Why Must It Be an “IT” in My Life?

Why must it be so severe?

Why must it be so limiting?

Why does it make my actions feel so insignificant?

Why won’t it allow me to be who I need to be for those I love?

Why can I not escape it no matter how hard I try?

Why do I feel like I am drowning underneath its weight?

Why are my screams not loud enough and the streams of my tears not flowing strong enough to disrupt the current of its electrical shocks?

Why must my only resolve against its constant battle wages be to lie down and give up or cringe at the feeling of bone upon bone?

Why must it taunt me with dreams of the sun over the horizon, meanwhile, it has a storm lurking behind the clouds?

Pain, why do you plague me, so?

 

Brave

I just finished reading a Blog Post by Krista entitled,  “No Longer Anonymous: Alexis Kanda-Olmstead Overcomes the Terror of the Publish Button”, which was featured on Discover. I have enjoyed reading AKO Collective before and became an official “follower” today. It’s funny how ironic it was that I read it just today after battling constantly with this same question for the last (13) days to be exact. I have told myself once I started publishing this blog that I was somehow tougher because I was willing to share my struggles with “the world.” However, I have yet to become willing to even open up my blog to those closest to me (i.e. even my momma). There is something about being able to arm yourself too press that Publish button. For some, it may come easier than others. For me, this blog is personal. It touches the deepest parts of me because it is about the inmost, darkest struggles I face. This blog is about how without God’s strength I could literally not overcome another second of another day at some points. Even walking into the first step of starting this blog was a huge leap and one I did not take lightly. I did so armed with the strength that this was not for me alone. I do believe, in part, this is therapeutic for me. However, the bigger picture is how I yearn to reach those that are struggling just like me. Pain is a very personal, draining, emotional struggle. It is not one that others can see and touch. It is not one understood by most, therefore, we often end up fighting it alone. But, is my anonymity creating an environment that fosters the ability to fight in a community of numbers or in more isolation? What settled this question for me was AKO Collective’s reply to one of the questions asked of her about remaining anonymous “It wasn’t helping me access the truest parts of myself, which is also very important to blogging.” How can I be truly honest, move forward in healing for myself and others without opening myself up completely?

“It wasn’t helping me access the truest parts of myself, which is also very important to blogging.”

I appreciate the honesty that AKO Collective gave in her answers. The thought of opening up my blog to my community literally puts a knot in my stomach. The thought of no longer remaining somewhat anonymous make me want to run and hide. But, then I think back to one of the lessons I read in BU-Blogging University. The lesson was to Identify your Audience. Why am I here, what do I want to write and to whom do I want to write? I am here because I believe in the solidarity that community has to offer. I am here because I believe that no one should have to suffer in isolation. I am here because I have a God that rescued and gave me a new life that I have to share with others. I am here because I know He gives us blessings beyond just the healing that we often seek first and foremost (I know I did!). I want to write blogs that are honest and don’t sugarcoat the crap that comes along with these valleys. Anyone that has gone through pain or any type of loss knows that it just sucks beyond belief. That’s why I love how AKO Collective mentioned bad language. I’m just going to say, the words that come to my mind when I’m in severe pain are not always pretty or nice. And I would challenge anyone who has never felt that amount of pain to come tell me to never think that way. 😛 I doubt I’ll be sharing them on here, but my point is, I don’t want to just write about sunshine and rainbows because that isn’t real life! I want to write about the mud and grime; mixed with the hope we have. I want to write to others struggling with pain, grief, invisible illnesses, emotional pain, emptiness, etc. We all go through heartache on this earth and some heartache I will never begin to understand. But, I do know a God who understands greater pain and heartache than any of us will ever begin to understand who is always ready and willing to take our pain onto Himself. I can’t be afraid of what judgment or criticism will come anymore.

I want to say a special thank you to AKO Collective for your willingness to be open and honest. Also, Krista for featuring AKO Collective and those questions on Discover. You both have spurred on an amateur, nervous writer dreaming of doing big things.

