Finding Hope

 

Broad-Billed_Hummingbird_002
Broad-Billed Hummingbird (Male), Santa Rita Lodge, Madera Canyon, Near Green Valley, Arizona

Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

~Psalm 51:8~

But may all who search for you
    be filled with joy and gladness in you.
May those who love your salvation
    repeatedly shout, “God is great!”

~Psalm 70:4~

You have allowed me to suffer much hardship,
    but you will restore me to life again
    and lift me up from the depths of the earth.

~Psalm 71:20~

My Bible reading for today was from Psalms 70 and 71.

I love the Psalms. I am always comforted by the words. No matter how desperate and afraid the Psalmist is at that time, the heart cry turns the focus back to God’s faithfulness.

King David wrote Psalms 51, 70, and 71. This was a man who God called a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22). Yet, David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband murdered to cover up his sin. God used Nathan to confront King David in 2 Samuel 12 and David confessed his sins and his relationship with God was restored.

A lot of people focus on the deeds of David and use those instances as a means to pass judgment on Christians. What they fail to recognize is, Christians KNOW they sin and do bad things. I’m guilty of this ALL the time and I know I will struggle with this until the day I meet Jesus face to face.

I’ve only come to understand that it’s the heart of man God judges. He knows each and every one of us. He knows me. He knows I desperately long to please Him and want others to see the power of God’s Word and His love in me. He knows I don’t want to do the wrong things and cause my poor choices to become the burdens of another. I want to be a woman after God’s own heart and speak truth and healing to those I come in contact with.

I find David’s Psalms to be raw and full of depth. He was real with God and real with others. He was flawed and human but his desire was to honor God in everything he did. He may have stepped off the straight and narrow path at times but God always brought him back to where he needed to be.

That’s what God does for us too. Sometimes my days are filled with anguish and joy within the span of a breath. I don’t understand how that can be but it happens. I often pray the words of Psalm 51 as my own prayer.

“Make me to hear joy and gladness so the bones which You have broken may rejoice.” That is a LITERAL prayer for me. Both of my ankles were damaged when I fell down a spiral staircase and tore the ligaments and Achilles tendons in both ankles. I endured years of being bedridden and unable to get stronger. Then one day I was able to see a surgeon and he performed reconstructive surgery on both of my ankles. I was able to walk again. Unfortunately, arthritis and weakness are setting in but I do exercises to strengthen and help.

I am reminded of God’s faithfulness to come every time I experience the pain in my ankles. Of course, I usually make a joke to my friends or family about the “agony of de-feet”. In all seriousness, I know there will come a day when I will not have pain. I will no longer struggle or suffer. I also know there will come a day when all those who know Jesus will no longer struggle or suffer. We will be rescued and renewed.

That makes me smile. I have so much to look forward to and so do you.  It doesn’t matter where you are in life or who you are. This is a message to my fallen and broken brothers and sisters in Christ. There is hope. There is ALWAYS hope. God will sustain you. He will guide you. He will HOLD you even when you don’t want anything to do with Him. Trust me on that. He will NEVER let you go.

Blessings ❤

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It’s Been a While

Strength-doesnt-come-from-what-you-can-do.-It-comes-from-overcoming-the-things-you-once-thought-you-couldnt.-Rikki-Rogers I haven’t written in months. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to. Sometimes I just don’t know what to write. There is so much happening inside my head that I can’t focus on one single thing. It is overwhelming and discouraging to work through the noise inside my mind.

What am I doing about it? A LOT! Many know I struggle with severe chronic pain and illness issues. I don’t want to dwell on it but I find myself succumbing and doing what I can to live with these things.

Somehow I can’t accept this. I have become physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted in this battle. I just want some quality in my life to look forward to other than being bedridden or chained to my recliner. I’m beginning to feel like they are becoming an extension of me and I can’t accept it.

I have been making little changes each day. First of all, I have started using essential oils and a diffuser. A couple months ago, an anonymous friend who knows my struggle sent me a diffuser and several DoTerra essential oils to help me. I have wanted to try these oils for months but, having a fixed income, I could not afford them. Then, one day, I received a package. It was addressed to me and the return address was also mine. There was a small message that said, “From a Christian Sister.” To this day I don’t know who sent it but I started using the diffuser that very day.

When I received the package, I was trying to recover from a severe bout of the flu. I was extremely sick. I began using the immune booster and within a couple of days, I started getting better. I was still fatigued but the flu symptoms were less. I still use this on a daily basis.

