The Sin of Humility

“You must be struggling.” That’s what my friend said to me after she noticed I’d been kind of quiet on Facebook lately. Good grief. Even when I think I’m hiding it, God always uses someone or something to break through my walls anyway.

The Sin of Comparison

Struggling is such a relative term to me. But it really shouldn’t be. This is how my thought process goes. Yes, I have an illness, but I know other people who have far worse illnesses that they’ve fought far longer than I have. I’m not struggling. I know several people who have been in the hospital for a long period of time. I’m not struggling. This person over here is dealing with an abusive marriage. I’m not struggling. This person over here has already lost one child and just found out the child she’s carrying may not survive. I’m not struggling. This person over here lost his job with a large family to support. I’m not struggling. Reading my own thought process in black and white makes me kind of ill. Why do we think that other pain is more important just because it’s different than our own? Oh, my dear ones, why can’t we just admit that we’re struggling?

I don’t think I have the right to be struggling. There, I said it. I incessantly compare myself to others even though I’ve read so many godly writings warning me against this. I have a suspicion that some of you can relate to this realm of thinking. I still can’t seem to convince my brain that comparison is a thief. It’s a thief of joy, contentment, rest, even friendship. I don’t think I should be ‘allowed’ to feel down. I don’t think I should be ‘allowed’ to share my problems when there are others who have worse problems. I also don’t think I should be ‘allowed’ to burden others who already carry burdens.

This way of thinking is an utter nightmare. Constantly comparing my burden to the burden of others in order to judge whether or not I have the ‘right’ to feel the way that I feel is nonsense, and I know it. The Bible gives us specific permission, no, INSTRUCTION, to share our problems with that pesky “carry each other’s burdens” verse (Galatians 6:2). It doesn’t say “carry everyone’s burden IN ADDITION to your own” or, “carry everyone’s burden INSTEAD of your own.” But isn’t that what so many of us do?

"But, 'Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.' For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends." - 2 Corinthians 10:17-18

You may be thinking like me. Boasting? What I’m doing is far from boasting. I mean, verse after verse in the Bible tells us to care for others more than ourselves. But while I think I may be doing just the opposite of boasting, the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. Get this – I’m actually boasting about being humble. I’m not doing it out loud so it doesn’t look like boasting, but I’m still weighing myself against everyone else and I’m winning the ‘least problems award’ every time. But look what the verse above says. These things are not for me to judge. Only God can judge the heart and I’m willing to bet that he sees all pain equally. That’s just how much he loves us.

The Sin of Over-Analysis

“Maybe I shouldn’t have said that. Maybe I should have said this. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything at all. Is she upset with me? What did his response mean? I’ve said the wrong thing again. She must be disappointed in me. He’ll never tell me anything again. I’ll never tell her anything again. My heart will be safer if I just stay quiet.” I, I, I, Me, I, Me, Me, I, My.

I absolutely hate admitting that my brain functions like this. I’m so obsessed with what other people think of me. I want to scream into a mirror – GET OVER YOURSELF! What about what God thinks of me? Have I forgotten to whom my life belongs?

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." - Psalm 139:13
"But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'" - 1 Samuel 16:7
"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." - Ephesians 4:22-24

The Sin of Can’t

Yep, I just went there. Even when I do have my mind on other people’s needs I’m thinking, “I can’t help them because I don’t have the money. I can’t help them because I’m sick.” And I’ve even been afraid to speak my heart. Afraid of writing, afraid of speaking, afraid of encouraging others because I’m afraid that I won’t speak God’s words or I’m afraid of what others will think about me. I think to myself, “if I say this, everyone is going to be watching me to see what happens next so I better not say it at all.” But goodness, I AM NOT THAT IMPORTANT.

This is all fear. Fear that I don’t have it all together. Fear that I am not enough. Fear that I don’t have the resources. Fear that other people may see my weaknesses. Well, guess what. I don’t have it all together. I am not enough. I don’t have the resources. I do have weaknesses. But there’s really good news. God has it all together. God is enough. He has the resources. And He is strong in our weaknesses.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'" - 2 Corinthians 12:9

One Common Thread

What do all of these sins have in common? Self. The real IDOL… yes, I said IDOL… is me. How on earth did this happen? You’re telling me that the person who is constantly thinking about others is really worshiping herself? Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying. Think about it. Comparing yourself to others, believing you have nothing to give to others, over-analyzing how others interact with you- It’s really all about you!

Perhaps God revealed all of this to me so that I could, once again, show my cards to all of you. Maybe I’m supposed to overcome the fear of speaking my heart. Maybe there are others who haven’t recognized the hidden sin in their lives. It’s absolutely stunning to think that Satan can take humility and turn it into a sin. Deception at its evilest. When I tried to figure out why I’m struggling and why I feel so depressed, God put a thought into my mind that if I were Satan what would I do? I would start confusing and putting fearful thoughts into the mind of somebody who thinks one of the only things she is offering the world is her words. I would make her feel the need to compare herself with others. I would make her think that her words are hurting people, or her words don’t matter, or her words will just be misunderstood. I would make her think that she can’t. I WOULD SILENCE HER WORDS.

If I were the enemy, I would steal, kill and destroy. I would steal the meaning that you thought your life had. I would kill your joy. I would confuse and destroy your relationships. I would steal your heart with constant fear and doubt.

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." - John 10:10

Jesus came to give us a full life. Letting Satan steal, kill, and destroy is anything but a full life. It’s a full mind but it’s not a full life. Jesus did not die so that we could constantly compare ourselves to others. He died for all of us equally. Jesus did not die so that we could over-analyze our interactions. He died because he loves us. There’s no ulterior motive, no angle, just LOVE. Jesus did not die so that we could discourage ourselves with “I can’t”. What if Jesus had said, “I can’t?” The truth is, we can, because Jesus lived, loved, and died for us. He is our strength when we are weak. He gives us permission to feel the way that we feel and he feels it with us!

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." - Hebrews 4:16

Look at that. Approach with confidence, not fear. Receive mercy that none of us deserve. Find grace to cover the sin of self, and grace to help us in our need. If we don’t admit that we are needy, we don’t allow Jesus to meet our need. If we don’t admit that we are struggling, we don’t allow Jesus to carry us through.

So when you put it that way…. I’M STRUGGLING!!! JESUS, CARRY ME. And the really, REALLY good news – His arms are strong enough to carry us all.

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Prayers Offered in Faith Will Make the Sick Person Well

"The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." - James 5:16

I’m struggling to find the right words for this. There just aren’t words beautiful enough to describe what happened today, but I pray that God gives them to me.

