Saturday, August 28, 2010
Why is it that people are so busy these days? As someone who is a stay-at-home disabled mom...(of an 18 year old)...I have the time to take a leisurely look at the lives of many of my friends...and I'm puzzled by what I see. I was always active before becoming seriously disabled. I worked; I was a mom; I cooked I kept my house clean; I taught Bible Study; I attended church, Bible studies, and many church functions; shopped; did laundry...worked out...took my daughter to Brownies and swimming lessons; home-schooled for several years....And I don't think I was EVER as frenetically busy as are the people I see around me on a daily basis. I had time to spend several hours in prayer and personal Bible study in the mornings...I read books...I socialized with my friends... and I worked hard at my art career and the work of creativity.
But people now...and this is the RULE, not the exception...are so busy that if you ask them to stick a stamp on a letter, they can't fit it into their schedules. I know this to be true, because I often need to "bum rides" to the pharmacy for example--a trip that would take someone 15 minutes--and most often, the answer I get is, "I just really don't have a free minute today." What is sucking up these people's time? It is not necessarily their jobs, because most of these people are women who stay at home. Is it the karate lessons, the ...the WHAT??? I truthfully don't know. How can a person allow themselves to become so busy that they are in a continual state of frenzy ...so busy that they don't have time to even LIVE?
Is it a mis-management of time? Are they simply disorganized? Do they sleep until noon? Are they SO wrapped up in their children that God and church and their neighbors must all take a backseat? I am truly confused about this. Are they REALLY not that busy, but simply can't be bothered to help out? I find that hard to believe. Are they so disorganized that they are just really confused about the amount of available time they have...and then when free time does come up, they forget about my need?
Maybe they are simply over-committed.
But if they are so over-c0mmitted, then why is it that the church does not have enough volunteers for anything they need to get done??? What are these people spending their time doing??? I would love to sneak into their homes and observe them for a day...
I do not mean to sound superior here. Nor do I mean to sound accusatory...because I do not truly feel either of these things. I'm just dying of curiosity! I wonder to myself, how it is that we, as Christians, can allow ourselves to become so overwhelmed by life that we cannot meet the needs of those around us...including our own church?
Are mismanagement of time and an illness of priorities the culprits? I believe that these two factors are probably more to blame than any of the others. Do people spend twenty minutes looking for their car keys and 40 minutes chatting on the phone and then spend an hour in front of the TV and then one or two hours surfing the net...and then suddenly realize they have only a half hour before dinner time and a Bible study to attend that night, for which they are unprepared? I could be totally wrong about this and if I am please forgive me.
My purpose is not to point fingers or to mock anyone's lifestyle. What I think we all (ALL of us, four fingers pointing back at me) need to realize is that time is a gift and an entrustment given to us by God. Whether we do too much with our time and neglect other things...or whether we do not do enough with our time and have too much of it on our hands (as is my case)...we are going to have to one day give an accounting to God for how we spent every minute. And a defense of "I never had enough time because I was too busy" is not going to hold any water.
Jesus had more demands on His time than probably most other people we can think of. He had three years. He had to train twelve men adequately so that they were capable of carrying on without him in the spawning of a faith that was to change the entire world for thousands of years to come. He had to somehow support his needs and the needs of his disciples for food and daily provision...and he had THOUSANDS of needy people pulling at his sleeves to be healed or helped. He had also, to fight off the arguments of the Pharisees and evade their efforts to kill him and to destroy his ministry before his appointed time to die. And He STILL had the time to go into the mountains and meet with his Father for several days at a time. He STILL had time to go to parties, weddings, socialize and have dinners with friends...and teach at the synagogue.
Sure we can argue, "Yeah, but he was GOD...of course he could handle all of that." But I fully believe that in these matters he was man first. This was an area that he had to deal with in his human weakness and with his human resources. So how did he do it? How did he pull it off?
1) He did not waste time. You never hear of him doing ANYTHING that was not relevant to his mission here on earth.
2) He was not diverted or distracted by anything. The Bible tells us that Jesus, "Set his face like flint toward Jerusalem" (ie: the cross). He had an appointment to keep. And he allowed nothing to get in his way or distract him from meeting that goal. Do we know what our overriding purpose is in this life? It cannot be a general thing like "to please God and man"...What specifically do you hope and need to accomplish in your time on this planet? Do you know?? Have you asked God, what HIS goal for your life is?? There's no way you can act consistently with a goal, if you do not know what that goal is.