Secondly, I started looking into weight loss options. For two years, I have maintained my weight but I haven’t been able to lose. I want to lose so that I can begin doing more exercise. However, each time I’d begin exercising, I’d rupture discs in my back and/or neck. This, of course, would land me in the emergency room for pain medication. Then, I’d attempt physical therapy and get sick with autoimmune issues. It is always a Catch-22.

I have decided to have gastric bypass. I am in the process of preparation. I have a number of doctor’s appointments, tests, and bloodwork to go through. It’s a challenge but it’s going to be worth it. I have started recording my food intake, logging exercise, and recording my daily mental state.

Since I have made this decision towards gastric bypass, I see a light at the end of the tunnel. There are some risks but the risks of gastric bypass are much less than if I were to remain the weight I am or gain. The bypass will help me jumpstart my system and I’ll be able to tone and strengthen my body again.

The third thing is core exercising. I have started a program online with a coach and physical therapist. I am learning how to strengthen the core of my body in a healthy and safe way. It’s challenging but I do these exercises 3 times a week for 8 minutes. I have noticed a difference. I have also seen a change in my strength. I have not needed a cane, walker, or wheelchair for about 2 months now. I am standing taller and feeling stronger. I still struggle with vertigo but it happens about once or twice a day as opposed to ALL day like before. I still get fatigued but I have noticed I crash for only 15 to 20 minutes and then I feel renewed. The fatigue isn’t 24 hours now.

I’m just taking baby steps. I feel the difference and I stay focused on the moment. If I dwell on the past or focus too much on the future, I become anxious. When anxious, I do self-hypnosis techniques and relax. The only thing I have to worry about is my health. That’s my responsibility and I do my best. I am very fortunate to have a loving family and supportive friends.

Today I’m struggling with excruciating pain but I know this is made more difficult with weather. Rain and humidity make it worse. I am forcing my body to relax so I don’t get spasms. I use lavender oil to relieve the pain. I usually take a couple Tylenol Arthritis to take the edge off.

One day at a time. That’s my mantra these days. One day at a time.

Why?

question-mark-706906_960_720 Yesterday my son and I were talking. We talk a lot. Sometimes we just goof off and play off each others comments. Other times, like yesterday, we talked about God’s power and ability to change the lives of people.

It wasn’t in those words exactly. In fact, I was sharing a couple of video’s from Carman. Carman is a man of God whose music, faith, and ability to tell a story just amazes me. I love listening to his music and enjoy watching his YouTube videos on life coaching.

I explained to my son that Carman was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (bone cancer) but was healed by God miraculously.

At the moment I said that, I looked at my son and my mind began to wonder. A question came into my mind before I could stop it. I could picture my son, looking at me and asking, “If God healed Carman, why won’t God heal you?”

I blocked that question out of my mind but it haunted me. How can I explain to my teenage son that God has the power and the authority to heal me but doesn’t? Why does God seemingly answer one prayer and turn a deaf ear to the cry of another? Why?

In all honesty, I struggle with this. I don’t have an answer nor can my mind reason this out. I suppose this is the type of question everyone wants to know at one time or another. This is probably why some people reason out there is no god. If there is, then He can’t possibly be good and merciful.

Am I doing something so wrong that He choses not to anoint my physical body and make me better? Did someone else do something that caused me to be the way I am? Will I ever have a life where I can work for a living, I don’t need to depend on disability checks, and I can spend time with family and friends again? Or is this something I will have to live with for the rest of my life?

Of course, other questions branch off from those and are enough to make any person lose their mind or feel anxious. I wish I had answers but I don’t. I don’t know why some people get better while others die. I don’t know.

I wish I could look at my son and say everything will be okay in this life. I will get better and we’ll be able to go on vacations, to soccer games, and other fun events.

I can’t offer solace there and, as a mother, it breaks my heart. However, even though I don’t have the answers to these questions, I know God does hear my prayers and is my strength in spite of it all.

God is the one I call upon who gives me strength and purpose even if the world thinks my life means nothing and I cannot offer myself in ways society accepts. Just because God isn’t healing me right now, when I think He should, doesn’t mean He won’t. He’s not saying no. He’s just saying, “Not yet.”

My physical body is wasting away. My time on earth is limited. Even if I were to be healed physically, that wouldn’t be forever. My body is flesh. It’s made of ashes and dust. However, my spirit will never die. I know I will see the friends and family who love Jesus again. There won’t be pain, sorrow, sickness, or disease when I am gone.

