Paradoxical and Perfect Peace

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Should I even share and write about this right now? I really don’t know, friends. But something (someOne) is whispering inside (thank you, Holy Spirit) ~ and He tells me that I should.

Why? Because when we feel raw, if we can share with vulnerability, God does some magnificent work.

Magnificent God.

There are some very raw thoughts that run through my mind of late. These are the slings and arrows of the enemy. They are the attacks, relentless ones, that are coming at me constantly. They are also the work of the Lord inside my mind and heart – those things can hurt too, you know. No one ever promised the Christian walk would be a bed of roses.

“Follow Me”. ~ Jesus

Most of you have experienced the same kind of battles and tough refinement in certain seasons of your life. If you have read this blog for any period of time now, you know that mine (battles and growth in Christ) have been as pervasive as the illness that I carry around with me.

Some of those “thoughts”……

Why, every which way I turn, do I feel like I am alone when it comes to finding ways to improve my health? I know it isn’t true – but I still feel it. A lot.

Why? Why do I beat my own self up even more with self-condemnation and guilt when I feel a bit sad and sorry for myself sometimes that I have to contend with this beast of an illness? I know that I don’t operate through my daily living with an attitude of self-pity – I just have moments in which the grief overwhelms me. Shouldn’t that be okay? Yes. Yes it should. (or should it?)

Why? Why can’t I just focus on all of the beautiful blessings God has brought about in my own little life in spite of the ugly of this illness? Even the illness (suffering, I guess we could call it) has strengthened my faith. It has been a gift, in a way – as much as it is a royal pain to live with. This has truly been one of the most ironic and paradoxical things I have ever experienced, because it is not a one-time thing, rather a continual paradox that I live and walk and breathe in daily. And it hurts at the same time that it helps. I am weary.

Why? Why do I not find myself actually celebrating that more often? Why, more often than not, when I think on these things, I find myself knowing the good stuff to be true- but I don’t feel the good stuff? I know it’s not all about feelings. But I am ready for the cycle of grief to stopI am ready to move into full-on acceptance and out of the sadness stage. But God determines what I’m ready for, and when, friends. God determines that. Because He is God.

Be still and know that I am God.

So, even with all of these thoughts and all of this heart work going on, and as my cup seems to drain down to mere droplets physically, mentally and emotionally, Jesus fills it back up with more of Himself. I am alive – more than ever before – in the way it truly matters. My body may be crumbling, the vitality of good health may never return, but I am alive in Christ Jesus! This is the truth.

“I am the truth and the life.” ~ Jesus

But for now, I am still here on earth, so I get to deal with my sad and tattered daily baggage. It’s heavy baggage on the back, seeping into the heart and mind, and seemingly exacerbating my condition.  I’m ready to dump it, Lord. Problem is, something seems to fill it back up daily and I have the dump process to go over again the next day. Because I’m a sad little human.

But I am also a child of the One, True King!

“I Am.” ~ Jesus

I would like to be able to say I still hope for better health, but aside from my hope in the Lord that He can do anything if He wants to, I don’t hold out much hope for that. Sure. I will do all that I can to improve things – but I kind of feel like I’m in the place right now where I vacillate between just accepting stuff, which then turns into me feeling even worse physically – and simply fighting all the time – which causes conflicts, and pining away for things that I think will help me that may not. I find myself walking a fine and dangerous line between becoming content in my current circumstances, and simply giving up and throwing in the towel.

This is its own kind of battle, and probably the one that I am most weary of at this point.

I’m tired of this battle, friends.

I so badly want to be able to embrace my current circumstances in a way that would bring glory to God that I can taste it! Yet fear of giving up and not trying for better health attacks me. I start to believe that we are losing when I think this way. But often, God’s glory shines even more through what seems like loss and human failure.

To think that I need to do “better” in helping God to bring about His glory through my little circumstances has quite an arrogant ring to it, doesn’t it? God doesn’t need my help. He’s got all the right stuff.

“Trust in God – Trust also in me”. ~ Jesus

And, as weary of the battles that I find myself becoming, I’m also grateful for the victories that Christ brings about in the midst of this never-ending war.

It’s not either/or. It’s both/and.

And that’s a weird, yet glorious place in which to find yourself. It’s an ugly, yet beautiful thing. It’s a frustrating, yet peace-inducing experience. And all of  it goes on and on and on and on. It’s a place in which there is truly no control we can claim to have.

Yes. This is surrender, friends.

And do you know what else?  I think that there are so many things that make surrender so hard for us – we talk about them all the time. But one of them that I haven’t shared about much is one that resonates greatly for me today as I write this:

Perception and false expectations.