The last journal entry I wrote was on January 19 and I told God that I felt lost. I told him I was having trouble believing that I will ever be healthy again in this life and I didn’t know if it was ok for me to feel that way, or if I should keep hoping for health. I didn’t know if I was supposed to just accept what is, like a thorn in my side, and live my life as best I can, or if I should keep believing that God will heal me physically. Of course I have hope. Hope for eternity. But I ran fresh out of hope for health in this life. Honestly, I’m exhausted. I’m so tired of the fight. I’m tired of hoping for every appointment and every treatment, and getting my hopes crushed. I just didn’t think I could do it anymore. I told God the thought of continuing this exhausting fight for something that isn’t going to happen is unbearable and I prayed that he would give my feelings direction.

I think I’ve said here before that God speaks most clearly to me when he gives me songs. They are not my songs at all, but His. I would never be able to write them on my own. A new song is one of the ways I know that God is present with me. But I very briefly mentioned in a post on Monday that I hadn’t received a new song in awhile. Being the beautiful person that she is, my friend immediately sent me a card that said God is filling my heart with music and will bring me to song again soon, along with this verse:

"Shout for joy, O heavens! And rejoice, O earth! Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted His people and will have compassion on His afflicted." - Isaiah 49:13

What a beautiful, beautiful verse. Perfect for me, really! Here’s where it starts to get very obvious that God is working. Before I ever received the card, God heard my friend’s prayers for me and gave me a song called I Wait for You. A perfect song while I waited for God to answer my prayers about my hope. A song asking God to show me His glory. I thought the song was an answer to my prayers. Little did I know that God was only getting started.

My Rheumatologist had set up a Dermatology appointment for the next day (yesterday). I was supposed to get a biopsy to confirm the next illness they think I have – Lupus. However, I received a steroid shot at my last Rheumatology appointment and when I showed up at my Dermatology appointment, they said a biopsy so soon after a steroid shot would skew the results. Let me tell you, I was fighting mad! It was such a waste of time and money, just to have to go back and spend the same amount of time and money in three weeks, and my Rheumatologist should have known that! I was so angry! My lack of a job does not leave us room for errors like this! I was ranting about it to my friend, who then prayed as only a person of bold prayer would. She prayed that I would receive peace, but also that I would find a monetary treasure somewhere, somehow. Well, I did find a penny yesterday, which was a beautiful sign pointing me to what God was about to do, though I didn’t know it at the time.

Today, I received the card that my friend had sent me and was floored that God filled me with song even when I didn’t know she had prayed about it for me. She then came over to my house to tell me even more news. Her car recently broke down for good and she was cleaning it out to take it to the junkyard. She reminded me that she had prayed for my treasure, and then told me that she found my treasure in her car. She said I have to accept it because it’s an answer to prayer. What could I possibly say? I’m still so very overwhelmed by this whole story.

The nearness of God has been so real to me lately. He knew exactly when I needed hope. He knew exactly when I needed a song. He knew exactly when my friend’s car would break down. He knew when she put that money in there long ago and forgot about it, that it was meant to bless me. He knew she would immediately recognize the answer to her prayer and she would let him use her. He used her precious heart to bless mine with far more than money. He has shown me that he does care about the physical things. If he cares about money, he cares about my health. He does want me to hope for more than just eternity. He does listen to and answer our prayers. And he did show me his glory!

As soon as I started writing this, God brought to mind the verse that I put at the top of this post. And now that I look at it again, the previous verses just complete this story and confirm that God has had his hands ALL over us.

"And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." - James 5:15-16

My prayers offered in faith gave me the most incredible friendship when I needed it the most. I could really write a book about how I know that God gave her to me. The prayer offered in faith gave me a new song. The prayer offered in faith gave me a treasure. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well. We pray for each other, so that we may be healed.

"As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.'" - John 9:1-3
"'Lord, the one you love is sick.' When he heard this, Jesus said, 'This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it.'" - John 11:3-4

Loneliness, a period without song, a broken down car, wasted money, illnesses. These all seem like bad things. But just look! Look what God has done and tell me! Tell me that you don’t see his Light shining in the darkness! Tell me that you don’t see His glory! There is beauty in the wait.

God, I do believe
That you're still holding me
And this desert path I walk
I walk with you
God, until the day
You reveal to me your ways
I will thank you for the gift
Of waiting for you.

There's beauty in the wait
So I will give you praise
Oh God, you will be my strength
Through the land of suffering
I will count all the blessings
And know that there's meaning
In waiting for you.

Amen.

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Dear Doctor

Dear Doctor,

Do you remember me? Did you even know me when I was your patient? Or was I just one simple problem to solve with one simple remedy? Did you ever even look me in the eye? I wonder what would have happened if you had looked me in the eye. Would I have looked as mechanical as the picture in your mind? Or would I have resembled an actual human with a heart and soul and, yes, a physical body?

Dear Doctor, you’re in too much of a hurry. I feel as though I’m interrupting your day when your day is supposed to be dedicated to people like me. But you don’t truly SEE me, do you, dear doctor? If you did, maybe you would recognize that my pain is real. Maybe you would see a whole body rather than an individual malfunctioning part. And maybe, just maybe, we could solve the whole puzzle. But you’re not interested in the whole puzzle, dear doctor. You’re only interested in the first diagnosis that comes to mind and you’re not open to anything else.

Dear Doctor, you’re not listening! Do you hear me?? Or are you already singing your one solution in your head while I’m telling you I dance to a different tune? Everyone is different. Why can’t you see that?

Dear Doctor, why do I have to beg you to listen to me? Why do you not want to hear from the one expert in my body? Should you not want to consult the expert? I know from experience what will or will not work but you care nothing about my experience. You don’t care that the potentially-harmful drug you want to put me on has given me awful side effects in the past. You belittle me and patronize me when I voice my concerns.

Dear Doctor, you made me feel guilty. I get enough guilt from the outside world that thinks I should be getting better by now. But you. You signed up for this work. You treat people who don’t often get better, and yet somehow I left feeling guilty that the medication you put me on didn’t help. I felt like I had to apologize to you for my body’s lack of response, which is utterly ridiculous. You pressured me and made me doubt myself.

Dear Doctor, you made me feel crazy. You and countless of your colleagues saw my history of anxiety and that’s ALL you saw. That’s all you cared to see. You lumped every problem I had into mental health. You made me feel like it was all in my head, because you refused to believe it wasn’t. You told me over and over again that I needed antidepressants. You didn’t listen when I told you why I didn’t want them. You ignored the tremor of sheer terror in my voice and frightened tears in my eyes every time I told you I didn’t want to take them. You didn’t care that I had been on them before and the side effects and withdrawals were nothing I can describe other than Hell on Earth. I told you this point blank multiple times and yet that continued to be your only answer to all my problems. And while I believe there is a place for antidepressants, I knew in my heart that there was something else going on inside of me, but you and your one-track mind didn’t care to figure it out.

