Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

A dear friend of mine sent me an article about being in pain over Christmas. It talked about God drawing near to us by being born on earth as Jesus. Because of his sacrifice, we can freely offer up our brokenness to him, rather than trying to cover it with false holiday cheer.

To those who are hurting on a day when everyone else seems so happy, may you feel the comfort of Emmanuel in your heart. He, who made the ear, hears your cries. He, who formed the eye, sees your pain. Invite him into your heart and into your loss. He promises to come again and make all things new.

May this song bring you comfort this Christmas day.

"Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." Matthew 1:23

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I've got to be honest...

The past 8 weeks have been difficult for me. Shortly after my flu shot in October, I had the tingling reaction in my face and limbs and then was diagnosed with an infection that caused mono-like symptoms. Despite 2 rounds of antibiotics, my symptoms persisted and eventually culminated in an endless sinus infection.

After the triumphant health progress from my treatment this summer and fall, with a strict gluten-free diet, avoiding sugar, and adding L-glutamine powder to heal my damaged gut, I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. Back to being sick. Back to being in bed. Losing the conditioning and strength I felt from walking. It all just seemed like one more loss. And for how long?

As I struggle through the third round of antibiotics, still with symptoms, I pray for God's healing and that this infection won't turn chronic, requiring months of antibiotics and complications. I feel despair. I feel a sense that God is not listening and that I cannot hope for more than what I have right now.

My feelings have overwhelmed me as my grandma continues to sink deeper into the confusion of dementia and becomes needier and more unreasonable. She hits and insults to the point where you'd think it was her greatest pleasure to strike emotionally in the rawest of sensitive areas. Yet her life lingers on, and her true personality was never like this, so we have to remember her as she was. We honor her first because we honor Christ and the life he gave to her, but also because when my mom and I were children, she honored us with exceptional love and care. It does not make my mom's months of sleepless nights and countless bathroom trips with her any easier, but it gives us perspective that her generous soul is trapped in a broken mind and failing body.

It is with a heavy heart that I also confess to our stalking situation not being resolved. I have written about this only briefly and sporadically before on my blog because it is a situation that confounds logic and sounds blatantly unbelievable, but we've continued to have evidence of home intrusion, missing items, harassment in public, and vandalism. My mom has been hurt, and I honestly feel like God is allowing this without anyone to help. My dad has left us in this situation without protection.

I wait on the Lord today in discouragement. There is still hope buried somewhere deep down in there. But when my mom is showing me new injuries on her body and my grandma is talking to a hallucination in the next room, I find myself asking, "O Lord, how much longer?" At a time when I feel my weakest, my burdens feel the heaviest. And I come to Him and say, "You must take these things from me because I am not equipped to handle them." And still I wait. Each day feels like the movie "Groundhog Day," as if the same horrible song replays from the moment I awake.

I have got to be honest that sometimes waiting on God does not involve bright new insights every week. Sometimes circumstances don't change for the better just because you pray and beg for relief. There is faith that lasts in spite of not smiling, not feeling encouraged, and being betrayed by those entrusted to protect. There is faith that lasts through secret pain so bad that no one knows the depth but Christ himself. There are circumstances so awful that they are difficult to believe, even for the very people living through them. The faith that survives these things is what I want. It eventually comes forth as gold, refined by raging fire. But I've got to be honest. Today I am feeling the flames.

"How long, O LORD? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire? Remember how short my time is!" Psalm 89:46-47