Oh, for grace, to trust Him more.
Looking back, my teen years were defined by sickness. An overexercising disorder, warped body-image, hormonal imbalances, chronic fatigue, a long list of restrictive food allergies, a wonky digestive system. They were not fun. I “made it through” the loneliest, longest season of my life. Few people understand food intolerances or diagnoses like “chronic fatigue.” I tried to smile through questions, “what happens to you when you eat such and such?” and “I wish I had allergies so I was forced to eat healthier” (really?! that one used to make my blood boil.) When other girls were having sleepovers, eating junk food, shopping at the mall, I was at home, sick, fighting anxiety (it’s crazy how connected the body is; when my digestion wasn’t doing well, at least 3 other parts of my body were affected) and desperate to live a normal, carefree teenage life. (You can read in this post about my gradual healing.)
On a very restrictive diet (no wheat, dairy, soy, sugar, peanuts, tomatoes) I’ve had 4 years of decent health. (Except for the months following a trip to Guatemala. Mission trip food… upsets other people. Ruins me for months.) Recently, my body has been upset by almost everything. On the morning of December 28th, my system freaked out: 45 minutes of non-stop spasms. There are no words to accurately describe the pain. Forming words during the pain was impossible. I lost my vision temporarily during the attack – all I saw was bright lights. It was terrifying. Since the episode (recovery was two days of rest and sleep) my system has not been right. Something “broke”–and there ain’t no going back ’til we fix ‘er.
Returning to a Naturopath after over 6 years stings. It feels like defeat: I’m still sick and my body hasn’t made any progress. Those painful years were in vain. We’re back at square one. (Of course, we’re not at square one. I am an extreme thinker, downfall, I know, so I tend to see things in black and white… It feels like square one.) I told my Mom I was ready to go back last week, over a cup of green tea at Woods Coffee. I had to choose Doctor A or Doctor B.
Jamie, you hated Doctor A. – “I did?” – Yes! She was a little rude and snippy and compassion was not her strong suit. She made big promises and they didn’t come true for you. – “I don’t remember any of this. Like what?” – You followed an elimination diet for 6 months. You were so strict. You did so well. She promised many of your allergies would leave. After 6 long months, we drove to her office for the follow-up appointment. Oh you were SO excited to find out how your hard work had paid off… But you found out only one minor allergy had disappeared. All the others were still there. – (My eyes started filling with tears, right there in Woods Coffee). – You cried soooo hard that day. You cried the whole drive home. You cried all night. You cried the next day. It was awful.
By now, my glasses were on the table, fingers wiping away the freely-flowing tears. I don’t know why but somewhere around 18 years old, I realized 90% of my memories from those years are gone. I have journals but personal memories? I don’t have them. I couldn’t have “found” the story Mom had just told me about my 15-year-old self. But obviously, by my emotions, I knew it to be true and I still felt the pain. (Brains are interesting things.)
I broke down in a bad way one evening last week. Dealing with the same issues for ten years, feeling like I haven’t made progress, being forced to live an orderly-disciplined-restrictive life, eating so carefully and still feeling sick. Emotionally, it’s difficult to enter into another undetermined phase of naturopathic appointments, careful planning, nasty tasting drops, restrictive cleanses, bland food. But when it all becomes so overwhelming and frustrating and painful and emotional, I remember Jesus.
I remember He has a plan. Although I don’t see it and I don’t feel it and heck, I might not like it, He has one. It is a plan for my good and not for my harm. It is a plan to prosper me. I don’t know what He is doing, and I can’t see where He is leading, but yet I will trust Him.
Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!
“Oh, for grace to trust Him more” is my prayer. Very literally, I cried the other night: “Jesus, I trust you. I don’t understand any of it – but I trust you and I trust that you hold my world in your hands. And I trust that you see me and I know you are weeping over my pain, right now.” Isn’t that such a beautiful truth? John 11:35, the shortest verse in the Bible, says “Jesus wept.” A man named Lazarus had just passed away. Jesus was friends with his family. Jesus wept from pain and grief, although He knew the future (life! abundant life!) He weeps with us, too.
I’m so glad I learned to trust Him,
Precious Jesus, Saviour, Friend;
And I know that He is with me,
Will be with me to the end.
I referenced Judah Smith‘s sermon series on Heaven from The City Church at the end of this post. The first two messages have been so encouraging. Heaven is a real place. Heaven is without pain, suffering, sadness, grief, sickness, loneliness, hurt, betrayal, loss… and Heaven is everything beautiful, lovely, pure, joyful, fun, restful. Earthly life will never be without pain and we won’t understand everything on this side of eternity. My life has seen very little suffering in comparison to the world. Millions of people are currently without food, shelter and clean water. Millions of people are victims of abuse. It is overwhelming. And I hate it.
In the midst of my own small trials (because although my emotions may claim “this is a huge deal”… I know it’s not, in light of our disease-ridden world) and in the midst of the world’s massive injustices (800 million people without clean water), there is HOPE. This world is not our home. May every painful season remind me of this truth. May every hurt draw my eyes to Heaven and my heart towards the God who is sovereign over all. Him, I will trust. Him, I will worship. For Him, I will wait.
P.S. I was reading this from Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest this morning. It encouraged me. And I’m doing good, real good, since that evening last week. It’s tricky to avoid being strengthened and full of joy when you fill your life with the Word. ;)
“I say to you, do not worry about your life…” Our Lord says to be careful only about one thing–our relationship to Him. But our common sense shouts loudly and says, “That is absurd, I must consider how I am going to live, and I must consider what I am going to eat and drink.” Jesus says you must not. Beware of allowing yourself to think that He says this while not understanding your circumstances. Jesus Christ knows our circumstances better than we do, and He says we must not think about these things to the point where they become the primary concern of our life. Whenever there are competing concerns in your life, be sure you always put your relationship to God first.”