The Adventures of Bipolar Girl

Comfort for the Neurotic in All of Us

Day 23: And a One and A Two

Last night I cried my eyes out
in a room full of people.
It wasn’t planned.
In fact,
before I left my house
to drive to the other
side
I
purposely
removed a big wad
of tissue from my bag.

I was in a “good emotional place.”

I would have no need of it.

That was yesterday. Day 22.

The living room was packed
last night.
I couldn’t help
but think that I have
come
SO
far.

I have stepped so far outside
my bubble I might have to
think about subletting it.

Normally,
I hate the
talking portion
of  Worship Night.
Because I’ve got
social anxieties
among other things.
I usually don’t talk
to anybody if we are not
singing.
I retreat into my journal
or I write encouraging
notes to people.

But my omniscient
Father
in all his goodness
sent a person
for me to talk
to…
I mean
really talk
to.
I talked to
right up
until the time
they dimmed
the lights just
before we started
to sing.

I love singing.
I have even started
taking voice lessons
in order to be able to
more fully enter into
worship
so I was feeling
very present in the moment
and happy…

when a girl I know
comes over to me and
ask if she could pray for me.

I’ve only just met her recently.
She really doesn’t know me from Adam
or Bill or Bob
Yet what she felt compelled to share
with me and to pray over me
struck a chord.

I could feel my face heating up.
I could feel my nose starting to run.
I could feel tears started to trickle
down my face.
What I couldn’t feel was the
sudden eruption of sobs
that  burst
forth from somewhere
so deep inside me
that I had
no idea
that
that
was even
in there.

I stood in the middle
of an extremely
crowded room
of near strangers
and bawled my
eyes out.
And it wasn’t the
dainty little muffled
sobs of a tv heroine.
Mine were the gut
wrenching
soul
rending
sobs
of a person
who has been
hurt much.

I stood in the center
of a crowded room
and let a girl
I barely know
hug me and
hold me
while I cried
as if my world
were ending.

And in the middle of my storm,
I heard the words, “Let it all go.”
I might not have known
that those sobs were being
held back,
but God did.
The girl never uttered
a word as I cried.
In that instant I was alone
with my God.

I didn’t care that I was doing
the one thing I swore I’d never
do…
…but then I realized I
wasn’t “having a meltdown.”

While they had sprung from a place
deep inside me…
my tears weren’t hurting…
they were healing.
They were…
cathartic.

And then
the tears
subsided
almost as
Quickly as they
had come.

Someone handed me
a tissue and then
the moment
was over.
The storm
had passed.

After that,
I did retreat
into my journal
but only because
I needed to write
out my prayera
and my thoughts
to God about what
He had just walked
me through.

Evidently, I needed to cry,
so my omniscient,
omnipresent,
omnipotent
God
did what only
He could do:
He sent somebody
who would have
NO clue
to speak
directly
into my situation
as if she and I were
coffee buddies
who regularly shared
life’s secrets
over a cuppa.

I did not care what
anybody in the room
might have thought,
because while I was
standing there
crying in the center
of the storm
everybody in the room
had ceased to be.

It was if it was just
me and God
and the girl that
He’d sent to be
his arm by holding
me close and safe.
When she walked
away
I’d sat down.

I think I closed my
journal when they
started singing,
“I’m No Longer
a Slave to Fear…”
I’m not really sure.
But I do know what
I did next:

I couldn’t think of doing anything other than standing up in the same room full of near strangers and pouring out all the love I felt for God in song. They sang more choruses that I didn’t know… but I didn’t care. If I could cry like that and not care in a room full of people… surely it didn’t matter if I was singing off key and botching up the lyrics. The storm had passed and I was still standing. And I didn’t have to wait a day or so after the storm had passed before I stood up, lifted my hand and my voice while I unashamedly  danced in the rain.

That was Yesterday was Day 22. I was too tired to write about it last night. 

Tonight
Day 23 was a night of firsts.
I spent the evening with new friends.
I drove there by myself.
I didn’t worry about what I would say.
I overcame my initial discomfort and talked to people.
And then
they asked us to write something.
I felt like God had thrown me a life preserver.
I had a few moments to retreat on to paper
even if it wasn’t one of my journals.
From that point on the night took on new hues
for me.
I haven’t laughed so loudly or so deeply
in a very long while and God knew that
too.
I needed to laugh
so he sent a room full of women
whom I am coming to know
to be my friends and to share
in my joy.

There is so much more I could say about
both nights… but I’m exhausted.
I only slept around 4.5 hours.
Who knew that actually living life
instead of merely existing
could be so much fun
and so  tiring
at the same time???

Today is Day 23 and I’m about ready to list the bubble on craigslist.

Day 21: I’m NOT Breaking, I’m Bending…

We had a guest speaker in church today. I never know what to make of our guest speakers. Some of them have been awesome, while others have been… for lack of a better word… disturbing.

Thankfully, this guy was the former. His topic?? Giving Up Is Not an Option. It goes without saying that this message could have been intended specifically for me. I liked him because he was giving me something that actually spoke into my heart and into my needs. I liked it because “perseverance” has been a buzz word between me and Jesus since the day we met. I also liked it because I always tell my students that “Sleeping is NOT an option” in my class. It’s ok if they aren’t working on the assigned task, but they have to find a viable alternative. I also remind them that using their cell phones is the same as doing nothing in my book.

