When we keep postponing the inevitable

When we keep postponing the inevitable


Knitting has become a constant in my life over the past year.  I made Lily a blanket earlier in 2017, and now I am working on one for Elijah.  I am doing a color-block pattern with a seersucker stitch.  It is a bit more complicated and involved than I had planned, but it is coming out quite beautifully, albeit imperfectly (but hey, life lessons, right?).

I am not one to prepare my yarn.   Before they even start knitting, some people roll their yarn in tight little balls and then put it in a yarn holder.  When they do this, they will never have to deal with knots or tangles.  This is so incredibly smart.  Planning ahead pays.

I struggle with patience.  It takes quite a bit of time and energy to roll yarn into balls before the project has even started.  I typically impatiently want to dive right into my project, without any further adieu or delay. I don’t want to spend time preparing my yarn because I don’t see any immediate reward for my effort.  I like to see the fruit of my labor immediately.

What is the outcome of my haste? You guessed it!! I am half-way through this blanket for Elijah, and I am stuck.  I have been pushing back my tangled gray yarn for about a week. If you are familiar with knitting or crochet and are impatient like I am, you might understand this concept.  You can postpone total re-rolling of your yarn just by making a few alterations and shoving the tangled mess back just enough to finish the next row.  I would knit the 160 stitches of one row until the string was taut against the inevitable tangled disaster.  At the end of each row of stitches, I would face a decision:  Would I really hunker down and commit to untangling the rest of the yarn, or would I shove the tangled jungle of grey yarn back just far enough for me to tackle the next 160 stitches?  Would I do the dirty work of getting to the root of the problem, or would I do just enough to get by, delaying the inevitable?  You see,  I knew that at one point or another I would have to do the hard work, but I was willing to kick that proverbial can down the road just a little bit farther.

My tangled mess was not going away.  I would have to face it.

So on Wednesday, this week, after about a week of shoving the tangled yarn farther and farther away from my project, I decided that the looming inevitability of disaster was too overwhelming.  I would face it head-on, stop my knitting, and really get to the root of my yarn problem.  Untangling that mess took hours.  I mean, I spent an entire day untangling yarn and not knitting.  But it had to be done if I ever wanted to actually finish my project.

Sometimes analogies slap us in the face.  This analogy was so obvious that I could not deal with my knitting without thinking about my life.  How many issues in my life do I shove aside, just trying to get through the next day?   How many unresolved relationships, loose ends, and places of brokenness do I stretch just a little bit further down the tight thread of my anxious life knowing that one day sooner or later I will have to face the music of my hurt and chaos?

Procrastination: How much healing in my life am I avoiding, thinking that I have more important issues at hand?

This week I am too busy to allow God to heal me from my bitterness from the wound that keeps oozing.  I’m just going to keep putting more bandages on it so I don’t have to think about the infection.  Tylenol works to control the pain, so I can keep going like this for a bit longer. 

I have too many projects going on right now to really deal with the hurts that keep popping up.  They happened 25 years ago.  I’ve made it this far without really hashing it out; why drudge them up now?  I will keep playing wack-a-mole. 

I am too busy with all of these ministry ventures to dig into my woundedness from that arrow.  Even though it hit my heart, and I feel the pangs of it’s aftermath every day, I can’t commit time at this point to allow God to break into that particular wound.  It would be way too inconvenient. 

These postponements work for a while.  They have worked in my life.  There are issues that are safe to deal with, and then there are wounds that are too risky to open up.  In the short-term, healing would take more time and energy than I am willing or feel able to invest. It seems practical and even wise to just push the tangled mess back far enough to get through the next row of stitches.

But, really, are these delays helping or hurting? Are they stunting our growth and binding us, paralyzing us in our process of maturity and sanctification in Christ?  Are they sending us around the same mountain over and over again, as we never really move forward?  We hold in one hand this life that keeps advancing and growing, and we hold in the other a tangled disaster of bitterness and brokenness in which we are unwilling to really let God do His deep healing work.

I’m there, or else I wouldn’t have had the looming sense that my tangled mess of yarn isn’t really just about a tangled mess of yarn.  I wouldn’t have looked at the postponement of the inevitable in my knitting project and seen the tangible reminder of a more pervasive pattern in my life.

I fall into the mentality of the “tyranny of the urgent.”  With little kids, a growing congregation, and a gnarly chronic illness, I fall prey to this mentality.  I put out the most pressing fires.  I fight the battles that throw themselves at you each day, and I don’t have the bandwidth to go digging for the deeper battles that are waging under the surface.  I live on the defense, boxing gloves hovering around my face, trying desperately to block the constant barrage of blows.  And as I do this,  I hear whispers that the more pressing matters are the ones that I am avoiding.  As I block the blows of the surface, I miss the deeper wounds of the heart.

So I did the hard work with the yarn.  I spent the day unraveling the mess.  If only life were that simple.  One day of unraveling and digging out the knots, and you are set to knit on, unhindered for the rest of your life! But if I can take the time with my knitting, putting my project on hold to do some dirty work under the surface,  I can take some time out with my life, letting God do some deeper healing that I have been kicking down the road.

I hear a whisper in my soul saying that the hard work of true wound-healing will be worth it.  A deeper, richer, fuller life awaits on the other side.