3) He did not allow himself to be pushed into meeting EVERY need or fitting into everyone else's time frame or schedule. When Mary and Martha summoned him to come and heal their brother,--even though Lazarus was a good friend of Jesus'--Jesus did not jump at their beckoning. He had other priorities. He had another appointment to keep before he kept that one. And he did not allow even his own love for Lazarus to divert him or sway him. He knew that, in the carrying out of the Father's will and purposes, some people are NOT always going to like the choices or decisions that one must make. And that was okay with him. His goal on earth, as he often repeated, was to do the will of the Father...To carry out the Father's instructions and to bring the Father the glory. And, as he told said, when informed of Lazarus' illness, "it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it" and THAT was his objective. Not pleasing Mary and Martha. Not the opinions of the crowd who probably had a lot to say about his not being there in time to heal Lazarus. And not even alleviating Lazarus' suffering. NO, it was with complete consistency with his life's purpose that Jesus acted.
And also, there were many other sick and disabled people there in Nazareth, Galilee and Jerusalem whom Jesus DID NOT HEAL. Why? Because his purpose for coming to earth was not to heal people of their physical distress. It was to heal them of there spiritual mortal illness. The physical healings were only done because they augmented his main goal by bringing him and his cause to the attention of the masses. Again, Jesus acted in perfect consistency with his reason for coming to this earth.
There are many times when we must pass up on very good, very laudable commitments or activities simply because they are not in keeping with what God has called us to do. And there will be people who will not understand that. There will probably be complaints. But who are we here to please? God? Or others?
I think that one of the best things we can do with our time is self-evaluation. When is the last time you sat down with a microscope and examined your life and your goals and how well you are meeting those goals? When is the last time you asked God for his input in those areas? When is the last time you took an AXE to your schedule and cut off or out, things that are diverting your time and energy from things that are more consistent with your calling? When someone calls on you to do a task, join a committee, do a favor...who or what do you consult? Do you look at your watch and then your to-do list and make a decision based on that information? Or do you go to your knees and ask the Father what HE wants for you to do?? Too many times we utilize our own rationalizations, our own logic or our own wish to please others as a compass for our directions.
I don't know if I've convicted you at all here, or made you think...but these thoughts have challenged me. I face different challenges than most of you...but these guidelines are relevant to us all. And I'm no exception to my own challenges to you here today.
Friday, August 27, 2010
I'm upset (in case you hadn't gathered by now.) Just a few "stats" which will maybe give you a hint as to the content of my distress:
- In the past year or longer, I have not been anywhere overnight other than the hospital.
- In the past year, I can't think of ANYPLACE that I've been except for one brief trip to the mall, the hospital, doctors' appointments and a few stores I beg my way into stopping at on those trips to the doctor...always these are carried out in a great hurry to fit into the schedule of the person driving me...and must never be more than a mile out of the way of my appointment; I've also been to Walmart; once or twice to Shop Rite; a few restaurants ( but nothing very exciting); Bible Study; Church and ummmm...Hospitals. That's it. That's all.
- I have not been on a vacation of any kind for seventeen years...when we went for a weekend to Mystic, CT. when my daughter was a year old.
- I have not gone to any retreats or conferences (with the exception of one retreat and one conference both over a year ago) for many, many years.
- I have never gone over to a friend's house for the day or just to "hang out" in as long as I can remember.
- I have not had a car in over four years that I could take anywhere for even a day...except for a Rav 4 I had briefly which got 12 miles to the gallon of gas and had over 200,000 miles on it...enough said.
- I have to beg, borrow or steal a ride just to get to the pharmacy.
- I have not had company at my house since I was married (21 years ago) ...except for once or twice when a friend stopped in for tea...RARE occasions. And I've not had anyone over for a meal since the very very early years of our marriage when ONCE I had company over for dinner.
The most fun I've had was when I left my husband several years ago; just hopped in my car with my daughter and a couple of suitcases...and took off for several weeks. Yeah, it was a sad and distressful occasion, but my daughter and I still talk about how FUN it was to just go somewhere, anywhere but this house.
People, I am not old. Not really (despite what my 18 year old daughter says). I am too young to live like this. I can't stand it anymore, I really can't. I haven't complained. Not once. But I'm complaining now. The loneliness and the boredom are overwhelming. I would probably sell my soul to have a car for a day to go anywhere I wanted. I would also give one of my appendages to take a day and go out with a friend--not for a doctor's appointment...just to have fun.
Do people think I don't care that I live like this? Do they think it doesn't bother me? Does it just not even occur to them that I might be miserable??
It's bad enough to have a body that is in pain ALL THE TIME...and not even to have the respite of sleep...but I can't tolerate much more of this.
