Why so long since my last post? I could start with a suspenseful beginning…
(Insert music) DUN-DUN-DUUUUN!!!… It was a dark and stormy night… OK not really but it sure felt like it!
DISCLAIMER: The following account may have included that author taking a slight bit of literary license… which may or may not include some elements that are completely imaginary…But it’s my story and I’m sticking to it…just saying.
Apparently a massive alien had decided to invade my eye socket in what I can only describe as an intergalactic invasion. By about 11 pm one night, I could no longer locate the eye I once knew and loved. It had taken on a life of its own and morphed into a mirror image of my favorite one-eyed contact wearing character from the movie Monster’s Inc. To my chagrin I realized I also have his body type! So now, if you just imagine him with lipstick and a pony tail, zooming around crashing into walls with her wheelchair, you can envision the person who is the author of this blog. (See attractive self-portrait below)
Technically I hope to stop the whole wall crashing thing once this eyeball turbulence has left the building opening up the possibility of a clear outlook to welcome the return of my retina. (Update: I am happy to report that this has indeed occurred since the writing of this post.)
All this to leads to my next statement, which is an apology for taking so long to update my blog. I had no way of knowing that there would be a sneak attack carefully orchestrated on the very night most of us earthlings were “pre-ocular-pied” watching the eclipse. I can only guess that it was quite the “eye opener” as one by one they took up residence in my cornea during operation “im-planet”. It wouldn’t’ have been so bad, but they just happened to be the latest craze to hit this solar system, you guessed it, the interspecies spectacular, “Stardust Singers”, performing off, off, WWAAAYYYYY off Broadway in the milky way version of their latest musical, Flash-N-Dance. All of a sudden I was waving my hands in the air, like I just didn’t care. Unfortunately this led to a horrific scene with a round little Finnish lady trying to strangle anything she could get her hands on to keep from pushing the big red button and ejecting the “space-ially” challenged
visitors into orbit.
When suddenly our elite, “Canine Special Forces Unit” intervened and distracted me from my distress. It is a team of two, my sweet little fluffy companion ESA, Lola and P-Nut my husband’s PTSD service dog. Lola has even grown her own set of fluffy white snow boots in preparation for the ensuing Minnesota winter. It has been a little traumatic as she can’t quite figure out how her new adoptive mother grew two heads overnight, but as soon a she smelled puppy treats, she overcame her bewilderment and assumed the position for belly rubs.
And so ends my long, sad, dramatic “visual day-mare” as I beg for your forgiveness at my delay. In other words, here’s the post…
Autumn in America! I love this time of year. The air is crisp and cool and the trees paint the landscape with a symphony of brilliant colors announcing that it’s time for fall outings to the pumpkin patch, corn mazes and the local apple orchards. Young and old alike cuddle up in their cozy sweaters, people raking leaves while listening to the delightful squeals of children laughing as they romp and play amongst the neatly stacked piles of leaves with their favorite family pets adding another whole dimension of fun to the mix. And then an annual migration of crock pots begin their parade as they mysteriously appear on kitchen counters along with favorite Thanksgiving harvest recipes as families begin to pre-plan for holiday travel. What awesome memories mixed with anticipation of good things to come! Oh how I wish I could be part of that world again and yet terrified that if the opportunity presents itself I will be too petrified to grasp the brass ring.
Last time I promised to share how my log removal experience proved that this “Old Chick” still learns new tricks and what better time of year than October, when costume parties are in full swing and the masks we wear are now in full view. You see, I have learned to recognize the tricks and illusions life seems to throw our way in which so many of us have the role of unsuspecting victim thrust upon us without inquiring if we were interested. But then again, I am quite sure no one would ever freely volunteer for the role. BUT I am here to tell you that there is another choice, a much BETTER choice.
FLASHBACK: Some years ago, my hubby and I had become friends with a senior couple who invited us to visit their home. Upon our arrival, we noticed a sign proudly displayed by their front door. It read, “1 YOUNG Chick and 1 OLD Crow live here” with a big red arrow.