It would be so easy for me to give up right now on pursing the current vision and my future dreams in Christ because so many obstacles and the storms keep hitting me. But what other viable alternative is there really for me other than living my life following Jesus?? Since there isn’t one… this message was both a timely reminder as well as my new battle standard.

It’s been a LONG day and I am exhausted… but I know that going down a different road with Jesus is what made all the difference today. With the emotionally charged week that I had, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in church. Gone are the days where I would go into church after an emotionally draining week and proceed to have a full-on meltdown during the worship. PRAISE GOD those days are gone. I hated those days. I would be in a room full of people feeling myself about to implode and being totally incapable of stopping it. I felt weak and exposed. Trapped by an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God who had clearly set me up. I used to hate going to church just for that reason. Ok. There were other reasons why I used to hate going to church… but this ranked up there in the top two.

It was almost never a cathartic cry. It was generally that gut wrenching, nerve wracking feeling that people must feel when they are drowning. You want to struggle against it… but you know you’re going to get sucked down anyways. There were times when I would just run out of church because it just felt so painful. Being surrounded by all those happy slappy people singing praise songs to a God who knew all that I was struggling with and yet who wasn’t delivering me seemed to suggest some unsavory things about the God I had signed up to serve. Those days were so painful because I had not yet learned the secret of praising God in the middle of the storm.

I read an interesting quote today: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

I. LOVE. THIS.

It seemed to neatly sum up what our guest speaker had said. Since I’m exhausted, this is going to be really short. Given the fact that my life seems to have more than “a little rain” falling into it, it would behoove me to take both the message and the quote to heart. While much of what the speaker said resonated with me and I’m going to have to chew on that for a few days, tonight I’m going to settle on repeating his key points:

Giving Up Is NOT an Option

  1. Don’t throw away your confidence in God. ( Hebrews 10: 35-39)
  2. Persevere. The Christian walk isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. (Would you believe I only just understood all those biblical references TODAY?? I’m not an athlete. I never really made the connection until I listened to the speaker explain it today.
  3. Do the Will of God. (Roman 11:29) Do not grow weary or give up on what he’s called you to do. I really needed to hear this.
  4. Live by faith. (Hebrews 11:6, 4:2) He said that the challenges of today are overcome by today’s faith. He pointed out that in order for our faith to grow we need to exercise it.
  5. Believe. (1Corinthians 6:20) He used an illustration where he took a $20 bill and crushed it and crumpled it. He even stepped on it, but nothing diminished its value. I need to believe that nothing and nobody can diminish my value in Christ. I was bought at a great price and there are no returns or exchanges.

I learned some new things about myself  today too when he used a video about palm trees during a hurricane to illustrate Ps. 92: 12 which essentially points out that palm trees might bend… but they don’t break. I am like the palm tree in that I am resilient, persistent, tenacious. And if Psalm 92 is to be believed, then I am righteous, too. Righteous?? I would NEVER have applied that particular word to me after the life I’ve lived… but this is part of believing that I am who God says that I am. Because I am rooted and grounded in Christ, I am learning how to weather the storms that invariably come crashing into my life and I am handling them with grace and in faith. Maybe not at first… and definitely not all the time, but I’m a work in progress. I am learning what it means to worship him in Spirit and in truth. And I can say, in faith, “may be bending, but I’m not breaking.”

Today is Day 21 and I am learning how to dance in the rain.

Day 21

 

Day 20: I Couldn’t Think Up a Title…

There’s this story I like about a man who walks down a street and falls into a hole. The next day he walks down the same street and falls down the same hole. I don’t know how long this went on for… but the guy kept falling into the same hole… until one day he decided to go down a different street.

Lately, all the roads I have to travel seem to be under construction. I’m not trying to be all deep here… pretty much every road that I have to drive down between my home and my job are under some sort of construction, complete with construction workers with signs telling you to “Slow Down” or “Stop.”

The road closest to my job is the best one. It used to be full of pukas (what they call “holes’ in Hawaii). They used big yellow trucks to scoop up the old road to reveal an even older one beneath it that was dusty, and dirty but still very driveable. I liked kicking up all the dirt clouds as I drove on it. That’s about as close to “off roadin’ it” as I’m ever likely to get. The project was slow going and each day they would scoop up a bit more old road, and then lay down new road. And what a road it is!! It’s all smooth and the black top has that brand spakin’ new look to it. The divider lines are so bright they still look wet. I like roads that are clearly marked and easy to drive on. Smooth sailing…

The road nearest my home is the worst. It’s all bumpy now and there are metal plates that you have to slow down to drive over. Traffic is usually backed up and driving on the road is jarring. Depending on the time of day, the delay could be a long time. A few days ago, I decided I didn’t like driving down that road because it was uncomfortable. I took a side street that is not only construction free, but has considerably fewer cars on it. I LOVE fewer cars. I’m going to take this road even after the construction is complete… because it’s there and I can. We are free to take a different road. We don’t have to go the way we’ve always gone… especially if it’s bumpy and emotionally jarring.

Now if I wanted to get all deep… I could point out the fact that for so many years I kept traveling down the same roads only to fall into the same kinds of holes. I’m sure if you dig hard enough you’ll find a few blog posts that I devoted to just that very topic. It’s true though. In true Israelite fashion, I seemed to keep doing lap after lap in the desert where I encountered the same kinds of problems that I kept handling in the exact same way. Was there any real surprise when I kept ending up in the same dysfunctional holes??!