My husband is a man of routine and habits and SAMENESS...anything else throws him for a loop. I, however, LOVE spontaneity and am gregarious by nature. I am a social creature. I need to SHOP (YES, I am a woman.)
I feel like hitchhiking somewhere,...just to get out of here and for some excitement.
It is pathetic, but I ENJOYED the two ambulance rides when I dislocated my hip both times recently...sure I was in mind-blowing pain, but it got me out of the house...I got to meet people, and heck, it was exciting. Isn't that SICK???
Not for anything....Just sayin'
Saturday, August 21, 2010
The Scriptures he mentions in today's meditation hit me hard. 2 Chron.16:9, Ps. 23:6, and Isa.64:4. (You'll have to look them up...not enough space here). His point was that, when we encounter a problem, we should not fret because God has already worked on the problem and the answer was on its way, even before we knew we had a problem; that God works on the behalf of those who wait for him, that Goodness and his mercy will pursue us for as long as we live; that he searches the earth for those whose hearts are completely his so that he may extend his power on their behalf.
Note that in two of the three verses there are conditions or characteristics we must meet or have if this is to be true in our lives. 1) Our hearts must be completely his and 2) we must wait for God….not rush around madly trying to solve the problems ourselves…
Later in that chapter it says that God will meet with (Hebrew: paga…encounter, or strikingly impact) those who love and pursue righteousness. We do not have to pursue solutions; we must pursue the God of the solutions.
This chapter also says that God is a hidden God; a God who hides himself, and that to make this appointment for this meeting with him we must seek him with all our hearts…we must pursue him; and for those who pursue him with all their hearts; he will gladly meet them and show himself to them.
There is also an interesting paradox in this chapter. We are told to “love righteousness” if we want to encounter this God of righteousness—and yet also told that our righteous acts are “filthy rags”…. So what are we to do? The key sentence, I think, is this one, “But God, you are our Father….” I think we are to love God because he is our father; to love righteousness because our Father is righteous. No Father would want a son to strive constantly to be good enough to avoid punishment out of fear of the wrath of his father. No, a father is delighted when a child strives to do good things out of love for his dad and a desire to please him because he loves him. God is not a salesman at a salvation store whom we must pay with righteous acts in order to purchase his salvation. Our money is worthless to him. He is a father who delights to save his children and to be KNOWN by them. He hides in order that we may more fervently seek. And he rewards those efforts with an abundance of mercy and goodness which shall then pursue US. We pursue knowing him and he pursues demonstrating his love for us.
And this is a thing unheard of by any other religion and of any other faith. No other god; not Buddha, Allah, Vishnu…etc. loves those who worship him as his own child. He does not seek to do them benefit, but rather to be appeased and to be feared. These gods are proud and vindictive…not loving, merciful, and humble. They would never die on the behalf of those who worship them.
So, if I had to come up with a sentence to summarize it would be this:
If we extend effort to pursue God in order to know and please him, our Father; he will pursue us with the evidences of his love and reward us with a deeper knowledge of himself. In other words, We just have to show him that we are interested…and he will bountifully fulfill our desire for him.
So after a night like last night when I had a night of complete hell...terrible awful pain and sleeplessness because of it…how can I reconcile this fact of my experience with the words of these Scriptures? (Please note: I have indeed been the beneficiary of his benefits of love as well…) and that is maybe just the point I should make here. The two facts: the demonstrations of his love and the fact of our suffering –are not mutually exclusive. The point is that WHEN WE ENCOUNTER A PROBLEM (or when we suffer, if you will), he is already running to meet us with a means by which to answer our need. Now his answer may not be to remove or alleviate our suffering…in fact, in this life, it will often grow worse over time…but our need may really not be to have the suffering removed. Maybe our need is to know him better…and HE IS OUR VERY GREAT REWARD, as Scripture says. Maybe our need is to receive some special evidence of his love and compassion for us in our suffering…and there have been abundances of this for me…even in the past week. Maybe our true need is to have our endurance and patience stretched a bit so that the next time of suffering (which he can see approaching in his omniscience)…will be more endurable and will not destroy us. Maybe our need is to have someone else remark to us how our endurance has challenged and grown their faith.
Anyone can be in a place where they are not suffering, but yet feel very needy and dissatisfied. And I know from experience that I can be in a place of great suffering and be perfectly content in my Father’s arms and not feel any lack of something that I “Need.”
