“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Ever feel like all of your conversations, all of the things you write, or all of the things you feel aren’t the most “popular” or uplifting things to talk about? If I were to sum up the last month, I feel like I’ve been beating the same old drum, feeling the same old things. I’ve always wanted to remind others that they should never be sorry for their story, but I often feel sorry for mine lately because it isn’t the fun stuff or the stuff that really gains you many friends. It’s the hard stuff that, whether we like it or not, we have to walk through.
My story, if it was a book, would be entitled, “The Sick Person”. I wish that wasn’t the title because it doesn’t just portray a physical state when I read it. It portrays a mental and emotional state that causes me shame, that makes me want to hide in my brokenness. It makes me wonder, “How many different ways can you speak about this…can you write about this?” I’ve always tried to look for the meaning in the events that shape my story, but most stories take on different chapters with a different theme. My story just seems to keep repeating the same chapter.
So many stories are worse than mine, but if we all think like that, we don’t always necessarily pay the necessary attention to what God is trying to speak throughout OUR story because we are rooted in comparison.
Health is a tricky thing. Many of us walk around in great health, and no worries. Many of us walk around in not so great health, and everyday is a worry in one way or another. Many walk around in the worst of health and take it like a champ, living each day to the fullest, but many uncertain how to live when you wake up each day wondering if this is the day it claims your life. Morbid, maybe, but also an honest nutshell summary of life.
I live most of my life looking through the lens of ministry. I firmly believe that if you are a Christ-follower, you all have a ministry, but my life just happens to be the calling that is also the “job” I go to everyday, or the events that fill my calendar. My ministry eyes have seen much sickness, and my hands have held the hands of many a sick person. It’s so much easier, if you will, to hold the hand of the sick than to actually BE the sick. For the last 15 years I have been the sick, but not until this last month have I actually realized, or called myself, the sick. It’s a label. I don’t like them. There’s always been something comforting to me about having an actual diagnosis for what ails me with my health, but there is also something about having a diagnosis that I don’t want, and it’s having a name that I would force myself to live in – to put myself inside a box called, “Just Barely Living”. Having a diagnosis might mean I use it as a reason to stop living, and for someone who feels EVERYTHING deeply, that’s not always what I need. We need reasons to keep on living, to not want to give up.
I’ve wanted to give up most everyday lately. I’ve been so sick for the past month, I’ve made it to work maybe a total of five days. I’ve run a fever for a solid month. I’ve lived everyday, but five, in pain. I’ve, by the grace of God, made it to church every Sunday, but 2, over the last two months, experiencing the only break in pain I’ve had, only to return home that afternoon to the pain returning. It’s probably all mumbo jumbo to you because you can’t understand something that has no name, that you don’t feel, or you’re one of the ones who is much sicker and you wonder why write about this at all. I’ve got to own this story God has been writing over me. I don’t believe He makes me sick, but I believe, as my husband always says, “This is all going somewhere.” If I wear any banner more than another, it’s that one. I have to believe it’s for a reason. The reason I struggle to understand is how do you live a life of ministry when you hurt everyday, when you are so tired you can barely shower, or when no one really understands your health because YOU don’t understand your health. I really don’t know. I want to know, but if I’m being honest, this is lonely and confusing, angers me often, and has flowed over to other parts of ministry that I don’t know how to process. Investments in lives have changed a lot for me. I feel disconnected from people, more of observing others doing ministry than actually doing it myself, and honestly super confused what’s even the point of putting a whole heart into something that everyday I see more and more care less about. I hate that part about honesty, but just understand with me for a moment that life seems to be so inundated with excuses over surrender, and I even find myself questioning my own desire to surrender and just keep going, but then I remember, deep down, with everything, I know this is all going somewhere. So, it makes me share hoping that it connects with someone, encourages you to keep going. Realizing recently that I am actually in this community I never wanted to be in called, “The Sick Person” has made me see things a little differently, I guess. Being sick makes me want to hide, but rarely do I hide from the pressures of responsibility. Maybe for you, that is your job. Me, too. I rarely hide from that willingly because income is drawn from a job. Expectations work will be completed exists. When I say I missed all but five days of work, that is solely because I couldn’t physically pull it together to get there. You want to know where I hide the most? From God. It takes every bit of my willpower to want to be in the Word, to pray, and I kick and scream my way to church each Sunday because He represents everything I don’t understand. Why did He speak clearly He is going to heal me, but He hasn’t. (Side note…please don’t write me, or tell me, “He’s going to heal you here on earth or in heaven” because duh, we will ALL be healed in heaven. This is not helpful. He spoke a specific word that He IS going to heal me. Pray that!) Why would I want to put myself in a place that He will speak to me things I’m often not ready to hear? Why would I want to be in a room full of healthy people when all I feel is sick physically and mentally? Being an introvert, I want ANY reason to not be in a room full of people, sick or not, but you try sitting alone in a room with your thoughts, and no one to talk you off a ledge but your DOG! It is NOT the most uplifting place to be. I look around every Sunday and my flesh takes over in confusion, anger, disappointment, hurt, defeat, and on and on. Why? When you see things through a ministry lens, you wonder why so many people have stopped coming, opting often for online church, or just no church at all. Do NOT hear me judge when I question watching online. Trust me. When I am home sick, it is the BEST to know I can worship from home, but trust me…the enemy will use ANY reason to keep you from community. He will give us excuses we would never use to not show up for work, just to keep us from being with people that will speak life to us, or keep us from sitting next to someone that needs to hear our story, or allowing a sermon to hit us between the eyes. Let me chase the rabbit one last lap with this…Don’t fall for lies that you can be just fine without attending church. It is a lie. Read Hebrews 10:24 & 25…’And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.’ What a gift to know we can encourage one another while we worship together.
In all of my attempts to talk myself out of going, I have NEVER walked out disappointed that I went. Why? I absolutely cannot depend on me. I NEED other people to be the lifters of my arms.
Maybe you are crushed right now for different reasons than the ones I am feeling. I love the scripture at the beginning of this blog because it reminds me that God doesn’t always immediately heal the brokenhearted. It says He is close. He is with us for every moment of sadness, frustration, defeat, anger…ALL OF IT! The truth is, we are all the sick person. We all have a need for Him that absolutely nothing else will satisfy. What I know is that our circumstances can drive us away if we allow them to do so, or we can do whatever it takes to draw closer to Him. There is no better closeness than the one where I’m moving as close to Him as He already is to me.
My knuckles are usually in a white clenched, even bloody state from just trying to hold on to my misery. You, too? Maybe it’s not an instant heal for all of us, but it is a peace to know that His closeness never changes no matter how sick or defeated we feel. You’re not alone today, you who feel crushed. Today I hope I can be the reminder you need. Tomorrow, I am sure that you will need to be the reminder for me. That’s just what community does. Find yours.