I can’t speak for you, but for me, I have always had some distorted version of what a person feels like after they surrender. See, that implies that although you appear to be losing the battle, at least you are D-O-N-E.

But you aren’t.  😦

What happens after you surrender can be more difficult that the battle was in some ways. It’s its own kind of weird and difficult. But thanks be to God that He knows what He is doing. He is in all of it!

Sovereign God.

Thanks be to God that He will never forsake us and He will get us through.

Thanks be to God that no matter how weary we may become with this perpetual battling and cycle after cycle of surrender, He will show up and He will take the baggage and give us a reprieve.

Thanks be to God that He will bring about His glory through our sufferings and failures as well as our victories. They all come from Him anyway.

They are His.

Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. ~ Jesus

Thank you for the reprieves, Lord. No one ever promised that I should get to have one, but I am sure glad that You deem them important in my life. Thank you for making all things beautiful and new. Thank you for being able to bring about YOUR glory, even in our weakness, our sin, or our ugly stuff.

And I will accept. I will accept what I don’t want to accept, because only YOU get to determine if it’s time for a new or different season for me regarding health.

You know me well enough to know that I will struggle with this surrender and acceptance thing again tomorrow – probably even later today. But I want you to know that I will always come back to surrender, even when I fight like a kicking and screaming brat at times.

And I will only be able to do so because of YOU.

Gracious God.

I know you will be there, Jesus. I know you are here. Will you help my friends know the same? If they don’t feel You near today, will You help them? Will you wrap Your loving arms around them?

  • So, yes. Today I feel raw and vulnerable. Maybe you do too.
  • Yes. Today I find tears of grief streaming down my face for the good health I used to experience, but never really appreciated fully.  Do you?
  • Yes. Today I find myself moving back and forth between sorrow, yet joy in the knowledge that God is doing great things through this thorn in my side – not just in me, but in others around me. Do you also, friend?

It’s about His will being done in our lives. We have to trust Him and surrender it ALL to Him. And we can cry out to Him when it’s hard for us. Because He understands.

Faithful God.

  • I want to hang on so badly to my own desires to have my health back. Do you?
  • I want to hang on to some idea of “happiness” that isn’t really what it’s supposed to always be about for us. Don’t you?
  • I want to hang on to false hope, if I’m really honest. Because I’m human. Because I’m sinful. And because it FEELS SO GOOD. How about you?
  • But I know – I know that my true hope lies in Jesus Christ and Him alone. Do you? 

I pray that all of my friends do – that you DO know this.

“I am the true vine.” ~ Jesus

Our true hope lies in eternity spent with Jesus Christ; where there will be no more tears, no more sorrow, no more suffering. That doesn’t make it a lot easier in some ways to deal with our earthly sorrows, but it does make it better in the sense that this is the WORST IT WILL BE!!! (this earthly stuff we contend with).

It only goes “up” from here once we leave this earth – if we truly follow after Jesus and have accepted His gift of salvation.

To You I lift up my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens! Psalm 123:1

May you press deeply into the hope you find in Jesus, dear friend.  If you are struggling in any way today with surrender or sorrow, cry out to Him and look up and see Him in all His glory.

And may He give you PEACE.

 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying,“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”  Revelation 21: 1-5

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10 Things Not To Say to Someone With an Invisible Illness

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I will be sharing a post soon on the upside of this kind of stuff soon…the positive spin, the “how to help” and happy-go-lucky kind of stuff. Yes…something more along the lines of what we can say that helps those who struggle with invisible illnesses.

But so very often, I think what helps us get into the mindset of what we can do that is positive, is to start with what not to do. Sad, but true.

We all make mistakes…I know I do. We learn from experience. So often, we learn best when we, ourselves, see things from a first hand perspective. This is where I come in on this topic.

We all struggle to know what the right thing is and what to stay away from when we are living with someone who struggles with something we cannot even see with the naked eye, let alone…fully understand. This holds true for grief, internal battles we cannot see (that we all go through) and as I am discussing today, the invisible illnesses people suffer with, like my own Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue.

Now that I have been living with an illness that is not outwardly visible in many ways, (but oh-so-very-REAL), I have seen first hand an entirely different layer of what so many in our world deal with ~ and they often feel alone.

Here are a few things I have learned that folks like myself don’t want to hear when struggling with an illness or battle that is unseen. These things do not help in most cases.

As with anything, you have to take it all within the context of the conversation – of course. But in most cases, I can say that when I hear such things as the list below, it not only doesn’t help me, but I walk away with more than just the battle I am already fighting due to my illness to contend with.

