Thanks, Paul…for the roller coaster

If you’re reading this, you probably already know that I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Unfortunately, this little gem of an illness doesn’t follow any rhyme or reason…any schedule or plan…  Some weeks I have four amazing, consecutive days and three blah, sleepy days.  Some weeks I have five horrible days and two okay.  Again, no….rhyme…..or……reason.

You would think I would be accustomed to this by now and it wouldn’t hit me so hard, but since I’m human and all…it still does.  Day one of a “funk” is usually not too bad but any more than that and I, unfortunately, let it get the best of me.  I doubt myself, I worry about other health conditions, I stress about what I am *not* doing.  I am sad because I am missing out, I’m angry at my own body for fighting itself and then I feel guilty because I know God is in control.  Oh…and that whole, “someone else has it worse” game I play is brutal sometimes, y’all.

So….a few days of this and I REALLY start to feel convicted.  I feel horrible that I am doubting God…that I am worrying (sinning) and forgetting everything I know to be true.  I am forgetting that there is peace in rest.  I am forgetting how amazingly understanding that my family and friends are.  I am forgetting how capable my family is of taking care of things when I can’t.  I am forgetting to give grace to the one person that I so easily forget to give it to 99% of the time – myself.

Many times I wonder if it’s just me. Am I the only person who has this roller coaster of a mind that sins…then recognizes it…then repents…only to do the whole cycle again KNOWING FULL WELL that I am doing it?

Well, as I was reading in Romans this morning I found that my buddy Paul wrote to let me know that I AM NOT ALONE.

Romans 7:14-25 {ESV version below} is a roller coaster.  Not a long steady track with just one twist and a drop, either.  It’s upside-down, looping, twisting, turning and a looooong drop before coming to rest on level, safe ground.

14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Paul is struggling here.  Paul wants to do right, he knows the right thing to do, but he lacks power internally to resist the impulse of sin.  Through verses 20-23 he is battling himself and by verse 24 he is worn OUT. He has tried ALL THE WAYS to fight this battle on his own and he finally says “who will deliver me”….not “how will I deliver myself”.  Verse 25 was beautiful music to my ears this morning.  Paul finally looks outside of himself to Jesus and immediately has something to thank God for!  He admits his struggle but thanks God for the victory in Jesus!  He isn’t pretending that looking to Jesus immediately wipes away the struggle – Jesus works through us, not instead of us in the war against sin.  He knows there is victory in Jesus.  I once heard it described as, “we fight FROM victory, not FOR victory.”

I needed this reminder that it is NOT about me.  It’s not about MY body.  It’s not about my hopes of how the day will go or how much I get done or who I let down by not being able to show up. Every day, every step, every decision – it is about Jesus!  He guides us, He gives us rest, He forgives us, He gives us grace and He will give my mind peace, too.  But, I have to look to Him for all these things.  I can’t do it alone.  I can’t win.  He already did.

Philippians thoughts – no one looked down upon

I was reading in Philippians today and what I am hearing Paul saying is:
  • Don’t be selfish.
  • Don’t do things out of desire for advancement or self promotion.
  • Don’t be conceited.
  • Think of others as BETTER than yourself. This will give you a natural concern for their needs and concerns.
So….if I consider YOU above ME…and YOU consider ME above YOU…a beautiful thing would happen. A community where everyone is looked up on and no one is looked down on. Wow.
How appropriate. That Paul, y’all.
(Verses, for context, from NLT: 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.)
Disclaimer: I am NO Bible scholar (or any kind of scholar) so feel free to tell me I am way off….but man this message….it hits different TADAYYYYY.
(Posted on my personal Facebook 6/9/20 but wanted here to keep things together.)

Letting Go by Looking Up

I wouldn’t at all be surprised to find that when I attempt to save this blog post I am prompted to change the title due to the fact that I have already written one named this.  It seems like it’s something I have struggled with, constantly.  Feeling the need to control or be in control or….well, worry.

Let me back up really fast before I dive in.  I have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression in my life and I deal with both quite regularly.  It doesn’t mean I am never happy or always fidgety or ever crazy…it just means that is my reality and just as you’d take medicine for cholesterol or diabetes, I take medication for that.  End of story, not up for debate and save the judging for Jesus, okurrrr?  🙂

So….when I go to a retreat or am in a period of deep thought or reading a devotion I am consistently looking for what the Lord is showing me through His Word, praise and worship music and through other people.  I was blessed to be able to attend You Are last weekend.  If you are local…or not…you need to just start planning on being there next year.  It is indescribable. Such a gift that I live just a few miles from where it is held but honestly, after going the last two years…if they moved it to the moon I’d be there!   It is so well thought out…with times of praise, worship, prayer, teaching, fellowship and even shopping!  One of the greatest moments I experienced there this year was in the prayer room….  Again, I can’t even describe the feeling of being one of HUNDREDS of women literally waiting in a line for prayer (by over twenty other women that were pouring out prayers over others!!)…it was a surreal moment to see the huge calling for prayer set before me so visually….and to be honest that was the first thing I thought of in reflection.  It gave me a new focus and new thirst to be in prayer for those that are hurting, doubting, stressing, searching…..just all the things.  Whew.

