Today I was finally able to say goodbye to my best friend. It was the most painful thing I have ever, ever done. I don’t know what I am going to do without her, but life goes on. It’s been ten months since we last hugged, laughed, shared a meal. I can picture my life going on without her in it now; it’s like a piece of myself is missing, and the phantom pains will linger a long time. But today – I cannot even say this out loud because it catches in my throat – today, I dressed the wound. I did not want to, but I cannot live raw forever. No one can. I felt for so long that to say goodbye, to acknowledge The End, would be to betray the decade we spent as sisters, to break a promise. She leaves a hole that, right now, I don’t even want to fill. That is Her Spot, and always will be. I will always love you, my dearest friend. Goodbye.
You can be going along, perfectly fine, and then WHAM, it sneaks up behind you and clubs you over the head, and the wound is fresh again. Tonight I found myself blindsided with grief for a dear old friend. We were supposed to raise our babies together and grow to be snarky old ladies. We were going to be the Golden Girls. I miss her so, but I thought I had entered Acceptance. Then tonight out of nowhere, I felt that same gut punch as if the loss had just happened. And in my hurt, God sent a friend with unexpected words to comfort me. This friend was a beacon of hope in my hour of need, a reminder that life goes on and old hurts do heal.
This is the song of my heart today. It’s times like these you learn who your true friends and allies are. That has always been a very, very short list for me, at times consisting only of God. I am not proud to say that at times, there has been no list. In one particular dark pit, I found myself pulling away from the only One who could help me, the only One who knew the depth of the valley in which I found myself. I asked Him some hard questions, and when I didn’t like the answers, I pulled deep into myself, letting the darkness wash over me and under me and through me. And there I sat, wallowing in my hurt, slapping God’s hand away from my shoulder each time He reached in. But this time, I am fighting. I cling to the One who has never left my side. I am forcing myself to pry the lies and chains of hurt, mistrust, cynicism, and loneliness from my heart and give them over to the Author of Truth and Lover of My Soul. I am forcing myself to trust my husband, to be real with him and let him into my hurts, despite the strong desire to simply fold into myself again and close the heavy doors. I am reaching, and it’s hard, so hard, to the few who are left on my very short trusted list, a list that seems to shrink with each passing day. And I am sharing my struggle with you. Because no matter what seeds of lies the darkness sows, we are never alone. We are made to love, to connect with one another, imperfect beings sharing in our imperfection. We have to forgive, have to. We have to try again and again and keep reaching, keep giving broken relationships over to the Healer and letting Him restore, trusting that He can and wants to, if both parties will let Him. But right now, today, I just don’t have the strength. I’m trying, Lord knows I’m trying. But today, all I have in me is enough fight to cry out to God and to let my husband in. And for today, that will have to be enough. Looking forward to the end of this trial and a period of healing in my body and soul.
I’m not afraid of death. I know where I’m going, and I look forward to it. But the dying part… that’s a whole nother story. If you’ve never experienced anaphylaxis, let me tell you, it feels like you’re dying every time. Dying from anaphylaxis is one of my greatest fears. It feels something like drowning, you can’t get a breath, but your body has to keep trying, desperately. It hurts. And every time, I am sure, this is it for me. This is how I will go. But recently, God has given me a deep peace that surpasses my own understanding. Somehow, I feel like I should still be terrified, but while I don’t relish the thought… it’s not so scary anymore. The suffering can’t last forever and either we’ll make it to the ER in time and they’ll save me, or I’ll get to go home to my Abba, my Pop, my friends who have gone on before me, and the baby I never got to hold. I won’t suffer anymore there, and I’ll get to spend eternity in worship and fellowship.
11 Not that I speak [a]from want, for I have learned to be [b]content in whatever circumstances I am.12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
This scripture has always baffled me. I have experienced agonies in my adult life that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies. I have hit ten on the pain scale more than once. A handful of times I have cried out to God for relief for so long that I’ve switched to praying for death. There have even been times I’ve been suicidal; these particular migraines are sometimes referred to as “shotgun headaches” because of their propensity to drive sufferers to the very pit of utter hopelessness and desperation. And God has the nerve to quietly, gently remind me of this scripture. In exasperation I ask him, “How am I supposed to be content in Hell?! Because that’s what it feels like, Lord. I can’t imagine worse pain than the worst of my own. I cannot comprehend it. How could anyone possibly be content like this?!” But He only whispers, when He answers at all, You shall learn to be content with whatever I give you, whatever you face. You will learn. And it’s meant to be a comfort, but being the bullheaded child that I am I cross my arms and stomp my foot, saying “LOOOOooooooOOOrd, I don’t WANT to be content! I don’t want to be a saint! I just want the pain to end! No, I don’t want this growth, please just let me be a good wife and mother and do the things I want to do that are supposed to be Godly! Let me be the Proverbs 31 woman! Why would you place me in this role, and give me these desires to do it well, then take my abilities? Why am I even here anymore if I am only going to suffer and be a burden? Why did you open my womb only to leave me unable to raise these precious gifts? I’m failing them, Lord, and I don’t understand. How can I possibly be content here alone in the dark, while someone else raises my babies? While they cry for me, and I cry for them? I’m failing as a wife, as a woman, as a human being. And I KNOW I still have worth, Lord. I know my worth does not depend on what I do. But why are you keeping me here to do nothing but suffer and drain?”
