For from His fullness we have all received grace upon grace. John 1:16
I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. Ps. 34:4-5
Like anyone, I have struggled with unbelief. I’ve walked through seasons where joy abound, difficulties were nominal and dreams pushed me forward. And all the while never realizing grace was making all of that possible.
Sitting with an “old” college pal yesterday, I remembered those good moments we had for 4 years. The moments that stayed with us all this time, and forged who we would ultimately become. She reminds me often, my best friend, she would find me in our dorm room laying on the bed, bible open, praying.
Thinking back on that college girl, I tried to remember what I read in those scriptures, and what questions I had for God.
Pretty positive it had something to do with loneliness as a single, disabled girl – with many guy friends and zero suitors. I’m also certain it had something to do with my calling … what can I do, Lord, that will make an impact for Your kingdom … and could you throw my independence in the mix? Stubborn as the days were long, I often begged God for these two things.
And today, sitting in our lovely little home, I can see the golden threads of His faithfulness … weaving in and out, season after season. My husband’s at work, dreaming big – grinding hard. My husband. What a sweet, sweet statement on my lips. What a gift from the Living God who loves us. And I’m spending time in our dining room pouring my heart out to you – my friend, my reader. Writing has always been my dream and now I find myself in a place I can pursue it passionately, with my whole heart.
But it took a lot of pushing to get me to this place. A life-threatening lot. Processing the past year, I am beginning to see the purpose behind it all. Right here. In this place.
What a gift, what grace.
But life hasn’t always been seamless for me. It’s also been full of darkness, fear and unbelief. Like anyone else. Particularly, last year. You see – I’m used to physical suffering. Building a pain tolerance as a wee little thing – I survived a full body cast, multiple spine and bladder surgeries – still marching on in school, in life. Crutches in tow.
Yes, I was used to this life. And rarely complained, because it was all I knew.
Until the cross became too heavy, and nearly crushed me.
Summer of 2017 was surreal. Being discharged after a full month in the hospital, I had no idea what to do, what to say, what step to take. Bless them – my family and friends certainly had suggestions – but, I wasn’t ready. Depression had fallen hard. I felt abandoned by the God who always provided. For the first time in my life, I wrestled with my faith wondering if He really is with me. I questioned His goodness and begged Him to fix it. See the full story here.
The God I love left me in the gravest suffering I have ever known. Suffering too delicate to explain in the written word. Suffering that changes you, and not in a good way. Suffering that convinces you to close off, stop responding, stop speaking, stop EVERYTHING … because it doesn’t matter anymore. I’m not getting better. I will live the rest of my days in this broken, beat down, infuriating body – and I will do it alone. For I cannot drag the people I love into this hell.
That kind of suffering.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe you’ve faced such an unbearable season of pain, where you questioned God’s goodness. You wonder where He is, WHAT is He doing and when will He show up for you … friend, I’ve been there. Some days, am still there – truthfully.
After my final resignation, the darkness ushered in and I started to question (yet, again) why God kept me here. He had the perfect opportunity to call me home where I would feel no more pain, but – He didn’t. And I was doomed to live out my days in writhing pain, alone to suffer – and now, without a distraction like a job.
I knew leaving this job was what God called me to do. My husband, family and friends all CONFIRMED this is the step to take. A step of abandoned faith.
So – I did and was furious about it. Ha! I’m sure that’s the kind of obedience God wants, right? Reluctant obedience … Sorry, it makes me laugh. For He’s been patient and faithful even in my reluctance. What grace.
The first morning at home with no job to go to, I crawled on the bathroom floor desperately begging God – “What now? I took this step, Lord! Show me what I can do … please, please answer me.” Hot tears streaming down my face, neck and chest – I sat down on the cold tiles, opened up Instagram to distract my breaking heart and watched Proverbs 31 Ministries Stories.