My faith was going from lukewarm to whatever comes just before lukewarm because I needed to make changes in my life and how I handle it, but I wasn’t… handling it or making changes. Enter The Plan back in October. My life literally depended on me submitting every aspect of my life to God – including the holes that I habitually fall into. I had to surrender my dysfunctional ways of coping with life’s problems and seek God’s plan for handling The Big Five areas of my life, and by doing so, my life started changing. I stopped falling into holes… or at least the ones that I have fallen into since then haven’t been so deep… so, climbing out hasn’t been all that hard.

A few days ago I posted about how trials just seem to roll into my life like waves. Some people might say that I’m putting “word curses” on myself by saying such things and base it on obscure scriptures that lack support. Others might call it “self-fulfilling prophecies” right before they dust off their Ouija boards. Since I don’t believe in such things, I consider it a statement of fact based on years of observation. If God wants to change my mind on this, he will… in his timing.

That, however, isn’t the point of this post.

My point is, the cyber “ink” hadn’t even dried on that other post when I got news that my sister, the one who loved me most, had suffered a stroke and was in the hospital. Now, granted, this didn’t happen to me... but it does impact me. And the road that I’ve traveled on since finding out has been amazing. I could have traveled an old road… the one where I start obsessing about her death (as if it had already happened) and start fearing fall out from our family (because, of course, they are thinking about how they can make me miserable at a time like this)… and I could have fallen into a big giant hole of regret, guilt, and depression.

“Why hadn’t I made more of an effort to witness to my sister?? Why had I let so many years go by without contacting her???” “What kind of Christian am I??!!!”

The guilt inducing thoughts could have come in waves.

“How will I cope with my family??? I am well and truly alone in the world now!” “Oh! Woe is my.”

The self-pitying and fearful thoughts could have come in on the next set.

“How could God let first my mom and NOW my beloved sister both die before allowing us to reconcile???!”

Bitter and angry thoughts would have come in stealthy-like… like a lion.

All those other thoughts would have taken me to the edge of the hole, and then bitterness and anger would have pushed me in. I have traveled down this road many, many times and have fallen into the same hole over and over again. Depression is a deep and dark hole. You see it up ahead smack dab in the road in front of you… but you are helpless to avoid it. It beckons like a siren and once you get sucked in the free fall is horrifying. You try to cushion your fall with alcohol or drugs or food or relationships… only to realize when it’s too late, that those things only make the hole deeper.

So then you start telling yourself that you don’t mind being in the hole. Nobody on the outside understand you, anyway. Staying in the hole is safer than trying to live in the real world. There are no expectations when you fall into a hole. If you accept the hole… you cannot be disappointed when you pray and ask God to get you out of it… and he doesn’t. I’m not saying that he won’t. I’m just saying that sometimes… he doesn’t. He leaves you in your hole or your jail cell or your sick bed, or your family tragedy. And you will have to choose which road you will travel on: will you end up in a hole or will you take a different road with Jesus leading the way??

I am SO thankful that I realized that I had a choice of roads today. One big fat wave hit me with the news of my sister’s health. The potential triggers inherent in this particular trial are glaring and yet, I got in my car at 6am on a Saturday and drove down a different road. I avoided the construction altogether and drove to the Stadium where I put on my new walking shoes (designed for people with foot issues)… and I turned on my new cellphone (which happens to have a healthy living app already pre-installed on it). Instead of staying in my room wallowing and fretting over my sister and our family… I literally walked down a different road.

I LOVE the healthy app on my phone. It told me how fast I was walking, where I was walking, how many miles I’d walked and it even told me when I was half-way there. When I met my goal (I didn’t actually set one, because I didn’t know that I could)… my phone was quick to tell me that I had been successful. I was able to check my heart rate, my stress level, and how much SP02 is in my blood (although I’m not sure what that is and why it’s important).

After my walk, I went to Jamba Juice and had a healthy sandwich and a juice instead of going to McDonald’s and getting a greasy McBreakfast. Then I drove to work. Praise God I had already planned on coming in to work today. I’d spent an hour talking to that student about Jesus after work yesterday and didn’t get any of my work done. I planned to come in a few hours today and ended up staying the entire day. I got so much stuff done and I just felt grounded.

God helped me put things into perspective this morning as I walked and as I worked in my class. My sister is in the hospital. She is not dead. I believe that there is hope and until God shows me otherwise, I’m going to keep praying because I believe that prayer changes things. I stopped at Whole Foods on the way home and got a salad (even though I’ve been dying for a slab of their pizza for three days). I did the stretches to help my tendonitis and then I took a shower.

The new road?? I’ve been taking care of myself. Bipolar Girl never used to do that when she could chose between healthy living and drama. I always used to choose the most dramatizing road imaginable and then charge head first down that one… so it was usually my own fault that I fell into so many holes. This morning I chose to go down a different road and that “has made all the difference.” Today is Day 20 and I was more functional and more stable than I’ve ever been,  even though a HUGE wave just crashed on my shores. Praise God for new road and new choices.

Day 20

Day 19: For God and Sisters

I spent an hour after school with a student reading the bible and talking about Jesus. This girl is a seeker. Here is a girl who is angry at the world, and from what little I know about her… I’d be angry too. I think that’s why I feel led to reach out to her even though she mashes a lot of my buttons. She is crying out for answers and the pat Christianesy ones that she’s gotten thus far are NOT helping.