I know this probably makes people uncomfortable. It’s awkward to speak of death. It’s even more awkward to speak of life after death. It’s real, though. It’s just more to the forefront for those who struggle with illness or chronic pain. Death almost becomes a welcoming climax because we are just so bone weary and exhausted from this life.

Please don’t misunderstand. I am NOT suicidal. Although I long for death, I love life. I love so many aspects of it. I love the people. I just want the pain and illness to end. I just wish that wasn’t so much a part of my existence that everything else in life becomes tiring. I would love to just be able to take a shower without worrying about that shower using up ALL of my strength for the next two or three days. I’d love to spend a whole day with my friends or family and not be affected by the laughter or noise. I’d love to do something, other than go to a doctor’s appointment.

That’s just not meant to happen at this moment. Will it happen in the future? Will it happen in this lifetime? I don’t know. I do know it will happen one day and that’s what keeps me going. That and knowing that my life might actually make a difference to someone someday. Maybe that someone will see the peace and strength Jesus gives to me in each and every situation I face. Maybe. Just maybe they’ll see Jesus in my life and will desire to  have that tranquility and calm only Jesus can give.

I’m not calm and tranquil because of anything I’ve done. I can’t take any credit for anything good that comes from me. I know where my future lies. I know where my soul rests. Whether I’m alive or gone. My soul rests in Jesus and He is the very reason I live and breathe. That’s where my joy lies.

Will I know the answers to those questions within? Maybe. Maybe not. It really doesn’t matter. What matters to me is the One who does know the answers. Whether He chooses to illuminate me in this or not doesn’t matter. It’s not my place to demand anything from God. I am only called to believe and follow. Sometimes that “believing” and “following” won’t make sense to me. All I know is, when I do believe and follow, my life doesn’t seem so overwhelming or futile. That’s faith in action.

All I can do is believe what Jesus said and trust Him. Whether He heals me in this life or the next is completely up to Him. I suppose this is what I would tell my son. Sometimes, the “why” isn’t important. The “why” only keeps us trapped in a stagnant life where we eventually stop looking for answers at all. Sometimes we need to ask “what” and “how” instead. What is God trying to teach me in this season of my life? What can I do that will bring honor to Him? How can I change my thoughts and actions to be in line with Jesus and His life teachings?  How can I extend Jesus’ love to others without alienating them and making them feel like God is unreachable?

Why ask why?

 

 

 

S.O.A.P.

S.O.A.P“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

~2 Timothy 3:16-17~

Yesterday, as I recovered from having two root canals, my friend stopped in to drop off this bundle of soap she made for me.

She called me about 10 minutes before dropping in. She was running errands nearby and thought I would like to have the scent of lavender to help turn the focus from the pain I was in. I was touched by her generous and thoughtful gift.

As I looked at the soap, my mind started to wander. A couple of years ago, I learned a Bible study technique through a journaling class. It is called the S.O.A.P. technique. S.O.A.P. stands for SCRIPTURE. OBSERVATION. APPLICATION. PRAYER.

With this simple process I am able to stay in God’s Word and digest it. It helps me stay focused and learn what God has to say to me for that day.

I believe SCRIPTURE is the breath of God. It is the very essence in which I draw my strength and faith from. John 1:1-5,14 says,

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John1:1-5,14)

     Therefore, it is important to take the time to read Scripture and allow God to speak to your heart.

     OBSERVATION is the next step after reading God’s Word. What is God showing you in what you read? What verse stands out to you? Who is God talking to? Can it be used in your own life?

Become like an investigative reporter. Ask yourself, “Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How?” Don’t get anxious or worry if you can’t find an answer directly. Tell God you don’t understand and ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Ask Him to help you and guide you through the process of discovering who He is.

Jesus says in Matthew 7:7-8,

““Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

     APPLICATION is the next step. God’s Word is personal. God longs to have a personal relationship with each and every one of us.  He wants all of us to draw near to Him and discover the peace offered to each of us through Jesus Christ.

The Bible isn’t just a book to be kept on the shelf for collecting dust. It does no good for anyone if it’s left unopened and unused. I have been reading my Bible since I was a child and I STILL haven’t read through the whole thing from front to back. I still learn new things EVEN when I read passages I am familiar with. This is why the Bible is so amazing. There are so many lessons and instructions that can be used for our benefit. I’m not saying the Bible is a “Just do this and you’ll have success” book. Life is NOT like that. I’ll save that topic for another time.

