Sunday, March 25, 2018

I Thought I Was Finished

This time is of year is always an emotional one for me.  We're approaching Good Friday, which marks a new start to life I was given.  It leaves me feeling vulnerable and open - which sounds bad, but in reality, it's a good place for me to be.  It's real.  It's the place where my heart is most tender and responsive, the way God always intended it to be.  I wish that I could say I have come to a place where I am always in that mindset.  Where I am always living like today is my Good Friday from six years ago.  But in this broken world, with pain and distractions, it just isn't the reality I'm living in.  It's what I strive for, but it isn't what I have achieved.  I may not while in this temporary life.

2018 has been a weird year so far.  When I look back over these first three months, and where I've been, it's just been weird to me.  I started out the year with this burden to surrender.  To really truly surrender the pain, the fear, the hurt, the control.  And as my last post can attest, I have struggled with this.  I have given into despair at times.  I have felt alone.  I have felt fear.  I have felt anxiety.  I have become distracted with everything else.  And yet, God has sent me these little reminders of what he asked me for - surrender.

I thought I knew what that would entail.  I thought it just meant that I needed to try to keep my focus on God and allow him to guide me through the good and the bad times.  But lately, I've been feeling something more is being asked.  I couldn't quite put my finger on it in January or February.  When I look back on what I thought it meant, really, I think I thought it would be easier.  I thought it would require more than I was giving, but less than I am coming to realize may be required.

We're nearing the end of March and several things have happened this month that have guided me to what I think may be the crux of what is being required of me.  God isn't asking me to surrender the control, the fear I currently feel, the anxiety, the busy-ness.  Well, he is.  But he's trying to go deeper.  And I didn't realize it until this weekend.

He wants me to surrender the past.

I see it now, as clear as day.

The thing that has been throwing me off though is that I thought I did!!  Isn't that what I did six years ago, when I finally accepted that I could be forgiven?  When I began recognizing the lies I have believed and working to combat them?  Is it what I did when I forgave people for past hurts?

Well...yes.

But then again, no.

See?  This is what it's like in my mind.

I *have* surrendered the past.  That's what I kept trying to tell God.  What is it that I haven't surrendered?  Make this make sense!  That's been my heart's cry.

Some events have happened that I won't get into here, because it's not my story to tell.  But these events have brought a lot of things to the surface.  Things from my past that I really thought I had dealt with and moved past.  And if I look back to where I was pre-2012 and now post-2012, I have indeed made great strides in those areas.

I feel like God is looking down at me and laughing.  Not in spite or anything negative like that.  I'm his kid, you know?  And don't our kids think they know everything?  They think they understand how the world works.  In the context of their limited understanding of what life is really all about, they think they get it.  And sometimes, I look at my kids and laugh.  Because I wish it worked that way.  I wish it really was as simple as they believe it is.  It's funny...in an endearing kind of way.  That innocence.  That lack of knowledge.  Not because they're dumb or incapable.  It's just the way life works.  Until you get out on your own and really start to live outside the protection of those who raised you, you don't really understand how much bad is really out there.

This isn't to discount the large number of kids who experience so much pain and trauma and things kids should never see or experience.  Those are very real, and unfortunately, happen far more often than you could ever imagine.  But even for those kids, the ones who have to grow up too fast, it doesn't always get better, just because you may physically escape a bad home life.  The world has this way of depleting you.  As believers or non-believers in God, our childhoods shape the adults we become.  What we understand and how we interact with the world is affected by what type of home life we had - for good or bad.  Even the kids who have been through and seen too much get out into the world on their own and find that instead of getting easier, in some cases, it just gets even harder.  It's the sad reality.  This is life.

So, when I say I feel like God looks down and laughs, what I mean is that I think he sees his child who doesn't really understand what true healing is in full, and thinks "Isn't that cute?"  Sometimes, kids will do something stupid or say something off the wall, that isn't bad in and of itself, but is still not reflective of the reality.  I feel like God is seeing my heart and how I think that I dealt with my past and finally found freedom from it six years ago.  How I thought the emotional and spiritual healing that did in fact happen, was in fact, the end of it.  The culmination.

He laughs at my innocence and the fact that I naively thought it didn't go any deeper than that.  But he isn't mad.  He isn't condemning.  He isn't chastising me.  He wants to hug me and say, "I know that you thought that was it.  But these last six years, the changes you've experienced and the healing you went through from the past, that was just the beginning."