9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast [a]about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with [b]insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-11
I cried out to Him again. “How am I strong right now, Lord? Where is Your strength in this?” Then, one day, He introduced me to someone whose suffering was greater than my own, and it had plagued her for decades. And I was humbled. I remembered her every time my own suffering began again, remembered how much worse life was for her. That day, there was a shift in my spirit. Instead of praying for my own pain to end, instead of crying out on my own behalf, I began to pray for her. Fervent, broken prayers, day and night. And God honored those prayers. God used our pain to reach into each other’s darkest places. Now, my pain has a purpose. God has given me an intercessory prayer ministry I never could have entered otherwise. And while I’m not yet to the place I can say I have learned to be content, whatever my circumstance, I am getting there. Now, I believe that can come to pass in my own life. I’m still fighting with God about it, after all I am stubborn and kind of a spiritual idiot. But He’s working on that, too.
Our senior year of high school, around the time I met The Guitarist, my future husband met a girl on a school trip. She was smart and drop-dead gorgeous, and obviously into him. Things got serious quickly.
When The Guitarist broke my heart, my old friend offered me comfort. Only as a friend, of course, since he had a serious relationship with someone else at the time. “I never understood why you were with that guy anyway, he wasn’t good enough for you,” he told me. I mourned and waited and hoped for about a month, and then I went on the re-bound. I dated lots of boys casually, had a lot of fun but broke a heart or two in the process. When I had been back on the dating scene for a few months, my old friend’s girlfriend broke his heart. And I was there for him, just like he’d been there for me. We started hanging out more, talking more, even went on a few dates.
A couple of months after we started dating, I left for an internship across the country. The night before I left, I took a risk and told him that I might be falling for him. It was dark. He froze. My heart pounded for what felt like an eternity. Just when I was sure I’d made a terrible mistake, he drew me close and kissed me tenderly. “I think I am, too,” he whispered. Joy and relief washed over me as we embraced in the moonlight. I still had several suitors at that time, but I realized that night that I only wanted him.
When I left, we made no promises, but both secretly hoped that maybe when I came home we could begin a real relationship. We exchanged letters, postcards, and the occasional long-distance call. He sent me a couple of gifts, I sent him photos of my adventures. He made it clear in some of his early letters that there was no one else. I felt hesitant to trust someone new with my heart so soon, but oh, how I hoped.
Every time a letter came with that familiar handwriting on the front, my heart skipped a beat. I could hardly wait to find somewhere private and quiet to drink in every word. Those letters nourished our timid hearts, both healing, hoping, reaching. He won my heart not with slick manipulation, but with slow, honest sharing of himself.
When I came home, he met me at the airport with flowers, and soon we became inseparable. We went for long walks hand in hand, hiked mountain trails, had romantic picnics at the park, and generally made people sick with our sweetness. If happy ever after does exist, this was it.
In the Fall, we attended the same college. We studied together and attended free events on campus. We even took some classes together. We roasted marshmallows over back-yard campfires, and I further cemented my place in his heart with my signature hot chocolate and baked goods. Our relationship thrived, and life was good. We got involved in a local church together and talked about theology regularly, sharing our views and our questions. We didn’t agree on everything, but we respected and appreciated each other’s ideas and even won each other over occasionally with civil discourse.
As Fall gave way to Winter, I accepted my second internship. This one would take me to a far-off land filled with unknowns. I would live with the locals this time, potentially without phone or postal access for the duration of the assignment. It was a lot to ask of a still-new relationship, but we were young and believed in the power of our love. At the airport, we kissed and said our tearful goodbyes, and I promised to write if I could. We didn’t know what the following weeks might hold, for me, for us, but as I boarded the plane, I left behind a strong, courageous young man of sound character. This time, it went without saying, we each would wait for the other.