1 John 1:7 says,

“…but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

     The final step in this “cleansing” process is PRAYER. It’s a conversation.

I remember when a friend of mine asked me how to pray. I told her to just talk to God like He’s your best friend. Tell Him EVERYTHING. Just be YOU so God can start showing you who He is. No one has the right to speak with God but He has made Himself available through Jesus. We all have the ability to have a personal relationship with the Creator through Jesus Christ. When we go before God with humility and soulful honesty, we can expect Him to answer.

What do you have to be afraid of? After all. He already knows everything and nothing shocks Him. I literally tell God EVERYTHING when I pray. I tell Him how hard it is for me to overcome binging and creating healthier habits to replace the harmful ones. I weep over my failed marriage and deep pain my soul feels over not having a husband I trust or rely on. I tell Him how bitter I feel when I see others experience health and independence. I even share the funny things that happen or just drink my coffee and look out my window in silence.

Then, after all is said done, my soul is still enough to hear God answer me. He reminds me that “He is the bread of life. If I come to Him, I’ll never hunger. If I believe in Him, I’ll never thirst (John 6:35). I can come to Him when I’m weary and weighed down and I’ll find rest (Matthew 11:28). His grace is sufficient for me (1 Corinthians 12:9). If I ask anything in His name, He will do it (John 14:14). If it is His will for me to meet the man He has chosen for me, it will happen in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:1). He will help me discern His will for me (Ephesians 5:13). Release my bitterness and turn my eyes to Him(Ephesians 4:31 and Philippians 3:14).”

These are just some examples on how God speaks  and encourages me. Prayer is an open line of communication we have available at all times. It’s not just for the bad times.

I often write out my prayers if I don’t say them out loud. I find it easier to write what I feel and what I fear. I also use music as a means to praise and glorify God. When my focus is turned from my circumstances, my circumstances don’t feel so overwhelming. When I search for who God is and seek His guidance, things don’t seem so bad or impossible. After all. God is the God of the impossible (Isaiah 45:2-3).

“I will go before you
    and will level the mountains[a];
I will break down gates of bronze
    and cut through bars of iron.

I will give you hidden treasures,
    riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lord,
    the God of Israel, who summons you by name.”

     Who knew I could learn so much from a bar of S.O.A.P.

Blessings ❤

 

 

Upward and Outward

flowers-white-sunny-flower-on-blue-sky

“He said, ‘I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD’!”

~Job 1:21~

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”

~Philippians 4:6~

It’s been years since I’ve been able to attend church. Most of the time I am unable to physically go to the service. Since this is the case, I often listen to sermons or lessons online.

One of my absolute favorite speakers is Chip Ingram. His method of teaching is full of Biblical wisdom and practical advice. His lessons are easy to follow and last about 30 minutes on Podcast.

This morning I started listening to the series, “Living Above Your Circumstances.” The whole lesson was about “understanding the power of focus”. Am I focusing upward, outward, or inward?

I have SO much to learn. For one thing, I need to learn how to look for the things I can praise God for. Some days I can do this without much thought or difficulty. Other times I have to grasp hard for those gems that fall through the crevices of life’s sidewalk.

Sometimes my not-so-nimble fingers can pick up those glorious gems with ease. Then there are times like today where I need a pickaxe to break through the concrete.

It is a challenge to “choose” gratefulness and praise God. In fact, the last thing I want to do is thank God for anything when I have constant pain and no comfort. It’s tempting to let anger and bitterness root themselves into my heart. Of course, anger and bitterness are never the answer. Not if I want to remain strong and healthy in my mind. Plus, that just alienates me more from other people because no one likes to be around a person who is vicious and angry all the time. It doesn’t help me and it doesn’t help others.

I have started to realize just how lax I am becoming. I am allowing the circumstances to define who I am and how I’m acting. Maybe it doesn’t appear that way to others. After all, I have become a pro at masking the pain and frustration. Those who are closest to me understand. Those who EXPERIENCE chronic pain and illness know the struggle even more.

I don’t always want to “look” for the things that are worthy of notice and bring honor to God. Sometimes I say to myself, “You know what? Screw this! I’m tired of fighting and staying positive! I’m tired of FIGHTING all the time! I’m just going to do whatever I feel like!”

Then that quiet voice within starts to speak. “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

I begin to feel a stirring within my heart. “Pray…pray…pray. Just tell God everything and let Him turn the focus back to Him. Let Him be your strength and get you through this. Trust Him. You know you can. He KNOWS.”