Last night, I confess, I was very dissatisfied with my lot and with my suffering. I was lonely throughout the long dark pain-filled night. And I felt NEEDY…and God did not immediately remove those feelings. But this morning He has blessed me and refreshed me with these words from his Word and shown me again the many ways over the past several weeks that he has been at work to lighten my load. Maybe last night was one of those nights of “stretching” and the lessons I learned from it may well be needed in the upcoming days. I do not know. I know that sometimes God hides. Maybe I needed to press in a little harder into my commitment to pursue him. And to acknowledge the fact that he is always, always loving me and showering me with benefits.
Last night as I laid completely wracked in pain and totally miserable, it occurred to me to find something for which to be grateful, as is was seeming to me that I was the most afflicted person on earth (I know: stupid thought! But it felt that way for a bit). I thanked God for my warm, soft blanket in my chilly room. I thanked him with even greater feeling for my comfortable hospital bed. I thanked him for my medicines and for my doctors. And I needed to go no further. For gratitude suffused me and I realized how foolish I’d been to feel so cursed, when in truth, I am so blessed. And then, for about a half an hour, I dozed…and for that, I am grateful indeed.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Well I did it again.
I re-dislocated my hip yesterday…doing, of all things: my toenails. Everyone said, “Why didn’t you just ask your daughter?” Yeah. And I did. Like 6 times. There comes a point, as she well knows, and as any mom knows, when you give up and just do it yourself.
The worst part of it all is not the pain. It’s not the bruises already forming on the sides of my breasts from the crutches. It’s not the honkin’ brace I have to wear for the next 8 weeks. It’s the fact that I won’t get to walk again outside, probably for the rest of the year. Even typing that invites tears. 8 weeks is….the end of October. I doubt that I’ll get another walk in. By then asthma can have me in its grip. All my efforts at health can go right out the window—every hard earned muscle. All my lung stamina and capacity…my limberness built with stretching and yoga…it’s all gone. One word: Crap!
I could cry thinking about it. All the strength people talk about…all the invincibility…all the control they take over their own lives--it’s all a smoke-screen for the fact that we are weak, fragile,--feathers blowing on the winds of chance; or God’s plan. All of our self autonomy is a farce. This strength in which we boast is just an injury away from dissipation; an illness away. We are foolish and pompous to think that we can control our health and our destiny. We are ropes in the hands of the tug of war between Satan and God. We are the flag tied on the middle of that rope. Where we end up all depends on who pulls harder. Of course God could drag Satan around the globe if He wanted to…but for His own, inexplicable reasons, sometimes He allows Satan to drag us through the mud…maybe it’s only to prove to us that we are NOT the ones pulling the rope. We are NOT the ones who control things but merely flags flapping on the breeze of chance and God’s permission.
We brag and flex our puny muscle…and God laughs. And Satan snickers. Satan begs to destroy us. God acts to humble us. And before we know it; we are on our butts, naked and muddy, and groaning in the recognition that we are helpless. Helpless, please note, does NOT mean that we are without culpability and accountability. We cannot say, “See, there’s nothing I can do and nothing I do is my fault…” and then eat through the refrigerator. No, We do not get the gains. Neither do we enjoy the “benefit” of sin, the “pleasure that lasts but a moment”…No. We must not concede to self-indulgence. And we will receive blessed little reward for that…at least here, on this planet.
We groan. Satan laughs. And God sighs.
Why does God sigh? Because maybe He longs to explain and show us the end of the story…where we will see that it all works out for our benefit…somehow. Maybe He longs to show us that our 2 years in the wheelchair; or months bedridden, or weeks of pain, or months in a brace….are really paltry and insignificant in the light of what He is doing. They will fall, forgotten by the wayside like a snake’s discarded skin. But to tell us now, would ruin the delight of the moment of recognition we will have when we finally SEE that “light at the end of the tunnel” and UNDERSTAND it all….and when we SEE, revealed in that light, what our true and very great reward really is. It’s not muscle. It’s not invincibility. It’s not strength, It’s not health. It’s a weak, desperate dependence on the everlasting arms beneath us. On the loving shoulders who carry our trembling frame. On the love that bears us up and gently lifts us out of that mud puddle and carries us to a place so glorious and to a body so strong, that we will laugh at our prior disappointment. And part of the journey to that place-a necessary part- is learning to be weak and letting him do the lifting of our frail selves. It’s resting on those shoulders; on those strong arms…and letting GO of the need to control this body…of the need to convince ourselves of our strength and autonomy. It’s the understanding that we are weak and frail and that the dreams that we dreamed for ourselves are foolish and poor dreams compared to the ones He is dreaming for us—and bringing to reality. Part of our reward is the understanding that our strength does not, never has, and never will come from our own will, decisions or bodies…but our strength lies in the level of weak dependence on His unlimited unmitigated strength. THAT strength, Satan is powerless to drag around. Illness is helpless to touch or destroy. THAT is our inheritance. THAT is our reward. THAT is our true power. For when we are weak; then HE can be strong. And when He is strong…we are the ones to benefit.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Yesterday began a new challenge for me. It's the first really bad flare of the PsA that I've had in quite a while. I've had "achy days"...usually associated with weather systems moving in and out...but this is seriously painful. In the past, when this happened, I found it distressing, simply because it was uncomfortable to deal with. NOW, however, I am finding it a little more concerning as I have been learning more about RA (rheumatoid arthritis)...which is a twin sister of my disease (psoriatic arthritis). I've learned that a single flare can be so destructive that it can totally destroy numerous joints in the body and can cause a person to require splinting and assistive devices to walk PERMANENTLY afterward. I am learning that this disease can not only effect the joints, but the organs and basically every other biological system we have...including things like the endocrine system for example. That makes me wonder if my endocrine issues (I have problems with abnormal thyroid and parathyroid levels) are due to my PsA as well.
