Tag Archives: encouragement

Winning Against Myself

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See, the thing is, (I’ve always wanted to start a post like we were in the middle of a conversation) that I don’t feel like doing things. Ever. I love going to church, but I never feel like going to church. I never feel like going to the grocery store or to the park with my kids or outside to hit a ball around. I can remember two moments in the past decade when I thought, “This is fantastic. All is well. I couldn’t possibly feel better. How exciting!” I think this may be the definition of an autoimmune illness. 

I’ve recently spoken to some people who have no idea what this feels like…to never feel like doing things. One of the women, in her 80’s, said she’d never been sick a day in her life until her first bout with pneumonia. Another man said “My wife and I have always had good health” and they’d been married for 60-some years. Jealousy is an ugly emotion, but I gotta admit, I’m jealous. I want so badly to feel like doing things. I can’t imagine not having to fight myself every single day to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. After all, I still have a job. I have 2 unbelievably talented kids who deserve the best mom ever. And I have a husband who deserves to be loved forever. And the truth behind all of this is: I hurt. I ache. I pop. I cry. I never feel good. And I don’t write these things for pity (Eeyore voice: “I doubt I’d get it annnnnywaaaaay.” Ha! I cracked myself up on that one.) I’m just offering perspective. I hold onto those 2 moments in my head of times past when I felt good over the past 10 years. I remember those like it was yesterday. I had no pain anywhere. I wasn’t dizzy and I smiled an unbelievably real smile. If I thought for even a second those moments wouldn’t return and were gone forever, I’d stay in bed all day every day. 

When I did the Physique and Fitness competition, that was me, fighting against my biggest enemy as well as myself. It wasn’t to show off a super-fit body onstage in front of an audience, although that’s exactly what I did. It was to prove that I win. I’m only in competition with myself and I win every time. I didn’t care what the other girls looked like and I wasn’t even upset when I didn’t win (ok, a little upset…I worked HARD!) It was an accomplishment showing what one can do if one blocks out the other voices, the voices that say “You can’t, you won’t, you are only human, this hurts, this aches, this is too hard!”  

When you have to fight yourself as hard as someone with autoimmune issues does, you realize how strong you are. It’s one of the biggest ironies in my life that the only one tough enough to take me out is me! (Thank you to my husband for reminding me of this.) I know God has a plan in all of this, because I haven’t come this far for this to be how far I’ve come. Eleanor Roosevelt said “With the new day comes new strength.” I refuse to give up even when I feel like it. And I won’t back down. I don’t know how. 

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Christian Chickens

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In Luke 7:33-35 (NLT) Jesus says “For John the Baptist didn’t spend his time eating bread or drinking wine, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow it.” 

Do you ever feel like you just can’t win? It struck me today (not literally…although it kind of felt that way) that Jesus didn’t live ashamed. I know this may seem remedial to some of you, but don’t you feel as a Christian sometimes we keep our wisdom-filled mouths shut when we shouldn’t and our judgy hearts scream out judgment when they shouldn’t? I feel like Jesus is saying, “Look, it doesn’t matter what I do here, you’re simply not going to accept me. You either will or you won’t. And if you don’t, that’s your choice. I’m surely not going to force you.” It’s just not His style. And boy, does He ever have style… 

Do you ever feel like you have to shrink yourself down when around people who don’t believe the way you do? Or that you’re not educated enough to speak on such subjects? Or that you are a peacemaker and not a confrontational person, so that is the reason you don’t address controversial topics? After all, Jesus came to bring peace on earth right? (Matthew 10:34) Didn’t He? Nope. Does love always present as peaceful? I don’t think so. This makes me a little tense because I like happy, non-arguing people. 

But, are we going to “love” people right down into their forever graves? God says we are never alone, but that we have so little faith. Is it possible we can be truthful and upfront about our beliefs without being judgy? Can we do it and keep everyone happy and peaceful? Do we need to worry about that or can we let God do what He does best? 

 

 

Superhero Flesh

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I find myself in a country I’m not familiar with, but I hear a distant voice across a swaying ocean breeze, “You’re in the Carribbean, baby…” I begin to walk to meet my driver and she’s walking away, disgruntled for some reason that I’m not aware of. She laughs as she looks back, saying, “Good luck!”

I ask someone for directions and that man laughs too. It’s obvious he’s not going to help me and to be perfectly honest, from the looks of him, I’m not sure I would want him to. I get behind the wheel of the car and realize I’ve forgotten my glasses, the ones that I only wear at night while driving. Great. It almost instantly gets dark. I watch the sun set as I take off on a dark roadway lined with trees and as I do, I notice I think I’m headed in the wrong direction. The paint on the road has long-faded and I can’t see whether I’m on the correct side or not. The actual roadway signs are facing the other direction. Not a good sign…pun intended. Suddenly, my headlights go dim, then dark. Just when I’m about to have a breakdown of some kind, the car beats me to it. Without warning, it sputters and shakes to a stop in the middle of the immense darkness. I looked up, thinking “What now?” as I felt a chill rush through me all the way to the bone.

It turned out it was my husband rolling over that shook the bed and not my car in the Carribbean. It was all a dream, but one that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since.