It's like he gave me a reprieve.  Likely because he knows me a lot better than I know me, and he knew that I couldn't "heal" all at once.  Healing takes time.  It takes patience.  There are different levels of healing.  From an academic standpoint, it makes complete sense.  The heart sometimes takes a little longer...

Take the herniated discs in my neck from 2014.  This is the surgery I had a year later.  In 2013, I had a disectomy and fusion and level C-5/6 and C 6/7.  C 6/7 didn't fuse properly - there could have been many reasons, but I do believe one of them is because I tried to rush the healing process and went back to work too soon (2 weeks was not long enough to recover!).  So, another surgery was required to properly fuse C 6/7.

Let's look at my surgery for that issue.  At the onset, post-op, I was FAR from complete healing.  Naturally, right?  I had a LOT of pain, wasn't able to do very much, wasn't able to contribute as much as I wanted or maybe people needed from me.  I had a 2 inch physical incision that was tender and new and raw.  I was extremely limited in what I was able to do initially.

But each day, I grew stronger.  The pain lessened.  I was able to get up and about and do a little bit more.  The stitches began to dissolve and the scarring process began.  As I continued to follow the doctor's orders, I grew stronger.  I could move my neck more.  I could get around better.  The scar began to fade.  My range of motion increased and I was able to do more for the people who needed things from me (work, family, etc...).

At the end of the day though, that one surgery did not fix my spine.  And I knew it wouldn't.  I knew it was going to be a temporary "fix."  And I was okay with that.  Because the pain that I had before surgery was debilitating.  I also knew that down the road, my other discs would continue to weaken and further surgeries would likely occur.  But the relief I got from that surgery was significant.  Especially since I wisely took the full 6 weeks I should have to allow my neck time to heal and stabilize.  And then when I did go back to work, I eased into it.  I went to physical therapy.  I did the things that were required to keep strengthening my neck.  And I also knew that down the road, more healing may be needed.

So, why would it surprise me that the emotional healing I received from my past wasn't complete?  I guess it doesn't really.  Looking at it that way, knowing that with my neck more surgery may be required down the road, since my spine was still a mess of bulging and herniated discs up and down, I didn't look at my spine as fully healed.  I'm not done healing my spine yet.

And God's loving on me and saying, "Yes you found healing and freedom from the pain of your past.  At least, from some of it."  What I have been coming to terms with lately is that there is a still a lot more to deal with.  Some of it is specific events.  Some of it is broader, more ways that my mind handles things that may need to be reworked.  God has been gently trying to communicate that now that I have made it through THAT phase, and have given myself sufficient time to recover, it's time to start working on the next phase.  The next level.

Guys, that's really scary!!  It was jolting to me, and as soon as the realization came to me, I felt kind of stupid for thinking I was done.  But I didn't think that God thought I was stupid.  That's one of the things I found healing from.  That lie that I'm stupid.  The lie that told me I was not capable of understanding real or heavy things.  The lie that whispered, "You're such an idiot."  And now that I have that stability to know that I am intelligent and capable of so much more than I thought, God is asking me to step back into the operating room.

There are some situations where it is absolutely necessary to have a procedure done.  Life-saving action that must be taken.  However, with my issues, with my spine, because I can still sort of function, even if the surgeon recommends we fuse the areas that are in question, I have the choice to say no.  I could say, "You know what, while the pain is horrible, I can just deal with it."  There's risk either way.  If I have another surgery, it will continue to weaken the surrounding discs.  If I ignore the disc issues and just try to push through, it could create other issues where I will come a point in time where I won't be given a choice on the matter.

So, God isn't pulling the rug out from under me and saying that I have to do this.  I have to go deeper into the pain.  Deeper into the past.  Deeper into the things that still scare me or cause me pain.  He's telling me that it's time.  He's saying that HE thinks I'm ready.  He's saying that I've progressed in my healing enough that if I choose to, I can take the next steps toward healing.

And all of that has been rumbling around in my brain and heart for the last week or so.  I've had conversations with some of my kids and with Kris about this.  About how there are still things that I am seeing I need to deal with and work through and confront.  He's been gently nudging me in that direction.  And knowing that I would waffle over which choice to make, he sent me two very real messages this weekend.  In the form of Hollywood.  Movies.