 

But you LOOK so Good!

Pain is a balancing act that has to be mastered and continually re-mastered.

I read an article the other day that I felt the urge to share and comment on. It points out how subjective people can be when viewing another’s “invisible disability”. It’s almost as if someone has severe chronic-pain they should constantly live downcast, bed-ridden and barely existent lives. The article revolves around a lady that is denied disability because of her social media account as it revealed that in their subjective opinion she did not look sick enough. I am not naïve-I’m sure there is more to it than what is revealed in this short article. However, I believe this argument goes beyond just denied disability. We as a society have become so dependent on social media as counting that as the accurate depiction of someone’s life. I have personally experienced this with people thinking oh you must be doing better because you have make-up on and look really happy in your pictures! What?? It’s funny because if you honestly think about your social media account(s), do you think they accurately depict the total version of your life? Personally I know that I put up the best photos where my make-up looks on point, my hair looks great and my child looks like she dresses perfect 365 days a year with no stains and perfect hair. We don’t want everyone to know about our acne, crazy hair days  and the stank attitude we just got from our toddler while putting on said outfit. Oh and God forbid any one find the pictures of our stained outfits with our “fat pants” on. Come on, you know you have all had them at one point or another!! We put our best foot or “face” forward on social media. It’s just like that happy couple you see on social media with loving romantic pictures where you wish you were them with status’ about how their spouse is the best in the world. Then out of the blue you see they are divorced. You never know the truth behind the veil of social media. I know for me, if I was truly honest with my Facebook status, almost every couple of days it would say “Feeling like a dump truck just ran over my back; Can barely get out of bed today, but I’m trying to fake it until I make it for my family since things still need to get done; My left arm is still swollen and I barely got sleep because it hurt so bad all night, but it’s all good.” However, no one…let me repeat…NO ONE…wants to read that everyday. They want to read-“I climbed a mountain today! I conquered such and such! I am happy and wonderful!” You know what I mean. I totally get it. I don’t want to read the negative all the time either. I’m right there with it. On the other hand, I do want to know when my friends need prayer, are going through a hard time, etc. But, you get the difference I’m sure. The honesty of our lives is not on display on social media and somewhat for good reason.

This same principle applies to when people view you out in public. I think for friends, family, acquaintances, etc. it gets hard to understand unless you have personally gone through it. There are times when it looks like you are doing excellent yet you are really dying inside. You desperately want life to continue on unscathed for those you love or even just for friends to not feel like they are at a disadvantage when they are with you so you try to overdo what you know you can. Then you are the one who has to lay in bed for days or go in a room by yourself and cry quietly because the pain is overwhelming. Those are the lonely times no one sees. Those are the times no one will understand except those who are going through it or who have been through it.

Pain is a balancing act that has to be mastered and continually re-mastered. It doesn’t go away no matter how much you “will” it away. That has been one of my biggest struggles. I don’t want to have live downcast in a cave somewhere because of it though. I also don’t want to live that way just because it will convince someone I am in severe pain. It is crazy that our society works that way with invisible illnesses.  The way I see it is if I live a life the way some of the world expects and always live bed-ridden and looking sick I could be living for human approval instead of God’s approval.  I could instead choose to take advantage of some of the good days I have and use some of the strong-will/power God has given me to persevere in order to live out my purpose. I know God has a bigger plan for me in all of this. I am not broken in my spirit. I just heard the song by Hawk Nelson “Live Like You’re Loved” yesterday. The lines “So go ahead and be who He made you to be; Live like you’re loved” really resonated. It’s just a reminder of the verse Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” He knew this would happen to any of us that are effected by any invisible illness. He still has plans for a bright, hopeful future where you prosper through Him. No matter how the world views you or may judge you, please don’t let it discourage you. God knows your true heart and struggles. He is there to lift your spirits and hear your cries when nothing will relieve what you’re going through. Christ loves us more than we will ever begin to understand so our struggles and pain do not fall on deaf ears. Find your comfort in the true comforter who understands all struggles even if the world does not.

