This has been a crying week. And I’m not really a crier.
I’m in the middle of one of the worst attacks that my body has endured in over a year. I’m exhausted. My limbs feel like 50 pound weights hanging on my body. I can barely form a complete thought. And for the last 7 days I have been plagued with extreme and unrelenting bouts of nausea. And as I lay alone in bed, day-after-day, with my head hung over the side, dry heaving into an empty trash can…the enemy attacks. Over and over again.
He tries to convince me that I will never again feel well. He says I will lose all of my friends because I keep canceling plans. He tells me that I’ve become a liability. And because no one really knows what to say to sick people, they will all start slowly abandoning me. He tells me I’m a disappointment to everybody. He tells me that I’ll lose my job. He calls me a coward. A weakling. He tells me that no man will choose me now…because I’m broken. He prowls day and night…whispering over and over again that I’m alone and trapped. But, most of all, he tries to convince me that my God has forsaken me. And that is when the weeping begins.
You know, I think I could actually handle the physical misery part pretty well…if it weren’t for the lies. After a week or so of hanging on by a thread…I become a pretty easy target.
One of the things I’ve learned most about enduring a chronic illness…is that I’ve taken a whole lot of things for granted over the years. Little things. Trivial things. Like getting ready for work. On a good day, I barely think about it. Shower, lotion, brush my teeth, deodorant, makeup, hair, get dressed…bam…I’m out the door. But on a bad day…each one of those simple tasks feels like climbing Mount Everest. On Monday, taking a shower was so exhausting, I had to sit on my bed for 10 minutes before I could move on to my next task. I just started thinking about all the small tasks I had left to do, not to mention the part where I actually had to get to work…and all the sudden I just started sobbing. That’s when the enemy pounces…screeching lies about my uselessness and weakness. I sent out a desperate text to all of my praying friends…asking the saints to once again carry me on their shoulders. Within seconds, I could literally feel their prayers and eventually the weeping stopped.
Last night was the first night of a Beth Moore Bible study at our house with my mom and a dear friend. I had been looking forward to it for weeks. Hoping against hope that I would finally hear from God. About an hour before we were set to start…I knew my body was going to rebel. I swallowed a cocktail of drugs and dragged myself to my bedroom. Soon thereafter, I started dry heaving again. My door was cracked open…and I could hear them out in the kitchen enjoying a meal together. Laughing. Talking. I was overwhelmed by a profound sense of loss…because, once again, life was happening without me. The enemy started hissing in my ear that I was a coward and that I had no more strength left to fight. He then played his trump card: your God has abandoned you…and you are alone. And as I sobbed quietly in my room…I finally started to believe him.
I don’t know if someone heard me crying or if the Spirit brought them to my room…but the next thing I knew, my mom and friends were on the bed with me…laying hands on me...praying over me...fighting on my behalf. And soon my tears of loss turned into wracking sobs of gratefulness. Because in the moment when I needed Him most…after almost a year of deafening silence…I finally heard the voice of God.
Brothers and Sisters...this blog entry has become my spiritual act of worship. A medium to praise Abba with a scattered brain and a weak body. I realize today’s post is pretty raw…and outside of my normal humorous approach to life. But as I lay in bed last night, I knew the best way to stick it to the enemy was to publically proclaim the glory of God right smack dab in the middle of my suffering. It’s a little messy, I know. Just me typing my thoughts in real time...as an act of defiance against the accuser who has been ruthlessly tormenting me with lies. This is as real as it gets. A bloodied and battle weary daughter of the King...fists raised....shouting in the midst of battle, He will never leave me, nor forsake me! I am not alone! I get to keep my friends! I’m not a coward! I will feel well again! And it’s by HIS strength alone that I can face another day. Because He’s standing over me...stripped for battle.
Here's the thing...I didn’t start “We Will Rise” to talk about my chronic illness. My original intent was actually quite the opposite. I wanted to tell other people’s stories of survival and faith. I didn’t anticipate that it would be my story of survival that ended up on the pages of this blog. Heh. Figures. But many of you have written me that you know someone in your life who is suffering from chronic illness...and that you have shared this blog with them. That is equal parts humbling and terrifying...but, I want you to know that I’m extremely grateful that you trust me enough to speak to your friends. I also want you to know that it’s for all survivors that I continue to write about my suffering. Because I figure if you live down here on earth...you’ve suffered. And if you’ve suffered...you’ve survived.
So, before I swallow more pills this morning (I feel the nausea coming back)...I really want you all to know what I’ve learned in the midst of my suffering...during my crying week. Sometimes miracles aren’t the healing we’ve been begging for...or the just-in-time money that keeps our electric from being shut off. People we love die despite our unceasing prayers for life. There is still crippling division in our churches. Some of us still get the worst case scenario diagnosis. Many of us face our days alone and heart broken. Our husbands or wives don’t miraculously start loving us well. Our children still rebel. Some of us feel trapped in unfulfilling jobs. And many of us will never conceive a child that we want so desperately. It would be easy to wonder why the God who loves us so much...would deny us the miracles that we pray for unceasingly.
Yeah, I totally get that. I don’t know why the God of the Universe has continued to allow my body to take such a beating. I have prayed time and time again for a miraculous healing. But maybe the miracle has been staring me in the face this whole time. Maybe the miracle is...despite the enemy attacking me over and over again during some of the lowest points in my life, I still believe God is good. And despite no miraculous healing and God’s excruciating silence...I still truly believe He loves me. My faith has been shaken, yes...but it has not been broken.
Sisters and brothers...WE are the miracle. God’s army of Believers consists of flesh-eaten, sinful survivors who choose to believe the Word of God even as the accuser tries time and time again to destroy us. As we stand in the midst of a battlefield overflowing with the bloody carcasses of our broken bodies, destroyed dreams, loveless marriages and unfulfilled longings...we still cry out the name of our Savior. Some days we may scream like banshees...other days we may only whisper through the pain...but despite our suffering, we still believe. If that’s not miraculous...then I don’t know what is.
That’s what my crying week has taught me...and that’s what I wanted to say to you today. And, heck...it’s only Wednesday. Who knows what tomorrow will hold? Maybe more lies...and more crying. But as long as I keep claiming God’s glory in the midst of my suffering...I keep claiming victory over my broken body. Halleluiah and amen. (Z-snap)
Now I’m going to go take more drugs. Thank you for all the saints out there who are praying for me...you make me cry too. But in a good way.