And I must say ~ This battle is enough.

“Well, at least you don’t have ___________” (insert something “real” here). This happens all the time, friends. We already know that we need to focus on what we are grateful for in the midst of the battle (WAR) we are fighting. We already know that we are more fortunate than many others and we still have much to be thankful for. We already know that this probably won’t kill us. But none of that makes it any less real to contend with. WE can say this, but when others say it TO us, it makes us feel small, diminished, and “less than.” The world has decided what it calls a “serious” illness and chalks the rest up to mere annoyances. The world screams this to the person living with the chronic and invisible illness. We don’t need our near and dear ones to do it too.

“Maybe you just need to exercise, eat differently, drink more juice, take better care of yourself, etc. Although this may hold true for many who have a chronic illness, doesn’t it also ring true for the majority of the people in the world? I can speak for myself that this girl was IN SHAPE prior to being struck down with Fibromyalgia! I was not lazy by any means when it came to exercise or even the way that I ate and took care of my physical health. And it still happened. This is a very sensitive area. Most folks who struggle with a chronic illness, especially one that not even the doctors fully understand are on a roller coaster constantly. They are trying every vitamin, every eating plan, every form of exercise, rest, sleeping techniques and helps known to man and under the sun. To imply that they could do better when they are struggling to fight their illness AND implement a multitude of coping skills, just adds to the defeat and exhaustion they probably already feel.

“You might want to go see a counselor.” First of all, your friend has probably already been down this road. Think back for a moment. Look at things like autism, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder. A couple of decades ago, these were invisible and non-measurable “illnesses” as well. The world didn’t accept that there was a physiological link in the mix. The world wasn’t even sure these things were real and not all in their heads. But now – today, we accept these things as very, very real. Fibromyalgia (my thing), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Adrenal Fatigue, and other illnesses like these are still being viewed that way. The world  hasn’t caught up to us yet. And we know this. Most of us understand this and employ grace towards the rest of the world who doesn’t get it yet. We know that the world hasn’t figured out whether or not to believe it’s a real thing. But we want you to trust us that It is not all in our heads. A counselor may help, but exercise caution if you are going to suggest this to a loved one – the context needs to fit, as always.

“This too, shall pass.” I’m sorry, but give me a break. Most of us are struggling to surrender and accept, friends. The line between accepting our illness and full-blown resignation is very thin. To hear that it may magically disappear one day does few of us any good. What we need is to believe we can live with it better, not wish for or hope for some magic wand to be waved and take it all away. Sorry, but I am a realist. I am also a Christian and believe that God can heal us. That is part of my reality as a follower after Christ. But I look at the reality of many who suffered in the Bible and not a whole lot of it was “removed” from them while they walked this earth. Yes… most of us just want to learn how to cope as best we can if for some (crazy) reason, this never does pass. Do we promise a cancer patient that it will pass and go away some day? I hope not. The way we BEAT THIS THING is not to live every moment hoping that it will disappear, but find ways to live for Christ in the midst of it.

“Do you take vitamins and supplements?” Yes…let me go grab my suitcase and show you. Want some? I have plenty and am willing to share.” ‘Nuff said.

“You “should” _____________” If you suffer from a chronic, and invisible illness and have been around the block a time or two, please take this one off your list. You can say this all you want. But if not, then there is no place for “shoulds” in our vocabulary when we are talking with someone about their illness battles. Again, it implies they have not done enough. It implies that we assume they haven’t already been there, done that. And they probably have. I’ll be the first to say that there may be some things I haven’t tried in order to cope with this thing, but chances are, I have tried most things on the “should” list. Multiple times.

“Well, you seemed fine yesterday ~ what happened?” These things, dear friends – these crazy problems that come with these invisible illnesses or battles that we fight – well, they have a mind of their own sometimes. I can say without question, that I, for one, have serious control issues. I am one motivated individual when it comes to employing every coping (control) skill in my magic Mary Poppins-like bag when it comes to avoiding pain and suffering. And if I could wake up today and use all of my tricks and tools so I feel as good as I did yesterday, I would do it. No contest. (yesterday…all my troubles seem so far away…sing it with me!)

“So much is about attitude. Mind over matter, baby.” Yes. And my attitude just got flushed down the toilet right after you said that to me. Hee Hee.

“You just need to give it over to God.”  For the Christian suffering with one of these monster illnesses, this is one of the worst thing another Christian can say to us as a blanket statement. Again, if shared in the right heart and within the right context, it is more than okay, but so often, we hear this just the way I have written it above. Saying it this way and without framing it appropriately implies that we aren’t…that we haven’t been on our knees beseeching the Lord to teach us and refine us through this thing. It insinuates that we are suffering because we have failed to let God be God in some way. It may be true that we need to surrender and learn from God through our suffering ~ isn’t it true for us all? But to imply that in some way we are sick because of our lack of surrender is just…well, kind of sick in its own way, don’t ya think?

