When God Says Nothing

I just came through my first surgery today. You may call me foolish for picking up my laptop and writing right now, given I just got out of surgery, and the doctor gave me orders to do nothing but “drink a Mimosa” today. Well, I guess you can say that writing is my Mimosa.

“But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word” (Matthew 15:23, NLT).

This sentence has saved me this week.

But first, a little background: I have been hesitant to share with people why I have needed surgery because, honestly, it’s not the kind of surgery that’s easy to talk about. And some may say it’s not that big of a deal. Even my doctor called it “minor.” So how do you talk about something that feels so huge to you but may be minimized or called “TMI” by others? But I have decided that people can think what they want. I need to give glory to God because he saved me this week and I have to share about it as a part of my continued healing. So if medical (or female) details gross you out, you can stop reading here, lol.

The month before our wedding, I started bleeding a lot. Only about ten days of the month was I not bleeding, and it was mostly black blood (scared me a ton).  I soon discovered that I had some uterine polyps. After the male doctor, with very bad bedside manners, told me nonchalantly that I may not be able to have children and that “I had a lot going on down there” (thanks Doc…tell me that right before I’m about to get married. Ug), Mike and I decided that it was best not to worry about it until after the Honeymoon. So once we got a bit more adjusted to married life and the start of the school year got going again, I dutifully went about looking for a new doctor and starting the process again.

Well it wasn’t until literally 45 minutes before I was supposed to preach at UCLA’s first large group meeting on “the bleeding woman” in Mark 5, that this new doctor called me concerned. She said, “the polyps are very large and I am concerned how they got there. We need to remove them as soon as possible.” Fear immediately came over me but I decided to still preach the sermon. I literally just finished telling my mentor that I “needed to preach over myself” when a student (who definitely has a word of knowledge gift and had no idea what I was going through), came up to me and whispered “Kelly, I don’t know what you’re talking about tonight but I feel like God wants to tell you that this word is for you tonight, and to preach it over yourself.” So I did. “God is trustworthy, and he is powerful.” Fifteen students gave their lives to Jesus that night. But I needed those words as much as they did.

But let me speed up to this week. To the part when God wasn’t saying anything. Because…that’s why you’re reading this, right? Don’t you hate it when he does that? Stays totally silent when you need him the most?

I’ve been dreading this surgery. How will my body respond to anesthesia? I don’t have a good track record of responding well to invasiveness…. But what has been the hardest has been the fear of disappointment. The burning mouth pain that began just before my wedding has not gone away and there are many days that I wonder if I can go on even just another moment with that sort of pain. There was a moment of hope though that came as I thought about this surgery. What if hormone imbalance has been my problem this whole time? What if fixing this could solve some of my mouth pain too (after all, it came on at the same time the bleeding did). And so I hoped. And on the days where I have wondered if I could go on for another minute, I remembered that at least some sort of progress was being made. At least something was going to be done to get my body functioning rightly.

But then came the hurdles. As I re-arranged my work schedule and prepared myself emotionally this week, something went wrong. My period didn’t come as early as it was supposed to. And if it came too late we would have to reschedule the surgery to another time, probably a couple months down the road. My sister and I prayed very specifically, “Jesus, please make it come tomorrow so I don’t have to reschedule.”

But it didn’t come.

I was devastated. Not even just because of the potential reschedule, but because I needed a small win. Jesus, if you can’t answer this small silly prayer, what about the big ones? Will you ever heal me at all? I feel like you’re too late. A week too late, but really, seven years too late. Why won’t you answer?

But I heard no reply.

I picked up my “Alabaster” Bible (Thanks Brian and Bryan for the awesome printed Bibles) and read the story of the Gentile woman who’s daughter was being tormented by a demon regularly. She begged Jesus for mercy. “But Jesus gave her no reply. Not even a word.” And when he finally did respond to her, he called her a dog!

Amazed by the woman’s faith, I changed my prayers to be more like hers. Jesus I will not take no for an answer. “Even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps under the master’s table.” Jesus, you are better than this. I know it. Do not let this surgery be moved. Do it Jesus, because you love me. 