Continue reading “But you LOOK so Good!”

OvErSeEs MiSsIoNs

Below are different examples of how God blessed me by allowing me to be a part of His mission. I so miss these places with all of my heart. I honestly never saw myself living in the United States the rest of my life. I saw International Missions as my life. Having to give up that dream is part of God molding the “new me.” I know God called me to missions so many years ago. Now, I have to see where He is leading me with these new restrictions with my body. Any day He could chose to heal me entirely which would be amazing! But, He could also choose that this is how I am to serve Him-completely reliant on Him in my weakened physical state. I am praying to live out my life to serve Him in whatever ways He sees fit. We all have gifts that He has given us. No matter how restricted you may feel by your earthly body, God can and will use you if you are willing. His strength overcomes all the ways that we are weak. There is so much we still have to offer no matter what we are going through. You are beautiful and still wonderfully created exactly the way you are right at this moment. I pray God’s word provides you with the strength you need today.

Prayer

I blogged the other day about not knowing how to pray during this time. It’s funny how God answers those prayers. Things have continued to worsen and I have spent a lot of time in bed only getting up for what I have to do. Tonight got really bad and I just got fed up. I felt like I was losing control of everything. I finally locked myself in my room and decided to have some alone time with God. I needed to just sit with God. I listened to worship songs and it just reminded me of how Great and how powerful our God is. No matter what life brings, that is undeniable. I am so thankful for everything that He has done, who He is and how I can see Him work all around me. I began to do two different devotionals. The first one spoke of how God chooses each individual to go through whatever difficulty in order that we might have an impact on others around us to  display Christ (Holy Emotions-Biblical Responses to Every Challenge written by Carol McLeod and Just Joy Ministries on the Bible App). I firmly believe that. I also know that I allow, just like the study described, my selfish attitudes to get in the way and I fail so often. I pray that God renews my/our strength and that His light will shine. That, by far, makes any and all of this worth it if even just one comes to know Him or is strengthened through my suffering. God is a good God. His ways are always good and I trust that He is allowing this for a reason. Then I read the other devotional and it just made me super pumped. It was the one that offered a prayer at the end. It was the complete answer to my prayer and I didn’t even see it coming. I love how God works! The devotional discussed how we always pray for God to provide comfort, but we don’t even really understand the true meaning of the word.”The word is made from two Latin word parts, com-, an intensifying prefix which means ‘together with,’ and fortis, which means ‘strong or strength.’ Later, the Latin word confortare comes to mean, ‘to strengthen much.’ Eventually, an Old French word, conforter, would add words like ‘solace’ and ‘help’ to the definition. Finally by the 17th century, the English version of the word implies the sense of physical ease that we understand today” (Finding Comfort in Pain provided by Life Church.tv to Bible App). They tied that all in to the prayer at the end. I couldn’t help but cry out the prayer over and over. It says, “God, I don’t like pain, but I love You. Please change my understanding of Your comfort and help me to feel it. Holy Spirit, show me where Your “together-strength” is carrying me through this. Jesus, help me to know how You bore my pain.”

I think this is the perfect cry out to God. It is not asking Him to take away the suffering necessarily. If that is His will and draws us closer to His face, then bring it on. Our earthly suffering will never compare to what He bore for us. But, He understands how we hurt, how we suffer, and that we don’t desire to feel that pain. No matter what His will is, whether to take it away or keep it, please show me your “together-strength” carrying me through. That is all that carries me through. I need you. I need Your strength. I cannot make it on my own. Amen.