Dear Doctor, did you know that I am not crazy? Did you know that it was NOT all in my head? Did you know I have real physical illnesses with actual physical diagnoses?

Dear Doctor, WHY? Why did you never do just a simple lab test? If you had, you would have seen the clear autoimmune markers. You would have seen that my Rheumatoid Factor is 780 when it is supposed to be under 14. You would have realized that my body is attacking itself. When I begged you to believe that it was not all in my head, you refused to look any further.

Dear Doctor, you messed with my mental and emotional health. You ADDED to my anxiety instead of helping me find the root problem, because you doubted me. You doubted my soundness of mind and, therefore, you weakened my soundness of mind. You made me doubt myself and your attitude stole from my overall well-being.

Dear doctor, you don’t think beyond a diagnosis. You don’t consider that there may be something else. You don’t care to learn from me and for me. When I told you my stomach issues are related to my autoimmune problems, you simply said that’s difficult to prove. And you, the Specialist who treats autoimmune diseases, simply said you’d see me again in a year. Well, guess what, I was right.

Dear Doctor, I finally found someone else. I found a doctor who cared. One who listened to me and spent time with me. One who took one look at me and knew I had Sjogren’s Syndrome. One who immediately ordered the right tests and took the right steps. One who LOOKED ME IN THE EYE and said with compassion, “I don’t know how you are still smiling”. One who made me feel human and let me participate in my own care.

Dear Doctor, you dismissed me. You dismissed me while I was still in indescribable pain and suffering. How is that healthCARE?

Dear Doctor, you’ve lost your compassion. You’ve forgotten why you went into this field. You’ve allowed pressure from insurance and drug companies, and your own habits to erode your concern for those you are meant to help. You were more of a hindrance to me than assistance. You took away from my life rather than adding to it.

So therefore, dear Doctor, I dismiss YOU. I dismiss your lack of care. I dismiss the patronizing looks, the passive-aggressive comments, the know-it-all attitude. I dismiss your cover-up ‘remedy’ and quick diagnosis. I dismiss the pressure, guilt and anxiety with which I left your office. I dismiss your one-track mind and my own self-doubt. It’s my one body, and it’s too important to allow you to participate in its care anymore.

I only ask, dear Doctor, that you refrain from treating others in the same way. I ask that you go pick up your listening ears wherever you dropped them. I ask that you remember your compassion. I ask that you return to the day you took the oath to “first, do no harm.” I ask that you keep learning, and what better source from which to learn than your patients? And I’ll even point you to the first step. Start looking your patients in the eye. I’m convinced that if you do that one thing, you will start to see them as human again. We are not a diagnosis. Please SEE us.

Sincerely,

Every patient who has ever been hurt
by someone who promised to heal

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From the Inside Out: A Year in Review

On this the anniversary of my job resignation, I feel the need for reflection. And perhaps God will use the sharing of my heart to stir something in yours. I’ve done a whole lot of lamenting this year, but I’ve also done a whole lot of learning. I’ve learned a lot about myself and about God and I believe that’s at least part of the reason he is taking me on this journey.

I have learned that I had my life’s purpose entirely wrong. Previously, if someone had asked me to identify myself, I would have led with Social Worker. To me, that defined who I was. I knew I was a child of God, but sadly, it did not define me in the 100% way that it should have. This year, God has helped me start to align my identity with his identity for me. My purpose is far greater than my narrow scope. I am still learning my purpose but this I know for sure: My purpose is Heavenly and eternal. I was not put on this earth to simply be a Social Worker, although I can definitely be that to the glory of God. And you were not put on this earth for your own plan. We were put on this earth for God to accomplish his plan for our lives, whatever they may be, for his glory. And what an honor!

I have learned that God wants me to start noticing beauty again. Somehow in the business of life, I lost the awe. I used to watch the sunset every night in college and sitting on the back porch of my first apartment. But after awhile, I stopped noticing it so much. Now, I find beauty in my day in the gifts of nature, God’s people, his provision, his love, his grace. God puts so much beauty into our lives and I was missing it! Are you missing it? God also wanted me to find beauty in his Word again and become more acquainted with his Spirit. Reading the Bible before seemed like such a chore, but now I love my time with God. He has helped me deepen my prayer life by leaps and bounds and I am so grateful. I pray the same for each of you reading this.

Onto the not-so-pleasant lessons. I have learned that years of unfelt and unexpressed pain wreaks havoc on body, mind,and soul. I knew my stubborn need for control was not good, but I never would have guessed the extent and length of time I’ve refused to let go. I didn’t realize it could completely wreck a body and now I will live with the consequences for the rest of my life. God is slowly teaching me how to feel things as they come and also how to lament pain from many years ago. Ironically, I am also learning that I am an extremely emotional person. That’s almost laughable because of how long I’ve convinced myself and others of the opposite. Everything seems to move me, good or bad. God has given me a very sensitive and deeply-loving heart so I guess I should just own it! For better or for worse, I’m learning that is the real me. It’s hard, but I’m trying not to be embarrassed by it. That may take awhile! Have you discovered the real you? Are you being the real you or are you hiding? If you are keeping the real you from the rest of the world, we are missing out on you. Have you ever thought of it that way? We are missing out on the person God created you to be and the way in which he intended you to impact the world. I pray that we all learn to let go and allow God to use us for his purpose.

I’m learning that I have very deep-seated trust issues. I’ve been trying to control everything to protect my own heart for so long that I have never known the freedom, relief, and healing that comes from fully trusting my whole heart to God. I thought I trusted him, but the fact that I continue grasping at control has shown me that I do not. When my plan doesn’t work out, I lose hope very quickly. When the treatment I thought would make me better doesn’t work, I despair. But you’ll notice I said “MY plan”. Once I learn to embrace God’s plan for me, the joy that gets me through the hard times is indescribable. Slowly but surely, God is teaching me that he is the most trustworthy companion in my life. He is chipping away at my protective walls and I see the light of freedom up ahead. How beautiful it is! I pray that this freedom is made known to you!!

