I thought I was well acquainted with weakness. Having dealt with anxiety and depression for so many years has taught me how to embrace my weaknesses.
Or so I thought. Funny how that works.
This year I’ve discovered a new level of frailty within myself that I didn’t know existed.
It’s strange to deal with one form of weakness your whole life and become all cozy in your relationship with it, only to find a whole new one introduced.
I’ve never dealt with physical health issues. Sure, I’ve been sick but not like this type of sick. This has been overwhelming, all-consuming, and frightening.
Back in December, my family and I were all sick with colds, and then again in early January, we came down with a nasty bug. As I was getting better I then started getting a massive toothache, all while selling our house, moving into a rental home, and beginning the process of building a new house. I went to the dentist and found out I had an infection that was close to the bone. The only remedy? Antibiotics and tooth extraction. It hardly seemed fair after all I had already been going through.
I dutifully took my 10 days of antibiotics, got my tooth pulled a week later—thank God it was the farthest back tooth— and figured I’d be well on my way to healing and back to life as I knew it.
A forewarning of suffering would be nice
I was thinking the other day how nice it would be to have a little forewarning of our trials. Maybe a little whisper from God, like a heads up, just before suffering slams in like an unannounced house guest that has no intention of leaving.
But unfortunately, this isn’t how it works.
I don’t get a say when trials come my way and I certainly don’t get a say in how long they stick around.
But someone does—He does.
It seems cruel at first glance that he knows what storm is coming in our direction and gives no advance notice and no time to prepare.
Not the day I intended…
About 2 or 3 days after I stopped my antibiotics I began having awful heartburn and indigestion and subsequently pain across my chest. Let me pause here and say this was all very abnormal for me, I generally don’t get digestive issues really at all. I figured that I’d been enjoying too many winter treats and tried adjusting things a bit and taking some Pepcid to wait it out.
After a week or so it only got worse. My stomach was hurting terribly, my chest and throat were burning up into my ears at times. I lived off of bone broth and tiny amounts of banana for almost a week straight because I could barely eat. During this time the chest pain was so bad it was traveling down my arm, which as you can imagine made me think I was having a heart attack. I went into urgent care one day just to let them do a check-up and make sure my heart was fine.
“Well, I’m pretty concerned about your EKG results.” The doctor began to explain with a serious look on his face. He positioned himself on the small, rolling seat in front of me and continued. “I want to send you over to emergency, we’ve already called an ambulance and I’ve contacted the physician on duty in the ER to let them know you’re coming.”
I was stunned, to say the least. Didn’t they know I just came here today so that they could pat me on the back and tell me I was just having indigestion? This was NOT the plan!
My 2nd EKG at the ER showed the same thing that my previous EKG was showing—I wasn’t getting enough oxygen to my heart.
He says He loves us…
He says he loves us and yet allows storms to hit us at unexpected speeds, storms that were never, ever a part of our plans.
So, here we are, going through each of our own personal storms, under the wreckage and in the flames. Sitting amongst our pile of ashes in the midst of a trial that sucks our lifeblood and nothing—including ourselves—look as they should. This is where we long for any relief but where we often find pain in its place instead.
You’ve been here, I know you have, in fact maybe you’re here currently.
This is where we question what we know about God, his goodness, and what he says about how he cares for us:
I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
My bad day just gets worse…
They admitted me to the hospital where they did all kinds of tests, including CAT scans. For the most part, everything looked fine with just a few small concerns but nothing like they originally thought. The cardiologist was genuinely unsure why both EKGs had shown those results and had no real answer for us.
After I was discharged I felt thankful to go home but frightened by the unknowns. Once home, my stomach and all-around pain just kept getting worse. I was told to take proton pump inhibitors for acid and give it a few weeks. I wanted to believe this would go away but I knew something wasn’t right in my body.
My family practitioner took more tests and while on a much-needed beach getaway with my family I received a phone call regarding one test result. The doctor informed me that I tested positive for a bacteria called Clostridium Difficile (or C. diff for short.) He asked if I had recently taken antibiotics, I answered yes. He said I must’ve gotten this while on antibiotics and then let me know that the only way to get rid of it was to take another round of antibiotics. Again.
