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.
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.
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.
I’ve had one of those days or maybe not so much days, but weeks. One of those days when everything I throw at the trash can (think full coffee filter. Why do I throw those things?) doesn’t actually go inside the trash can and one of those days when you look up to the sky to try to get a handle on things and breathe, but a weird worm from a nearby tree drops onto your upper lip. (Ok, that didn’t really happen, but I did visualize it happening as I looked skyward that day. I have a very active imagination that can be a pro or a con at any given time.) So as I’m walking along, wondering about weird worms, I realize so much about our day is perspective and where we place our focus. My thoughts after I missed the trash can were, “Geeeeez, isn’t anything gonna go right today??” In that moment, I felt a much gentler thought almost audibly whisper, “There are many things that have gone right today.” That whisper, I believe, is the Holy Spirit. There’s no describing it, but I’ve heard it with my heart before many times. (“You don’t have to do this.” Is one of my favorite statements the Comforter has ever made to me. That was when I thought I had to drink. A lot. That’s a previous blog post.)
When I was gently corrected and reminded of the many blessings God had poured out on my ungrateful head that day, I realized that there are only moments of discouragement. Not “bad days.” It’s unlikely that every minute of a 24-hour period could be bad. It’s only moments we, in our fleshy ways, try to make out to be worse than they truly are by focusing on those instead of the good ones.
When Jesus left this earth after being raised from the dead, He said, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26 (NIV) I know I need an Advocate. Somebody who’s gonna help me out by reminding me that every little thing’s gonna be alright (some of you now have a Marley song stuck in your head now. You’re welcome.) Even on one o’ those days I throw the banana away and start to eat the peel.
Persecution by Facebook? Weird. The post quite simply stated: “God>Buddha.” This is my belief. Wholeheartedly. The Living Creator of the universe and also my living, breathing, being wins against a mere mortal, especially one who is no longer with us, any day. But I digress. The following, lest anyone think I could post something such as this without thought, is a brief overview of what went through my head regarding the topic for nearly a week after.
Day 1: It’s my page and I’ll post what I want.
Day 2: I did stand for what I believe since I posted 2 names (One was the Creator of the Universe and the other, a man the first, also known as Alpha, created, who had amazing principles for life… as does the Creator’s Son, ironically)
Day 3: I’ll supply the reason behind the post. I believe many are looking for something, yet don’t know what or who. I understand that because I’ve been there. I’ve been in that place where you need more and grow exhausted due to not finding it. And the answer certainly isn’t in mere individuals because they are just that, individual humans searching for truth themselves. The Buddhist principles offer peace, a beautiful serenity that so many crave in this world. But true peace is found in the One Who created Buddha. I believe we serve a living God and I’ve seen miracles in this country and another as well that cannot be explained away.
Day 4: Simply because one doesn’t believe in God doesn’t make Him any less real.
Day 5: It’s weird that my Buddhist friends aren’t offended…
Each of these days, I have prayed for those who haven’t experienced God the way I have. It is my opinion and also a fact that God is greater because the creation does not supersede the Creator Himself. This is what I believe.
I am so blessed and lemme tell you why. There was a time when I couldn’t imagine being married. Now, not only am I married, but I’m married to a Godly, praying man who not only recognizes when I need prayer, but follows through with it. I think all of us know how difficult that can be. So, I am happily spoiled in a way that I never thought I could or would appreciate. And I could almost write it off as being a not-so-blessed, but-more-of-a-typical happening, but as soon as I begin to take it for granted, I feel another hand. A smaller, 5-year-old hand gently touches my back. There are no words spoken because I know she is listening to her daddy pray. She not only hears the power that those words hold, but sees them as I miraculously (yes, I said miraculously) regain strength and energy into my body. Maybe to some it wouldn’t mean much. Maybe you picture Benny Hinn yelling and people dropping to the floor. I don’t know what you think about miracles. And I’ll be really honest, I don’t care. (Yup, said that too.) I know that I literally go from being too weary to walk or lift my head because my muscles give out to being able to continue on, whether that continuation leads to putting breakfast on the table (ok, it’s the coffee table—the kids eat in front of the TV sometimes. Ok, a lot. I’m letting it go.) or heading to work to do what I love. That’s real. That’s true. That’s what I choose to think on today. And that’s why I’m blessed beyond measure.