’s where the intimacy with God comes in. I’m trusting Him to guide me. I’m asking God for discernment of when to practice both the closing of the door, especially on fear, and the allowing it to come. It feels like a dance that only He knows the moves to, but as I come closer in His arms, I hope to naturally learn the rhythms of the beautiful, emotional dance He’s choreographed just for the two of us. What a privilege to live this life with Him. What an honor that He invites us to be close to Him. I pray you’ll take time to experience that closeness.