I have pretty much decided that, as much as is up to me, I'm going to abandon the "patient" mentality that I confess I've had in the past. I'm a person, not a patient. I just happen to have health issues. I will not easily agree to opt for medical interventions such as surgery or more medication. I've learned through much hard experience that such things more often than not, lead to even more complications and problems than you would have had without treatment. I need to get educated more about what alternative medicine has to offer me. I've been reading more and more about this.
I have a huge herbal cabinet from which I've treated many of my more minor ailments for the past several years. However, sadly, due to my memory loss after my last psychotic breakdown and ECT treatments, much of my knowledge of herbology is gone. I still have my books on it though, so am trying to reread them....Because retaining information is more challenging for me now, I find that often, I simply have to look up the answers to specific needs at the time they occur. I have a "pain-bath" mixture of Epsom salts and a combination of herbs which I invented some years ago which works, honestly, better than morphine on my pain. Of course, it is not always feasible to drop everything and take a soak in the bathtub...but when the pain becomes unbearable, I often do that. My father also swears by this treatment of mine. He's used it himself for his own pain and found it to be very effective. He thinks I should market it. But I really would have little idea of how to go about that. Instead, I've just been giving small quantities of it to friends who need it.
I wrote an article on my health "story" and on some of the conclusions to which this journey has led me. I sent it to a man who is a pioneer and leader in the emerging "e-patient" movement (which stands for "empowered patient"). These are people with serious illnesses who have "taken the bull by the horns," gotten educated about their illness and about various treatment modalities available to them, and insisted that their doctors PARTNER with them in their treatment... Rather than being an object upon which the doctors work; they want to be participants in their own care. And they demand to be treated as though they have something valuable to contribute to that relationship. I like that approach....But of course, it involves some effort, as an uneducated participant in the treatment team could really throw things into a dangerous spin. This gentleman (Dave Bronkhart) wrote a book on his recovery from Stage IV cancer after he was given, at most, five weeks to live. He teamed up after his recovery with other people who are fighting back...and this movement is the consequence. He is still looking at my final draft of the article, so I'm not sure yet where that all will lead.
Anyway, these are some of the issues that have been occupying my mind and my time lately. I'm sorry that there is no great moral to this story...other than just to keep fighting back; no matter what forces come together to knock you over. The human mind and spirit is capable of accomplishing much; Team that up with a partnership with the Lord God and you have a winning combination.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
This coming Wednesday through Saturday is the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers’ Conference…a gathering of Christian creatives from all over the country for a time not only of business connections and opportunities; but of Spiritual outpouring and refreshing. And another great benefit to going is that it’s a time to get reacquainted with old friends whom you’ve met in past years and a chance to make new ones. It’s a time of good food, learning, fellowship, laughter, and honing your craft,
….And I was not going to be able to be there!
For many months I’d thought about it; “How can I come up with the money to be able to attend again?” Last year, I’d attended on a full-tuition scholarship, generously provided by the well-known writer, Cecil Murphey; but this year, what was going to happen? I knew if God wanted me there, He would open a way for me to be able to go…So I waited…my hopes gradually fading as the registration deadline approached and no clear way presented itself.
Then, late last week, I began to get a series of personal emails from the director and organizer of the conference, urging me to attend. When I told her of my financial concerns, she offered me a generous partial scholarship. I added up the remaining cost. It was still daunting (to my budget at any rate). She emailed again…I could pay whenever I got the money she said. So I began to seriously consider whether her interest in my attending was really the voice of God letting me know that He had plans for me to be there as well.
