January 28, 2013 In life

Grace to Trust

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.”

  • Jamie, I am SO sorry to hear that you are going through this again. I love though, that above all else, even through what sounds like excruciating pain and frustration, you are allowing the situation to turn you to Christ. Point you heavenward, even more so than you already were. Beauty and truth coming from your struggles and that is so rare and beautiful. I have been reading Stepping Heavenward by E. Prentiss, and I have been also reminded more and more lately that trusting and hoping in Jesus (and Him only) is truly the one thing we need.

  • :) Love seeing the growth that our Jesus is doing in you. It is so true that when we are digging deep in the Word, there is no way we can possibly be down! :) I’ll be praying for you, girl…keep your eyes solely on Jesus; make HIM your desire and He will fulfill it to the utmost!

    Look up Romans 4:20-21. :)

  • Praying for strength and grace for you, it’s never fun to feel like you’re back at square one when you feel like you’ve traveled so far. All my love.

  • Audri

    Hi Jamie – Not to be *that commenter*, but you might be interested in looking into the GAPS diet. Several friends have had major food allergies reversed when they healed their gut using this diet. It’s hard, but pretty thorough. Anyhow, I just thought I’d mention it. I’ve been reading your blog for about 5 years and have I love that you are a woman who loves her Lord as well as a successful photographer. Your work is beautiful and I always enjoy your images, but more and more, I’ve enjoyed posts like these where you write about what your heart is learning in the Lord and His Word. Blessings to you and may the Lord guide you through this time!

    Audri

  • Hey Jamie :). Gotta love that Oswald Chambers!

    I’ve lived through almost the same experiences with allergies, sensitivities, and digestive chaos, but only in the last 2 years, and thankfully for me we seem to have gotten the best of it. It came out of nowhere for me…I’ve traced it to intense antibiotics I took for a month to get rid of strep throat: a year later my liver was basically non-functional and I had headaches every night, stomach aches no matter what I ate, and fell asleep at 7:30 every day if not earlier. Thankfully, 9 months on the elimination diet DID work, and my digestive system is almost back to normal.

    THEN I started having migraines, which mostly involved really intense “auras” which sound like your loss of vision which is why I mention it (I know, everyone has advice and experiences, but its something you could look into). I would get the bad headaches afterwards. This lasted 6 months and only just seems to be over with…its been a month since my last one (!!). That I’ve traced back to starting on “the pill” when I got married. I stopped taking it about 6 months ago, and the theory is that the hormones are finally out of my system. They were triggered by certain foods and stress, so I was figuring out how to manage it. I really did not expect them ever to stop, and I feel incredibly blessed that I’ve just about made it a month without any dramatic (but minor) health problems.

    I share this only in case something connects for you – I only figured things out because other people shared their experiences with me, the doctors were not very helpful.

    I haven’t been on this food journey for as long as you have, but I get what you must be feeling. If I were sent back to square one right now I’d fall apart too! Here’s a verse I found a few weeks ago thats been floating around the edges of my brain:

    Micah 7:7-9
    “As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me. Do not gloat over me my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. I will be patient as the Lord punishes me, for I have sinned against him. But after that, he will take up my case and give me justice for all I have suffered from my enemies. The Lord will bring me into the light, and I will see his righteousness.”

    It gives me hope on a “today” level as well as an “eternity” level. I don’t believe God punishes us with sickness for something we’ve done, but the reality is this broken earthly life is essentially punishment for our sinfulness. The day IS coming when God will bring us fully into the light – and deliverance!

  • Hi Audri – The plan I am following with my ND is basically the GAPS diet. Very, very similar.

  • Thank-you. Thank-you for sharing a part of your heart with us.

    Thank-you.

  • You have such a beautiful heart and such a fierce faith. I love how you share. Praying for you in all the ups and downs of this trial as you fight to hold onto His promises.

  • Well I think your an absolute trooper. My brother when he was about 3,4+5 was allergic to Gluten, Egg, Wheat, Dairy, Soy, and severely intolerant to Preservatives, Colours and Flavours, salicylate s and some fruit sugars. My whole family went on the Sue Dengate Elimination Diet, for six weeks (chicken and rice for six weeks mm, mm) which thank you Lord, worked, but it was a long, long hard road. I realise you have probably seen and heard everything but some resources which helped my family where

    http://fedup.com.au/order-books/sue-dengate-books-dvd-magnifying-cards/the-failsafe-cookbook- That book has some of the yummiest recipes ever!

    and her website – http://fedup.com.au/

    :) stay strong !

  • Praying Jamie. So sorry to hear about this- I can’t relate to exactly what you’re going through, though I went through a similar, long, discouraging health battle with severe scoliosis for three years. It’s awful and discouraging but Jesus is so faithful- as you well know. Much love.

  • I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been following your blog for about two years now, and you never cease to amaze and inspire me. I was sitting, scrolling through everything on here once again and thought, “I’ve never told her how much she means to me, although I’ve never met her.” So this is me telling you that. It’s so encouraging to have a sister in Christ as strong, as powerful, and as creative as you. You make me want to be better and do all things for the glory of God. I simply wish to encourage you with this message to continue inspiring. Because that’s what you’ve been to me: an inspiration.

    “She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” – Proverbs 31:25

  • Ashlyn

    Jamie,
    I can’t imagine having a diet like you do. Remember that he doesn’t tempt us (or give us trials) more than we are able to handle. He is faithful. so faithful. With my great grandma dying last week and finding out my grandpa has stage three cancer… I realize that Heaven is what we are to look forward to… I hope as I grow older that I will desire heaven more and more.

  • Stay strong girl! God will help you through it, praying for you thought! xo

  • Thanks for sharing your heart, Jamie! It shows so much strength, humility and trust to be able to open up about weakness. May God bless you abundantly with His healing presence.

  • Grace

    wow your story is quite amazing. You’re a brilliant master piece used to show love strength and perserverence. i know your pains and im sorry no one was there to understand how you felt during your teen years, but thank you for being here for me.