A week or so ago she asked me for a bible. Good little Christian that I am… I gave it to her and explained how to use it and then sent her on her merry little way. I didn’t realize until later that I’d taken the easy way out. She had asked for a bible — so I gave her one. What she was really asking for was somebody to help her make sense of what she thinks she knows about being a follower of Jesus, because whatever she’s been doing isn’t working.

She is looking for truth and came to me because she thought I knew how to find it. A few days ago I had a chance to pray with her and another student. God ended up waking me up in the wee hours to tell me that he didn’t want me to just hand her a bible. I needed to show her how to use it. The Word of God is a powerful “double edged sword” that can cut through all kinds of crap – if you know how to use it… which she clearly doesn’t. The deceptions in her life are so glaringly obvious it sometimes hurts to look at her and the horribly bad choices she makes. Who gives a sword to a small child and then says, “Go and be well??” That’s essentially what I did by just giving her a bible. Giving her a spare bible wasn’t enough. I needed to give her my NLT bible. I needed to offer to read it with her and explain stuff to her. I needed to offer to disciple her.

When God first laid this on my heart I hesitated. I write stuff in the margins of my bibles. I didn’t want this firebrand reading my personal notes. The thought, however, became insistent, so I brought the bible to school today. And wouldn’t you know it… she was in a mood today and was tap dancing on my last nerve. I didn’t want to give her my bible. I wanted to smack her in the head with it. Instead of yelling at her like I wanted to do, however, I prayed. We ended up playing Upwords with two other students until class ended. Afterwards, I asked her to stay behind. I told her that I’d prayed for her and God wanted me to give her my bible and why. We ended up talking for an hour.

She had a lot of questions… and not the kind that would be satisfied with Christianese sound bytes. She needed more than me “loving on her” or telling her that Jesus loves her. She talked at length about the “Passion of the Christ” and was shocked that I hadn’t seen the movie. She knows about Jesus. What she really wants to know is why has Christianity not worked in her life? If Jesus really sets you free… why isn’t she free??

She’s not sure if she’s a Christian or not… and I’m not going to try to blow smoke up her butt and tell her that she is. I asked her if she believed that Jesus existed, to which she said, “Yes.” Good thing, since even demons do that. I asked if she believed that he was the Son of God, and she said that she wasn’t sure. When I asked her if she believed that he was God that’s when things really got interesting.

She wants the truth.

She wants somebody to show her where in the bible to find the truths that speak to her deeper needs. I’ve been “loving on her” the past two months’ worth of Saturdays by driving 45 minutes to school to pick her up and take her a special class held at the beach. She knows that I care for her… but all of that caring in the universe isn’t going to answer the questions that hold her back from fully surrendering to God. I’m not saying that showing love to people is bad or wrong, but if, in your quest to keep things so “seeker sensitive” that you “love on somebody,” but never share the truth of the gospel with them, then you are missing the point. Good News is meant to be shared.

And if you are not helping them to find truth through the hearing of the Word, then you are missing the point of the Great Commission. We are told to make disciples, not converts. It is great that people make “decisions for Christ,” but if that decision isn’t anchored in the truth… then it will be SO easy for that person to fall away because their faith is tethered to their feelings for a human person, some catchy worship songs, and warm fuzzy emotions. What happens when the feelings cool?

She doesn’t really know what she believes, so I encouraged her to find out. I told her that the only reason I continue to follow Jesus after all the crappy stuff that has happened to me over the course of my life is because I believe in him. You cannot take somebody’s beliefs from them.

After she left, I put my head down on the table. I felt like I’d run a race.

It wasn’t until I was home that I realized the race hadn’t even started. My niece emailed me, the one who contacted me back in November when I was coming off my meds. It threw me for a loop because part of The Plan was to avoid all family contact while I was being weaned off the lithium. I updated The Plan just yesterday and I thought about when I would contact her and what I’d say. I actually should’ve contacted her back in March, but I wasn’t ready.

Evidently, God thought that I was ready today.

She emailed me to tell me that one of my elder sisters (I have seven) had had a stroke and is in the hospital. When I read her email, I lost time. I have no idea what I did or how I felt. My relationship with my sister is complicated, but I love her.  I went through the motions of eating dinner because it was normal and I needed to be normal. When I felt like me again, I couldn’t help but think about how my mom went to her grave hating me. I couldn’t let my sister pass away without knowing that I love her; that I didn’t blame her; and that I had forgiven her a long time ago.

Since going to LA is out of the question… those sentiments might never be heard. I had to settle on sending my sister a text. My niece says it looks like she’s going to be in the hospital for a while. Good. That means she’s not on death’s back stoop. There is still time.

I let fear of rejection, fear of our family, fear of the past and of the future keep me from making more of an effort to connect with my sister. I wish that I could say that if she lives, this will change… but I’m still afraid.

When I talked to that student I taught her some big words. She likes learning big words.

Omnipotent.
Omniscient.
Omnipresent.

I explained what they meant and why it’s important that she know and believe that about God. I told her that he knows everything she’s thinking and that he is everywhere at once. I told her that he alone has the power to changes lives. And THAT is why I am not falling apart tonight. My God is totally in control. He knows I’m afraid for and afraid of my sister. Pretending with him is such a waste of time. Once I got past the numbness and the shock, I texted some friends and asked them to pray. I face-booked and invited my cyber community to pray. I pulled up online lyrics to songs and I praised God because, even if the worst case scenario happens and she dies, he is still God and is worthy of my praise and worship.