Strength

The past few days have been rough for me. I met my new doctor since we’ve moved to a new area that will deal with the pain portion of my health. The impression I got from our short visit was that he is quite proud of his accomplishments and has no time to get a history on patients. I left with no evaluation being done, no pain score inquiry, no real questions about my history, and lots of unanswered questions about where to go from here. I feel as though I’m past that point now. I need someone that is invested in seeing where I am and helping to get me back to the best version of myself physically. I’m so ready and I want to skip whoever does not want to be involved in the process. I’ve grown too far past that point. I left the doctor feeling frustrated and a little hopeless. This appointment had been like a beacon of hope shining to further advance my recovery and hopefully continue to heal back to maximum strength. Then to be in so much pain at the appointment only to be spurned was a little less than settling.  On the way home my mom drove because of how much pain I was in and as we were talking she made the simple statement of “you will have to give it over to God.” It was in that moment that I took almost a gasp of air. I thought, why didn’t I do that immediately?  Throughout our struggles God has shown His strength, grace and blessings more times than I could ever count. So, why is that not always my first thought? It’s as if I think my anger or frustration will somehow change the situation.

strength-image

The day that followed was filled with even more pain. It was beyond a point of manageability. I was at a point that I had not been in awhile. I began to just sit out on the porch and stare at God’s beautiful creation. I started to just cry out loud out to God to take it all away. I am tired. I am tired of the constant struggle. The pain is just too much. I know God can take it away if He chooses, so why not? Then it was as if he stopped me somehow. I honestly don’t know how but He gently touched my heart so swiftly. Staring at HIS creation, I was reminded of all HE has done for me. Jesus came to earth and surrendered Himself so that He would suffer the entirety of God’s wrath instead of me, instead of you. I cannot imagine nor do I even want a glimpse of feeling just a part of God’s wrath. There are times to grieve and times to dwell in the sadness of your pain, disability, loss, etc. But, this was a time where God was saying yes, I acknowledge your suffering, BUT look at what I have done for you. Look at who I really am and focus more on that than your suffering. God brought back the verse of 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 “For our light and temporary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” I realize the context of this chapter is persecution but these verses, especially verse 17, God gave me about 1 1/2 years ago and they have never left my heart. It is so applicable. So, my prayer is now that the Holy Spirit will guide my prayers. I don’t know exactly what to pray for. I feel like relief from the suffering isn’t the right prayer at this time for me personally. That my focus should be more on deepening my walk with Christ. God has revealed himself so much through the suffering and continues to that I can’t help but be thankful in ways for the suffering. However, the pain continues to be almost intolerable. So, that brings me back to how to pray. I know God knows my heart and knows I want the pain to end like yesterday (or years ago ha!). I trust that He knows the way to wade through it all.  Through my life-my struggle, this blog, anything I do-I do it because I want God to receive all the glory and to encourage anyone else struggling that He is the only source of true, constant help through it.

Questions

I know they mean well, but sometimes the questions feel like a knife slicing deep. Those standard questions you wouldn’t think twice about asking because it’s second nature to our “normal” conversations these days. Almost like “how are you today?” It’s funny how what used to be so common and what used to slip out of my mouth in almost every conversation with someone newly met has almost become taboo in my vocabulary.

1. What are you doing right now?  Are you working?

Answer: I think this one is so deeply personal because my pride is really hurt when this question comes up. That is something entirely of my own doing but it doesn’t make the hurt any less real. I have worked since I was 16 years old. I have always been driven and dreamt of how to offer my life up to God so that I can impact others for His glory. I have gone to school and worked specifically with this goal in mind. I have been commended at every job for my dedication. My husband always kind of went crazy because I would work all day then come home and work until I couldn’t exhausted cleaning, cooking, etc. It was an never ending cycle, but I just thought that was how every woman was supposed to live. I thought if I wasn’t exhausted then something was seriously wrong and I needed to find something to clean or do! Then life took an unimaginable shift and I was bed bound for a little while for the most part. Luckily my husband had some practice at running the household after the surgeries I had so he took over. He thankfully took over with such a focus and drive. I had fought the reality that is chronic pain for awhile refusing to allow it to change any of my life. Now, I had no choice. That included my work. It is not just a private matter anymore which is how I liked to keep my pain. I liked to keep how bad it was to myself and my family. I think that is why when it got so bad that I couldn’t hide it, people were so surprised. But, they really had no idea the horrible reality we were living at home everyday. So, no, I am not working right now in the attempts that I may heal. It is humbling. It is hard. It was an adjustment. However, I do see the changes that God has allowed in my life from this. I was able to have the time and ability to style my daughter’s hair for her Jasmine costume for Halloween. She saw it in the mirror and gasped in excitement.  My hands did go numb while I was doing it and that made it difficult, but if I had been working I would have most likely been in bed. If I was working I wouldn’t be able to go to her class party because I would be in bed every second that I was not working. That was my life before. I had nothing left to give my child, nothing left to give my husband. They suffered greatly. God is giving us back this family time. God is giving me back time to spend with Him and just sit in His presence. I am thankful that God taught us how to survive and thrive in any circumstances. I laughed with my husband the other day that I was thankful we are actually just struggling with regular parenting difficulties. It’s nice to have a “normal” struggle for once.