I assured him that the reason the man living there was quite healthy had grown to such a ripe old age was because he was obviously very wise when picking out this sign. John quickly offered to get one but I paused to point out that it would have to say, “1 Old Chick and 1 Old Crow…” He adamantly disagreed in mock protest. His argument was that since I was still learning, I must be young. Not to be outdone, I responded by revealing the fundamental flaw in his theory of assuming that only young chicks can learn. I very clearly pointed out that, “This Old Chick, can still learn new tricks!” (Needless to say, he shows keen insight by still claiming that as I am a few years his junior, I will “always” be a young chick compared to him – Smart man.)
I couldn’t help but think back to that statement as I reflected on how God had opened my eyes to a new way of thinking by helping me clear away the debris that had been blocking my view. I believe I resemble the old saying, “Can’t see the forest for the trees.” As the wife of a husband who suffers from complex PTSD, I have come to understand that it is far more difficult to watch my beloved suffer, than enduring the pain of my own disability. The ugly truth is that abuse always involves collateral damage to those closest to the victim which often goes unacknowledged. BUT GOD sees every heartache and he knows every tear. He has promised to carry you through. He has taught this “Old Chick” some amazing “new tricks” more accurately referred to as lessons.
Have you ever wondered how someone can endure such horrible suffering, when you are quite sure given the same circumstances you would not be able to survive? It’s because God doesn’t give us the grace we need before we need it nor does he give us the grace to overcome anyone else’s trials, not your family member’s, your children’s, your friend’s, your co-workers’, not even your husband’s. No matter how much I wanted to “fix” John and would have given anything to protect him from all the trauma and injuries he had suffered at the hands of his employer, I was not able. Carrying his pain was tearing me apart and allowing it to eat me up would eventually make me completely incapable of helping him or anyone else. My very nature and instinct caused me to have an overwhelming desire to protect him and to stop the hurting. AND… although I do have to remind myself from time to time, (Okay almost daily) I have discovered that no matter how much you want this, just like John would do anything to give me back the ability to walk again and be free from pain, you can’t. IT’S NOT YOUR JOB. If you truly believe that God is sovereign and that He works all things out for your good, than don’t mess it up by going ahead of Him. And definitely DO NOT do what I did and try to tell God how to do His job! (But that’s another story.)
TRUTH: God knows the exact measure of grace required for every need. God gave John the courage to
stand with integrity and tell the truth. He granted John, not me, the grace to personally survive the injustice and the trauma because I am not the one who had to face it head on, day after day. But why did it happen? Well there are a million reasons people give for their actions but the truth is that it’s really pretty simple: Because hurting people hurt other people. BAM! It hit me like a ton of bricks square in the forehead. WE ARE ALL HUMAN! That was my big epiphany?! I am almost embarrassed to admit it but that is exactly the point I had been missing.
Ephesians 6:12 – 13 KJV Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
We live in a fallen world and we wrestle not against flesh and blood. We are in a spiritual battle and every war has wounded soldiers and casualties. Unfortunately, we as people of faith, often fall for Satan’s lies, and shoot the wounded when what they need is our love and support to help bring them into contact with God’s amazing grace in order to redeem them, not destroy them.
God never intended us to walk forward by facing backwards. It is impossible to look ahead and run the good race when you are consumed with the heartache of the past or too afraid to let go of the past because you wish things could go back to the way they were, especially after suffering loss. No, God did not remove the obstacles, but gave John and I the grace to survive in the midst of the storm and God continues to pour His grace into the situation so John can meet the challenges of the ongoing treatment on his journey to find restoration, healing and ultimately to find his way back home.
TRUTH: I was being crushed by trying to carry a load that was not mine to carry. God had not forgotten me, but instead gave me the grace to help me see our situation ina new light. He took away the weight of feeling worthless and the enormous guilt I carried and showed me that it was impossible for me to accept God’s forgiveness if I was not able to forgive myself for getting sick or for not recognizing earlier why my husband was suffering. WHAT? What did He mean, forgive myself? I knew in my head that my disability was not my fault. I knew that I had no way of knowing what was happening at my husband’s work since he was deliberately trying to protect me by not sharing it with me earlier. I knew that I had prayed in faith for healing and God had another plan and I trusted His plan. But what I didn’t realize is that I had picked up an offense against myself.