The other day, the song “From the Inside Out”, by Hillsong came on the radio and I realized that is what God is doing for me. He wants to heal me from the inside out. He wants me to let go of the protection of my heart and allow him to be the protector instead. God wants to give me a healing memory for each painful memory. He wants to show me that he was with me even in the past hurts and he can still heal those hurts today. Many of you know that I love sunrises, sunsets, and sun rays. Something about the sky reminds me that God is so amazing that he has all of us held in his hands and still has the power and love to paint us a beautiful picture every day. Something about the sun rays reminds me that he is with me. You may also remember my description of my first panic attack. I remember exactly where I was and how it felt to ride in an ambulance to a hospital where everyone who cared about me was hours away in any direction. I was in the car near the Weston, West Virginia exit and I truly thought I was dying. It’s why the majority of my panic attacks happen in the car and my chest still tightens when I near that exit. Thanks be to God, I was finally able to visit my hometown again recently for the first time in a long time. On the way back, sun rays beamed from the sky for the entire nine-hour trip. And where they shone most beautifully was… Weston, West Virginia. I realized right then that God was giving me a new memory to heal the pain of a heartbreaking one. That doesn’t mean I will forget. It’s hard to forget something like that. But it does mean that my chest won’t tighten so much when I’m in the car and I’ll smile the next time I pass that exit because I will remember that God was with me then just as he is with me now. He was mending that piece of my broken heart back together with his loving, strong, healing, unbreakable bond.

Mostly what I have learned this year is that God IS working and has always been working in my life. God knew even twenty years ago during my first real grief experience that I would be completely stubborn about not expressing my pain. He knew that if he did not eventually allow my world to crumble, I would never heal. Everything I thought I could control had to fall apart so that I could see who was always constant. I needed to see God waiting for me to run to him when I was finally forced to stop fighting. The clearest picture God has given me of myself this past year deeply moves me. I see a stubborn, angry child on the floor of her bedroom, kicking and screaming, fighting for what she believed she wanted and furious at the world for taking it away. I see that awful day when I screamed hateful things at God for my perception of a ruined life. But I also see a picture of a parent kneeling on the floor trying to comfort a deeply-hurting child, getting kicked and hurt in the process, heart breaking for being blamed for something he knows is best. I see God, trying to comfort me and hold me as I try to fight my way out of his arms and spew hurtful things at him in my heartbreak. I see him soothing me, rocking me, and singing over me with the love of a Father. He loves me even when I hurt him. How can I withhold my love from him when I am hurting?

God wants to heal my memories and my heart. He wants all of me, from the inside out. He wants all of us from the inside out. Our Father goes with us into 2017, rejoicing with us in the happiness and comforting us in the sadness. Through the good and bad, he holds his children. I pray that we feel his presence in ways we never thought possible this year and that we remain in awe of the beauty. Blessings on your New Year!

Love,

~Karina

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Ending the Pretending

Have you ever received a gift that you know came straight from God? It could have been an actual physical gift, financial assistance right when you needed it, or even a word of encouragement at the perfect time. I’ve been incredibly blessed to receive many of these gifts lately. It’s amazing, humbling, and sometimes downright staggering to see how clearly God is speaking to me. From leading me to the best possible counselor for me, to words of encouragement from friends, to sermons that speak almost word for word what I’ve been wrestling with in my heart, to songs with messages I need to hear, I am overwhelmed by God’s clear and audible presence in my life right now. All of these gifts have been encouraging me to be more honest and real with my emotions and who I really am. Like I said in my previous posts, that makes me extremely uncomfortable and I have honestly been very tempted to give up and run the other way. But when God speaks, as scary as it may be, I don’t want to miss the opportunity to hear.

Right in the middle of all of these neon “share your feelings” and “be real” signs, God decided to make it even clearer to me by dropping the book, “No More Faking Fine“, by Esther Fleece, into my life. Really, God? I hear ya! I was chosen to be on the launch team for this book, which comes out January 10. I knew just from the title that I would be in for the ride of my life. You know a book is going to impact you when you start underlining even in the forward. This book has given voice to my very heart and opened my eyes to new ways of thinking and healing.

“No More Faking Fine” is a true story portraying Esther’s journey through learning how to lament. She had a very difficult childhood and received a “suck it up” message at a young age. She learned to keep all of her feelings inside and thought that moving past her pain without feeling it and keeping busy meant that everything was “fine”. But she realized that pain doesn’t just disappear. It turns into far more dangerous things like anxiety, depression, etc. That is when Esther discovered the necessity of lament.

Lamenting is being honest with God about our feelings when we go through difficult times. Esther talks about our temptation to cover up our feelings, even in churches, because we think that being unhappy gets in the way of our joyful gospel message. However, there are many laments in the Bible so it doesn’t make sense that we would leave lament out of our own lives. Esther says in the very beginning that she wrote this book to give us permission to feel, to weep over our circumstances even while knowing that God is still with us through them.

She says, “For so much of my life, I thought sucking it up and faking away the pain showed true strength. But real strength is identifying a wound and asking God to enter it”. This is exactly where I am in my healing process right now. I have realized that my perceived strength of not allowing myself to feel has caused panic attacks, depression, constant anxiety, and yes, even health problems. But here is the great news. “[God’s] omnipresence means He is present even in our past, and even now, He can speak healing over the wounds we are trying so hard to leave behind. We can lament something in the past in order to receive health in the present.” This is what I was explaining to you in my last post and what I am attempting to do right now. I am trying to invite God into my past wounds, to help me feel the pain and to allow him to heal me from the wounds. It is messy and painful, but it is honest and healing at the very same time. As Esther describes in her book, it is impossible to heal without feeling the pain.

Another important concept in her book is that we need to allow ourselves to lament if we are going to be able to help others in their lament. If we are to “mourn with those who mourn”, we won’t be very good at it unless we learn to weep ourselves. She talks about our tendency to compare our pain to others’ and convince ourselves that our pain is not that bad. She says, “‘It’s not really a big deal’ are words we will never hear out of the mouth of God. That phrase only tells me we hold ourselves to higher expectations of ourselves in grief that God Himself does.” Just because our pain is different does not mean it is not just as important to God. He will never tell us to suck it up because we think someone else has it worse than us!

“We are so quick to get to the beauty that we skip over the brokenness or have a hard time seeing beauty arise amidst brokenness.”  I feel like this could be the theme for my blog. This whole thing is about me wrestling with my brokenness to find beauty. Without the brokenness, the beauty would not be quite so beautiful. As we draw nearer to God in our brokenness, we allow him to hold us through it all. Without our pain, we would miss the intimacy of God. Suffering makes us feel like we have lost control and often our automatic tendency is to push the pain away and act like all is well in order to feel like we have some control. But losing control is the perfect opportunity to allow God to finally have us. It is a holy process, this letting go. And without it, we can never truly heal. “Lamenting is a painful process. But it is even more painful to live a life of pretended strength, of keeping God an arm’s length away because you’re shutting down the conversation with a ‘fine’.” I want God to be as close to me as possible, even if the process of him getting there is painful.