“You just have to persevere.” Yup. Gotta run the race and run it well. Also, need to surrender at the same time. I have to tell, you friends. Sometimes, we want to give up. Some days we need to give up. We probably won’t stay there. But we need a break today. Don’t you have days like that even without being assailed by an invisible illness? Part of the way that we run our race when we are dealing with the invisible realities (battles) in life is to step out to the sidelines and stop for a minute. Pep talks like this don’t help us. Hopping on Jesus’ back instead is what we really need to do sometimes.

So…there we go. Let me conclude by saying that all of the above apply to me. I am not only the receiver of such comments but the giver of them as well. I am not the only person suffering with something hard and invisible today. This list applies to me with my invisible illness as to things I don’t really appreciate hearing. It also applies to me when it comes to things I should keep in mind when I am talking with someone else who is suffering in some way. We can learn from one another how to better build one another up, encourage, specifically pray, and just truly be there.

In the next post, I will share, from my own perspective, what we CAN do that helps those who struggle with these invisible battles.

Because isn’t that what it’s all about? One of the most loving things we can do for one another is to share with them how to help.

Maybe they, in turn, will do the same for us some day.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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The Tale That May Never Be Told

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Today, upon rising, I found myself…not rising. I woke up and sunk low.

I was wading in the mire of self-pity as soon as my feet hit the floor. It quickly turned to grief.

It wasn’t grief over those who are far less fortunate than I am. It wasn’t a grief over things that should seem to really matter to me. It was just plain selfish grief.

Yes, it was a ME kind of grief. (Don’t you just hate that?)

The day before (and the day before that, the day before that, and so on) I had been reminded of the brain fog of this “condition” that I have and the damage that it has done. I was starkly reminded in many unrelenting ways that hurt my heart deeply. Ways that caused me grief….ways that reminded me that the way my life will evolve and finish is most likely not going to be the way I was conditioned to think it would be.

Ugly and tormenting ways.

It’s not going to be what I had hoped for ~ my mind remaining in tact till the end ~ and part of me thinks I need to embrace that stark fact now. That causes grief. That causes heartache. But it also causes some very good, good things too.

But is the tale of our lives ever really going to unfold the way that we hoped for ~ every good story has an unexpected plot twist, after all, right? Can’t every single one of our lives just change on a dime? What makes us think it’s us who is going to get to choose how things play out?

Arrogance and self are the culprits, if you ask me.

So the hoped-for narrative has changed, and yes ~ it kinda stinks like a trash bin full of gross and disgusting, smelly junk. The plot has thickened, and in some ways, it has thinned out as well. I’m okay with that. I’m just finding that I’m not really doing so well with the fact that I may not be able to be mentally present or “all there” till the end. I may miss out on some of my own story.

My memory banks are cloudy at best. I find myself asking my children to tell me about things that apparently, we’ve already had conversations about ~ recently, even. I grasp for words sometimes, and that never used to happen. Not ever! I find myself checking out, so to speak ~ mid-conversation. Zoning out and going far, far away while someone is sharing an important part of their lives with me. This hurts my heart, friends.

I am also starting to find myself getting scared at times ~ afraid of what may come next. But most of all, when I’m not careful to come to the feet of Jesus quickly, I enter into worry ~ worry for the hearts and feelings of my children and how this must make them feel. I worry, worry, worry. Maybe someday, I will forget to worry at all (that will be a plus!)

And sadly, I find myself not remembering much of the first decade or two of our marriage. I have holes in my memories. But the bulk of where we walked, what we did, it’s just….gone. I don’t even remember some of the places we have gone and things we have seen together, while at the same time, I have detailed memories of others. I have talked about this with my husband. He seems to understand. But it has to be disturbing. It must be really disheartening for him too.

Surrender. The constant need for surrender.

I look at photos and thankfully, with a grateful heart, I remember some of what is going on there. But not always the details. Not the circumstances surrounding life at that time. And that’s fairly new for me, friends.That’s certainly not part of how I thought it was going to be now. I wonder ~ will I remember much of anything five, or ten years from now?

It’s not how I want for it to be.

I thought I would be that exuberant grandma some day ~ the one who would play with their grand kids and tell them wonderful stories about the places I’ve lived, the things I’ve seen, the family stories that help them to know from where they came and what had a little something to do with how they arrived to be here.