Lord Jesus,

     You know me better than anyone. You know how I struggle with pain and illness. You know I want to just give up and die. I am frustrated and angry at my situation. I’m not mad at You. At least I don’t think I am. I know You are the ONLY one who can heal me and help me.

     Jesus, help me to search for things that draw me back to praising You. Let me be overwhelmed with gratitude so that I can love others abundantly and unconditionally like You. Help me to praise You and bless others.

     By the power of Your Name, Jesus, I bind anger and bitterness within. Anger and bitterness…you have no place in me or my heart. I am a forgiven child of God and command you to LEAVE! In Jesus name and by the power of His blood and atonement, GO! I will not allow you to stay in me. You are not welcome.

     Thank You, Lord Jesus, for who You are. Thank You for all You have done for me. Lord God, You are awesome and great. There is power in Your name. Thank You for giving me Your Comforter…the Holy Spirit. Thank You that I am more than a conqueror. NOTHING can separate me from Your love (Romans 8:31-39). Thank You for being my guiding light and confidant. I do not deserve Your grace or mercy yet You freely give them to me.

     Please help me to continue to rely on and turn to You. Help me to draw others to You. When they see what I face, help them see You and Your power in my life and in my writings. Let their hearts and lives be blessed in ways only You can bless.

May Your name be praised.

In Jesus name. Amen.

Living on the Edge (Chip Ingram)

Being Still

St. Augustine, Florida“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth’.”

~Psalm 46:10~

I’m doing things a little differently today. I’m going to write as if I’m writing in my journal. It will probably be a bit abstract. After all…my brain is a bit foggy and the pain level is extremely high.

I just wrote a private note to a friend yesterday saying how thrilled I was to see some breakthrough in my daily routine.

For years, my health has been up and down. For over a year, it’s been difficult. I’ve had several hospitalizations, emergency room visits, doctors visits, and appointments. I’ve been through test upon test to find out what is causing me to get worse and worse.

However, for the past two or three weeks, I’ve been seeing some progress. I’m not “better” better but it’s a start. I was beginning to think maybe…just maybe…things were changing.

Today I woke up in excruciating pain and weakness. I was not able to walk without help from my parents. My brain started feeling fuzzy and anything touching my skin was unbearable.

Neuralgia. It SUCKS! Any contact to my skin feels as if shards of fiberglass are being rubbed into it. I don’t know which is worse. The pain or the weakness. This is when my brain starts playing tricks on me and false guilt takes hold. I feel guilty for having to burden others with the need for help. I feel bad that I can’t be more productive in society or focus on anything substantial. I can’t focus on anything BUT the pain and weakness and it makes me so angry and frustrated.

I’m angry and frustrated UNTIL I turn my thoughts to God. Okay…I admit…I am still angry and frustrated but I turn those emotions over to God. My small inner voice says, “I know…I know. It’s hard right now but you know it will get better.”

Coffee on my porchWhile I visited with one of my friends this week, we were talking about misunderstandings. When others ask me how I am and I tell them I’m fine, they often think that I’m ALL better and won’t need to deal with the constant changes of chronic pain and illness. Then, when I have a setback, others become annoyed at the changes and probably think, “What next!”

That’s how I feel sometimes. What next? The truth is I never know, from moment to moment, what will happen next. I am constantly living with that “walking on eggshells” feeling.

Then I think about what the Bible says and turn those feelings over to God. I don’t take life for granted. I don’t take people or relationships for granted. At least, I try not to. I am thankful to God for the good days and even the bad. Yup…I said EVEN the bad.

Without the bad, I wouldn’t be able to experience or recognize the good. Without the bad, I wouldn’t see the beauty and healing available in the little things. I’m not saying I am “all better” when I mention healing.

Healing can reveal itself in different ways. Sometimes the healing is physical and illness is no longer an issue. Other times healing is not so noticeable to those around you. You see it more in the way you begin to think about things and no longer dwell on only the negative.

Sometimes healing is experienced from those you are surrounded by instead of you personally. Then, there are times when healing doesn’t happen in this lifetime. Sometimes you suffer your whole life and are forced to take inventory on you and your own emotions.

So, what can I learn about what I’m experiencing right now? First of all, I can just breathe. I can focus on my breathing and block all thoughts from my mind. I can listen to the sounds of nature surrounding me. I can hear the bark of the chipmunk, the chatter of the squirrel, and the song of the cardinal. I can also hear the fan in my room and the air conditioner running through the house.