He ended the conversation with a warning to head straight to the hospital if I began feeling worse. Apparently, this infection is hard to get rid of and can cause serious illness.
After hanging up the phone I immediately googled C. Diff and found awful horror stories of sickness that left me feeling defeated. My husband and boys were wandering off into the sunshine while I sat alone in the car with tears streaming down my face.
Will I ever get better?
I’m slipping, Lord…
It’s these hard and frightening moments where I can’t possibly understand how he’s not going to allow me to slip. Where is his protection when I am wading through these deep waters of pain, fear, and uncertainty?
I’ve seen the bad and the hard that can happen here on this Earth and I know I’m not immune to any of it.
“I’m slipping Lord…”
The hurt is too raw when you long for heaven’s merciful hand to lift the pain away. Instead, you find the hurt has settled deep within you. And the worst part is knowing he could lift the pain at any time because he’s more than capable to do it.
But it stays.
“I’m slipping Lord,” I exhale into the wind.
One day at a time…
About mid-way through my personal mess, the COVID scare picked up heavily and all in-person doctors’ appointments and procedures were canceled. I had a phone conversation with my G.I. doctor and she decided she wasn’t convinced C. diff was responsible for all of my issues. With her instruction, I chose not to take the antibiotics because I wasn’t having the traditional symptoms such as fever and severe diarrhea. (TMI, I know.) She ordered a colonoscopy and endoscopy to look a bit deeper when the restrictions on hospitals lifted. She, like almost every other doctor, scratched her head at my symptoms.
During all of this, I began seeing a naturopathic doctor and working on my issues naturally. While I’ve gotten some help here, I still have miserable days. There are days where I struggle with pain in my stomach and back that climbs up into my chest. And mornings where I have nausea, chills, and I’m barely being able to eat, let alone get out of bed.
I’m now 3 months into this journey and I’ll be honest, I’m discouraged most days. I’d love to tell you I’m some rock-solid pillar of faith, but that’d be a massive lie. At least once a day you can find me in a heap of tears.
I think the worst part is the unknown with what exactly is happening in my body. What’s worse is, I feel like a prisoner in my body because of the current state of affairs. I talk to my doctor again this week for some more testing. But this will all depend on the restrictions of the COVID lockdown. If you are not considered high emergency it’s nearly impossible to get the testing you need to be done.
And so, I wait.
The love of God…
The other day I was standing outside with my sister-in-law discussing all the hummingbirds I’d see in that spot this summer. Right after the words came out of my mouth a hummingbird flew up and hovered over us. My sister-in-law and I began laughing as tears filled my eyes.
God has shown his love for me like this before when I’ve thought or spoken about something I loved.
It breaks me when this happens. Utterly breaks me. And baffles me how something so small can be used to change the trajectory of my thoughts. All the fear and anger I’ve been going through crashes to the floor in moments like these because I am reminded in an instant how great his love is.
It’s so easy in this jaded, brutal, scary world to lose sight of the fact that God doesn’t just love; He is love.
Any comfort I have received, any words of hope, and love from friends are all from him. Every flutter of a hummingbird wing that brings laughter up from my lungs and tears to my eyes, is from him. It’s all just whispers of his love…
This is where I feel his mighty hand lifting me out of the pit I’m sinking into. His love over me is enormous and tells me to stay the course and to lean deeply into him because he will never let me fall.
It’s a gentle reminder that he isn’t picking on me; no, he’s picking me up. He’s bringing me to something higher, something better and a future only he can think up. Without his plan and his purpose, I’d choose no pain, no trials, or storms. Which means I would never grow. I’d never, ever, learn those hard-fought lessons that only ever come from roads I would never choose myself.
Even if this storm contines to rage on, I choose to believe he loves me and knows what is best for me.
His plan is better than what I would choose—even when it includes pain.
On most days my faith says he will make this struggle of mine right. Not perfect. Not how I want it to look. But right. Whatever right is to him. Although fear still wrestles for the head seat at the table of my heart daily, I know I have a loving God I can run back to every. single. time.
As always, friend, thank you for stopping by,