I’m at the end of me. I promised myself when I got here again that I would write through the pain. I would not hide. I would not succumb to apathy and self-pity. I would resist the temptation to withdrawal from the world. I would not let it win. Whatever “it” is. Today I hit the wall. The wall that comes when I’m doing a little better and I begin to believe that my life is normal, that my body is my friend, and that my time is my own to do with it what I will. Then I crash. I see it coming. It’s like a wave quietly swelling in the distance. As a rough and tumble tomboy girl-child, I used to body surf the summers away at the ocean. I’d spend hours floating in the water just waiting to see those ripples in the distance – ripples that promised oncoming adventure and exhilaration. Unfortunately the ripples I saw this morning were not welcome and not the kind of adventure my young self craved or ever dreamed I’d have to deal with. I could take a pounding as a kid – get tossed violently about in the waves and come up laughing, my body whole. Not so anymore. Waves knock me down. For goodness sake, kiddie pool waves knock me down. IT. IS. SO. FRUSTRATING.
I had to call out for help. I hate calling out for help. While I am getting better at it, it still breaks me down every time despite the smiles I attempt to put on for the world. I was rescued by my loyal neighbor and friend who took my children for the afternoon as I tried to rest hoping it would fend off the aching and fatigue. Right now, another dear friend has my children outside while they ride their bikes. I am grateful to have them. But I am so mad I had to be rescued. I am so mad that my friend came over to bring dinner, help clean my house and watch my kids instead of to just “hang out”. I am so mad that I am not standing outside with her right now talking with her about our kids’ latest crazy antics or the clothes our husbands refuse to put in the hamper. I want ordinary. Normal. And I want to be in control.
But, I am not. My body is not mine. My time is not mine. So much of my present and future is out of my hands. My life feels anything but normal and controlled. But, really whose is? At the heart of the matter is the fear that my life becomes worthless as I lie in bed day after day. This leads me to dark corners I’d rather not visit and Lifetime Movie Marathon crying sessions. I think I could surrender to the loss of control if I knew my life still had as much meaning when I am forced to sit idly and watch life as when I actually get to participate in it. I get caught measuring myself by the world’s worth-o-meter based on busy schedules, gym memberships (*that they actually use*) and kids in T-ball and violin lessons. I feel like an undisciplined sloth and my former driven self hovers over in judgment saying “Suck it up, girl. Get on with life. You are wasting it. You can’t really hurt that bad!” And another smaller, younger, more fragile voice whispers fears of being swept aside. Forgotten. People see my illness. My “courage and faith.” But I fear that who I am apart from being sick slips farther and farther away – caught under the tangled weeds of being a “patient.” That is way to close to “victim” for my liking. Once my thinking spirals this far any worth I clung to begins to disappear. But, God…
I love that phrase. I think I first heard that phrase in a Beth Moore study. Now regardless of what you think of this lovely lady who has a penchant for yelling at the top of her lungs, perfectly sculpted hair and nails and bedazzled cloths – that woman knows her Bible. And she is not afraid to jump up and down like a lunatic to get our attention and say, “Look!! See!!! Read!!!!” The Bible is chock full of “But, God…” stories. Lives that seemed useless, ruined, shattered, out of sync with everyone else…BUT, GOD…rescued, redeemed, redefined, re-purposed.
So I reluctantly open my Bible. It opens to a verse I know well and thought I understood. But now, in this present state, it speaks to me anew. I love how the Bible can do that.
“Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” – Romans 12:1
My teenage and 20-something self used to cry over this verse as I begged God to show me how to do this. My body had become my idol and my means of coping through controlling what did and did not enter my mouth and how many miles I could pound out on the pavement each day. All in a desperate attempt to numb, simplify, avoid… cry out. I was the abuser of my body back then and had to relearn how to surrender it to God every day as I struggled to obey what I knew He wanted. Every moment for the first few years of recovery I had to consciously sacrifice control over my body to God as I journeyed back to health – trusting that He loved me enough that what was on the other side would be better than the pit I had cornered myself in. It was terrifying. Ironically, it set the stage for this moment. Funny how God does that, huh? But, God… knew the future.
Once again I am asked to sacrifice control of my body and trust that what is on the other side is worthwhile.
Is it? Is it Lord? Will it really be worthwhile? How in the world will this all end up being beneficial to my husband and kids?
Then a word jumped out at me – “mercy.” In view of God’s mercy I could trust that my present state wouldn’t be more than I or my family could bear. We can hand Him control not because He will work it out the way WE want but because His mercy is in every breath we take.
But, Lord, I want to be a woman of action! I’ll obey You but all I am doing is lying here. It feels so pathetic.
Then my eyes were drawn back to the last part of the verse. A part I had often overlooked. “…this is your spiritual act of worship.” And then it hit me. I may see uselessness, idleness, purposelessness …BUT, GOD…sees worship. My accepting whatever is happening in my body and giving each moment I am lying in that bed to Him, trusting He knows why even if I don’t equals worship. My bed becomes my sanctuary as I acquiesce that time and pain to Him. He sees ME – worthwhile not for my doing but for my being… with Him. He will use me as He likes in the waiting. Frankly, what I “want” doesn’t matter. It’s not about me. It’s about Him. He can use my life whatever way He pleases. This becomes worship when I submit without tantrum – especially when it’s hard.
Okay, I get it Lord. How do YOU want to use this time?
Today, for this moment, He has said, “You may be stuck in bed, BUT I’ve given you the gift of words. Use them. Write. Don’t worry about the why or purpose. Just write.” And so I write… Tomorrow? I don’t know. But, I guess that doesn’t matter. He knows.
Stephanie- thank you. Thank you for being real. For being honest. For speaking truth. I so needed these words and fresh perspective right now. Thank you for sharing your heart and allowing God to use it… reading what you wrote brought me to tears as God used it in my heart. Thank you.