The passage that impacted me the most was this. “God is lovingly and powerfully present with us in our laments, but sometimes that knowledge needs to be enough. Sometimes we need to learn to love God more than the happy ending we hope for.” WOW. This was like an arrow to my heart. I’ve been searching for happiness for so long that I’ve been disappointed in God because of all the pain. My heart needs to draw nearer to him in the pain rather than running around searching for happy. It is only then that I can find true healing.

Esther weaves the hope of healing throughout this entire book, but she ends by telling us how we will recognize the end of a lament. When the lament is over, we will begin to hear and sing a new song of praise that we would not have been able to hear prior to the pain. She says, “After spending the majority of my life sucking it up and stuffing my true emotions as far down as I could, I can say this genuinely: lament has given me my voice back. I can groan and cry, dance and shout, praise and sing. I’m singing now, because I know He was with me in the storm, and He celebrates seeing my faith make it out to the other side.” As someone who feels God speaking most through song-writing, this excites me to no end! I cannot wait for my new song!!!

As a member of the launch team for this book, I felt like it was part of my ‘job’ to write about it, but it turned out to be my absolute privilege to share this gift with you. This book has impacted me more than any I have ever read and I will be referring to it many times throughout my continued journey. Don’t forget to pick up your copy of No More Faking Fine January 10. Pre-ordering is also available now. Thank you all for joining me in my lament. I can’t wait to share the new song God gives me when the healing is complete!

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Wonderful Counselor

"Because sometimes that's what has to be done. You have to lay down with it. The hurt. Or the heartache or even the hate. Whatever is inside. Sometimes you have to get close to it. Taste it and understand it so you can define it, before it defines you." - JmStorm

I used to be a therapist. It was my first job in my Social Work career. It’s a common statement that all therapists should have therapists, but I had no idea how to be on the other side. It completely stumped me. I realized that, even though I tried with all my might to get my teenagers to open up about their feelings, I had no idea how to express my own. So, I didn’t. And I thought that would be OK. I thought that not expressing emotions even made me a better therapist because I could listen to someone’s intense pain without breaking down. I created a rock-solid wall around myself because I was so afraid of getting my heart broken. And I thought that made me strong. But instead, I was so very weak. You cannot simply avoid pain. It has to go somewhere. And, even though I told myself I wasn’t affected (ha!), the pain piled up inside my fortress started to leak over the walls. It had to go somewhere, and because I had long-since been unable to let myself release the pain in a healthy way, it turned into panic attacks. As a therapist, I knew that meant it was past time to ask for help.

I’m not sure how I thought I would get any better by simply going to therapy without actually engaging in therapy, but I sure tried! I went to a few sessions but I was completely unwilling to explore the pain pile-up. In fact, attending therapy actually increased my panic attacks. I now know that was because I had a deep-seated fear of my fortress being attacked and leaving me vulnerable to the pain. I wanted to just ignore it, and hoped that by doing so, it would magically disappear. It doesn’t work that way…

I made the excuse to myself that the therapist was looking down on me (I still really think she may have been), I told myself I was fine and didn’t need her anyway. Change of scenery. I thought when I stopped being a therapist and got a job that I loved, all would be well. Instead, my panic attacks followed me. So, I gave it a good four years before I tried again. You know, just to make sure! This time I found a therapist about my age who was still in the licensure process and inexperienced. I thought maybe I could open up to someone who was less likely to look down on me. Yes, my brain has an interesting logic sometimes. I am not knocking this therapist at all. In fact, I really liked her. I could sort of think of her as a friend instead of a therapist. The problem was, I wasn’t opening up to any of my friends either. This therapist tried, but she was just so inexperienced. I was able, with very little effort, to evade her attempts at cracking my walls. I told myself she helped me heal but really, I just WANTED to believe that I was healed. I wanted it to be over. I’m not saying she didn’t help, but the way she helped was to encourage me to write in a journal about my experiences on my own. So, I did. I wrote about each and every kid and my experiences working with them. I wrote about each painful experience in my recent life. One after the other, I wrote and I prayed. I prayed for each teenager and I prayed for my own heart, thinking that by writing I was releasing the pain. I told myself and my therapist that I was healed. I believed I was healed because that’s what I wanted to believe. But, that’s not how it works either…

In all fairness, I would have kept seeing her but, by that time, my health had taken a disastrous turn. I kept having to cancel on her at the last minute, which wasn’t fair to her and technically against policy. So, I told her I needed to get my physical health under control before I could continue working on my mental health. But, that’s not now it works either…

So, I gave it just a year this time. If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you already know that during that year, my life had pretty much fallen apart. I lost my health, my career, our financial stability, friends, my sanity (well, almost). The thought had been nagging me that I really needed help getting through this but I dismissed it due to finances and, if I’m honest, being completely terrified. See, I knew deep down that my walls were crumbling under the weight of the pain I told myself I was getting rid of, when I was really just shoving it down to make room for more. You can only do that for so long before you start to break and I knew it. And it terrified me. The thought of someone finally seeing all the garbage inside of me, and forcing me to rifle through it, was completely revolting and horrifying. I knew that this time I wasn’t going to be strong enough to fake a healing. I knew I was actually going to have to let myself feel all the pain if I was going to heal. Oh, I craved healing! I longed to finally be me to the world even though it simultaneously filled me with fear, and still does.

So, I started praying. My husband and I started asking God that if this was in his plan for me that he would provide the funds for it. Right about that time, insurance sent me an unexpected check from some treatment I didn’t think they would cover, and my husband got a great second job. That’s when we knew that since God was being faithful on his end, I had to follow through on mine. I was still too afraid to pick up the phone. The final straw was a stress that God was using to bring up all kinds of unhealed memories and I knew I couldn’t go through those memories again without help. I considered going back to my last therapist because it was the safest way to go. But, healing is not safe.

I felt myself being led to Christian Counseling instead. My two previous therapists were Christians and they were counselors, but they weren’t Christian Counselors. By code of ethics, they were not allowed to discuss God or lead prayers unless I brought it up. I really felt I needed to be led to and through God’s truths instead. I began to truly believe in my heart that my healing could not fully happen unless God was the Healer, standing at the very center of it all. I needed the real Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6). I needed my counseling to be absolutely saturated with him. So, I scheduled an appointment with a Christian Counselor and I prayed. I simultaneously feared that this would be like all of the other attempts at healing and that it would not. I told exactly three people that I was going to this appointment and needed them to pray that I would have the strength to walk through the door. I shook the whole way, but I walked in.