We don’t know how to handle the darkness in this world or which way to turn most days. It’s foreign to us to simply trust as it’s not in our nature. So many days, I don’t even know what “trusting” looks like. I’ve sure learned who I can’t trust a lot though. We look for help in others, but many times, they just can’t help us. And maybe not because they don’t want to or don’t have the time, they just can’t for whatever reason.

Which way do you go when it’s just you? Are you relying on “just you”? Every time I think I’m not, I realize that’s exactly what I’m doing: trying to handle everything on my own again. Our flesh wants to be superhero-esque! We want people to wonder, “How does he/she DO IT ALL???” In that moment of sitting in that dark, still car, on a dark road, lined with scary-looking dark trees, and no signs, in a distant unfamiliar place, it occurred to me that I have no ideas. Sure, I can come up with something, (thank God I woke up before I had to do that) but is it the very best plan? Probably not. (In fact, I’d bet the kids’ Halloween candy on it.) Can we trust God that He has the very best plan for our lives? The quick and easy response is “Yes! Of course!” But do we say this while we worry about our kids, finances, jobs, house, and that loved one in the hospital. Are we losing hair or sleep while we go through what God has allowed in our lives? What does your brand of trust look like? Mine’s been looking a whole lot like someone who doesn’t have a powerful God on their side lately. I feel like I’ve been kicked back down every time I try to get up this week, but I’ve got news: I, nor you, have to be under anyone’s boot. No power in hell can keep you down if God wants to raise you up. I’m on a mission this week to figure out just how strong I really am.

 

A Headstrong Babe

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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.

Tin Wonder Woman

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A chronic illness is a rough thing to deal with. There, I forewarned you just in case you ever decide to tackle one. Maybe that’s part of the issue: I didn’t get to decide. Had I been given a choice, I think I would’ve chosen something different. Maybe something a little more physically obvious…or a little less noticeable when it really hits…no, I don’t think that would’ve been a good decision to place on my shoulders. I’ve tried changing my diet in any way you can imagine, from less meat to no meat to more veggies to starchy veggies to 6 meals a day to 3 meals with snacks. I have gulped down and sometimes chewed my smoothies, as I read that this was more beneficial for the enzymes in your stomach, (this makes you feel a bit stupid, by the way) for weeks on end. I’ve attempted exercise from Hip Hop Dance parties to yoga to Tae Bo to situps to walking to sitting. Sometimes getting up and fixing a peanut butter sandwich is all the exercise I can muster for the week. (I’ve also eliminated legumes, including lentils and peanuts, from my diet for awhile in case anyone was thinking this could be the cause of my troubles.)
I’ve prayed, “God! Where are you?? Why do I still have to deal with this?? Haven’t I given you enough time to fix it?? Are you even working on it?”

I’ve thought things like, “Maybe I haven’t read my Bible enough…or prayed enough…or learned what I needed to yet…after all, this HAS to be a life lesson of some sort and I’m pretty smart, so it should take no longer than 3 years to become a lesson of the past.”
There have been many “A-ha!!” moments throughout this journey, such as, “Oh! Have you had your Vitamin D levels checked?” leading to another trip to the dr (there was a time I was there every single week to report symptoms, barely able to sit up in the chair for lack of energy.) Then, “A-ha! My Vitamin D levels are low! A weekly pill will alleviate all of this!” I grin all the way to the pharmacy thinking “Thank You God! I knew you could pull me through! I knew I just had to trust you!” And here I sit, pains, fatigue, headaches, muscle aches just as abundant as they ever were. My body gives out to a point where I can’t move. My muscles fail me and I sit as though I have no abilities whatsoever, not even a smile. There are times when I couldn’t lift my head or my arm to reach a drink if I were in the Sahara desert. There are times when I’m sure my head will spontaneously combust and my husband will be left to pick up the pieces…literally and figuratively. There are times when my joints hurt so much I feel like a Tin Woman who needs oil.

“I’ve said all of this to say this” as an old Pastor friend of mine says:
I continue to learn over and over and over that I am not in control. If I was, there would be a lot of things changed. I would mess it up royally I’m sure, but I surely wouldn’t run out of energy to do everything I wanted to do. I’d run, literally, I’d run to the grocery store and leap tall buildings just because I could. I’d never take another supplement again, as there was a time when I was swallowing 40 each day. I’d outplay my kids. I’d show the enemy what I could really do. I wouldn’t find myself crying in pain, but then remembering what my Grandma taught me: There’s always someone who has it worse off than you do. That woman could be laying under a cartoon-like boulder making this statement. I’ll press on. And learn something as I do. Possibly the same lesson God tried to teach me last year at this time but I wasn’t ready to listen. I’ll try to take care of my temple and try not to point fingers and judge others as they do not. I’ll continue to read God’s Word daily and diligently. And I’ll remember that I am so very blessed to have everything that I have instead of focusing on what I don’t. I will remind myself that it is God Who’s got the answers and if He isn’t letting me in on them, then there’s a good reason.

Disclaimer: This is so blatantly honest I almost didn’t post it. I don’t want anyone to think I need a pity-party (maybe a little one some day would be nice) and I would never want anyone to describe me as a complainer. But in an effort to provide myself with free therapy and spend some time seein’ what God has to say to me through the written words on the page, I decided to go ahead and share.