I thought I might be able to be that old lady who is sweet and kind ~ the one that you want to come to visit, because although she may be frail, her brain is sharp, and she can sit with you and help you see how great that you are right where you are at. She can tell you why you are so blessed and wonderful, and just how much good you add to the world around you just by being YOU.

It may still be that way. Only God knows. The tale is not finished yet. The tale has yet to be fully told. It might be something even better than what I imagined.

But today, I grieve the loss of confidence in the knowing. The illusion was always there ~ it has just moved a step or two closer to being shattered, and that’s never pleasant.

Truth is more important.

There’s a lot that I thought would wind its way through my life and remain an overall constant ~ a common thread that would be seen  from end to end and create a beautiful and intricate,  changing, yet grounded story.

A perfect little tale with all the bows and ribbons.

Sure, I thought there’d be some ragged spaces in there ~ but those would be a part of the tale of beauty I’d get to tell that was created out of those ugly and tattered spots. Those most certainly are there, and I am thankful for them. But today I’m just wrapping my mind around the fact that I thought the “end” would be nice and tidy, and it might just not be.

I only thought the middle would be a bit tattered.

So the threads are broken in some places now, friends ~ places that don’t seem to be mending very well. I find myself wondering ~ is the whole thing going to unravel? What will be left to hold it together at the end of the day?

Yes, I keep picking them back up again and trying to melt them back together.

Newsflash to Annie: It’s not working.

And I know why ~ maybe the why is that it’s not supposed to. Maybe that’s the best part of this story.

So, as sad as that part of the grief process is ~ the kind of sad that I felt upon waking up this morning ~ Jesus has, once again, comforted me.

Jesus has, once again, reminded me that He is the author, not me.

Jesus has, once again, brought peace to me through the grief.

Jesus, again and again and again, helped me to feel whole and complete in the midst of seeing full-blown, right in my FACE, the broken threads in my hoped for and meager little narrative.

I have the greatest gift of all, dear friends. I have the greatest gift in my salvation and hope in Jesus Christ.

Not only that, but I DO have a thread that is not broken ~ one that speaks to the redeeming blood and salvation and light of Jesus Christ ~ one that will be there to the end.

One that will be there for an eternity.

And it’s the ONE thing that I will take with me out of this world when I leave it. The one and only thing.

And so today, I shall embrace the grief of the part of my life that’s not going quite as planned~ I won’t run away from it. I will focus upon the many parts of my tale that are beautiful and blessed, but also upon the blessing that comes out of the unexpected and the seemingly taunting and ugly part.

And in that, I will rejoice ~ in that, I will cling to the peace and the joy and the comfort of my One and Only Jesus.

I will still hope that I will be healed and be able to be that older lady (if we aren’t raptured out of here soon) who remembers special things and whose brain, that she thought was left for dead at one point in her middle age years, has become sharp again.

But if it doesn’t happen, and if the tales never get to be told, the story of Jesus in my life is still more than alive and oh-so well with my soul!

The story of Jesus ~ The telling of it with bows and hearts and flowers is neither contingent upon how great we can re-tell it  nor the absence of the unexpected we encounter as we move through it. It is not limited by human expectations or abilities. It is not about us, but about Him and what He does for us ~ what He does within us.

He will shine through.

His word is never to return void. God is eternal and his power and ability to change lives is not dependent upon me in any way, shape or form.

And even if I reach a place where I can’t speak with my lips or think straight enough to share Jesus in the telling ~ the way with words I’ve always been able to use to do it failing me ~ He will be there.

  • He will be there writing and telling HIS story underneath all that I cannot express.
  • He will still be the beginning, middle, and the end.
  • He will be the eternal story, the never-ending thread.
  • He is the One who never ever changes.

And because He lives in me, my story isn’t really important. Salvation and Jesus Christ is all that matters today, tomorrow, and at the end of our days here on earth.

His story will always be told. And it’s utterly beautiful to behold.

Yes…I think I shall.

I shall look up.

“Lift up your eyes to the sky, Then look to the earth beneath; For the sky will vanish like smoke, And the earth will wear out like a garment And its inhabitants will die in like manner; But My salvation will be forever, And My righteousness will not wane.” Isaiah 51:6

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” Isaiah 40:8

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Fibromyalgia: Accepting while still Fighting

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How does a person accept something that is beyond difficult to live with without just giving up all at the same time? How does one walk right up to the line that spells acceptance, without dipping their toe over or crossing completely to the other side of that line? The other side of that line, to me, is resignation. That spells giving up in my little mind. And quite frankly folks, I’m having trouble wrapping that puny mind of mine around that idea.