It wasn’t until just yesterday afternoon that my period arrived and I got word that the doctor would go ahead and take the risk and do the surgery anyway. Relief. Sort of.

Then the next hurdle. I warned the doctor’s beforehand, “Doctors can never find my vein. If you don’t let me drink water, it’s going to be near impossible.” Little did they know how much I would be correct. They started stabbing me everywhere and it was the most pain I’ve ever felt from needles. I literally screamed. LOUD. I began to hyperventilate and my legs were shaking. Finally they concluded, “we will just have to cancel.”

Mike was by my side the whole time and I turned and saw the compassion in his eyes. I remembered the Gentile woman. I will not take no for an answer Jesus. Because you are compassionate. You won’t let me out of here like this. Not like this. I turned to the doctors (the entire medical staff were all there of course — who could miss my screaming?) and wept, “Please don’t give up. Just let me pray. And I will calm down and we can try again.” I turned and looked back in Mike’s eyes and began to pray. It was a lot of “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, mercy, Jesus…” And then a lot of speaking in tongues. And then Psalm 23 over and over again. And then the Lord’s Prayer. And then Psalm 23.

Mike tells me it was like other-worldly the difference in how I coped with the pain as I prayed aloud. The doctors said, “your prayers are working. Keep doing whatever you’re doing.” Eventually they found my vein and I everyone erupted in cheers and tears. Thank you Lord. 

The surgery was tough for the doctor (had to use a lot of force) but was a success. The doctor says the polyps were even larger than she first anticipated so she was glad they are gone now and she inserted an IUD to try to prevent them from coming back. I will need to wait for a couple weeks to determine if they’re cancerous or not.

I am in a ton of pain now, but I’d say it’s not tons more than I usually am. My tongue and mouth are still on fire (and I am still living in the mystery if that has anything to do with any of this or not). My head and stomach hurt a ton. I laugh to Mike that it’s kind of nice that people hear “surgery” and have a concept of what that means. Whereas with my “usual” pain, it just feels so impossible to explain to people why I feel so fatigued.

But as I look back at this day and really, this week, what I remember the most is God’s “lack” of reply. What felt in the moment like he wasn’t responding at all, in the end, was a much richer experience. In a way, I didn’t need him to speak any words. Because I know he’s trustworthy. And I know he’s powerful. And he knows that I know that too.

Thank you Lord for giving me faith.

Amen

Advertisements

Ten most Romantic Gestures from my Husband that you won’t see in Hollywood

Ten most Romantic Gestures from my Husband that you won’t see in Hollywood

Two months and eighteen days…Mike and I are quite literally in the “Honeymoon” stage of our marriage. It still feels like a dream, but definitely not all like you’d see in the movies. Don’t get me wrong, we have quite enjoyed the “perks” of marriage (as Mike’s mentor would say…wink, wink), but that’s not what I want to talk about right now.

I mentioned to my spiritual director the other day that I still carry some sadness that I had had such a terrible flare up of pain during our wedding, honeymoon and the couple months that followed, but as I told her about how wonderful Mike was in caring for me through the pain, her reply was: “Those are the actual romantic moments that you will remember forever.”

She is right. Romance comes in many forms and there’s no way I’d ever trade the special moments we’ve had together for a Hollywood fairytale.

Here are ten of the most romantic things Mike has done for me since we’ve been married:

  1. Turning back home: One of the days we were in Kauai, we planned to take a longer day trip to explore the northern part of the island. Mike was pretty excited for it and had done all the research of which sites to see. But as we began to drive, the nerve pain in my tongue became so strong that I became nauseous and wanted nothing other than to collapse. I was trying my best to hide it because I didn’t want to ruin our adventure. After some stressful driving through one-way bridges and then eating a bite of lunch, Mike took one look at me and got right back in the car. In my sleepy state, I didn’t even realize what he was doing. About half way home I asked, “Aren’t we going exploring?” Without an ounce of resentment, he said, “We’ve explored enough for today. We will go back and enjoy the hotel.” I have never felt more loved.
  2. Carrying a painting a mile down the street: It’s been so fun setting up our new apartment. We have become experts in assembling furniture together. I also got Mike addicted to thrift shopping. One day we walked a mile to Goodwill and found a big painting that we loved. I got excited and began to take my time going through the rest of the store to see what else we could find (forgetting that Mike was carrying the heavy painting and that we hadn’t brought a car with us). I could tell I had expended his shopping energy, but without complaining he continued to carry that big painting all around Goodwill and then carried it all the way home.
  3. Apologizing: There haven’t been a ton of things that Mike and I have had conflict about yet, but when there have been things that have pushed my buttons, defensiveness is never Mike’s go-to. He quickly owns up and apologizes and genuinely wants to make things better.
  4. Forgiving me: One thing marriage has done for me already is help me to see how much my sin, and especially my words, can really hurt. But Mike is so quick to forgive, even when I don’t ask for it.  I have never known the power of grace as much as I have in this season.
  5. Using our home for hosting: We’ve had so much fun using our little apartment to host people. We’ve had Mike’s brother’s family and my sister’s kids here. Mike has his monthly men’s Bible studies at our place, and last weekend we hosted a student retreat here. Knowing that Mike is willing to sacrifice his personal space and his precious introversion time to love on others is pretty much the most romantic thing ever.
  6. Buying Eggs and Ice-Cream. Last night I came home from the fourth ministry conference this summer and was exhausted. Usually when I come home from conferences I haven’t planned enough in advance and have to wake up early to get to the store if I want to eat anything that day. But this time I came home to Mike cleaning our bathroom and to a fridge filled with eggs for the morning and ice-cream for that night. I could rest so much better.
  7. Praying for me: These couple of months have been some of my worst so far in regards to pain levels.  I know the feeling of having no control and I know Mike feels that as well. But he is fine to admit that he doesn’t have answers, and frequently stops to pray. When it’s a near daily occurrence, you know that he is not just doing it because it’s the nice thing to do. We are both learning how to surrender control and it is such a wonderful feeling to know I have a friend who is in it with me for the long haul.
  8. Hanging out with my friends: I didn’t fully anticipate how lonely I would feel when I moved away from LA. Mike knows how important it is for me to get to see my friends and family. He’s been so quick to agree to drive long distances to go back to LA to see my friends. He also spent a day with me in San Diego to babysit my sister’s kids for a day. It means the world to me.
  9. Talking about our rhythms: I am a person who loves rhythm and order. Nothing will mess up all your life rhythms like a new marriage will, ha! And throw in a move to another city and you’re all messed up. But what’s been so wonderful is that Mike is so willing to talk about our rhythms together. We’ve figured a lot out together so far! Some of my favorite rhythms are: eating breakfast together, playing tennis on some mornings, watching “Legend of Kora” together, eating dinner together, getting “face time” together before we sleep like we used to do when we were dating, and reading a marriage book together.
  10. Disneyland surprise! Well, ok, maybe this is one you would see in the movies… but leading up to our wedding I had mentioned a few times, “You know, it would be awesome if we could put Disneyland passes on our wedding registry.” (Since we now live 15 minutes away and I am about to go on Sabbatical). And the morning of our wedding, Mike surprised me with cute Mickey and Minnie dolls and told me we’d be getting season passes!

I’m not living the Hollywood dream, but, as my spiritual director told me, this is so much better. 🙂

*Picture cred: https://ginyannphotography.pixieset.com

God doesn’t take shortcuts

“Pain in itself not hard to bear, but hard to bear so long.” – from “The Thought of God” by Frederick William Faber

I leaned over to Mike in the middle of church on Sunday, “Can we get out of here, please?” I knew it would be just moments before the tears already streaming down my face would turn into a flood of ugly sobs, and I wasn’t ready to become the center of attention in this, let’s just say, non-Pentecostal church.