The guitarist and I talked and flirted the evening away. I could not believe he liked me! At the end of the night, I gave him my number. I grinned the whole way home. We spoke on the phone a couple of times that week, and then I totaled my car. That is a story in and of itself that I will save for later, what you need to know for this story is that I suffered a Grade III concussion. Because the concussion was so severe, I missed several weeks of school. I couldn’t remember anything from the morning of the accident until I woke up after, and I could not retain any new information. The morning after the accident, the guitarist called to check on me. Several of our classmates had driven by the wreckage on the way to school, so word spread quickly. He asked if I’d like to see a movie when I felt up to it, and I said yes. I joke that I only agreed to go out with him because I wasn’t thinking clearly, between the head injury and the teenage hormones. There’s probably more truth to that than I’d like to believe.
This boy knew how to play the game. He told me what I wanted to hear in dulcet tones, dripping with honey, and I lapped up every word. He even started going to church with me, and we prayed and read the Bible together. We moved fast and did some things I’m not proud of, and quickly fell into puppy-love. We talked about our futures and made the starry-eyed plans that young lovers make. Then, at the Prom, he requested Our Song. While we slow-danced, pressed too close together, he slipped a tiny ring onto my finger. We had been dating for a whopping five months and had only known each other for three weeks before that. Yes, we were total idiots.
Shortly before graduation, he developed a serious medical condition and couldn’t walk. For weeks into the summer, I cared for him all day so his parents wouldn’t have to take time off work. At first it was OK, but things started to change. He began to withdraw. When he started to recover, he still let me help him some, but we didn’t talk. I was so confused. And then the hammer fell. He broke it off. I felt nauseous. I couldn’t breathe. How did this happen? What did I do wrong? Why would he do this? A few days later, he called and asked me to come over. He apologized, and we got back together, but something was different. We went back and forth, on again, off again, for months. And then it was over.
I thought in honor of Valentine’s day, you might like to hear my love story. But take heed, ye faint of heart, this is no fairy tale or shiny Hollywood blockbuster. You’ll find no saucy scenes to get you hot under the collar, either. I present you with a REAL love story, one that ends with “To Be Continued…” not “And They Lived Happily Ever After;” in which love truly conquers all, sometimes in unexpected ways. Oops, I’ve gone and spoiled the ending for you. Oh well.
My husband and I have known each other literally all our lives. We became childhood sweet hearts, holding hands in the sandbox and squabbling over silly things as children do. Everybody smiled at our sweet innocence and said things like “Wouldn’t it be something if they grew up and got married.” Our parents got along well, as did our siblings. Seemed like a tiny match made in Heaven, right from the start. Feel free to gag at the sugary sweetness because it ends here.
Tragically, we attended different elementary schools and slowly grew apart. THE END. Just kidding! When I transferred schools in the seventh grade, this handsome guy shared several of my classes. His apparent sadness intrigued me. I wondered what made him so sad. I felt like I knew him from somewhere, I just couldn’t place him. As a painfully shy new kid just trying to blend in, I pondered over him from afar while trying to remember where our paths first crossed. One day, while looking through some old photo albums, one picture grabbed my attention. My jaw dropped. The mystery man (of course, in the seventh grade you see yourself as grown)! I’d like to say the memories came flooding back, but instead I had to go ask my mom about my old friend. He doesn’t really remember our childhood romance, and unfortunately I only have a couple of hazy memories tucked away. But we do have some old photographs, and naturally our parents have an abundance of cute stories they happily share.
I kept this news to myself for a while, trying to muster up the courage to approach him. One day, we ended up sitting next to each other in History class. Before the bell rang to bring the classroom to order, I smiled at him and said “Hi, I’m Grace.” “I know who you are,” he said, sadly staring at his desk, doodling absentmindedly. “Oh…” *awkward silence* And then the bell rang, and class began.
That was not the response I expected. I sat through History confused and distracted. I began to make some friends at my new school, and occasionally spoke to my old friend, when I could overcome my immense shyness. He always responded with short, impersonal dead-ends and never made eye contact. I couldn’t take it personally, he acted like that with everyone. I felt drawn to him because he openly expressed the cold numbness I tried to hide. I thought maybe we could help each other in some way, or at least understand each other. I longed for someone to know the pain inside me, to understand and validate me.
As the school year unfolded, his dark cloud seemed to shrink bit by bit, until Spring when I finally heard him laugh. He started to use real sentences when I spoke to him, make eye contact and oh, that smile. It made my heart flutter. But he didn’t seem attracted to me, or really anyone, just yet. I “dated” a couple of boys in middle school, to the extent that my parents allowed. The first one tricked me into thinking he genuinely liked me so he could humiliate me and gain status with his friends, leaving my already fragile self esteem shattered. The second was a high school boy I met at a party. My parents did not approve, which naturally made the romance even more appealing. But of course it ended quickly and tearfully, as that sort of thing typically does.