I was MAD at myself!! I was ANGRY, I was DEEPLY HURT and EMBARRASSED… I had failed my own expectations. I was buying into the labels that society puts on those they fail to understand because it is easier than having to confront their own fears and often without even realizing it. This includes those with disabilities, the ones who care for them, and especially those who suffer with UNSEEN disabilities with mental and emotional limitations such as PTSD. This time, I had fallen for one of Satan’s oldest tricks, condemnation, and I fell hard. The result, I began to internalize that responsibility for the things that were not in my control. I failed to recognize that only God was strong enough to carry my burden and I had to repent, ask God to help me forgive myself and totally relinquish the responsibility for my situation into His hands. I had to be willing to let go of my “perception” that I was just a piece of forgotten, useless human trash that God had somehow mistakenly left here on earth as a burden to my family and husband and choose to allow God to help me see the truth.
Now I can look back and say that even though we are still in the storm, we rest in the fact that God has given us victory over the battles we face every day. God has taught me the “trick”/the discipline, of letting go of my own expectations of what my faith and God’s answers look like. As long as I allowed myself to dictate what God’s answer should be in my own wisdom, I was open to condemnation by what other people thought about me and Satan being able to convince me that my faith had failed because of something I had done. But just like Peter, when he walked on the water and then looked away and began to sink, as soon as he turned his focus back on the Savior, His source, he was able to rise above the tide and walk. That is now the basis of my walk with God day in and day out. I had finally let the truth of Romans 8:1 penetrate, not just my mind, but my heart.
Romans 8:1 KJV – There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
FACT: As long as I kept holding onto yesterday, it would keep robbing me of the strength I needed to survive today! So I began to practice the conscious presence of my Father God and purposefully gave Him every part of my day and my thoughts and even my expectations so that I could focus on what God had for me today.
FREEDOM! Yes, I was free to allow God’s love to flow through me once more to all those around me and most importantly to my beloved husband. I could be part of his recovery and the supportive wife and prayer warrior God had created me to be. I was free to accept the love that my family and friends were showing me and, while I was still humbled by it, it was no longer skewed by the eyes of my own pride. In accepting God’s forgiveness and allowing His forgiveness to cleanse me and forgive myself, I was now able to count the love of others as a blessing from my Heavenly Father. I recognized that God was fully capable of blessing them for their sacrifice and my job was just to allow the joy and peace of the Lord to breathe new life into our situation that would in turn be an encouragement to them also. And He can do the same for you.
Isn’t that just like God? He uses us broken pots to cast the most beautiful mosaic of his light onto everyone around us as long as we are obedient enough to allow His love to shine through our brokenness, in all circumstances.
Looks like I will have to share that next time when I reveal how reality so rudely interrupted my misguided expectations for my “Christian Walk” VS the actual trials we must overcome when the unexpected takes our breath away on this roller coaster we call life.
REFLECTION: Ask God if there is an area of your own life that you haven’t forgiven yourself for? Are you, like I was, allowing pride to skew your vision? Is it blocking you from receiving God’s forgiveness, healing and provision? Are you ready to allow God to restore your freedom to accept the love and care of others? Are you the reason someone else is unable to move forward and do you need to make things right to free both of you from the prison of unforgiveness, guilt and shame? Then I encourage you to take it to God in prayer because I know that if He can do it for me, He can do it for you and He has promised to do just that in His word.
Dear Papa God, Today I ask you to take off the blinders that anyone reading this has allowed to skew their vision. Help them stop ignoring the guilt and unloving spirit that has taken a hold of their thoughts and mind and stolen their freedom. I ask that you soften their hearts to accept your forgiveness and to forgive themselves. God allow them to recognize and let go of the mistakes of their past so they can embrace the freedom of your peace and joy in spite of their circumstances! Thank you for your answer in advance and may they feel your grace in tangible ways throughout the days and weeks ahead. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.
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