It wasn’t that the pain was particularly higher that morning than any other day, though it was very high. It was rather a moment where I was able to remember it’s length. 2.5 months of excruciating tongue and mouth pain. 3 months of knowing I might need surgery. 17 months of painful treatments. 5 years since I could run or sit without pain. 6.5 years since I could eat or sleep without pain… So when the pastor invited us to remember, I couldn’t help but feel the need to release.*

I found this line in the scripture to be aggravatingly comforting to me this morning:

“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.” – Exodus 13:17

Wouldn’t facing the enemy head on be better than the roaming the desert for years? But God doesn’t take short cuts. He is committed to our full deliverance, even if that means going the long route.

I often wonder how all this pain is connected to my deliverance. For surely God is committed to it. Mike mentioned off-handedly the other day that he never knew me before this chronic pain. I jokingly said, “Well I was a lot nicer…and fatter.” But then I began to really think: How am I different now? God has had me in the slow process of delivering me from anxiety and perfectionism. He has been ridding me of the allusion that I have control over my life and has been gently urging me to put my trust in him. He is showing me his voice of nurture and kindness and has been rooting out the critical voices inside me. He’s helping me feel the desperation of the writers in the scripture and to feel closer to those who are hurting.

It seems especially counter-cultural to believe that the best course of healing is the longer one, in this age of quick fixes. But I pray to have the faith of Jacob, who believed deliverance would come, even if it was after his life time. (Exodus 13:19).

“And yet, O Lord! a suffering life, One grand ascent may dare; Penance, not self-imposed, can make the whole of life a prayer.” – Frederick William Faber


*Health update: I was given some medical mouthwash for the tongue pain. It has helped a lot, but feels more like a bandaid than a long term solution, as it is triggered primarily by nerves in the tongue, rather than something on the surface. I have a few doctors appointments set up to keep exploring longer term care, and the possibility of a minor surgery to help with some other symptoms. Thank you for your prayers!

 

 

On Depression: 5 Alternative Directives to “Dance the Pain Away”

I was in the gym the other day and heard the lyrics to Benny Benassi’s song “Dance the Pain Away” and had to cut my exercise routine short because it struck a chord that resonated far too close to me.

The back and forth of “Oh dance the pain away” and “I can’t dance the pain away” have been the constant dialogue in my head this past month.

I wrote in my last entry about the sudden fibromyalgia flare up of burning mouth and tongue pain I experienced leading up to our wedding. Three different doctors told me that it was just from stress and that once all the festivities were over, they were sure it would subside. Five days into our honeymoon the pain in my tongue was shooting so intensely that depression hit harder than I’ve ever experienced before. Here I am on the most beautiful island, with my husband who loves me more than I could ever dream, with no work or cell phone or anything to cause me stress, and yet the pain is excruciating. Those doctors were wrong. You can’t dance the pain away. 

For those of you who’ve been following my journey, let me back up a little. Two days before the wedding I wrote that I wasn’t sure I would even make it down the aisle, but God came through on his promise in giving me the most wonderful party. The pain was still live, but I count it a miracle that I was able to, for the most part, push it aside and take in all the joy and love around me. Mike and I are still recounting every little detail and I am salivating just thinking about the chocolate cake I got to eat that day. 🙂 We are already drafting another blog to help us remember all those sweet details. I am truly truly grateful.

But even in the midst of such joy, I have yet to escape the depression that has come from the reality of the compounding pain that, without supernatural intervention, is indeed chronic. And I know in the depth of my soul that not even meeting my prince charming and getting whisked away to a fairy tale island can be powerful enough to stop the pain, despite all the doctors’ false prophesies that it would.

I have been asking God, however, to give me some alternative directives from those which are seeming to end only in disappointment. If dancing the pain away is not going to work in the long run, then what will?