To clarify, I will quote Michael J. Fox here:

“Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it.”

I’m having trouble with where my toes should be planted – firmly. I don’t yet know how to accept, yet still fight. Will I ever understand this? Maybe that’s part of the whole thing. I’m asking God to show me. He’s revealed many things to me, yet I feel there’s something I am not seeing or hearing yet. I need to be a better listener.

For months and months now, I have been pretty certain that what is ravaging my body is Fibromyalgia, but we had to be sure and rule other things out before concluding that (the doctors and me). Now we are quite certain that I do have this F Beast along with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and, like so many other things in my life over the past several  years, I am struggling with the line mentioned above (again).

I have a black and white mind when it comes to fight or flight…and that may be yet another reason Fibromyalgia has been able to run a marathon within my body. Make no mistake, there are clear cut physiological reasons why this happens to people, but working on the mind, stress, and a multitude of other things will only serve to help people who suffer from it.

Working at something usually spells “fight” to me, not “flight.”

Sometimes though, I think I am wrong about that. In fact, I’m sure I am often wrong about it. Sometimes, you gotta just let go. I have always equated that to giving up, but surrender is a form of fighting/battling all its own, it seems.

I seem to need a very good lesson in that arena.

Here’s the kicker: This Fibro/Fatigue stuff is not clear-cut… as in, you figure it out and how to manage it and you’re all good as long as you stay on track. Fibromyalgia is a BEAST of an illness to live with, manage, or even just merely endure. And this girl doesn’t want to simply cope, either. I could write a book or a volume of them about this illness, and maybe I will one day, but for now, it’s about that stupid line thing I mentioned earlier. (have I told you I hate the line yet?)

So….I have come to the conclusion that I need to accept this “diagnosis”, this illness. Let’s just call it what it is: ILLNESS. Ug.

And I am bummed out tonight friends, because I just don’t know how. I truly mean it when I say that I am certain I just have to pray for it ~ this acceptance. Acceptance of this illness that has no cure. Acceptance that there are more bad days than good ones. Acceptance that I have a butt load of work in store for myself just to be able to manage. Acceptance that I will probably never be the same again. Acceptance of day to day, and minute by minute change. (Have I told you I hate change unless I choose it for myself?)

Acceptance, acceptance, acceptance of things that my entire being screams against and wants to conquer, crush, obliterate, and fight to the end over!

But I know it’s key…this acceptance thing. I just know it. Somehow, fighting (not giving up) is a key player too. But I have to tell you a secret about that: They don’t get along. They don’t like to be on the same team. At least, not in this chick’s head.

And that’s gotta change.

So back to my question: How does one accept something, yet fight (which you HAVE to do with this illness if you want to have any quality of life at all) at the same time? If you have the answer, oh please, dear one….please share.

I know people who had or have cancer or other illnesses- received their diagnoses, course of treatment, and fought the good fight. They had to accept they had cancer, MS, RA, Lupus. They had the choice to fight or not to fight. They had the choice (hard one, as it was or is) to accept or become bitter and stubborn. Some were cured, and some weren’t, but all that I know personally fought. ALL.

So why do I feel so badly when there is honestly a part of me that doesn’t want to fight? I know that part of the answer is that somehow, I feel guilty because my illness isn’t “as bad” as some of the other ones out there, yet I want to give up.

I think also, that some of my own struggle is that there’s nothing that seems concrete to fight this thing with – one has to approach it holistically and hope for the best. But I guess that’s pretty much how it is with anything of this nature, isn’t it? Fibromyalgia may be more obtuse than other things, but it’s apparently not going to take my life.

Or is it?

See, you don’t die from Fibromyalgia. But it does eat away at your body, your mind and your soul. Chronic pain wears you down, yo. It’s literally a full time job to manage it. Just manage it. I already have a full time job, and a family to support. How can I keep this up? It’s wearing me down and I must admit, I just want to go to bed sometimes and not have to get up and keep going.

And I find myself still hoping – still hoping I will somehow come out the other side of this thing even though pretty much the one thing that IS conclusive about it, is that there is no cure.

God can do anything and I know it. But I’m just not of those kids who tells their Father to give them everything they want. I believe He will heal me fully if it is His will. He knows I believe it. And yes I do pray about it. But mostly, I pray that unless or until he does remove this from me, He show me more of Himself while teaching me how to live in the process and the part of this story I’m in right now.

So in a way, that part I have accepted ~ and that’s big. I have accepted that God’s will is going to be done, no matter what I do or don’t do.

It’s the physical limitations I am struggling with badly. And the full time job(s).

