George S. Patton said to “Accept the challenges so you can feel the exhilaration of the victory.” I never knew I accepted any challenge until recently, and by recently, I’m talking within the past couple years. I remember weighing my options regarding this illness:
1. Give up.
2. Keep going.
The first “option” really didn’t seem all that appealing to me. I’m not a quitter, although I had to quit my job. (I also had to work on forgiveness for my former employer as no one, to this day, has ever once checked on me after I keeled over while working. That’s another post…maybe.) I watched as the pen I was using to write a speech therapy report fell from my hand onto the desk. It was a very surreal moment because I worked with stroke rehabilitation and if you know me at all, it takes a lot to stress me. I thought, “Well, that’s interesting.” After a moment to get my bearings–whatever those are, I don’t even know if I have any—I got up from my chair, but only for a moment as my legs decided to stop doing what they were made to do as well. I collapsed to the floor. I don’t know how long I was there as I was in the office on a Sunday, (this is a red flag some of you may pick up on. I was working A LOT.) so I don’t remember many people being around, but I knew there were no other therapists. I had just graduated with a degree in Communication Disorders and Sciences as a speech pathologist and loved working on stroke rehabilitation with the elderly. I believe they have so much wisdom to offer.
After a while on the floor, I was able to get up; it was almost like my battery had recharged. I got into my car (in hindsight, this was not a good idea.) I drove for maybe 4 blocks and stopped at a car wash to cry and pray. My arms weren’t working well enough to hold the steering wheel and my legs didn’t seem to have the energy to press the gas pedal. It was the oddest sensation as I didn’t have the strength to make my body do what I wanted it to. I remember praying because it was a 25-minute drive home and I knew my husband was sleeping as he had worked third shift the previous night. (Maybe subconsciously this is why I detest that shift. Hmmm…)
I arrived home only by the grace of God as I don’t remember leaving that car wash. I remember wishing someone would stop, anyone to ask if I needed help. I was so scared, but I “do things afraid” all the time. Something in my spirit told me I’d be ok and I can’t describe it any better than that. You might hear Christians say that they “know that they know that they know” and this is how I felt. (The first time I heard that, I wanted to slap the person on the back. I thought they were stuck somehow.) Looking back, God had my hand in this journey all along and I am so very thankful for His mercy.
I hear the word covered in my head and think of insurance, or God being described as having wings, or someone picking up the check. (Note: I never claimed to be sane and I have a LOT of thoughts…many times simultaneously.) I woke up at 3:30 this morning praying in my sleep. And as I came to some form of consciousness, the thought occurred that I never ever want to be the judge. Only God would be able to determine what He won’t forgive.
So if we find ourselves in a position of arrogance, I’m challenging you, and myself as well, to place ourselves lower, at His feet. Maybe it’s time to show our love for Jesus humbly, recalling everything the Creator Himself has set us free of. People with tattoos and piercings of all kinds can serve God too. The elderly woman diagnosed with dementia still has a plan for her life. That pastor who messed up big is not unforgivable. We are not the judge, nor should we want to be. Jesus chose to be on the cross for all. We don’t get to decide what or who’s covered by His blood and God’s wings.
Dedicated in memory of Charles Rubright, a brilliant, studious, and compassionate doctor, as well as a man I was proud to call a friend, knowing no stranger, nor meeting an individual he didn’t help in some way.
To find a doctor of any sort who listens, studies, and comprehends your situation is a rare find, a treasure. A doctor who knows your case and can read you like a book when you walk into the office doesn’t seem to exist anymore. When I first began my health journey, I pictured specialists from all over, pouring over books with blood-shot eyes into the late hours of the night, determined to be the one to discover this mysterious illness wreaking havoc on my body and mind. After years of travelling on this trip I never planned or expected, I realized there was no such group. There weren’t any specialists with the one and only answer, the golden ticket, or the “missing piece of this puzzle.” Many days, it was because of practitioners like Charles Rubright, a local chiropractor and friend, that I was able to push on to find the answers on my own. It was because of his assistance and knowledgeable feedback that led me to find a practitioner who correctly diagnosed me with an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. He always expected to be able to help, listened, and treated according to what he’d heard from me, the at-times *somewhat-discouraged patient. (*Ok, I think there were a couple times I cried in that office.) He never treated me like “just a patient” and I always expected to wait past my appointment time because he never rushed anyone or any treatment. Charles never gave the impression that he was on a deadline or something else was more important than who he was with at that moment. What a rarity! To talk with him, the battle he faced was already won. He stood in faith that he would overcome. And I believe he did in a way that we may not understand on this side of heaven. The world is a bleaker place because he’s no longer in it, but he fought the good fight, shining light into places that darkness threatened to take over. His resilience, endurance, and legacy live on. Rest in beautiful peace, dear friend, the pain of the fight is over and you are victorious.
Headstrong. Motivated. Strong. Healthy. Positive. These are all words that I use to describe myself. I am currently “speaking” strong and healthy like it’s a lifeline thrown from a cruise ship I’ve fallen backward off of. For those of you who don’t speak “Christian-ese,” there are many references in the Bible regarding the tongue and speaking things as you want them to be and overflowing from the heart through the mouth.