I am no expert or psychologist on depression*, but as I have prayed, here are just a few things I feel like I have heard God saying so far to help me through this period of intensified pain:

  1. Befriend the depression, don’t suppress it. I had a dream the other night of a big panther, much like Bagheera in the Jungle Book. At first I was terrified of it, but then I surprised myself by deciding to befriend it, and suddenly everything was ok. I awoke from the dream and sensed God saying that I was to do that with this depression. Rather than being scared of it, befriend the emotion and get to know it. Could it be trying to protect me? Trying to help me rest? Trying to help me get more help? Perhaps even trying to help me hope? I love how Pixar’s “Inside Out” depicts this concept well as “Joy” learns to befriend “Sadness.” Sadness isn’t always against us.
  2. Remember you are built to endure more than you think you can. The mantra in my head recently has often been “I can’t live another minute with this pain.” But then, somehow, a minute goes by and I see that I have lived. It sounds silly, but somehow realizing this has helped me cope. I remember the first time I woke up with shooting pain in my Piriformis muscles. I couldn’t imagine myself living another five years with that pain, let alone another day. But yet, here I am. I have learned to cope and, though the pain hasn’t lessened, somehow it’s ability to usurp the joy in my life has weakened. I am believing God will give me similar strength with this new pain too.
  3. Let scripture and worship be the first thing on your tongue. As people have prayed for me, they have frequently pointed out that it’s interesting that the theme of our wedding was “I love to tell the story” (about Jesus and his love), and that Mike and I are evangelists, and now just as we are married, the intensity of pain I feel is in my tongue. It’s not hard to miss the symbolism. One day on our honeymoon, when the tongue pain was particularly strong, I began to search the scripture for all the passages that speak about praising God with our tongue. As I flipped the pages of the Psalms I felt like I could breathe again. Psalm 16 became my new mantra: “You won’t abandon my life to the grave…You teach me the way of life.” He is teaching me to fight the devil’s attack with the same weapon he has used against me this month: My tongue.
  4. Receive all the grace that comes to you. Many people have asked me what it’s like to be married now. In all of my great depth of wisdom from being married all of three weeks, I have found myself telling them “I am learning to receive grace like never before.” Now that I’m married to Mike, I can’t hide anything from him. When I start to get cranky or selfish, he sees it. The other night I woke up in the middle of the night (per my usual) but this time I just had to release some tears. Mike heard me and I half expected him to be angry with me for waking him up constantly. (I suppose it’s because I was angry with myself.) But instead he turned over and patted me on the back and prayed for me until his prayers became mumblings and we both fell back asleep. What a gift I have been given. Grace.
  5. Don’t be afraid of coming to the end of yourself.  Another phrase that has been in my head a lot is “I am at the end of myself.” And immediately I have felt fearful. But as I search the scriptures, every person who really encounters Jesus’ power is someone who has had the ability to admit they’re at the end of themselves. The leper, the bleeding woman, the paralytic, Mary who ran out of wine at the wedding… Perhaps being at the end of myself is not so scary as I think. Perhaps it’s an invitation for me to be honest about my desperation and for Jesus to show up in power and love me in a way I have never been loved.

So I made it down the aisle. In some ways, I did dance the pain away…temporarily. And for the strength to do that, I am so so grateful. It was the best party of my life…so far.  I am still waiting on the best wine. And I’m believing it’s going to come. Because Jesus loves to throw parties. He just proved it to me. And he is teaching me the way of life. For this, I will praise him…with my tongue. 🙂

—-
*I am using the word “depression” but there are many varieties to that word and I don’t pretend that my experience in this season is exactly the same as yours. We all have our unique stories. If you are dealing with depression of any kind, I highly recommend talking about it with someone and seeking counseling.

Run Out of Wine

The count down app I’ve been looking at for 8 months now says “one day, 6 hours 22min, 23 sec…” I’ve never anticipated one day for so long in my life before. And now it’s here!

But this week has not been how I anticipated it to go at all. Instead of living my dream I have been living my worst nightmare. I use a pain scale to tell people how much pain I am in on a certain day. 10 of 10 means take me to the hospital right now. This week, I was telling people it was 12 of 10. I have never had this much pain before in my life. After trips to three different doctors who practice all kinds of medicine, their only conclusion was that the intense burning I feel all over my throat and tongue is another mysterious chronic nervous system pain connected to fibromyalgia, intensified by stress, and that the only possible hope of bringing a little relief is to try to stop thinking about how much it hurts. Easy for them to say. The last doctor I went to says it’s probably also an allergic reaction to the medication I was taking to try to calm the throat, and that I probably do have chronic strep.