I prayed and thanked God for my sister and who she has been to me. I asked him to save her because I do not really know if she knows the Truth. And then, I came here, because a year from now I am going to want a record of this part of the journey and will be pissed at myself if I have to read, “Still breathing.”

My relationship with my sister is going to be forever changed after today. I want her to be reconciled to God more than I want her to be reconciled to me. Moreover… my relationship with my niece turned a corner today. Over the past few months as I’ve pursued healing, I’ve learned that it’s ok if it doesn’t happen all at once. I do not need to go all TMI: Full Disclosure on her today in an attempt to aid or protect my healing. I suggested that we just start talking and reconnecting minus a lot of talk about our family. And she’s good with that. I cannot pursue a real relationship without telling her exactly why I’m estranged from our family… but I’m not ready to go there just yet.

I believe that God, in his omniscience, began to prepare me yesterday for her re-entry back into my life. Otherwise, her email would have shaken me to the core. I believe that our omnipresent God is with me right now yet is also calling my niece and my sister. He is hearing all the prayers being lifted up for them and is in the process of answering those prayers. I believe, without doubt, that my omnipotent Father, can deliver all of us in his timing, if that is his will.

I do not, however,  have a certainty that my sister will be healed. People die every day. She’s old and in bad health. It happens. This is one of those questions that messes up a lot of people’s faith. Tragedies come and their faith hits a wall that cannot be breached by platitudes and sound bytes. This is where faith needs to be anchored in the truth... in the solid bedrock of the Word of God, if people are to withstand the storms that inevitably come into every life.

Today is Day 19. My sister… the only person in my entire family who ever really loved me had a stroke and could die. I still do not know what to feel… but I’m comforted by the fact that the LORD knows.

Day 18: Believing in What I Can’t See

There were a lot of lessons today
large ones and small ones
that I believe were direct
answer to prayer…

but I cannot seem
to make my thoughts
gel enough to write
a coherent post about
all that I think God is
saying to me.

I actually
think I need
to be having conversations
with people in
real time
rather than posting
about most of this.
So I’m praying for
wisdom about
who to talk to
and what to share.

These past few days
where I post that I’m
“just breathing”
are a cop out.
I don’t want to
or don’t know how
to express my
thoughts on what’s
been going on…
so I’ve said nothing.

It’s flies directly in the face
of the mantra I picked
up during my journey
to go off the lithium:
Communicate, don’t
isolate.

I’m going to want a record
of this journey and a year from
now if I read a whole week’s
worth of “Still breathing” posts
I’m going to be pissed at myself.

So…
I guess that I’ll just
have to write about one
of the really cool things
that happened
today
and avoid the stuff I’m
wrestling with
until I know what to
do with it.

Today I went to OT…
Occupational Therapy
to get help for the pain in
wrist bones.

Turns out it is not bone pain.
I have a form of tendonitis
with a name that I can’t
even pronounce:
De Quervain Tenosynovitis
(try saying that 5 times fast).

The OT knew immediately
what it was when I described
the pain and she ran some
tests that confirmed it.
Evidently, my wrist is really
inflamed because the tendons
are messed up.
Evidently, I can’t tell the
difference because I had no idea
my wrist was really swollen.

Also turns out that the splint and
the Ace bandage and all the other “home
doctoring” that I was doing that
I thought was making it worse…
was.

I created secondary problems
for myself
that would have worsened
had I continued in my ignorance.
Which I clued in to
a few days ago.

I stopped
doing anything and started
just sucking up the pain
since everything I had tried
was literally giving me
more pain, not less.
It was kinda the last straw.

That’s why my mood has been
out of whack this week on top
of my being manic.

Why I had to be all,
“When I am weak,
then I am strong”
by faith...
because my rational mind
wasn’t buying it.
I didn’t feel strong.
I felt weak and I was mad.

After all
of the stuff that I’ve been through…
it didn’t seem fair that God
would let another unexplainable medical
problem happen to me.
Things never really seem to let up
for me and still I keep following him.
For the last 20 years
it literally has been
one thing right
after another.
Don’t get me wrong.
I know it could be worse.
I could have cancer
or something… worse.
I am thankful that I don’t,
but I’d be lying if I said
my attitude is
always thankful.

I might have a few
moments
to bask in the Son…
but then another
trial or challenge
crashes on my shore
and I’m treading water
again.

Interesting sidebar:

Long ago, when I was
young and stupid…
full of lots of zeal,
but very little knowledge…
I told God
that I wanted to have
faith like Paul’s…
y’know…
the kind of faith
where I would praise him
from the “prison cell.”

Not that I wanted to literally
be in a prison…
because who would
ever
want that???
But that kind of faith
sounded cool.

I wanted to have
the kind of faith
to praise God
no matter what.
I didn’t want to be
the kind of believer
who would fall
away in the end times
because things got to
tough
and I
choked.

I distinctly remember
praying and telling
God to “do whatever
it took” to give me
that kind of faith…

So… if you think
about it…
all the crap that
happens to
me,
might very well
be
answered
prayer.

Turns out I was so
upset this week
because I was believing
a lie.

I was convinced that this was
more phantom bone pain
and I was angry because
at this rate…
I will never be able to return
to Mercy Ships
and I can’t do much
to move forward with the
vision that I have for work
if I am grappling with more
physical challenges.

And then the OT spoke truth to me.

This form of tendonitis that
I have,
while painful,
is totally fixable.
Mercy Ships has
not been taken off the table
and God’s word on the vision
he gave me is, “Wait,” not, “No.”