Everything, and by everything, I mean physical symptoms including daily migraines, pain, fatigue, dizziness, distractions, my appearance, etc. has come against this goal of mine to be healthy and strong. Some might say that it’s because the devil heard me state my goals. And for those of you snickering, (as I often do) I’d challenge you to look your goals and your fears in the eye (I’m not sure you can do this at the same time. Try it and report back.) and identify what could be holding you back. Maybe the devil/enemy/adversary/satan theory is just the simplest escape to not chase after what you truly want. I just heard again yesterday that it’s not the fear of failure, but rather the fear of success that frightens us. The infamous “What if?” Many times it’s used negatively as in “What if the roof suddenly falls on my head?” But what if we decided to use it in a positive light? (See what I did there?) What if we decided to go for it? What if you learned Latin? What if you read 104 books in one year? What if you studied harder for that job you really want? What if you got out of debt? I don’t know what your goals are, but I do know when I’m slackin’ on my own. (Spellcheck is alerting me that I spelled “slackin'” wrong. I beg to differ. Slackin’ was a commonly used term in my house growing up.) “The hardest moments are a calling to something greater.” We were made for more. This life is about more than trudging. I refuse to trudge with a frown on my face, wishing things were better. Set some goals today if you haven’t already and chase after them with everything you’ve got and maybe even something you don’t believe you have yet. You very well might fail. Babe Ruth also held a record for most strikeouts.
Within the same hour, I received news that a co-worker gave birth to a long-awaited baby, a friend had lost a nephew in a car accident, and an amazing couple may have a chance to adopt. On this earth, there is a realm of possibilities. Within that realm, we are free to chase our dreams and experience so much happiness at times, we’re not sure we can stand it. Also within that realm we are allowed to experience pain and gut-wrenching hurt, so much so that life suddenly feels different. We witness death, we see abandonment in a child’s eyes, we hug a woman who just lost her son. Our life is instantly altered, whether we acknowledge it or avoid it. We attempt to place ourselves in different shoes while thanking God and all that’s holy that we don’t have to.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)states we are to give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. “All circumstances?” This seems so easy on days when we are cherishing life because of a newborn, but what about those days when a mother stands next to her once newborn’s casket? The feeling and questions of whether she can make it through this come from the very depths of her soul, the realm that only God understands because no one else can go that deep within us. That hurt is indescribable and too gruesome to speak. Our worst fears realized on a day that was completely “normal.” That’s within the realm of possibilities too. God knows that realm and that pain. He cares about us, whether we find it easy to throw up our hands in praise or to our heads in sheer angst. He’s there as we walk this realm out, knowing the perfect time to reveal the new one. There’s a realm that He created that looks absolutely nothing like this. There’s no tears, no pain, no angst, no gut-wrenching hurt that appears like it will continue through to oblivion. This isn’t the realm He had planned for us. He promised to walk with us while we’re in it though. And if that doesn’t mean much to you and you can write it off as unimportant, I believe with all my heart, soul, and being that God is going to become very real to you very soon.
Whether your heart is full of hope or hurt right now, I pray that you remember that the realm of possibilities is a vast one and there are opportunities for growth on both ends of the spectrum.
I sit here reflecting on what an amazing thing family is. Simple. People helping other people. Knowing full-well who you can count on. The individuals that would never hurt you if they could keep from it. Hugs. Smiles. Peace. Encouragement. I have all of this in my family, whether they’re in the same house or living in a different state. God has blessed me with role models, really great, strong ones who never surrender, even though there are days they want to. With tears in their eyes, they say “I’m doin’ ok” when you ask and you believe it, because we have a prayer-answering Father. And even though you may see some of their hurt, or that flicker of pain in their eyes, you have faith that they are ok. And on those days they want to quit, you’re able to remind them of that flame, that flicker of strength they possess, that can’t be extinguished, no matter the battle. No matter the odds or statistics. Diagnoses, injuries, heartbreak, and aches that most will never know about, will one day be erased. God is Alpha and Omega and those who call Him family can rely on His strength. We get tired, frustrated, offended, and discouraged, but with Him as our Father, we don’t lose. We get to look on His face one day and as every single individual’s knee bows, we will get it. We will finally comprehend what all of this has been for. And all the stress and anxieties of this short life will be a distant notion we can’t seem to recall. So if you don’t have the kind of family I do, be family for someone else. Hug freely. Smile incessantly. Sit beside someone and just be there in the moment. Breathe. And if you don’t know what a real relationship is like with the Creator of this place we call home for awhile, chase after it. Boldly ask God to open your eyes to that love that is like no other.
Luke 14:11 states: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” I can’t help but think of all the “duck lips” and selfies and derrieres I’ve seen within the past couple weeks or maybe years. People are proud. Proud of what? Their face? Their booty? A certain amount of self-confidence and a healthy dose of self-esteem is appropriate, sure. But I have to wonder: What are we constantly seeking? Approval? Compliments? Someone to notice how worthy we are of attention? As a whole, I think we are placing priority not on the God Who made us, but us.
I don’t want to exalt those who shouldn’t be, namely me. Anything I do is only because God allows me to do it. I have no talents that He hasn’t given me and until I have prayed about a situation, my ideas are limited at best. It’s not easy to live in this world and be set apart from it simultaneously. We were called to be renewed and transformed by the Word of God and some (I dare not say “most” for fear of my stomach turning) don’t even know what it says because the only time they open their Bible is on Sunday mornings, if they didn’t forget it at home. Ouch. That one stung me just a little bit, too.
It’s for that reason that for the next 30 days, I will be carrying a Bible with me. Anywhere I go, the Word of God will be readily available and at my fingertips, much like the smartphone I’m tired of eyeballing. I’ve come to a place where I need more God. More peace. More wisdom. More of anything He’s offering. “God30” begins tomorrow and I look forward to the insights I expect to receive. My priorities must shift. Instead of studying the “art of myself” and how to take the perfect selfie with ideal lighting in the greatest of angles, I’ll study anything the Creator Himself wants to point out each day. I can practice my Daffy Duck mouth another day.