Two nights ago, I came to the end of myself, and it terrified me. I knocked on my roommates door and told her I needed help.  I don’t think I’ve ever been in that low of a place before. I was letting myself enter all kinds of dark scenario thinking…would I make it down the aisle? Would I make it through the next five minutes? My roommate stayed up with me from about 3am- 6am as I wept, prayed in tongues, listened to worship music, and cry/laughed about the wedding, finally falling asleep for a couple hours.

Earlier that afternoon, a friend did some more reflective prayer with me. She asked me to ask Jesus when the throat pain first began. Jesus brought me back to a memory in February when I preached at our “Can this Wait?” conference for those curious about Jesus. I preached about the wedding at Cana in John 2. Yesterday I went back to read my notes from that talk. Here were my three points:

Following Jesus means telling him when we’ve run out of options.

Saying yes to Jesus means surrendering our fears for trust.

Jesus is worthy of all parts of our lives, the big and the small.

In my talk I used my relationship with Mike and our wedding day as the primary illustration. I talked about how Jesus was kind enough of a God to give me Mike and kind enough to let me eat cake on my wedding day. I asked the students to be like Mary, who, even when Jesus didn’t say yes to her request right away, still put all her trust in Jesus and believed he could find a way to save the party, because he cared about her.

As I re-read that talk yesterday, I realized that the enemy has been doing everything in his power to make me stop believing that what I preached was true. Mary’s worst nightmare was running out of wine at the wedding and shaming the host. My worst nightmare is having so much pain that instead of delighting in all the pre-wedding festivities, I am sitting in doctors offices taking blood samples and doing painful IV treatments. Both of us lived the nightmare.

But I am learning from Mary, and am telling Jesus that I won’t take no for an answer. He is powerful enough to turn water into wine, he is powerful enough to get me down the aisle tomorrow with great joy.

The doctor yesterday gave me some natural herbs to help me sleep, and something to help get my adrenals going again to help my system fight harder. I am grateful for those things, but my hope is not really in them. I am still at the end of myself. I am still in 11 of 10 pain (went down to an 11 not because of a lessening of pain, but because a little more sleep has allowed me to cope better). But I am a different person than I was yesterday. I am no longer allowing myself to go down the worst-case-scenario paths of thinking. I am choosing to put all of my trust and hope into the God that I preached about in February. He is the same God. He is lavish and generous and kind and wants to throw me the best party of my life.

Yesterday Mike sat in the doctors office with me for three hours. He held my hand through pain and made me laugh by going through every body part that doesn’t hurt, “Well, tell me about your ears and your toes…scale of 1 to 10 how much do they hurt?” Lol.

I came home to my mom and my aunts and uncle and cousin and hugged them all and cried. Mom assured me I would make it and that I am loved so deeply.

I know SO many people have been praying for me (and if you’re reading this then I know you have probably been praying too). It’s not just my faith on the line right now. I know Jesus is letting a lot of our faiths be tested right now too.

Jesus is never too late and he saves the best wine for last. I’m living it. And I’m believing it. And I have a whole huge community of friends believing it with me.

See you at the party. 🙂

When God Seems Passive: the Power of Redirection

I have always strived to be someone who is active, busy, efficient, a go-getter, problem-solver, reliable, gets-the-job-done type of person. And I suppose my worship of God has often felt stronger when I have seen him to contain these qualities too — when prayers are answered, miracles happen, goals are met, dreams are realized.

But what about the times that God is not like this? When he seems like maybe he’s not doing anything at all?

In the midst of my most recent flare-up this week with no relief and no answers to yet another mysterious pain, Mike led me through some reflective prayer. He told me to envision sitting on a bench next to Jesus, and giving my current pain and anxiety over to him. But when I looked at Jesus, he didn’t do anything with the pain I offered him. He just let it sit there on the bench, and, instead, he invited me to go take a walk with him, to look at the flowers, and listen to him tell me that he loved me.  Frankly, I was a little angry. Jesus, how do you expect me to go on a walk with you when that ball of sickness is still sitting over there and you’re not doing anything with it!