As I prepared my heart for even getting out of my seat to go to that place, I found myself wrestling with the question of what exactly I was going to ask for prayer about.  My health?  My family?  Our country? My parents or inlaws?  Friends that are in need of healing?  Friends that are hurting?  These are things I pray for every single day, mind you…but would I use this time to really focus on any of those things?  I literally started making a list in my notes of the things that I found myself worrying about….x, y, z….1, 2, 3….and I had quite a list, y’all.  I was saying to myself…”hmm, I worry about this and that and them and those”…..and then, I am just going to tell you exactly how it happened…..I prayed one more time for the Lord to just fix my eyes on the thing that He would have me pray for.  My eyes searched up and down the list I had made…..and then as clear as the sun, a word jumped off of the page…..as I realized it was listed over and over and over (honestly more than I even remember writing it!!) – WORRY.

Y’all this was NOT breaking news for me.  This was not some revelation that I never realized I had a problem with.  This was the same old thing creeping back up and making me realize I push it back down and don’t deal with it.  SO many times I pray about trusting more, I push it down and then it pops up again….within MOMENTS.  Not this time.  I am telling you that had the devil himself stood between me and that prayer room I truly believe I could have fought him with my own little hands.  This was an urgent kind of need to pray….but I am not going to paint the picture that I went in there and never “worried” once I stepped foot in there…because I did just that.  Once I wrote my name on a tag and sort of came out of the “moment” a bit…I started to (over)think about who I might be praying with.  Would I have to tell them my life story?  How could I work in the depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome, move from NC to TX, the fact that I’ve had five surgeries in as many years (four of those pretty major)…in a short period of time and still get across ALL THE THINGS?  My heart raced.

But, God.

When the sweet lady led me to the face of the woman that would be praying over me, I saw a friend.  As a matter of fact, I had sat beside her the night before at the conference.  We had held hands in prayer for the conference.  We have had coffee dates and she was even my Bible study leader my first year here in Texas.  She gave me a look of, “are you ok with me praying for you?” and I laughed and said “YES!!  I don’t have to tell you my life story – you already know it!!”

So, with all of that behind me, and as another reminder that He has little ole ME in the palm of His pierced hands….I admitted that I have a problem with WORRYING.  That sometimes it consumes me and I know it’s not healthy.  I know it’s not something He rejoices in.  I know it is not from Him and I know without a shadow of a doubt, that He wants more for me.  He wants me to trust Him completely.  With the huge things – which I seem to have less of a problem with….but also, with the silly things that seem to “worry” me all day long!  I received such a blessing in that prayer room…a prayer so sweet, so freeing, so intentional and so perfect JUST FOR ME.  I truly believe the Holy Spirit got me to that room and interceded where I was absolutely DREADING to go and admit my failures.  When I think of the BIG things in life, I truly feel like I trust Jesus….totally.  But, y’all, with the mundane little things?  The things that likely most of you don’t even bat an eyelash at????  Ummmmmmmmm…….

IMG_1700

Seriously, that was my life!!!  All the doctor appointments, the waiting for test results, the day to day things that were not 100% clear or answered – WORRY.  The feeling that I might not be doing enough, or doing too much, or being unsure about directions to a place…the worry that I might feel *gasp* embarrassed.

Well. Not. Any. Longer.

I cannot tell you the peace or difference that I feel today versus even Friday.  Only hours have passed but I feel like a lifetime has.  I cannot imagine the hours I have wasted in my life of trying to retain control over a situation that was absolutely not mine.  That was not my circus, my monkeys, my family or even my friends….  I have always excused my worrying ways with statements like “I just worry for everyone” or “that’s just me” or by calling it something that it is not – like anxiety.  They are two different things.  Yes, both can lead to physical FEELINGS but my worry was out of control and Jesus is healing it.  He is helping me remove that from my life and I cannot tell you the weight that is off of my shoulders today.

I have not shared this with anyone, becuase I felt like I needed to tell the WHOLE story – all at once – and not pieces of it…so that it’s clear that I am not judging people who have a tendency to worry.  You do you, boo.  I had to deal with the root cause of a lot of the issues I was facing – the things that were keeping me up at night – the things I felt so deeply were affecting my daily life (besides my fatigue) in such a large way.   This was a HUGE thing…and does it likely feed into the depression and anxiety that I face?  I have a hard time thinking it does not.  So, who knows how this whole thing will effectively change my life in more ways than one?  God does.  He’s already worked this all out and tied it up in a bow….and I’m just here with a smile on my face, a song in my heart and a considerably stuffy nose from the crazy amounts of crying I did this weekend.  It was amazing, to say the least.  To know that there was a purpose for my attendance there, totally just makes me so grateful that I answered His call to go.

I am already so very excited for next year’s conference.  Instead of worrying about who I’ll go with, what I’ll wear, the perfect time to arrive….my thoughts are full of promise and wonder about what answers He will reveal to me next year.  What will this year in between look like for my spiritual walk?  How is He going to use me to show and tell others about His love and His provision?  Ohhh the possibilities are endless and so is His love.  For that, I am SO grateful.  Without a worry in the world.