Sunday, August 29, 2010
Sometimes Hope looks different than we thought it would.
Sometimes Change rips through us, through our lives, through our "unchangeables" faster than we ever imagined it could.
Sometimes Deliverance waits until the moment we fall to our knees in defeat before it sweeps in and carries us out of the dark.
It's been quite a week. And these are just some of the things I've been learning.
Exactly seven days ago, I had a conversation with God. Not just any conversation. A late-night, soul-searching, gut-wrenching, sob-filled conversation. About life and death, heaven and hell, deliverance and abandonment, healing and brokenness.
I begged. I pleaded. I beseeched.
And something happened.
It wasn't a new conversation. Not by any stretch. But until that night, I had always left these conversations *hoping* God had heard me, *hoping* He would intervene, *hoping* that deliverance would come soon. This time I didn't walk away with hope. I walked away with the kind of certainty I hadn't felt in many months, a sense that something was about to change. I didn't know what or how or when. I just had a feeling that God was going to act.
Little did I know He already had.
Less than 12 hours later, I walked into my doctor's office expecting to rehash and clarify things we'd already talked about and try to come up with a plan for moving forward. After my late-night conversation with God, I had woken up that morning exhausted and emotionally empty. About 65% of me wanted to give up, throw in the towel, and walk away from the chance to be healed. I went to my appointment reluctantly, unsure if I could hold on until God decided to do whatever He was going to do.
But my doctor's first words took me by surprise: "I have something new to talk to you about. And I'm excited."
I didn't know how to feel about that, so I just let her talk. My doctor had been attending a conference the week prior. A wealth of information had been dropped in her lap about something that was new to her. And she thought of me. While I had been in conversation with God, my doctor had been spending those late-night hours familiarizing herself with enough of the material to decide it might just be the answer we've been looking for.
I told her it sounded too good to be true. Could something so elemental, so treatable really be the cause of my most serious and mysterious symptoms? I couldn't even bring myself to hope.
But the test required only a simple blood draw and a couple hundred bucks. We both thought it was worth a shot. She told me not to get excited yet, and I readily agreed. The last thing I wanted was another dose of false hope.
I left the office that day unsure what to think or how to feel. I didn't want to get my hopes up but my mind was spinning with possibilities. The sense of expectancy that had come out of my conversation with God weighed heavily on my heart. Could this really be the beginning of something big? Was my long-awaited deliverance finally on its way? I didn't know.
Over the ensuing days, I found myself staring frequently at the mark on my arm from the blood draw. And I couldn't shake the feeling that this bruise was important. I started calling it the mark of hope. Every time I began to panic or feel overwhelmed, I pulled up my sleeve and reminded myself that something was about to change.
Five days later, the call from my doctor finally came. My test was positive. What had seemed too good to be true was, in fact, true. It was a surreal conversation for me, and after I hung up the phone, I started to cry. I've cried a lot in my lifetime, but this was different from anything I'd felt before. Why? Because it didn't hurt. I felt nothing but relief. And hope. And gratitude. So much gratitude.
I don't understand and can't explain the intricacies of my diagnosis, but I can tell you that I was born with a genetic mutation that renders my body unable to produce an important enzyme. This enzyme is necessary to convert B12 and folic acid into usable form. The lack of usable B12 and folic acid affects a number of key processes, particularly in my brain. The primary symptoms resulting from this are fatigue, depression, headaches, muscle pain/inflammation, and brain fog (confusion, difficulty concentrating, poor memory).
The good news? All I have to do is take daily doses of the methylated forms of B12 and folic acid so they don't need to be converted by the missing enzyme. That's it.
And the even better news? It will only take three days to know if it's working. Three days.
Don't worry, the symbolism is definitely not lost on me. I seem to recall that the God of the Universe defeated death and delivered us from our bondage to sin in three days. Compared to such a feat, it isn't so hard to believe that what has been my constant reality for all these years could change forever in just three short days.
But I would be lying if I said I didn't still have doubts. I do. I've had the bottle of my prescription for two days and haven't taken it yet. I am terrified that this is all a mistake, that when I take this medication I won't get better, that this supposed deliverance will turn out to be a hoax. But even in my fear, I can't look back on the events of this week and say that God hasn't been at work. He has. He absolutely has. And although this may not resolve all my symptoms, it is the biggest step towards healing that I have ever taken.