Jesus is often frustrating like this. I imagine how the woman who was about to be stoned felt when Jesus, her only possible savior, began to stoop down and draw in the sand. Or the disciples when they were about to drown by the storm and Jesus was…sleeping. Daniel, when he was being told about the world’s end and God told him…don’t worry about it.

Something that I have learned from the man I am about to marry (in six days!) is that inactivity is not always a bad thing. In fact, a little redirection can become the source of healing itself. I don’t know how many times I’ve been so hyper-focused on some intense problem or pain and Mike starts telling me random stories about butterflies eating rainbows in the Winter in Florida, and some how all the tension leaves my body. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not that we never eventually come back to what was troubling me. It’s just that sometimes I need help from being so bound by the anxiety of trying to fix whatever trouble I am facing in the moment that I can’t even see God clearly enough to see how he’s offering me a solution.

Although the frustration is still there that Jesus doesn’t seem to be taking away this current pain, I have decided to take that walk with him anyway. To let him redirect my focus onto the things that really matter. To thank him for the joy of the marriage that’s ahead of me, to receive the love and prayers of so many around me, and to rejoice in the reality of his resurrection. And somehow, oddly enough, that ball of sickness that I left on the bench seems to be becoming less important and more distant. If Jesus is not worried about it, I don’t need to be either.

And you know what, I think I am beginning to love this side of Jesus. Perhaps his passivity is not really passive at all. Perhaps it’s the beginning of my healing.

Withered

My doctor’s appointment yesterday:

Me: “I have two spider bites, I haven’t slept in a week, and my throat has hurt for months.”

Doctor: “Just eat better and exercise more and you’ll sleep better. And it’s impossible you’d have strep throat. It’s probably just your air conditioning.”

(12 hours later)

Doctor: “I’m shocked!  You do have strep.”

Sigh.

I don’t have an eloquent blog post today. Just feeling a lot. I am angry. Angry that doctors never validate me or believe me. Angry that the devil is doing everything he can to distract me from the joy of this season. Angry that I have to take antibiotics again and deal with the horrible side effects just 2 weeks before the wedding. Angry that I once again have to worry about making those I love sick and can’t just enjoy kissing my fiancé. Angry that I have been so sick for so long that I can have something as bad as strep and not even think twice about it because fatigue and pain have become my new normal. Angry that even though I have worked so hard to manage my life well in this season, cut back on work, even say no to some conferences, that my body is still choosing to fail me just before our wedding.

I feel tired. Really, really tired. Tired from no sleep. Tired from one of the hardest years in ministry. Tired of being sick. Tired of worrying about being sick. Tired of doing my exercise and diet nearly perfectly and still being told it’s not good enough. Tired of wanting so badly to give 100% to my work and to the students and staff I love so dearly but always having to stop just before the finish line. Tired of still not having any real answers for what exactly is causing my immune system to malfunction so badly.

I’ve been reading the artistic version of the Bible that my friends Brian and Bryan created called “Alabaster.” In Luke 6, there’s a story of Jesus healing a man with a withered hand. My friends illustrated it with a progressive image of a flower going from totally withered to completely blooming again. In Luke 13, there’s a parable of a barren fig tree that the owner is ready to just dig up and destroy, but the patient gardner says he will give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer so that in a year it will be producing again.

I feel like that withered flower and barren tree. I need that special attention and extra fertilizer. I need Jesus to un-wither me and help me have faith that he will take me into a season of producing again.

I asked God many times this morning why this is all happening. His answer: “I got you.” That’s all.

Why have I had strep twice in six months?

I got you.

Why so many traumatic doctors visits just before the wedding?

I got you.

Why can’t I just be healthy and enjoy getting married?

I got you.

What about my work? Can I finish it well?

I got you.

What about the side effects? Will the meds work?

I got you.

Why? I’m too tired to think of another why.

I got you.

Thank you, Papa.

Amen.