A woman’s conference was being held in Concord, North Carolina. Reading through the details, I talked to Edward. His literal response: “This is what God has for you.” But because I’m a very good questioner of God and His decisions, I wasn’t completely convinced. FIRST OF ALL, it involved traveling. T R A V E L I N G. Something I adore – but have not done in TWO years. Something that takes the worst toll on my body, even when I’m healthy. Something that could literally put me back in the hospital.
Edward said, “Do not be afraid!!! This is what God has for you.” With that passion ringing in my ear, I signed up for She Speaks and made plans. We even decided to extend the trip and head to Charleston! You may have seen our adventures on Facebook. Here’s a few sweet memories of the Holy City.
One of the special opportunities at She Speaks is to meet with a major publisher to pitch a book idea. I KNOW. It’s kind of a big deal, enormous long-shot and there were only 3 slots open. So … I did it, not knowing what I could write about and IF a very small blogger would be of any interest to them.
But because I’m a PROFESSIONAL questioner of God, I didn’t start working on it right away. In fact – I avoided the task like the plague, warring inside my heart whether or not to cancel the trip. One day, I was wrapped up in such fear and the “what ifs” of my health – that I literally prayed to God for a sign. Sure, it was an amateur spiritual move, but I wasn’t ashamed. I needed a sign. I needed to know He’s in this.
It started out with me asking God to put my name up on the television if He really wanted me to go to this conference and meet with publishers. Oddly enough, Netflix started to spaz and my profile picture kept coming up on the screen … yes, NAME included. I thought, “Okay that’s a coincidence. It’s not really You. Let’s try this again.”
As I looked out the living room window at the bright, sunny, cloudless day I whispered – “Okay God, if you want me to write and go to this conference, shut off our electricity.” YES, our bill was paid. I made sure of that. 😉
Twenty minutes later – boom. Lights out.
If that doesn’t put holy fear inside your soul … I don’t know what will. Falling to my brittle knees, uncontrollable tears and laughter burst from my tired body because I KNEW I was in the presence of the Living God. And you better believe I stood up in obedience and sat at the computer for the next 10 days. I was afraid not to.
In preparation for our trip, Edward and I made a decision to see if my body could go without a certain medication every 3 days. Without describing the issues behind this process, just know I was afraid to do it. My body has grown dependent on the prescription, because my abdomen has suffered gravely since the surgery last year. However – I am beyond beaten by the pill, sick of being sick and desperate to try anything – so, we did it. We decided to take it every 3 days, instead of every day.
Praise be to the LIVING God – my body responded miraculously! My abdomen has begun functioning on it’s own, and taking it every 3 days has helped me feel SO much stronger.
Friend – God hears us, even when we don’t hear Him. Please understand, I have prayed for over a year He would heal my stomach. Yelling, crying, slamming all involved in these intercessions – I begged for healing. And He never answered.
I’ve sat in wonder at “why now?” After all this time, all these prayers, the tears … the suffering, why are you NOW answering? Offering Your grace? Could it be that step of faith I reluctantly took? I think that’s exactly what it took. I started to hear from the Lord, when I STOPPED running from His will … from Him.
And now, every morning I thank Him for EVERY answered prayer – big and small, He is WORSHIPED in this house. The direction He’s pulling us, the provision He’s given financially, the HEALING He’s allowed in my battered body … Hallelujah, He has answered me!
I’m not out of the woods – not by far. Pain is an ever-present friend. Creaky joints persuade me to rest, more than walk. Fatigue starts to settle in early … and sometimes I am still very sick, from all the aftermath of this poor, ripped apart body.
Yet – I rejoice in the Living God’s healing. I rejoice in His faithfulness, friendship and grace. I rejoice that I am home and not working at a job that took far too much …
I rejoice that I am His and He is mine.
I cannot even write these words without tears of reverent fear and deep, deep gratitude. He is near. Please – whatever He is calling you to … just go. And remember it is okay to go reluctantly, because you’re going.
And I have a feeling He will be right there waiting for you.