But then concerns from the home front began to make themselves felt….My daughter is quite ill with an illness which can linger for some months and she would be all by herself for 12 hours a day while I am gone. (She’s 18, so don’t panic about this!). Still, I knew that she really needed me to be here for comfort as much as for anything else.
So this morning I sent an email to the director, one last time, telling her all of my reasons for hesitating to attend and that, ultimately, there were too many to overcome, and that I would have to remain home.
But still my heart did not rest. I was uneasy thinking things like, “Maybe God had some blessing waiting for me there that I will miss out on by not going?” “Maybe someone who’s there will miss out on some blessing that I might be to them?” “Maybe the elderly couple with whom I was going to ride and share the driving, will have difficulty or danger on the trip if I’m not there to drive?”
So, I went to Scripture and to prayer. The following is something I wrote in my journal after doing this:
‘I asked God for wisdom this morning and then read the first couple of chapters of James. Several things have haunted me since saying I couldn’t go to the conference; things that I noted, but which didn’t make sense till now:
1) When you ask God for wisdom, you must be seeking HIS answer alone (“let your faith be in God alone”)…not looking to your own rationale or to the circumstances of your life to arrive at the answer. You cannot let yourself be “divided” between God’s wisdom and the wisdom that the world offers…otherwise you will be unstable in your faith and will not receive the blessing God has waiting for you.
2) Faith requires action. It’s one thing to say: “I believe in God” and another, to put your feet where your mouth is and to actually GO and DO what He is telling you to do. These actions will be inherently hard, and may initiate some negative feedback from “the world”, --that’s why it’s called “faith” and not “common sense”!
'God’s voice and His message to us is difficult to hear among the tumult of the crowd…Jesus wrapped His messages in confusing or misleadingly simple stories which obfuscated the point He was making to the listeners who just “didn’t have ears to hear.” It is those who hear with the ears of faith, to whom His messages will make sense and strike home.
'All of this “makes sense” to me….but I am still faced with the fact that going on this trip will be HARD….It will challenge me at every level of comfort. It will require a long day today of work and preparation in order to be ready to go; it will probably invite the criticism of my husband and the sadness of my daughter….It will involve very literal pain and exhaustion….Am I really WILLING to do it? Am I GOING to do it? Am I sure enough of God’s call to take the necessary steps? (I sense some definite “wave-ering” here!)(see James 1: 6) Is it my concern for my family that is preventing me from going? Or is it my own discomfort?'
After writing that I spoke to a number of people…each of whom had strong opinions about whether or not I should attend…and each person’s opinion was the polar opposite of the one before them and the one following them!
At long last, I prayed. I went to God with my confusion. I said to Him, “WHAT are you trying to tell me? And WHY is every direction I get making me more confused?”
He answered in His inimitable, unmistakable way, “What do YOU want to do?” I thought and then had to answer honestly, “I don’t know. Even my own feelings are mixed. I would enjoy going in some ways, but in others it would be really hard on me physically and mentally…and there’s the difficulty it would cause my family; I can’t harden myself to that.”
He asked next, patiently and quietly. “If you knew for sure that I wanted you to go, would you go?” I answered, very honestly, “You KNOW I would, Lord, I would go in a second!” He then asked, still softly, “And if I told you to stay, would you do that?” I answered with the same affirmative.
He wrapped up His response in a manner that suffused my being with peace, so I knew the matter was settled. “THAT is all I’m looking for. I’m able to abundantly bless you whether you go or whether you stay home. I’m able to protect those you love, whether you go or whether you stay home. What I wanted out of this was your willingness to obey and trust me, in any direction that I might steer you, and you have given Me that. So now, make your decision. And either way you decide, it will be well and I will be pleased.”
So I decided then not to go.
Yes, I will miss seeing my friends. But I can stay home knowing that I’m not missing out on some great blessing; I’m not causing anyone to die in a car accident; I’m not causing my daughter to suffer; I’m not adding more debt to my already strained finances; I’m not having to face the inevitable pain that such a trip would bring on me physically and the fact that I’m disappointing a few people, is really OKAY. Because God is pleased with me; and that’s all that really matters, isn’t it?
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Last Monday, I believe it was; I was so depressed and freaked out about food issues, and felt so blah the whole day that I scared myself… I even had suicidal thoughts. I haven’t felt like that in months and it scared the crap out of me.
Well, I discovered why it happened. That day I’d forgotten to take any of my medication. Amazing, isn’t it? That ONE day off of them, and already I was almost in crisis! It’s scary for sure. But it shows me clearly how wonderfully these meds are working. And that it is them doing the improvement, not anything else. I HATE TO ADMIT THAT! I never, ever thought I would find a med combo that helped me enough to outweigh any side effects. Let alone a med combo that made me feel this good that had almost no side effects!