See, when you have this problem, no one tells you:

  • Hey, you can do exactly this much and you’ll be better (or able to cope)
  • You can walk but not run.
  • You can do situps but not weights.
  • You can eat only veggies or you can be overall healthy with your diet.

It’s all just a mushy mixed bag of “try this, try that” and maybe it will or won’t help you.

The whole thing is so confusing it can drive you nuts, which then puts the sympathetic nerves into even more overdrive, if that’s possible. And if you have the F Beast,  it’s probably possible, believe me.

I don’t know the answers, but I do know there are positive things about this too. I have mentioned them in previous blog posts, but I have more empathy for others than I had before. I have a greater understanding of chronic pain now. I just don’t get to do a lot about it, because I don’t have the energy – ha ha. (Is that funny? I don’t know – kinda a half joke, I guess).

So is it really just about learning about that stupid line of M Fox’s….the line between acceptance and resignation? The line upon which I stand and accept something crappy, yet decide daily to fight according to what lies right in front of me. Some days it’s about fighting really hard, and other days, the fight shows up in resting, surrender, and doing nothing – just coping. I guess that will have to be “what it is” for now.

But I know the answer to that ~ it’s not about just that line, friends. That line does not define me or offer a magic answer that if only I find it, will solve all of my problems. Only God can do that.

Lines can be erased. But God is my Rock.

There is someone who knows even more about suffering than all of us put together – who knows everything about it, really. Someone who understands, who cares, and who has the answer about that dumb old line and then some! Someone who offers a far greater hope for us than figuring out this riddle and simultaneously being able to do two opposite-type things. Someone who is far greater and far more vast than any disease, limitation, sorrow or syndrome.

That someone tells us:

I AM.

I am the Bread of Life….

I am the Light of the World…

I am the Gate….

I am the Good Shepherd…

I am the Resurrection and the Life…

I am the Way, the Truth and the Life….

I am the Vine…

I am from Above…

I AM.

I can accept that fully. Him ~ Jesus ~ The Great I AM.

I can and I do.

And I can fight for that fully. Him ~ Jesus….

I can and I do.

Yah….I’m moving past the line, but not into a place of resignation. The Rock just took its place instead.

They may not be pretty, but my feet feel better already.

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Grace Conquers Grief

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I thought grief was something I’d have a reprieve from after mama died about four years ago. I knew it would come back in new and even more twisted ways as life went onward, but I thought what I thought anyway.

I knew the grief of losing mama was not something to be dealt with and that it would then be over for once and for all. God made me fully aware of this fact when I experienced it with my father’s death decades ago.

So WHAT IS IT that I did NOT know that has thrown me for such a loop over the last year or two? A lot, friends. A whole lot. I was mistaken in thinking I had experienced “my share” of grief.

Grief shows up in so many ways that we don’t expect – new ways we aren’t familiar with and in times we may not expect it to darken our doorstep at all. When that happens, what we thought we understood or knew about grief goes right out the window and splats into a million pieces down below.

Since mama died, more deaths have occurred, more friends and family have gone through trials and sorrows that I can count, more heart-wrenching changes that, even in the midst of them, we knew God would work together for our good, have happened too. (Plus, have you noticed? The world is a mess!!!)

But presently  – this now that I am in – grief wants to take me,friends. The shards down below the window it splatted and catapulted out of have morphed and grown into something bigger, scarier, and more seemingly powerful than I had thought I’d experience at this time in my life.

Grief wants to own me, put its name upon me and seal it that way forever. Grief wants to make grace become second fiddle without question. Grief wants to define me, torment me, smash me and then overtake me.

Grief wants to eat me alive.

Guess what else I am learning that I hadn’t recognized about this greedy grief before? It’s that it has many friends. It’s many little minion-like friends do a tortuous form of damage all on their own. They serve multiple purposes, not the least of which, is to compound the master that they serve – this is how grief breeds and grows.

  • Guilt.
  • Negative mind chatter (why can’t you just look at the bright side?)
  • Pain.
  • Depression.
  • Bitterness.
  • Anger.
  • Sorrow.
  • Anxiety.
  • Self Pity.
  • Relational Strife and Conflict.

The list goes on and on, but I can’t write it all out because I’m already crying at this point. (Sorry, but I am).

Here’s the thing friends: I know what I know what I know.  I just don’t feel it sometimes. That hurts and it hurts a lot (hence, more grief).

  • I know that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.
  • I know that the present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
  • I know we have been crucified in Christ and it is no longer “I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.”