2.  Are you going to have more kids?

Answer: This question really stings my soul every time.  And it’s at no fault of the person asking it. I never thought about it before until a friend went through difficulties conceiving. Now, thankfully they are expecting two wonderful blessings. But, I never thought about before how that seemingly harmless question could truly wound a momma’s heart. We have one beautiful daughter and one amazing angel baby we will meet someday.  God has already richly blessed our lives. I tell our daughter all the time how much of a blessing she is. She continues to teach me about my walk with Christ and who He desires me to be in Him.  The responsibility that He entrusts you with when He gives you that blessing is something I never quite understood until recently. Since before my husband and I had got married we had our plan. You know, the “plan” that always works out and trumps reality, right? HA!  Our “plan” was to have 2 biological kids and then to adopt one.  But, then life stepped in.  We never expected to lose our first child especially the way we did right around the holidays. I was not very far along and sometimes I feel thankful for that. Other times, I am sad that I didn’t get to bond with my baby longer if that was the only time I was going to get with him or her. I look forward to meeting our precious angel in Heaven one day. I know God is taking great care of our sweet love. Our daughter came a year after that as a surprise. It most definitely was not the right timing in our book, but man I wouldn’t have traded that awesome gift for anything!!! At that time, we planned on waiting another year and a half or two then having another. But, life had other plans again. One year and 2 months after I had our daughter was when I had my first fusion surgery. We still had hope for having another child after that, but hopes continued to be dashed after each subsequent surgery. My husband and I went back and forth on the subject, but with this most recent exacerbation we finally decided we would not be having any more children unless things were to miraculously change with my health. This realization was like another huge blow to how I saw my life turning out. There were days I felt like God was no longer taking little slices of my life but was now taking big slices that I held dear.

I saw this quote the other day that someone posted from their bible study. I’m not sure who the quote is originally from but it is too good to not post it. “I say I found peace. I do not say I was not lonely. I was- terribly. I do not say I did not grieve. I did – most sorely. But peace of the sort the world cannot give comes, not by the removal of suffering, but in another way – through acceptance.” I firmly believe that in order to move through the valleys of any form of loss and the grief that is there- you must fully experience the grief. You must be present and acknowledge what you have lost. There is sadness when you go through any form of loss whether it be a loved one, physical mobility, a job, a dream, etc. Once you have really acknowledged the loss then you can move through it and begin to experience the acceptance of the suffering. That was so key to regaining the joy of my salvation. For awhile I felt so misled by God. I didn’t understand why the suffering never came to an end. I could handle hurting for awhile as long as I knew it would come to an end at some point. The struggle was learning to acknowledge that this is what He has chosen, for now or maybe forever. But, for now, I hold on to the verses of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ‘But he said to me, “My grace is SUFFICIENT for you, for MY power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christs power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’  Now, I am no Paul, but I remember our old Pastor telling us that in our different seasons to go through the bible and find someone that we can identify with in their season. This is my person right now. Paul suffered so much more then I can ever imagine, but I want to draw from the strength and wisdom he exhibited. I hope you find your person as well and draw from their example. God is so present and loves His children dearly even when it feels like we are far from it.