I never thought I’d find meds that I WANTED to take simply because they helped me so much! I pray that my insurance will not change for the worse. I pray that I don’t develop side effects that are dangerous….I pray that I don’t “get used to them” so that they stop working.
I never, ever thought I would feel better enough—GOOD enough—to prefer it over the intensity and “creative edge” that I got from being sick. I never thought I would prefer to be healthy and NORMAL! Haha. ‘
Now, I don’t want the drama of being sick. It is an interruption and an intrusion. I’m scared of getting sick, physically or mentally, again. I am thinking more and more of looking good; feeling good; and feeling STRONG and capable. Like if someone asked me to go out and shoot hoops with them, I would actually consider doing it and not laugh…or panic! I can’t believe, for example, that a few minutes ago I was seriously considering trying to play tennis again!
Even when I was 18, I was too out of shape and sickly to consider that. In fact, I was in a wheelchair then! How sad, that my youth: what should have been my strongest, healthiest and most active years were lost to decades of mental and physical illness! I never even got to enjoy it! (being young and beautiful).
To what do I owe this change in attitude: this serious craving for health and physical activity and strength and endurance? Two things: meds and Spark People.com. Reading and reading all that “crap” has made a change in my brain! As I’ve read about fat, out of shape people getting thin and strong and running marathons, I began to believe that maybe I could too… And WANTING TO – desperately.
Yes, I have serious, chronic illnesses. But I am determined that they will not have the last word. Or the last laugh. I want to be the one laughing at the end of the story! I want to look back and see how I defeated them and went on to a decent life despite them. I want to snatch back from the decades past, my health and youth. I want to have a second go at it…and have all of the fun I never had back then…locked up in hospitals and wheelchairs.
You know what is new in all of this? It’s these two words, “I WANT”…. I don’t think there are many things I’ve wanted from life before – except for it to be over…and that has got to be a good thing to have gained now. A desire for life: a better life; MORE life. I want to work. Work hard…at getting strong; and eventually do some meaningful work in my life. I don’t want to die having accomplished a big fat NOTHING, other than to have set new illness records or records for ‘Most Days Hospitalized’ in a year! I want to do something for God and for His people. I want to do something bold and significant.
A part of me shrinks back at that thought. There is still a tenuous, fearful self here…a little one…lurking. She whispers, “You’re a mental patient! You have schizophrenia! People DON’T get rid of that disease! It has done damage, physical, probably irreparable damage to your brain! You don’t always THINK rationally! How could you take on responsibilities again? How could you go off of disability??? What if you got sick again? Who would ever trust you in a position where people depended on you? Who would ever be able to overlook a past like yours? Even your husband and daughter devalue and disregard what you say and do; why wouldn’t anyone else?”
I do not underestimate the importance of these things. I know that in order to be fully trusted in life, I would have to move far away, where no one knows me, and then start over with my past a huge secret…even away from my family.
But is it necessary to have that trust, in order to live a significant life, successfully? Can’t public opinions just be another hurdle to be leapt? Can’t I laugh off those who are ignorant and foolish and cling to old prejudices? Can’t I take everyone’s skepticism and doubts as another challenge and set about to defeat that one too? Can’t I look at it all as another sport—a sport to be conquered and mastered? A game to be WON!
The little me in the dark corners of my mind, is running around now, frantic in her panic. I’ve scared the crap out of her. Pulled the rug out from under her scrawny legs. Threatened the very ground she stands on. I WANT to threaten that ground. I want to BULLDOZE IT OUT OF EXISTENCE….AND BUILD SOMETHING GOOD, SOMETHING STRONG, INSTEAD.
I know that there will be those of you who read this, who think that this is just another expression of my illness…mania perhaps. And that’s okay. You are allowed to think that. Just check in with me in 5 years’ time and see what I’ve done since, OK?
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
The transfers from the chair to the "step chair" -(which is a canvas chair on wheels which they used to get me out of the tight corners of my small room and down my deck stairs) and then the change from the step chair to the gurney were excruciating beyond the power of words to describe. I was so grateful for the obvious physical strength of the paramedics who were able to lift my 160 pounds with seeming ease and were able to support the chair on the steps with a minimum of jouncing. The ambulance ride, with the bumpy roads and turns, were also not fun (to use a ridiculous understatement), but eventually we got to the local hospital.