I don't want to give any spoilers, and I think down the road, I'll delve into these movies individually, but this post is really just to share this realization that it's time to step further into healing other areas that have been affected by the pain in my life.

We went to see A Wrinkle In Time last night.  I wasn't too eager to see it.  I didn't think the previews looked very good and the tiny bit of knowledge I had about it made me think I would eventually watch it but I didn't need to see it in the theaters.  We saw it quite by accident, or by process of elimination.  I've been eager to get out of the house some for more than just the few hours of work I've been managing - so Friday night we wanted to go see I Can Only Imagine.

But it was sold out.  Kris suggested A Wrinkle In Time, which I was less than eager to see.  So I throw out Date Night.  Maybe we can see that.  But we couldn't find seats together for those either, or show times that would work for us.  Instead, we ended up seeing Black Panther.  I knew we would be going to see another movie the next day (because we have Movie Pass and can see movies whenever we want now), so I thought, "Fine.  I'll sit through Black Panther."  Actually, I wasn't dreading seeing the movie.  I happen to love Marvel.  But there were just other movies I would have rather seen that night.

So we watched Black Panther and decided that Saturday we would try to go see I Can Only Imagine.  Come time to see the movie on Saturday, we couldn't find any showtimes that worked for us, that had seats together.  So, by process of elimination this time and available movies, we wound up seeing A Wrinkle In Time.

It was NOT what I expected.  At. All.  I just didn't know what I walking into.  But God did.  It was one of those moments where he said, "Remember all that stuff you've been sorting through?  Here's another little confirmation that it's time to go to that next level of healing."  It brought up a lot for me, personally.  It moved me, it challenged me, it reminded me that I have more healing to do.  That I am a warrior.  And also, that I am not fighting my battles alone.

Message received.

Challenge accepted.

Today, we went to see I Can Only Imagine.  I DID know what I was getting myself into for that one.  Or so I thought.  I mean, that song is everywhere.  I had heard it before my friend Angie's funeral 12 1/2 years ago and it was an amazing song then.  It meant even more to me after my Good Friday experience in 2012, because I eagerly anticipate the day I see Jesus face to face.  It has meant so much to me and so many other people around the world.  I even knew a little bit about Bart's back story.  That he had a rough childhood and he wrestled with some stuff.  So I was prepared for the spiritual side of it.

But wouldn't you know, there were still things in that movie that spoke directly into my heart and into where I am right now that I didn't expect.  Things that reiterated this idea that I have some healing from past pains I really need to get back into.

Kris kind of laughed when it was all over and made a comment about God trying to tell me something.  I joked back and said that I had already decided I needed to deal with stuff before we saw EITHER movie!  I jokingly thought, "Was that really necessary, God?"

And the answer is no.  It wasn't necessary.  I was already accepting that I needed to figure out how to take that next step.  It wasn't necessary.  But it was a little gift from God.  Two days, back to back, reaffirming what I already knew.  That there was more I needed to delve into. There was more pain that I needed to face and begin to heal from.

Because God's not finished with me yet.  I have to continue healing.  For myself.  For others.  And just in obedience to God's calling on my life.  He has already proven faithful in using my story and what He has already done in my life and heart.  I believe that He has more he wants to do in and through me.  So, my prayer is that when I reach the end of healing from this particular phase, I remember there might still be more required down the road.  That maybe there will be a reprieve to rest, but until I leave this earth, there will always be something that I need to work on,  Because I live in a broken, fallen world and I am an imperfect person.  It's a bit intimidating to think about delving back into the past, but I won't let that stop me.  I won't let the fear rule my heart any longer.

**As a side note, I had intended to write a post solely about the song below.  But it feels appropriate here, so I'll just say that this is a current favorite of mine - and was yet another nudge from God to keep trying to heal and move forward.  Fear is, in fact, a liar.




1 comment:

  1. Jamie can you pass the tissue box please 🤧🤧🤧🤧😍😍.....Father give Your daughter the courage to take that next step in faith as You "perform" heart surgery....in Jesus name I bind the enemy and render him defeated....open Jamie's eyes to see what You are doing in and through her....the encouragement she has been to those who have heard her story and have been strengthened and because of her journey have found courage to follow You..... thank You Father for her willingness to be used of You in this way...for her openness and honesty.... continue to bless her and Father bring healing to her physical body in Jesus mighty name Amen ❣️❣️❣️❣️❣️💥💥💥💥

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