I now have OT weekly,
she gave me a better
splint, a list of home
exercises to do and home
care tips…
She told me to avoid
certain movements
and to take anti-imflammatories
(which I’d been avoiding because
I was trying to “tough it out.”)
and she even
used a laser on
the area today.

I believed something
that wasn’t
true…
and my wrong belief
was beginning
to negatively
shape my reality.

My own actions
were making things
worse for me…
and in response,
I got mad at God.

Sound familiar?

This is just a sliver of what I’ve been wrestling with the past month and I suspect that there are more false beliefs that I’ve been harboring that will require truth to cut through it like a laser. In the mean time…

Two thoughts are beginning to take shape in my mind:

1). I am a “doubting Thomas,” but I’ve thought for a long while that Thomas got a bum rap. I’ve got a post simmering on the back burner about this that may be just about ready in a few more weeks.

and

2). … then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.

I hate how people take this verse out of context, because doing so robs it of so much of it’s power. Yes, I heard truth today from the OT and it set me free, but God had to reveal some truths about himself today in order for he to be ready to receive this nugget. If truth alone could set you free, why doesn’t every non-believer who goes to church or reads the bible even once get set free?? Why do Christians continue to struggle with anything at all in the life if all it took was truth to set them free? Moreover, why do I continue to struggle with trials and challenges as if bound??

I’m not trying to butcher anybody’s sacred cows here. Like Thomas, I’m just asking what everybody else might be thinking. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God…” not from being ignorant of the word or being afraid to ask questions about it. “Believing by faith” doesn’t mean checking my brain, my doubts, or my questions at the door in order to fake like I’ve got a “childlike faith” when I don’t. It doesn’t mean having faith in faith. It means believing that my omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God knows all about my brain, my doubts, and my questions… and believing that he’s a big enough God to handle them.

I still have pain in my wrist and other places… but tonight I am praising God because he is worthy of my praise and not just because of how he answers my prayers. I’m going to worship him whether he heals me or not. Do I want him to heal me? Damn straight. And I’m believing that he will, in his timing, not mine.

Today is Day 18. I did not experience a miraculous healing… but I believe, without doubt, that God is healing me from the inside out.

Day 17…

Still breathing.

Day 16…

Day 15: When I Am Weak, Then I…

hate it.

I hate feeling weak.
Today I felt so weak
I took a sick day.

I never take sick days.
Yesterday the pastor
talked about how
“when I am weak,
then I am strong”
because God’s
“grace is sufficient.”

I guess today
was the test
to see if I’d
been listening.

My bones hurt.
My teeth hurt.
My nerves hurt.
I did not feel
very strong.

I felt like sludge.

The thought of driving…
The thought of dealing
with some of my more
wayward students…

All of this was way too much to even
want to deal with when I woke up in the
wee hours.

Usually
when I wake up
feeling like crap –

I pull it together
suck it up
pull up my
imaginary
bootstraps
and I go to work
because that’s what
mentally stable
adults do.

Today –

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. Isaiah 30:15

After reading that, I felt like going to work would be to completely ignore the fact that the LORD was telling me to be still. I’ve had to learn the hard way that ignoring God never ends well… for me or anybody near me. I could go in… but it wasn’t going to go well. So I called in sick. I spent the day resting and reading my bible and being still before my God. I prayed. I walked laps in the house. I let my bones rest. I sought out scriptures to answer some of my more troubling questions… y’know… the ones that woke me up this morning at 4:30am.

When I looked at the clock, I grimaced and told Jesus that I hoped this wasn’t becoming a thing.  Don’t get me wrong — I love talking to Jesus…

…but couldn’t it be later?

As I did on Saturday, I eventually got up at 4:30am and began to journal. I knew that the conversations that I had yesterday were God’s answer to prayer. I also believed that my health issues this morning were push back. Yesterday I had owned my voice and had shaken things up in the heavenlies. How do I know?? This was the first of three verses in my devo today:

They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. 12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you!  He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short. Revelation 12:11-12

By speaking up in love, did I perhaps piss somebody off? His time to wreak havoc is short. It’s written on the wall and he’s angry.

One of my favorite quotes: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I’m not one to see a demon behind every bush, but I do believe there is an enemy of our souls who thrives when there is a lack of communication or miscommunication. The second verse in my devo this morning??

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Ephesians 6:16

Yesterday, I was a “good man” who spoke up in faith when I could have gotten angry and remained silent. I hate confrontation. Yesterday took a lot out of me. More than I realized. Today I needed to be still and recharge because yesterday I was a fiery dart board… and, evidently, extinguishing fiery darts is tiring work.

I wrote a lot yesterday. I didn’t mention the other email that I wrote yesterday. Writing tires me. I love writing, but I generally dig deep into my gut to “say what needs to be said” and I’d written two such emails yesterday. And one wasn’t even in English. Rather than talk about the person involved, I felt compelled to write to him. Translating it into his language wasn’t easy. I prayed before I hit send and then tried to let it go. Normally it takes me weeks to nerve myself to speak up, but this had to be done yesterday and I didn’t hesitate. When I woke up at 4am this morning my head was quiet. I wasn’t sure what to think. I wasn’t worried. I wasn’t anxious. I just felt drained.

The first thing that I saw when I turned on my laptop was his response to my email. I read it before opening my devotional. It was so gracious. It made me cry. Talking about him or talking at him would have opened the door to strife. Talking to him has opened the door for communication.