Yes, it's been quite a week. I am humbled. I am grateful. And I am kneeling in awe of the God who heard my plea and chose to deliver me. Yes indeed, our God is mighty to save. And that just might be the biggest understatement of my life.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
You've been with me
Since the tiny strands
Of my beginning—
Giving me breath and life
But somewhere along the way,
Well before I came of age,
You were transformed
Into an enemy I could not escape
I am you and you are me
But we are not one—
We are two, at war,
And you are most decidedly
The Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:12 that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
After a lengthy and emotionally charged visit with my doctor earlier this week, I am beginning to think this war is against both—the physical and the spiritual.
Am I discouraged? Yes. Most definitely yes.
Am I defeated? Not entirely. At least not yet.
Am I still hoping, praying, begging for a miracle? Absolutely.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
It's been 38 days since I've posted anything here. Far longer since I wrote anything new. Even so, my Google Analytics account tells me people are still visiting my blog every day. This amazes me. I am overwhelmed with gratitude that you, my dear readers, haven't given up on me yet, that you are still waiting for me to speak, that you still believe I have something worth saying.
In truth, it isn't just blogging that has fallen by the wayside lately. It's writing in general. Blog comments, status updates, emails, poems, blog posts—nothing is getting written. Unless, of course, you count the charting of treatment data and the creation of endless to-do lists. The former overwhelms me. The latter somehow keeps me moving when all I want to do is stand still. It doesn't even bother me that these lists are revolving or that many more things are added than checked off. In fact, the very last thing I want is to reach the end of my lists. Busying myself with small tasks is the only way I know to distract myself from all the things I can't control, all the things I can't fix, all the things I don't want to be true but are. And distracting myself is the only way I know to keep from falling apart.
I've added various writing tasks to my lists—email so and so, blog about such and such, comment on this blog or that one—but I just keep skipping over them. I've even moved them from one list to another, not forgetting them but not doing them either. I suppose that's because I know myself too well. For me, writing isn't about listing facts or recounting events. It's about truth telling, firstly to myself and secondly to the people who matter to me. It's a process of uncovering what I'm thinking and feeling and figuring out how that fits into the context of life. And it's most often the way God speaks into my mess and points me towards the way out.
But this kind of writing requires a part of my mind that has been inaccessible to me of late. For months, I've felt an ever-heightening wall going up between the day-to-day functions and the deeper issues—my relationship with God, my ability to love and be loved, my accomplishment of God's purposes for my life, my need to heal and grow and be made new again. This wall has a name, and I am no stranger to its presence. I know it as the Survivor's Wall, and it has been coming and going since I was a very young girl.
Whenever the losses are too big to understand or simply too many to be borne, there comes a moment when "life as usual" is no longer an option. The only choices are to stay curled up in a dark corner or to do whatever it takes to survive. My instinct for staying broken on the floor is exceptionally strong. But it doesn't even compare to my instinct for surviving. Perhaps that's because I learned my skills young, out of necessity, before I understood what I was doing or knew what damage it would cause over time.
You see, survival can be a useful tool. After all, hiding in the dark isn't really a viable option when you need to get out of bed every day, go to work, pay the bills, take care of your home and family—the day-to-day functions of this thing called life. That's when the Survivor's Wall goes up, separating the monumental from the mundane, allowing everyday life to continue while everything else gets buried behind a 10-foot wall. But here's the catch: Surviving is just that—surviving. It may keep you moving, but it doesn't move you forward. It's not about growth or progress or healing or change. In fact, it's not really about "living" at all. It's just about "not dying."
It occurs to me that of all the things we are called to be, "survivors" isn't one of them. We are children of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:15-17). We are "more than conquerors" over trouble, hardship, and persecution (Romans 8:35-37). We are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are victors over sin and death through Christ (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). We are ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). We are a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9).
The list goes on. But none of it has anything to do with being a survivor.
I am beginning to believe there must be a third option in all this—something in between lying broken on the floor and living a half-hearted life. I won't say I know what it looks like or how to get there. But I will say I know it's the path I'm called to take. And this is the first step.
As I break my silence tonight, maybe I've only taken a single brick off the wall or maybe I've torn down a whole section. I don't really know. And for once, it doesn't matter.
It's a start. And that's enough for now.