I wished for way too long to be someone that I’m not. I’ve wanted to be that girl that has her act together all the time, didn’t feel things so deeply that most days I cry tears, didn’t question God and the path He’s allowed me to be on – a hard path. I’m not that girl, and I’m learning that it’s okay. He’s made me the way that I am, because in the middle of all of those tears I cry, it’s that deep feeling heart that wants to experience who He is just as deeply, that I can’t imagine any other way than the way He’s called me to walk.
Since October, I’ve been living in the Valley of Tears. No particular reason has prompted all of the tears. In fact, reasons change from day to day, but the fact is still there…I’ve not been OKAY. Not even remotely OKAY. While I’ve managed to get out of the bed everyday, felt motivated to look my best, put my best foot forward, I’ve barely made it from placing my feet on the floor every morning to placing them back between the covers at night, but I have made it back there everyday, but not without help getting there. I’ve tried it all – all of the essential oils, the CBD oil, currently two anti-anxiety meds, a weighted blanket, vitamins, you name it. I just want to feel like me again, but in the midst of wanting to feel like me, I’m striving for the me I’ve felt before, carefree and simple, but that’s honestly never been the me God called me to be. He called me to be a woman who has tasted the power of simple faith, and committed to Him to walk in that everyday, no matter the “how to get there” part. I’ve been trying to walk in a simpler version of a story that He never wrote for me to begin with. He’s been writing a story all along to remind me not to quit. It’s why I’ll do whatever it takes to grow stronger physically and mentally, why I’ll talk about anxiety like it’s real over some version of life other people live. It’s the version of life I’m living, and it all began 16 years ago this past month. 16 years ago this past month, God called me to walk a road that I’ve tried to get off of since day one.
If you have known me for any amount of time at all, you know about that miserable January day in 2003. My body writhed in pain that I could no longer tolerate, sending me to the hospital in an ambulance during an ice storm, to later endure a routine surgery that definitely was NOT routine for me. It’s true. Humans make errors, but who really wants the error to be on you? In a normal gall bladder surgery my common bile duct was severed, leaving me with barely a bile duct at all, and piling on a host of medical problems…and lots of bills…and a WHOLE LOT of questions regarding why I have excruciating pain for months, relief, more excruciating pain, and no answers as to why. I’ve been poked, prodded, x-rayed, had ultrasounds, you name it! No diagnosis. No treatment plan. No hope, if I’m being honest. Because I promised God I would do whatever it takes, and I’ve prayed over and over that I BELIEVE He started a good work in me, that He will finish it. So, in addition to all of man’s treatments (oils, medicines, etc), I’ve had an army around me. Prayers of the saints really is what you want on your side at the end of the day. Truth be known, I want a story that God could only write, not one that I stand up and claim that a medicine saved me. I believe a medicine can save us, don’t get me wrong, but I want His presence to go before me overshadowing any man made explanation. I want God.
I recently heard Lysa TerKeurst talk about a very scary medical crisis she found herself in the midst of, where she cried out for God to take the pain away, but He didn’t. My ears perked up a little because this has been my prayer for all of these years, for Him to remove my pain, and let me live pain free. He hasn’t done that. It’s made me angry. It’s made me sad. I’ve questioned Him. I’ve fought Him. I’ve also committed over and over to allow Him to do what He wants to do in me, and I will give Him the glory. The number of blogs I’ve written arriving at the place, one again, in surrender, are too numerous to count, but accurate in every way. Surrender takes time. Answers take time. As I listened to Lysa explain how her doctor ultimately discovered the source of her pain and developed a course of action, it was her words that followed that shook me, and continue to shake me. The doctor told her that had it not been for her pain, she would have died, because it was her pain that saved her. The pain led to the diagnosis. The diagnosis led to a plan to save her life. I am living that story today. My pain has saved me. It’s my pain that has led me back to a new path – a new set of doctors, new tests, new surrender.
As I walked into a, what I thought was, routine doctor’s appointment three weeks ago, I walked in broken. My anxiety at an all time high, panic attacks defining my days, and just exasperated, I was broken and tired of the pain, and tired of the fear of it all. I knew, however, God had brought me to this place. He had ordered my steps. I felt Him very much with me, despite my heart running on empty. I sat in the room as a precious nurse practitioner and kind doctor explained to me that I didn’t have to be in pain anymore…that they knew the last 16 years of pain were brought on solely because of the injury I sustained in that gall bladder surgery, that I did not have other conditions I was being tested for, but BEST yet, he could fix it. I would not have excruciating episodes anymore. I could plan to do things and actually go do them without fear of having these pain filled attacks. God spoke clearly to Jeff and me several years ago that God was going to heal me, and my mind had determined all of the ways He was going to do just that, and never did I land on “let’s have surgery to fix you”. Surgery is what got me where I am. No way, no how. I was not having surgery.
I’ve recently seen my life come full circle in one sweet verse in Exodus. Any journey we find ourselves on as a Daughter of the King is a journey we don’t want to take alone, right? Even on my worst days, it’s my Father I’m crying out to. He is THE place my hope lies. On this path I did not want to answer the call to walk, He didn’t leave me to walk it alone.
“If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” Exodus 33:15
Trust me when I say, I’ve tried walking it alone, but here I sit today knowing the only posture we can have in this life is the one we surrender and bow before Him. In pain or in the healing, I don’t want either if He’s not with me.
I head into surgery this week, a somewhat risky procedure, full of peace because He goes with me. He has never, ever wanted to withhold His healing from me. In fact, in the pain itself, I have been healed already. I have learned more about who I am in Him in the 16 years of pain that I believe I would have incident free. I never thought I would appreciate the pain, and while I am not begging for more, I know that my pain is also my healing. Being on the brink of healing feels strange in some ways, knowing that I am walking into a hospital with the promise of being healed, and I’m believing the promise. We are all on the brink of healing, if you think about it. We aren’t meant to belong just here in this physical world, in this hard situation we’re facing, in broken relationships, in financial decline. We’re on the brink of complete healing when we stay on the path, though it may be hard, toward our ultimate home. God is a good God that He even allows us a taste of healing here on this earth. Whatever we face in the days ahead, we can find purpose and healing in the pain. We don’t have to stay broken forever. We have a glorious reward just around the corner.