And what I found were the arms of God, wide open and waiting for me to explore the truth. My counselor prays with me and for me before and after the session. She reads Scripture to me and proclaims God’s truths over my life. She constantly invites the Holy Spirit to guide us in the healing process. And that’s certainly what it is, a process. It is not all hearts and flowers. In fact, it’s incredibly painful. Now that I am finally exploring and trying to allow myself to feel the hurt, at least 20 years of pain is hitting me all at once. I hate it. I want to quit. I’m not kidding. It is a struggle every week for me to go. But, here’s how God works. The very next Sunday after my first session, my counselor started attending our church, and sitting in the same vicinity as us. I know that if I quit going to counseling, I still cannot hide from her. Hilarious, God. Hilarious!

I want to, and sometimes still desperately try to, collect and patch up the bricks that are tumbling out of my crumbling fortress. But they’re falling too fast and I am broken. So broken. And God is showing me that perhaps I need to stay broken for awhile. After all, moving past all of the pain is what caused my problems in the first place. Oh, how it hurts! But, every week God gently picks me up off the floor and carries me through the door again. He is revealing things to me that I didn’t even know were there and he sits with me in the pain. He holds me when I cry and takes the punches when I get angry. He listens when I talk and he hears my heart when I can’t find the words. He is trying desperately to teach me who I am. He is introducing me to myself! I am not made for fear. I am not on this earth to constantly beat myself up. I am God’s child, created in his image. He did not make me flawed. And if I finally let it, his perfect love will cast out my fear. I am learning that I have to feel pain before I can heal. It is possible to ignore pain for 20 years. But it will eventually eat me alive. It’s already taken a big bite.

So, here I sit with my God, his Word, and his love, watching as piles of pain flow out and through my walls and through me. Sometimes I think it’s too much and I want to push it back in but it’s too late. The avalanche has already begun and there’s nothing I can do but feel it. And the whole time I know God’s heart feels it with me. His heart holds mine. Even when I throw tantrums, even when I grow numb, especially when I cry, he holds his child. It is my opportunity to feel well-loved by God. And what better love could be possible? THAT’S how it works.

"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he that listens to counsel is wise." - Proverbs 12:15
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Musings on the Dance of Life

There’s a practice in ballet and other kinds of dance called “spotting”. During spins, it is used to prevent dizziness and when standing on toes, it is used to keep steady balance.  Basically, the dancer chooses a spot on the wall she is facing, or the wall she is heading toward and keeps her eyes fixed on that spot. On stage during my ballet days, it was usually the Exit sign! The idea is for the dancer to keep her eyes on this spot until the last second before a spin and snap her head around back to that spot again after the spin. In this video, you will see how the dancer’s head is the last thing to leave before a spin and the first thing to arrive back to her spot again after the spin. When balancing on toes, it is essential to focus fully and sharply on one spot or the dancer will lose her balance.

I was a slow learner in ballet, but I learned this practice very quickly out of necessity. It’s difficult to describe the dizziness that results from not spotting while spinning, or the lack of balance that occurs without focus. If I took my eyes off of my spot for just a second, I would start to wobble and sometimes even fall. And wherever I was looking during a spin was where I was headed. If I was looking at the floor, I was headed for a fall. If I was looking at the wrong spot, I would veer off course into the path of the other dancers, causing them to stumble. But if my eyes were straight ahead, I could not go wrong.

ballet

Yep, that’s me in the picture. And I guarantee that I am focusing hard on something in order to remain still and balanced or this picture would have had a much different story to tell.

Sometimes the world feels like it’s spinning out of control and I’m barely hanging on by my tip toes. The only way to keep from falling is to focus hard on my Source, my Creator, my Anchor. When I try to hang on myself, I take my eyes off of Him and careen out of control. My heart gets bruised and battered from the falls. I’ve lost my Anchor, my God, in the spin. And once I’m off balance, it’s very difficult to get back on. Fixing my eyes on God keeps me steady. I need my Source to be more important to me than anything else or I am going to fall. I am going to veer off course and potentially take others with me on this dance of life.

I am reminded of A. W. Tozer who said in his book, The Pursuit of God, “Make heaven more real to me than any earthly thing has ever been.” Amen! How I long for that to be true! I think one of the purposes of this life is to work for that to be true. I want God to be more real to me than anything on this earth because this earth is only temporary. If I keep my eyes on my Source, my God, He is where I am headed. But if I take my eyes off of him for just a second, earth becomes more important than him and I am falling. I am careening off course and finding it even more difficult to get back on.

I was sitting in my favorite spot awhile ago, overlooking an absolutely breathtaking view. The leaves were bright and falling softly all around me. The sun was glistening through the trees as they swayed in the breeze. I watched as butterflies played next to me on the flowers. I was in awe and at peace. Suddenly, I was distracted by the blisters on my hands. It’s hard not to be distracted when they start popping out everywhere and itch terribly during a flare. Then I started thinking about the rest of my illness and wondering if I will ever be well. Pretty soon I was so inwardly focused that I was ignoring the beauty all around me. And I do this so often! It’s difficult for me to focus on God when the physical is just so real and painful! Right about that time, God smacked me in the head with an acorn! He snapped me out of my downward/inward spiral and reminded me to keep looking up at him so that I won’t fall into the darkness. I thank God for steadying me with his love. I thank him for being so real in my life! Even if he has to smack me around a bit to get me to focus, I’m OK with that! I am so thankful for the experiences I have that make him more real to me than anything on earth, and I look forward to the time when he is ALWAYS more real to me than anything else.

This life gets in the way. I allow it to get in the way. I allow it to disturb my focus and throw me off balance. The physical and emotional pain take my breath away when that astonishment should be reserved only for God. He is my Source and my Anchor who keeps me balanced. There is nothing more beautiful and wonderful on which I could fix my eyes. We are so blessed to have the most beautiful ‘Spot’ on which to focus!

And there are times when it is OK to fall because God is our dance partner. Falling is an act of trust, knowing that we will be caught by the steadiest of hands. When we are in God, we fall into his arms. He is our Anchor and our Safe Place. We can stop focusing on the things of this world that only throw us off balance, and we can fall into the loving arms of God. Stop clinging to it all, and fall.

Fall

Peace, My child, I am here.
Calm, My child. I hold it all.
Be still, My child and do not fear.
Rest, My child. I won't let you fall.

