Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How the Title of My Story Is Not Mine

(written Friday, February 8, 2013)

I've always liked naming things

When I was a writer-child and delving deep into 7-year-old-plot lines about magic mirrors and orphan girls banding together to esce evil, I deeply cared about my characters' names as well as the places they lived.

The title of my stories were the most important, of course. The title could tell you the entire story, itself.

Or so I thought. I relied on my titles to express what I was going through at such a tender age.

Well, now I am a few months shy of my 35th birthday and I have a different story to tell. But, much like my child-writer-self, I depend on that title, that name, to define what my story is.

When all along...it is His story...not mine. And He names it. Not me.

Three or so years ago, I remember getting a pain in the vicinity of my abdomen.

Two years ago I noticed a very specific pain in my right lower abdomen. I remember having to stand, hunched over. It came and went and I knew why they call pain "waves."

Then, in January of 2012, I began having issues that sent me to my doctor, then to urgent care, and then, in February, to the first of what would become a few emergency room visits in one year.

Throughout 2012, I baffled everyone. I'd attend an appointment or sit on the ER bed in tears over the amount of pain I was in. Nurses drew blood, doctors peered down at results; all told me I was normal.

But I knew something wasn't right.

I went to see an "expert" and he, with the help of his assistant, prescribed an unusual diet and an even more unusual regime in which I did not feel comfortable.

I was nervous about their orders, but when I tried to ask questions, they batted them away like irritating flies and the "expert" actually walked out on me, saying, "You'll do fine, fine..."

I was not doing fine and no one would listen to me. No professional doctor, anyway.

Home life was becoming increasingly stressful in 2012 in ways I cannot nor should I go into. But my stress did play a part in my worsening symptoms.

Also playing a part were the nurses telling me it was all in my head, that I was just too anxious, that I had too much stress.

I felt unacknowledged, unheard, invalidated.

During this time, my daily life was a push against the fleshly instincts of wanting to exert control on my life - or the lives around me. If I couldn't control my own life, I'd clamp around others' My temper flared. I spit red anger at kids for the smallest things. And I fell into a pit of despair around the Fall of 2012 going into early January of '13.

I was exhausted. I had had numerous procedures, one too painful to want to remember, and still no answer.

But I knew that whatever I was walking around with that God was beside me. I could feel His Presence, but I wasn't sure what He was telling me.

Until today in the car after an appointment that I thought would give me the title to my story.

A few days ago I found out that, unbeknownst to me, my mother had Endometriosis in her early 40s as well as fibroid cysts and, ultimately, had to have a hysterectomy.

I went to my doctor with this new genetic possibility...and, besides, it fit my pain so well. It had all the descriptions, it had all the correct verbs and adjectives. I found my character in the book of Endometriosis.

And when my general practitioner gave me an exam and said she thought she felt something...that could be Endo...I grasped onto that name, that diagnosis, that title, and ran as though my life depended on it.

I wanted to shout it from the roof - or at least out my car windows: I have Endometriosis! I have a name for it! I can tell you what it is and what they are going to do and when I will get better!

And there is a certain understandable element to clutching onto a diagnosis after years of unnameable pain.

Yet...I feel ashamed now looking at how I proclaimed and gun-jumped regarding the maybe-diagnosis.

Today I felt foolish as I visited the doctor who said I very well might have Endo, but that all my pain was most likely not caused by this illness.

I felt like the wind was knocked out of me.

I felt like my cover was torn off of my story.

And then, after the angry tears and words in the car, I felt the Lord's hand on my shoulder and the Lord's heart speak directly to mine:

Do you think that you can't give Me glory by getting through exactly this? Do you think that you need a specific sign above your heard that advertises your ailments? Those on-lookers at Golgotha had no clue why My Son truly cried out in pain. Jesus had "King of the Jews" as the sign above him and even that was man's folly. You don't need a sign, child. You don't need to prove to anyone that you hurt. All my children hurt in some way; that is just the way, isn't it. You are not so different. How you can be Kingdom-different...and bring Me glory... is to praise Me even when your body hurts, even when you are angry and sad and confused. Bring all of that to Me. Do not rest your idolizing on doctors or family. They can't validate you the way I can. They can't name you. 