That’s when I opened my Jesus Calling devotional and  knew that staying home had been the right thing to do. The three scripture references were really quite pointed and directly spoke into my circumstances.  The last reference?

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:7-8a

Staying home today was about submitting to God even though everything in me resists calling in sick. Today was about resisting the push back of the enemy of my soul. I don’t like feeling so weak. I’m still feeling really wiped, but my bones aren’t hurting so much and I made an appointment with my dentist. Tonight I’m going to drive to the Worship Night on the other side because I need to go. I want to draw near to God and worship helps me to do that. My soul has been singing out to him all day. I am no longer afraid to drive there at night and I know that I can.

Today is Day 15 and I hate that I feel this weak… but I believe by faith that I am strong.

Day 14: Oh! Mother!

The fact that I’ve been under
so much stress for
so long without crumbling
like a cookie…

and that I’ve been
overcoming
several deep-seated
fears and stepping
out boldly in new arenas…

and that I’ve been
owning my voice
while learning to
discern
when to speak
and when to remain
silent…

CONFIRMS to me
that I am smack dab
in the center of God’s
will.

I almost lost it in church today, though.

I thought that I’d gotten over my Mother’s Day issues. For those of you who don’t know me… my mother hated me the last three years of her life. Ours was a rocky relationship for most of my mine, but I still had hope that God would allow us to reconcile. I never saw my mom again in this life… but I believe that she reconciled with God just before she died, so I have every hope of seeing again her in the next.

They made a big to-do about mothers in church today. Which is cool if you had a good mother or if you were/are a good mother… or if you are going to be a mother (the “good” part is yet to be determined since nobody ever plans to be a bad one).

Since I had a hysterectomy, I’m never going to be a mother and that weighed heavily on me today. Not because I’m all hot and bothered to have kids. I’m not. Teaching elementary school for 10 years is natural birth control. I was a good teacher, but I do not have the maternal instincts or desire to be a mother. I almost shook a child once and I decided then and there that I did not need to ever have or be around babies.

So I’m not sure why I started to feel like crying during the maternal homage. I just knew that my face was beginning to heat up and my tear ducts were starting to go into overdrive. By the time they put on the Mother’s Day video I knew I needed to get out of there. In the past, I would have run out of the building and fled to a “safe” place. God really HAS changed me. While the whole thing was a huge trigger… and the thought of leaving did cross my mind it kept on crossing. I was in my Father’s house. It WAS my safe place. I quietly slipped out just as they put on the video and I went to the ladies’ room where I retreated into a stall; put my fingers into my ears so I couldn’t hear the video; and prayed while trying not to cry.

And then I flushed… washed my hands… and resumed my seat.

The message went by so quickly that I blinked and I actually missed parts of it. Good thing that I’d read those exact same scriptures that the pastor referenced this morning in my own quiet time. All too soon it was time to go. I didn’t have any plans on my agenda other than going to Whole Foods and stocking up for the week. I have, however, learned to shelve my plans if God seems to be working a different angle.

Yesterday I woke up at 3:30am stressing out about situations that seemed to be out of my control. God told me to be anxious for nothing and to give my cares to him. I journaled my prayers and then went about my day. I didn’t give those concerns much thought until just now. I literally only just made the connection between yesterday’s wee hour prayers and the events of today.

Today… God answered those prayers and petitions. I ended up engaged in three different conversations after church that forced me to do what God’s been calling me to do for months now: own my voice.

In one of the conversations I felt like I wasn’t being heard. In another I felt like I was being totally disrespected. And in the third, I felt like I was supposed to make myself very transparent and vulnerable and see what God would do with that. Given how my Sunday started (with me on the verge of tears in the bathroom), I could have told God I wasn’t emotionally able to engage in any of those conversations, but I didn’t. I tried to own my voice and use my big girl words.

The first conversation did not go well. I got angry… but in my anger I didn’t sin. I suggested we pray and then, when I could politely excuse myself, I left the conversation. God said that I had to “own my voice.” I own my voice in writing probably more so than I do in real time. I need to discern when to speak up and when to write up. I ended up sending an email to one of the guys involved because it’s still my preferred mode of communication.

With the second conversation, I tried to communicate tactfully and in a godly way, but the other person was really rude and obnoxious. Given the fact that I’ve been manic for going on three weeks… he’s lucky I didn’t explode at him. I could have given him a verbal smack down… but that’s so not cool to do in church (even if he did deserve it). I told him that we still needed to pray and would you believe he got mad? Part of owning my voice is knowing when to stop trying to communicate because it’s not safe. This guy was not safe. I enlisted the help of a neutral third party to correct that guy because he was overly aggressive and way out of line. I hadn’t sought him out. He approached me and wasn’t very nice in his approach. I still want to give him a verbal smack down… but self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.

With the third conversation… I sat down and looked the person in the eyes and shared my testimony. Not the sanitized version that I share with most people. I shared the full on unvarnished version that I’ve only even started sharing with my closest friends just recently. Doing so blew open the door for clearer communication and unity. I’d been angry at this person because of poor communication. His poor communication is what sicked that second guy on me in the first place. My plan had been to rebuke him for speaking out of season. I was planning a gentle rebuke… but it was still going to be a rebuke. I had NO PLAN whatsoever of sharing my testimony and no plan to talk with him as long as I did, either… but when I was done, we were on the same page.