Yes, this list goes on and on too – and it comforts me so greatly that it does. It’s found in His Word – His truth – His promises to us. And for that, I can’t even begin to express how thankful I am.

But I don’t always feel good about it. Sad to say, but true. I am a mere little human whose flesh tries to take her eye off of God’s promises.

So today my heart grieves, even though my head knows the truth of His grace. Today, I struggle to find how to let the grace that He promises me weigh more than the feelings I am experiencing and meet me in the midst of it. Writing these things down today after a time of prayer is my way of reveling in His grace in the midst of the grief. God put it in my heart that maybe some of you feel this way too today.

Yes, until now, I was minimizing grace today and allowing grief to be magnified instead. And I HATE that.

How do you allow yourself to embrace the “bad” feelings that you may have and not beat yourself up about it?

Did you hear what I said? Not “live by” or “focus solely upon” but acknowledge and embrace and move through them!

How do you allow yourself to rest in His grace, but not pretend that grief isn’t present as well? (Instead of sucking it up, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, thinking of others instead and pretending your are just fine?)

How do you reach a point where you press into God and His strength and His comfort, (while in the midst of suffering), but not feel badly that you are sad in the first place?

Here’s what I do all the time on days like this – this is a snippet of my crappy mind chatter that I have to cry out to God about – ask Him to remove – obliterate – conquer.

  • “You can’t possibly be focusing upon the negative of this fibromyalgia again, can you? There are people out there way worse off than you. You need to focus upon all that you DO have.”
  • “You are dragging other people down with the vibes  you give off on these (more often than not) heavy pain days. Even when you don’t talk about it, they sense it. You need to have a different mindset and think more of others around you.”
  • “You know that people think you are making this up, right? You realize that people are starting to see you as someone who either is pretending they have this illness to get attention or get out of doing for others.”

I know this is negative, friends. But I have something positive to share with you about all of it. You can’t see the positive in full and give it the credit it deserves if you don’t journey through the ugly first. At least, that’s what I’ve found. You can pretend, but it doesn’t really work that way.

Did you hear what I just said? THAT is the positive in this. Not just this blog post, but this journey we are on if we are experiencing chronic illness, suffering, sorrow or trial of any kind. It’s part of how the Lord reveals Himself and His power in ways to us we never “knew” before.

By allowing the season of sorrow to be magnified – overtaking us almost (seemingly), if we are searching for Him and His grace, we “feel” what we “know” about Him in a way we never could before.

This I know. This I cling to.

Him.

In the midst of my new and unexpected season of grief.

What’s my grief about today? I miss who I once was – vibrant, energetic, enthusiastic, healthy, optimistic, driven, rested. Happy. This is what I thought was the essence of me. I am learning that means just what it means…

It. Was. Still. ME.

What’s His grace about today? In the sorrow and the suffering, a part of “self” is being crucified and WILL be filled with HIM in ways it never could be before!

You gotta empty the WHOLE vessel before you can fill it with ALL good stuff.

That means…. dump time. All that seems to be “good” has to be dumped out along with the “bad”.

We cling, friends. I admit to you today, I am clinging to the parts of Annie I wanted to keep. The beautiful parts I didn’t want dumped out with the ugly. But I know that these are the parts, that if I did keep them, would have been residing in the crevices of the potter’s jar and taking up space that He wants to fill with Himself.

I wanted to keep them.

But I know something awesome – (because He tells me it’s so). Those good parts of Annie I am clinging to and grieving over today? They are CRUD compared to what He is going to replace them with.

Absolute DIRT.

So yes, there’s a time to grieve. But there’s a time also to know in the midst of the grief that His grace is already here, and that He is doing something magnificent right now, and that He understands that it hurts a bit. Maybe even more than a bit.

No matter what the season, the one thing that never has to change, is that HE IS ALWAYS HERE.

I am being reborn in Him every single day. How about you? Some days it’s harder than others. Do you feel that too in your own life?

Do you know that birth is a wonderful event, yet a traumatic one as well? We like to focus upon all the feel-good stuff when it comes to a new birth, but we so often forget about what happened in the journey and the adjustment periods. All you have to do is really think about it for a moment – a newborn baby – the birth process – the sleepless nights – the terrible twos – it’s not something that is always a pretty picture.

But one thing’s for sure: No matter how fussy a baby is, or how fitful a toddler might be, it always seems to help when they surrender fully and allow their parent to soothe them.

Soothing in every season – surrender in every season – for me, that’s where it has to be. Won’t you join me if you feel the same way today? Join me in the lap of our Almighty Father. The parent of all parents. The One who never changes.

The One whose grace WILL conquer our grief.

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Ecclesiastes 3

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.