Except into my loving arms
Just fall into my saving arms
My arms are there to catch you
Don't be afraid to let go
And I'll keep you soaring higher
Stop clinging to it all, and fall.

Strength, My child for my glory.
Be brave, My child. I walk with you.
Sing, My child. I gave you my story.
Trust, My child. There's nowhere to run to.

I know right now you don't understand
But I've got you held in my loving hands
And I'm always working my perfect plan
So I'm waiting for you now to run...

I am blessed that God gave me a new song called Fall. You can listen to it here.
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I’ll Go Walking, and Leaping, and Praising God!

There was once a man who was born crippled. He was now over forty years old so he had been living with a broken body for many years, begging just to eek out a living. Can you imagine just sitting there, day after day, unable to move while people pass by? I would not be surprised if there were times when he just wanted to give up except that his life depended on the alms for which he begged.

One day, this man begged from someone who gave him something far greater than money. You likely know the story from Acts 3, and perhaps even the Bible School song that goes along with it. “Peter and John went to pray. They met a lame man on the way. He asked for alms and held out his palms and this is what Peter did say. ‘Silver and gold have I none, but what I have I give you. In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’ He went walking, and leaping, and praising God!”

You want to know the irony in this story? The gate that this man sat in front of day after day in all of his brokenness was called… Beautiful. This Temple gate was likely called Beautiful because it was made of Corinthian brass. When the City of Corinth was burned, many statues of brass, gold, and silver melted and ran together forming what was then called Corinthian brass. This metal was valued even more than gold or silver and was used to construct the Beautiful gate. The gate was likely the largest and most ornate of the Temple gates, some say requiring the strength of twenty people to open and close it (Ellicott’s Bible Commentary). Just imagine something that grand. It’s not a wonder the gate was called Beautiful. It lived up to its name. Can you imagine sitting in front of something so exceedingly beautiful with such an exceedingly broken body? I can.

Day after day, I sit in this broken body with its broken heart and broken dreams. Sometimes I do feel paralyzed by suffering. I beg for a few alms of hope. Hope to survive, hope for healing. And the whole time. THE WHOLE TIME, I sit in front of the Beautiful. When I am looking for it, God makes it clear that I am never removed from His Beauty. I am broken, crippled so that I can’t move away from the Beauty even if I try. That is the biggest gift my God has given me through this illness. He’s halted me so that I am able to just sit and stare at his splendor. Opening my eyes to God’s beauty sure messes up my pity party!

God has given me eyes to see the gifts that are all around me and even in my illness. I have the gift of time. I am able to focus on the things that matter most in this life, rather than pouring myself into the things that he’s teaching me just aren’t that important. I’ve been given the gift of re-aligning my purpose with God’s purpose for me. Amazing! I’m a slow learner but he is revealing to me more about my purpose as we go along on this journey together, which is how he meant life to be from the start. I have been given the gift of appreciation. I appreciate the ‘little things’ so much more than I used to, and have realized that sometimes they are actually the big things. My illness has given me more opportunities to learn about myself and who God wants me to be. God is giving me His strength through this journey, which is an incredible gift in itself. Through this illness, he is giving me the gift of broken walls, opening my heart to so much that I had closed it to in the past. I believe that God has given me new eyes to read this story in Acts, and new eyes to see his beauty in my life. I can’t help but wonder if the man in the story noticed the beauty or if he was too consumed with his brokenness. I want to keep searching, moment by moment, for beauty in my brokenness. So, day after day, I sit in front of the Beauty, I bask in the Glory, I soak in the Presence, I adore my God who sits with me.

And then one day, my persistence and faith will be rewarded. “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see” (Acts 3:16). I get chills when I read that! In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, I WILL BE HEALED. The Name of Jesus Christ will give COMPLETE healing to me. So. Much. Emotion! And when this happens, I promise there will be much walking and leaping and praising God!!!!!! In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, I WILL RISE UP AND WALK. Once I have learned to appreciate true beauty, which can be found even in brokenness, once I can see God in my rubble, never taking him for granted, I will be blessed with true healing, a healing that is far greater than health. Hallelujah.

I’ll go walking, and leaping, and praising God…..

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What Do You Need?

Recently, after a church service, a friend tried to break my ‘shell’. And to her credit, she came pretty close. She hugged me until I started to crack and a tiny amount of my feelings came out through the cracks in my armor. She asked how I was doing and I kept saying, “I’m OK”, trying to make her believe it. But the tears in my eyes betrayed me and she kept saying, “No, you’re not”. The only thing I could finally say was, “I’m having a flare.” But that’s not the whole reason I was having a ‘moment’. I’ve had flares before, many of them. In fact, some could argue that the whole last two years of my life have been a flare. So I’m not sure why that’s all I could think to say in the moment. I think I was just feeling very fragile about everything that’s going on in my mind and heart, as well as my body. Illness takes a massive toll on every aspect of life and sometimes the feelings just well up and threaten to overflow. Plus, God was speaking to me in a very real way that day and the blessings and intimacy of God always heighten my emotions.

The next thing my friend asked was, “What do you need?”, and the question almost completely stumped me. I responded with something like “I don’t know”, or “Nothing”, which is such a lie. I’m sorry, friend, for lying! I don’t mean to, but it’s such a habit. What I should have immediately said was, “prayer”, because that’s the only thing that came to mind. I’m so thankful that people are praying for me even when I’m too stubborn to ask.

For whatever reason, or I should say most likely for a God reason, the question has been with me ever since. What DO I need? I have sat and wrestled with the question, and God is slowly revealing the answers to me. I touched on this subject a little bit in a previous post called Food, Fellowship and the Isolation of Chronic Illness, but I will further address it here in hopes of giving voice to the needs of those of us who live with chronic illness.

First and foremost is the obvious answer. I need God. Every waking moment, I need to be reminded of him and his presence and every sleeping moment I need him to hold me and preside over my dreams. I truly have everything I need if I have God, because everything else is provided by him.

Along the same lines, I need prayer. I need people to speak to God on my behalf, to pray for a complete healing if that is his will, but also to pray for my strength, comfort, and peace if it is not his will. I am beyond blessed to already have people in my life whose faithful and fervent prayers for me consistently lift my head. I am awed and humbled by prayers uttered on my behalf. I consider prayer very intimate and it amazes me and touches me deeply that others would mention me during their time with God.