Child, I can name you. I did name you:

Chosen. Beloved. Heir. Holy and faithful. Forgiven. Loved. 

Do you need more names? Because I have them all - in Scripture. 

Child, open that Bible to get your title. Don't expect a doctor to give it to you. Don't hope for something that many people dread. I named you before you were even born.

I was astonished. Had I actually been...hoping?

And am I actually writing all this...now? To you, the public?

Yes, I am. I do not hide behind my computer screen very well. I know I sometimes have flawed boundaries, but I also know that with that flaw comes the deep need to live with a healthy dose of transparency so that I can admit when thoughts have shaped wrong and life has gone askew.

And...yes...life has gone askew.

I thought that if I had a diagnosis of some illness, then I could battle through it by relying on God's strength within me, go through my "valley of the shadow," for sure, but then come out the other side with more bolstering faith than I'd know what to do with.

Many of my favorite authors and radio hosts have that kind of story. They've endured horrific things: abuse, illness, atrocity. And yet here they are now, with books or programs or ministries - all serving God in such honorable ways.

So did I think I had to do it that way?

I really did.

I sigh a big sigh right now. It is sad and shameful to know that I thought that way.

That I really believed I had to let the world name me in order to serve God.

The suffering I endured for much of my life has been nameless and general. Some doctors tried to link my severe depression in my teens and 20s to more specific things like bipolar or borderline personality disorder.

But, truly, my entire life was in dis-order. I didn't know whether I was coming or going until I fell onto the floor in 2010 and saw the Lord before me and that Great Whoosh came upon me and I changed, I grew, I stretched, and I made the best decision of my life.

Jesus never promised us easy. He promised His Presence during the hard (John 16:33) so why did I think that my story would be like others'?

My confession, my prayer, with head bowed is this:

Lord, I confess to you my sin of comparison. You created me to be unique and special unto You and I must believe that I am. I must believe what Your Word says of me and because of those promises I come to You seeking forgiveness for wanting the doctors to give me a title to my story, a name to my pain. I was trying to be the Author and not letting you work through me. I think and write all the time about the concept of "letting go." I write and read and think about the concept of gratitude all the time - and yet all this writing, reading, and thinking has not brought me to a true understanding of ...

"Be still and know that I am God." 
~ Psalm 46:10a

Such a simple-sounding and oft-used verse, but I studied it in some detail and You revealed it to me and I thank you. Help me to cease striving. Help me to stop trying to be my own Author and to live the life You have written for me. I know You are not done yet and so I remain Your servant, a child who loves You and wants to glorify You in the love and strength and faith that I carry with me every day. Help my honest outpourings in this blog illuminate some truth for some person. Let someone understand better what took me much pain to learn - and which I am still learning. 

I thank you for my body that can walk and talk and move and pump blood and work as well as it does. I know there are so many who do not have that. I pray for all who suffer - in mind, body, and spirit. I pray that they would seek You and know You to be the God of all Comforts and find rest and peace in that truth. 

Continue to grow me, Lord. Continue to draw me closer to You and to write my story. 

I think the best title, the best name I can think of is:


I belong to the Lord. 

I am Yours.

In Your Holy Name I pray,

And so I stumble upon this verse and chuckle:

"What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless."
~ Ecclesiastes 2:22-23

For hasn't all my anxiety and worry been toil and meaningless? I bathed in grief and pain and yes, even at night, this mind did not rest.

And then I think of the God of All Comforts verse in 2 Cortinthians 1:3-5 (ESV):

" Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too."

February 12, 2013
Friends, since the days since I drafted this blog entry out, much more has been revealed, particularly about the rest of 2 Corinthians 1 which adds so much to my story. 

While it is a difficult journey to allow God to name me and to not be lured in by false names, I am dedicated as I walk this road. 

I thank you for reading my words, bare and naked, and hope that you give mercy and forgiveness for this one's naivety. 

Thank you for such grace. 

May you be blessed as you walk with the Lord this week and always.