The most haunting #EvenIf hanging over me has been, even if answers nor relief don’t come will I be able to cherish the life I do have? Seven months ago I would have answered a similar question with prideful arrogance assuming it was confident faith. I thought my ability to always see the blessing and joy in everything was a healthy outlook but it’s an unhealthy coping mechanism. Doubt doesn’t make me any less loved, cherished, chosen and blood-bought! Faith doubts don’t disqualify us friends!
Having my health status change so radically from #MiracleinMotion to mostly bedridden with excruciating chronic and worsening pain and overwhelming exhaustion felt unfair and impossible to bear. And then there was the ever growing weary faith which was initiated by the tough symptoms those early months and nearly snuffed out as the mystery of this health status grew. God has provided in every way even when I was angry, worn down and even throwing spiritual temper tantrums. Lysa TerKeurst’s words here have never been more true in my life, “God is good. God is good to me. God is good at being God.” His goodness wasn’t changed by a sucky situation. BUT, I had to let God redefine what good means to me. I let my gaze wander to my circumstances more than Him which clouded my perspective and nearly blinded me from His Truth. He was patient and kind. That’s God’s goodness. And early on Jesus spoke this #EvenIf message in my heart which helped me set a spiritual boundary: no matter what I would spend time with Him every day. That’s God’s goodness. He knew the storm that was brewing and prepared me for it. And y’all pain can quickly push you to choosing anything over Him.
The #EvenIf Excuses included but I’m sure were not limited to:
- even if I wasn’t in the mood
- even if I was angry at Him
- even if I wanted to end it all and just go home (I could have been cute and said, “hand in my pink slip” but I’m being brutally honest)
- even if I hated every second of my life
- even if I hated Him (Yikes, I know it’s dark and horrible but it’s also true)
Jesus knows I’m a girl that thrives with accountability and in routine so the #EvenIf choice meant I would have my holy routine, even if it was the bare minimum of quality time
with Him. God knows me so well, that’s His goodness.
My basic holy routine:
- I would still wake up and think of Him first (I would not let the pain be my first thought!)
- I would still spend at least thirty minutes in His Word every morning and pray (even through gritted teeth)
- Throughout the day I would listen to at least one sermon or Spirit-filled podcast or have worship music play over me (even if my eyes rolled so far back I thought I would go blind)
- I would fall asleep to His Word
You can call it a “fake it until you make it” mentality BUT it kept my Jesus anchor firm even as the waves tossed me about. And as the Light of Life was often barely visible as those
same waves crashed overhead threatening to take me under He was still always
near. That’s God’s goodness. I made that choice to be anchored in His truth even as my flesh burned with rage and as depression and anxiety seemingly swallowed me whole. My faith in Jesus Christ doesn’t make it all better, there isn’t always an easy fix to
physical and mental health issues. But expecting my faith in Jesus Christ to
always work like Thanos snapping his fingers or a vending machine dropping my favorite treat on command isn’t reality, it’s a lie of the evil one who has been prowling around waiting to pounce the second I stopped going through the motions. Choosing to “fake it until I made it” out of the darkness was allowing time for Jesus to heal me from the inside out. Healing
must take time, work, intentionality and will mean making hard choices. Putting
a cast on a broken bone doesn’t immediately heal that bone. Seeing a
therapist\counselor\psychologist doesn’t immediately heal those deep hurts.
Taking meds for physical or mental health doesn't immediately stop the pain
(although some of those pain pills thankfully mask the pain pretty quick). We
must give ourselves and God time sweet friends. God can and has healed in an
instant, He also healed me after eight years of a chronic and terminal lung
condition that medically had no cure! God doesn’t need us to pray, to make the
choice to focus on Him over ourselves and our sometimes crappy circumstances
but He will use those choices for His glory and our best. That’s God’s goodness. God doesn’t need us but He does invite us to join Him not only in relationship with Him but also in doing Kingdom work. That’s God’s goodness. And y'all fueling and maintaining our faith and securing our testimony is vital Kingdom work! As my #sisterfriends at Proverbs 31 Ministries declare, "Know the truth. Live the truth. It Changes everything."
God’s redefining of His goodness was best on display as I finally laid down my false need for answers verbally, physically and spiritually because y’all the hardest part of the past six months has been the long wait full of unknowns. I’d take the pain, the depression, the doubts and so much more if I had a clear diagnosis and treatment plan in place. I’ve discovered that motivation is the number one reason I’m an Enneagram FIVE! Geesh. Admitting I couldn’t research and plan my way out of this and that I truly had to let Jesus take the wheel and release all sense of control stinks! The truth is, any sense of control we feel is false, any time we let our feelings or emotions steer the ship we will crash and anytime we’re trying to shut God out we will sink under the weight of the suckiness and will give the enemy a chance to take us down for good. There were plenty of days, even weeks where I spent the bare minimal amount of quality time with God, as listed above, and would run toward my favorite hiding places: binging on fictional characters and ridiculous reality shows in books, TVS and movies. And the bare minimal meant I was barely anchored but God is good and He used even my most stubborn days for His glory and my best.
The Health Update: My spleen was majorly unhealthy and it’s what got my attention but it also set off a major rabbit chase all around my body until we found the source: my spine. Years ago I was diagnosed with four herniated discs and nerve damage in my lower back but it wasn’t radial so we could treat it with physical therapy and pain management and while it’s always there it’s managed well. But now my thoracic spine (the middle and upper middle portion) has thrown my whole body out of whack and is causing all of this mess. We are waiting for a neurologist now to determine if these two herniated discs, nerve damage and degeneration are radial which will require surgery. My biggest prayer is that I don’t let the Doctors, diagnosis or treatment plans define me, ground me or rule me. That I doubt in healthy ways always letting God remind me that His goodness is not my definition of good.