Tessie and Elmo KittyI hear the tip-tip-tip of my Black Labrador Retriever’s toenails on the kitchen floor as she dances in front of whoever is near the refrigerator. I hear my fat cat, Elmo, thumping down the stairs as he lets everyone know he’s enjoying his “unbearable lightness of being” after he uses the litterbox. I hear my mom putting the dishes away and my dad moving around the house trying to figure out what he can break…I mean FIX next.

These things bring a calm to my heart and a focus back to life and what matters. I still have pain and still feel crappy but I find myself smiling a little at the subtle constants of life. Then, I’m brought back to feeling thankful for all these things and how God uses everything to bring my attention back to Him.

I can be still and KNOW that He IS God.

Never Alone

Not Alone“If you love me, obey my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,who will never leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.”

~John 14:15-17~

I live with my parents and 13-year-old son. In 2013, I was diagnosed with dysautonomia. Dysautonomia is an autoimmune disorder that affects the autonomic (automatic) nervous system. In other words, it can affect my breathing, my heart, and any other organ within my body. It will attack and weaken the organs it attacks. In some cases, it can lead to death. Doctors are still trying to find the right treatment for me because there are usually so many issues happening at the same time. The medications can be more harmful than the disorder sometimes.

I also have several other health issues intertwined but the BIGGEST issues are dysautonomia, fibromyalgia, depression, and spinal degeneration. Basically, there isn’t a day that goes by where I am NOT symptomatic or that I don’t have pain. I do not take pain medication because this wouldn’t help the fibromyalgia or back in the long run. Eventually, the doctor would need to up the dosage and that destroys the liver and other internal organs. So, I’ve had to find ways to manage the pain and do what I can in the moment I have flare ups.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had health problems. When I was a teenager, people would just say the debilitating fatigue was a “teen thing”. I would do the normal stuff teens do and I loved to hike and play volleyball the most. I was a regular in the worship team at church. I studied music performance in college and I wanted to be a singer so badly. If I wasn’t going to sing professionally then I wanted to have a backup in music so I could teach voice lessons or be a school teacher.

When I became a young adult, I ended up not being able to work because my back was so bad and my ankles were damaged. I could not sit up or walk. I spent my time in a recliner or bed. It was a very difficult time for me. Here I was…twenty-something and I couldn’t drive, go out with my friends, go to church, or enjoy the physical pursuits I loved before.

I would get better but then I’d get sick or injured again. It never ceased. Sometimes I’d be in remission for years and sometimes only weeks. I never knew what would happen from one day to the next. That hasn’t changed.

However, the absolute WORST part about chronic pain and illness is the loneliness. The ones who were once your closest and dearest friends no longer stop by just to say hi. They don’t call to invite you to go places anymore. They get tired of hearing what they see as excuses. Family members distance themselves and are busy with their own issues and lives.

This has a negative affect on the one who is ill.  They are faced with their own mortality and thoughts. They can become self-absorbed, demanding, and bitter. The illness begins to morph into its own identity and they begin to believe that the illness IS who they are.

Even though I have battled with all of this, and still do battle with all this, I recognize that the loneliness is not the fault of my friends and family. At least, not all the time. Yes, some do avoid me and distance themselves. However, I think this is done because they have so much going on in their own personal lives. It’s hard watching someone they care for go through something they can’t fix.

I’ve had to learn that I’m not alone. I have had to learn to recognize it’s not up to other people to define me or make me happy. That’s a HUGE burden for anyone to bear. It’s also downright dangerous. When we place our hope in other people, we will be disappointed at one time or another. No one is perfect.

The only one who can truly bring comfort and peace is Jesus. He understands what it means to be lonely and alone. Can you imagine…hanging on that cross and bearing the weight of EVERY sin committed, being committed, and that will be committed in the future? At that very moment…God turned away from His Son and let Him die. I have such a hard time grasping that but I know it was done.

Those who know Jesus and trust God are NEVER alone. The thing is, if I feel like talking…I can talk to Him. I can tell Him anything and KNOW that He hangs onto each and every word. He is that confidant I can confide in, that friend I can laugh with, and that encourager I long for.

I am happy to say that I’m not alone. I have God with me and He has surrounded me with friends and family who do help me, pray for me, and encourage me. I have a few friends who see me every week. I no longer look at visits I have where I’m trying to find what I can get out of it. I look at these visits as opportunities to encourage others, make them laugh, and just enjoy the companionship we have to offer each other.

I am never alone.