The doctors there were able, with a lot of difficulty, to get my hip back into the socket...after about 3 hours of preliminary waiting and struggling to get an IV into my pathetic veins (only 5 tries tonight!). I've never, ever been so glad to see a drug being injected into my IV line as I was tonight! I was terrified that I would be conscious and aware during the procedure, but thank God, and thank Dr. Hamud, I was not. The hip kept popping back out as they attempted to get it to stay in...and finally (for now) it did. The doctor and the nurses kept reiterating that it will most likely not stay put, however. The doctor told my husband if it dislocates three times, they will have to do a revision surgery. :(
I am terrified now of the recurrence of that pain. You can bet that I will be treating my new joint a lot more carefully as it heals, than I did the first time around! I did not fully appreciate the danger or the incredible pain and probably pushed myself too hard, too fast. I just hope that my new efforts at caution will be sufficient to keep this one in place.
Everyone I encountered tonight; from the paramedics to the nurses to the Xray tech to the unit clerk; were all wonderful and blessings from God. I think it even turned out to be a blessing that I did not have my way and get transferred from that hospital to the one where I had my surgery. (However, they would have had to do that, had not the doctor here been successful at getting it back together). This way there was much less of a wait time until I got those sweet drugs to knock me out, than there would have been had I gone back to NY.
So now, I'm back to intensely missing my laptop...and being, once again very limited in the time I can spend at the PC due to pain. Please keep us all in prayer: my whole family. Each family member has some health struggles of their own now...so we are a mess.
There's no "deeper meaning" to this blog...except perhaps to say that I'm so grateful that people were praying for me tonight. Before the paramedics took me to the ambulance, I had time to call my Pastor and get myself put on the prayer chain. Within minutes my entire church was praying for me...and I knew, as I lay biting my lips in pain in the ER, that those prayers were being offered. I was able to stay calm and, over all, the whole experience was as good as it could have been under those circumstances. God even was working as He disregarded my prayer to make it to the NY hospital...because He knew that this option was the kinder one.
If you are a person given to prayer; please keep me in your discussions with God when you happen to think of me in the next week or so....I can use all the prayer you can "spare."
Monday, August 2, 2010
When I say that I'm struggling with this disease again, I do not mean that I'm eating less than 500 calories a day and in medical danger, as I was when I was younger for over 15 years of my life. I just mean that I am struggling with the "stinking thinking" that goes with it. I've recently lost over 45 pounds in an effort to lose the 80 I'd gained last year from medications such as steroids and some psych meds (which I've now changed for better ones), which caused me to blow up in size. I needed to lose those 45 pounds and I need to lose at least 30 more, but to undertake anything like that for a person with a history like mine, is an extremely delicate and even dangerous undertaking. And my attempts to do this have re-triggered my daughter's ED and HER struggles have triggered mine again.
As I journaled my feelings about this and about myself tonight; I looked at the illness and at the thoughts behind it with much greater understanding than I used to have. I KNOW what's causing it right now, at this particular time in my life. It's that I feel completely out of control in the events in my life. My family is facing a lot of stuff right now; both relationally and health-wise...and my response to this chaos, is to try to control SOMETHING; ANYTHING...and that, is my weight. While I started with a desire to regain my health and strength as well as my waistline...somehow, in the process, I began to lose sight of the weight I'd lost. I began to look in the mirror and see, not a thinner woman but a FATTER one. I began to look surreptitiously at my shadow as I walk outside in the early mornings...and it looks swollen and huge. I began to look at young girls in the malls and at the clothes the stores wear to dress them...and I felt old, fat an unattractive.
Tonight, all these feelings swarmed in me as I typed. I went to a support site for ED and saw pictures which the site had labeled "shocking" and they didn't shock me. Most of the girls I thought looked good. Now, I've not lost my mind enough yet, to not know that this is a very bad sign. Just last year, when my daughter had made collages of pictures like these and hung them all over her room, I was horrified by them. I was amazed that she really thought they looked good...and that she wanted to look like them. And now, it horrifies me that I'm feeling that way again too.
I have an odd mixed bag of awareness and illness. Of health and of sickness. I know I'm not at the point of no return. But unless I get a hold of myself; unless I have some help from God...things will deteriorate quickly. And that will be the last straw that this family can tolerate. It will cause utter destruction.
If I want or need control, I need to work at controlling my sick mind and body and making them to conform to right and healthy paths. Even if I get a little obsessed with eating a certain way, that's okay if I can do nothing else...as long as it is in a healthy way and I do not let my mind go skittering out of control, the way it has been for this past week.
I'm not a teenager anymore. Time to grow up and stop thinking like one.