Now, here’s where I kind of get stuck. What else do I actually need? In a practical way, my husband and I often have a financial need, although it would take another blog post entirely to describe the ways in which God has been faithfully providing for that need. From providing my husband with the perfect second job (even though I struggle with the fact that it was necessary and feeling like the burden is all on him and worrying about his stress – I’m a slow learner when it comes to worries), to receiving gifts from the beautiful people of God shortly after getting behind on the bills, to health insurance very unexpectedly covering some of my Functional Medicine treatment, God is providing. I am unable to fully express my gratitude to him and to his people who are willing to be his hands and feet to bless us.

In addition to the physical needs, and perhaps sometimes more important than the physical needs, are my mental and emotional needs. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t like to explore this subject, but I do feel it necessary if I am ever going to reach complete healing (remember, healing is not necessarily health). What I need in this regard is to know that people care, however that looks. I need encouragement in whatever form, but a major love language for me is words. I hold onto words of encouragement for a very long time after they are spoken. They are life-giving to me. Even more amazing is when someone goes to God on my behalf and comes back with his words to speak to me. I can’t even describe how much words mean to me – written, spoken, quoted – I take each one to heart. And I need these words often. Illness is like a roller coaster on all levels. I could be flying high one moment and the very next feel like my feet have been kicked out from under me. So there is ALWAYS a good time for encouragement. I also still need to feel needed, like I still have something to offer the world. Encouraging me to remember that, and inviting me to share in your own struggles is also very much appreciated.

Sometimes this ‘care’ comes in the form of your presence, whether that be face to face, or heart to heart. Sometimes words are not necessary, especially if God doesn’t give you any. I very much understand the desire to fix things, to do SOMETHING, or to say SOMETHING, but sometimes things need to stay broken for awhile in order to reveal God’s purpose and teachings. In those moments, I just need you to be present with me and walk through it with me. Learn from God along with me through prayer and spending time with me in conversation or even in silence.

Sometimes things get so overwhelming. My thoughts race and my emotions rise as I desperately try to force them down. I hesitate to write this because I’m afraid someone might actually succeed in doing it, but at some point I may need someone to hug me until I break (very nice try yesterday, friend!), to understand that I am not OK, and to allow me to not be OK. But don’t get too frustrated if I try to fight it. Habits die hard and I may not be ready to break.

In all of these things, what I need is for you to try to understand. I know it’s hard. I know you don’t know what to do or say. I know you grieve the loss of your healthy friend. But understand that, by the grace of God, I am healing. It may not be in the way we hope or pray, but the journey is packed full of blessings and miracles. I would love for you to share in them with me.

And thank you. Thank you so much for asking the questions!

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2

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When Healing Doesn’t Look Like Health

As defined by dictionary.com, “health” is soundness of body or mind, freedom from disease or ailment. The definition of “healing” is growing sound, getting well, mending. You’ll notice that healing does not necessarily mean restoring health. It is very possible to heal without wellness of body. Possible, but not at all easy.

When people get sick, it’s an automatic reaction to think that one day they will be healthy again. I don’t think anyone ever expects that one day they will become ill and never get better. My illness started with chronic sinus infections and asthma. At the time I don’t even think I realized how chronic they were until people would start exclaiming that I was always sick. I would just take my meds, suck it up, and continue living my life as usual. I always thought that I would get better. And then one day I didn’t. My illness morphed into, among other things, constant stomach issues causing me to lose weight at an alarmingly rapid rate. There has not been one single hour in the past two years that I have been free from stomach pain, nausea, worries, or other related problems.

Although much of the time I struggle to believe that I will be healthy again before I reach my eternal home, I do believe that I am healing. If you could feel what is going on in my body, you would not think that I am healing. But if you could see what is going on in my heart, you would know that I am. I am experiencing a more important healing than bodily healing. I am “growing sound” on my Foundation, my Creator God who heals my heart and life a little more each day. I am “getting well” spiritually, learning/being forced to rely on His strength to live each day. And I am “being mended” by a God who takes the broken pieces of my heart, my dreams, my goals, my past and slowly stitches them back together into His heart, His dreams, His goals, HIS LIFE. Hallelujah.

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." - Psalm 147:3

Please do not hear me say that this process is pleasant. Far from it. In fact, this is the most painful experience of my life. Through much complaining and exhaustion, I cry out for mercy over and over. But if I could go back and start over, without having to go through this process, I would not do it. Being healthy without actually being healed is just not important to my eternal soul. The healing is too eternally valuable to miss.

How ironic to be healed through shattered health, but that is what God is doing.

So what does healing look like, if it doesn’t look like health? For me, healing looks like seeing God in everything. Healing looks like slowing down. Healing looks like kindred spirits who walk with me in understanding. Healing looks like sun rays, sunrises, and sunsets. Healing looks like honesty. Healing looks like learning to allow the tears to fall when they gather. Healing looks like an impulsive hike to a waterfall. Healing looks like an unexpected card or word of encouragement. Healing looks like time- time spent in nature, time spent in God’s word, time spent writing or being creative, time spent with a friend, time spent on my knees with my face to the ground in sorrow, praise, or worship. Healing looks like reflecting on the past and caring for old hurts. Healing may eventually look like the courage to walk through the door of a therapist’s office. Healing looks like doing for others and allowing them to do for me. Healing looks like walls falling down. Healing looks like a husband’s love and constant sacrifice. Healing looks like dog snuggles and hugs from those who care. Sometimes healing looks a bit like a dance. Two steps forward and one step back, or even one step forward and two steps back. Sometimes I’m a willing dance partner and sometimes I’m dragged around the floor kicking and screaming.

Healing always looks like Jesus, showing up in unexpected, ordinary or extraordinary, but always miraculous ways. 

"But perhaps in our zealous quests to live long and prosper, we have confused Jesus' invitation to be made well with our own desire for fully cured bodies, and in doing so, we have altogether missed a deeper knowing of what it means to be healed by the Savior" - Jenny Simmons in Made Well

When I imagine myself fully healed, I am standing before God in Heaven. But if I am able to imagine a full healing before that time, I see a person completely in love and fully heart-connected to God. Someone who makes spending time with him a priority because she is communing with him all day long. I see someone who serves others with her entire strength. Someone who shines Jesus from her face because her heart cannot contain the depths of his love. Someone who is so connected to God that she cannot talk about any area of her life without talking about what he has done. That is the person I want to be, and that is the person God is healing me to be. I am a very blessed child of God because of this gift of healing he is giving me.

Healing is an amazingly beautiful process. It is also filled with much fear, pain, exhaustion, and tears. It’s going to take a lot more time, perhaps the rest of my life. But without the painful parts, I would miss the beauty. And I never, ever want to miss the beauty. The Healer is at work, and I am being healed.

"Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." - Isaiah 53:4-5
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