I had owned my voice and the world hadn’t stopped revolving. I am SO used to speaking up and then getting shot at because that’s what people do to the messenger. Today I was not worried about that. Ok… I was… but not enough to remain silent. I’m glad I owned my voice. I feel no stress at all tonight because I went about my Father’s business today. I saw this verse at work:

The good man brings good things out of the good treasure of his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil treasure of his heart. For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.

Three difficult conversations that had the potential to go very very wrong…  and I owned my voice appropriately. Today is Day 14 and God allowed my inner “good man” to come out. What more is there to say? Oh yeah! My Maui Mom called me this evening and I almost cried.  She loves me and I know that. I cannot get a do-over with my birth mom… but God has given me my MM who love me the way only a good mother can.

Day 13: Seja Ansioso Sobre Nada

Today was a weird day. Started out at around 3:30 for me. I woke up and my wrist hurt. I couldn’t go back to sleep so I finally gave up trying around 4:30. Personally, I hate waking up that early, but I decided that if I was just going to lay there thinking, I might as well pray. Only thing is… I couldn’t get my thought to focus. I wasn’t stressing out but there was a lot on my mind.

There are so many details to so many projects that I’m working on… I’ve been trying to share the vision that I have for my school with people and alls I’ve been asking for is prayer. I haven’t even been expecting responses. I figure if I send and email asking for prayer and people pray, I’ll find out about it when God answers. What I wasn’t expecting and didn’t want was for people to take my clearly worded prayer request as a call for them to take up the banner and try to move forward in their own strength. This stressed me out. Ok. When am I going to just say that I got angry?? The anger came first. The stress came in not knowing how to express my anger.

Seems like God wanted to wait until I had no other distractions to get my attention and tell me what to do:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

So to focus my wandering thought I turned on the light, grabbed my journal, and began to find SOMETHING to thank God for about all of the things that were on my mind. When I re-framed it like that, it was a lot easier to actually figure out what I really wanted to ask God about the situation and even easier to hear his response. My spiritual ears are oddly wide open at 4:30 in the morning.

That early morning prayer session was the start of an interesting journey of discovery this morning. It lead me to read a really interesting article about “the crown of glory that never fades” that had much to say about what it means to be an “under-shepherd” of whatever flock God has given you. I used to be such a grudging servant where I work. I wanted out of teaching and I made it a point to tell God pretty much at every turn that I was only teaching because he called me to it. Now? I can almost imagine God saying, “Pfft. Don’t do me any favors.” So much of my angst about teaching disappeared when I let God soften my heart towards the students.

I realized as I read the article that some of my current angst… part of the reason that I was awake so early was because I had slipped into grudging service. This knowledge led me to some realizations. I needed to communicate in love. I write two letters today that have been a long while in coming. One of which was in Portuguese. No, I don’t speak Portuguese, but I can use an online translator. I wrote a two page letter which I painstakingly translated into Portuguese. I know enough Spanish that I could vaguely tell that the translation was solid.

The best part of this morning was a reminder from God… a verse that I hold very dear: Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.

I had lost sight of two of the verses that serve to anchor my faith.That was one of them. What’s the other one??? It’s from the book of James. I’m not going to quote the entire passage, but I memorized it the year that I got saved. James chapter 1 is the sword that I pull out to fight my worst dragons. It’s the one about counting it all joy when we get hit by trials of many kinds. It goes on to say:

“if anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will be given to him, but when he asks, he must believe and not doubt. For he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think that he will receive anything from the Lord for he is a double minded man, unstable in all that he does.”

When I first became a believer I used to think that I heard God quite clearly. I would ask him how I should pray and only want what he wanted for me. In those heady early days I saw amazing answer to prayers. Then, life intruded in and when I got my first “No” from God my confidence in my ability to hear him was shaken. Turns out his, “No” was actually a “Wait” and I didn’t even have to wait that long... but it changed something in my  faith, so that over the years when I got more “Waits” and even more “Nos” I started to question God’s willingness to answer my prayers.

For years I grappled with the “He CAN, but WILL he?” question. The omniscient, omnipresent God that I serve is also omnipotent. He can DO anything he wants… so why doesn’t he? Why hasn’t he stepped in to stop bad (or even unfortunate) things from landing in my lap??

Now before I go down that particular bunny trail, I need to regroup. That’s not the point of this post. The point IS… if God gave me this vision… then he’s going to be faithful to make it happen. According to scripture… I’m blessed just by believing this. That means I can BE STILL and let God be who he is. I don’t have to run around trying to make things happen. Which is where some of my other angst was coming from this morning.

I’ve asked God for wisdom and visions… and some of my angst has come from the fact that I’m ignoring his wisdom because I’ve been trying to please or placate other people. God can only lead me to wisdom. He can’t make me drink it. Some people have been slow to catch the visions that I have. Others have run so far ahead of me that I feel like I’m being dragged. I haven’t communicated in either of these situations, so the resulting stress (that is really anger turned inwards)… is my own fault. I need to own my voice and stand firm in the authority that he’s given me.

I can tell people that I think they are running ahead of the vision and that they need to slow down. I can move forward on things when other people are dragging (dragon) their feet in fear. I can ask for prayer and wait until God fleshes out the vision some more… and it’s all ok. I just have to continue to communicate with God and his other kids and then wait expectantly to see how he’s going to bring about the vision. If it’s really from him, and I believe it is… I will be blessed when  it actually happens and even more so as I learn to rest in him as the vision is in the process of becoming.

Today is Day 13 and I’ve been awake going on 17 hours and I spent much of it going about my Father’s business. I’m tired… but I feel good.

 

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