In high school, my old chum began to find himself and we started building a real friendship. I felt a strong physical attraction to him, but he could be kind of a jerk sometimes, so I “friend-zoned” him. Although his depression had improved over the years, he still suffered such low self-esteem he just couldn’t believe any girl would really want to date him. So he didn’t get into the dating scene, even though plenty of girls liked him and would have said yes if he’d just asked.
I didn’t date much in high school, either. I did meet a boy the summer between Sophomore and Junior year, who I dated for a few weeks. He gave me my first kiss, but then he pushed for more so I broke it off. Then Senior year, I went to a party with a live band. They played ridiculously well for a group of high schoolers. The guitarist in particular caught my eye. He could play like the wind; the melodies and harmonies virtually flew off the strings. He owned the stage, exuding confidence and that “it” factor you always hear about. I couldn’t tear myself away. When the band took a break, I introduced myself, and we hit it off.
This causes me such deep pain, anger, frustration, and sorrow. Christians, before you go throwing the P-word around read your Bible.
John 9: “9 As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” 6 When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing.”
Matt 5:45 “so that you may [a]be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
And there are more. Instead of crying demons, how about we all just love those who are suffering, whether we think it’s their own fault or not? A little compassion goes a long way.
This is an exert from the link…
“Evangelist groups have had a checkered history of dealing with PTSD, including prominent evangelists who have recently gone on record as saying that “good Christians can’t get PTSD.” For many religious groups, prayer alone is the only valid way of treating mental illness. A 2008 survey by Baylor university Matthew Stanford showed that 36 percent of mentally ill churchgoers are told that their illness is caused by sin while 34 percent are told that it is caused by demonic possession.
As a result, many churchgoers with psychiatric symptoms find themselves “shunned” by their fellow churchgoers and even their pastors. It has also led to the rise of evangelical camps offering a very different approach for dealing with mental illness.”
Some ‘Christians’ just need to SHUT UP!!!!!
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I still wore make-up off and on. Still restricted, but not as severely. The eating disorder still lived in me, but no longer controlled me. I stopped trying to win the unobtainable prize.
A few months after I graduated the outpatient program, I went off of the antidepressant. I got a job that I enjoyed, started dating, and regained most of my privileges. I generally liked my life. A while later I got an internship in my dream career with my target company and took off across the country. Finally, I moved on with My Life, whatever that was.
The internship required a lot of hard physical labor, so naturally my appetite matched my activity level. So I ate. And ate, and ate, and ate. I savored every bite without giving my figure much thought. Food was fuel, and I needed lots of it to work. It was the healthiest time of my life, physically and spiritually. I found a local church and attended regularly. I joined prayer groups, faithfully did devotions, and served the poor. And God began to touch me, teach me, heal me. When the internship ended, I returned home a new woman. Though I still experienced unhealthy thought processes, I lived out a healthy relationship with food and exercise for the first time in my life. Since then I have had a couple of relapses, but nothing close to a full-blown disorder. Right now I’m in a pretty good place and have been for about a decade. I try to eat a reasonably healthy diet, but I allow myself treats sometimes and don’t feel bad about them. I still have an occasional slip-up. Eating disorders are kind of like alcoholism; I will always be “recovering” and will have to remain vigilant for the rest of my life.
The greatest healing came only a few years ago when I got pregnant. For the first time, I loved my body. I felt like I looked “normal” for the first time. I had a perfect little bump, and all the wonders of pregnancy gave me a whole new perspective on my body. I had already landed a husband, and while he found me attractive he certainly didn’t marry me for my looks. I had a beautiful birthing experience and my self-worth, self-respect, and respect for my body skyrocketed. I felt like a rock star. Now, I have saggy, stretch-marked breasts; a saggy, stretch-marked stomach; and stretch marks in places I never even knew one could have them. After subsequent pregnancies, even my stretch marks have stretch marks! And I love them. I love my body. It made the most amazing little people, and it STILL turns my husband on. Through my wonderful husband and the way I see my own children, God gives me glimpses of how He sees me. How He loves me. Through counseling, adulthood, my marriage and motherhood, I have begun to learn about real emotions. My children are allowed to feel whatever they feel and to express those emotions appropriately (ie, in non-violent ways). I still have great difficulty expressing my own needs and emotions, but parenting my children is helping me to learn.