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Puzzles and Surrender

Puzzles and Surrender

This summer, our family had the privilege of spending a week at a friend’s house on the lake.  I was excited to find a 1000-piece puzzle of a cottage lake scene in their collection of games in the living room.  I hadn’t pieced together a puzzle larger than 24 pieces since my little ones were born. Upon opening the box filled with a broken picture, my brain lit up like a Christmas tree. The challenge of 1000 pieces of chaos seemed intoxicating as the pieces summoned me to transform them into a coherent whole.  I quickly fell into the puzzle trance (come on, puzzlers, you know what I’m talking about), and within a day or two, the chaos resolved into a beautiful portrait of peace and calm.


Thus began my puzzle addiction.  Since that vacation,  I have set up a card table in our living room, having a complicated puzzle in the works at all times.  And for me, the more complicated, the better.  I tried a 2000-piece puzzle, but I couldn’t find a surface in the house large enough to accommodate its expansive dimensions. I really love the picture-mosaic puzzles, where the larger images are composed of thousands of tiny pictures.  This complexity adds an extra layer of challenge and adds about a day or two to the course of completion.

Now, aside from keeping my brain agile and engaged, I think that for me puzzle-doing holds something more symbolic than just a time-consuming activity.

My life seems like chaos.  My brain feels like scrambled eggs.  My medical situation feels like that 2000 piece-puzzle that I can’t seem to find a surface large enough to complete.  Not only does it feel like that 2000-piece-puzzle, but it feels like 2000 pieces from 2000 separate puzzles that will never fit together.

And it’s not just my medical situation.  It is my scrambled, jumbled, broken history that seems like it will never make sense in the present.  It is my chaotic regimen of medications that alleviate a few symptoms but create their own awful set of side-effects that sometimes seem infinitely worse than the symptoms that they treat: Side-effects that alter my personality, my mental state, my ability to remain sane and stable.  It is enough to make my brain feel like it is going to ooze out of my ears in a pharmaceutical-enduced alphabet soup.   It is the endless questions about my future and the future of my family, as we navigate life in its insecure complexity.

The puzzle of my life seems like it will never in a million years create any kind of cohesive whole, let alone a beautiful portrait.  So, I work on puzzles that make sense. The puzzles that have edge pieces, corners, patterns, and colors that fit together.  No matter how chaotic it seems when you open the box, you can trust that in a day or so, you will be gazing at an orderly, well-formed, complete masterpiece.

But here’s the thing about life:  It may not make sense on this side of heaven.  We may not have a complete picture while we are still breathing air here on this broken ball of earth.

And here’s the thing about God:  We also will not be able to put together the puzzle of the Master-Creator on this side of heaven.  God refuses to fit in our “box,” and so will not fit together like one of my clear-cut puzzles.

My intellectual human brain likes concepts that fit neatly in a cohesive whole.  I like questions that have complete and clear-cut answers.  I like to feel larger than ideas and questions, and in order to feel larger than ideas,  I have to be able to fully wrap my mind around them. I am larger than the puzzles that I create.  I can be “creator” and “master” of the puzzle.

No matter how popular Henley’s “Invictus” poem might be, I am not “creator” and “master” of my life.  I am also not “creator” and “master” of God.  In surrender,  I release the need to fully understand.  I let go of the drive to put every piece together in order to fully wrap my mind around my past and present.  I release the need to be able to predict and control my future.  This process of surrender is counter-intuitive.  It goes against my desperate drive for control and mastery.  It tramples on my self-sufficient pride.  And I am confident that it is the only way to peace and wholeness.

Ironically, the only path toward growth and wholeness is surrender.  What if I took the pieces of my chaotic puzzles in my hands and lifted them, handing them over in sweet abandon to the Creator who actually knows what He is doing?  What if I stopped asking “why” and started seeking the face of the One who intimately knows me, past, present, and future?  What if I left my puzzle-master pursuit to the cardboard cut-out pieces on my card table in my living room? What if in doing so,  I could sincerely sing “Whatever my lot, He has taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul‘”?

Life, Near-Death, and the Good Shepherd

Life, Near-Death, and the Good Shepherd

It’s a pretty common occurrence to brush shoulders with death. We ride in cars. Those can be dangerous. We shower. We could fall and hit our head. We or someone we know could encounter the next world at any minute. No one is immune. “I almost died” is not an outlandish statement.   It can be scary, but it can be a reality. With that being said, I am not sure how to process my recent encounters with my own “near-death” experiences. I spent a solid week as a wandering soul, stuck somewhere between this life and the next.   I feel strange when people talk to me about it. When they describe the sensation of sitting in my hospital room, watching my sleeping body, teetering on the tightrope between time and eternity, not sure which direction I would fall at any given minute. I have no elaborate out-of-body experience to describe. I only have medical facts, second-hand information from my husband, loved ones, and doctors, and a lingering sense of displacement in a world that seems a bit off and foreign at the moment.

 

It started with a simple outpatient surgery and a body that was more fragile than the doctors had accounted for. They had been told, but they brushed off the warnings of my faltering health as they tossed me into the assembly-style line set up to be prepped for surgery. My one doctor who was keenly aware of my precarious state had made every effort to set the stage for caution, care, and safety, but her words were disregarded by the business side of the medical industry as their hands were somewhat forced by financial constraints imposed by the broken system of insurance-dictated care.

 

Thus, I was sedated normally, operated on as a routine patient, and tossed like rag-doll back into the assembly-line recovery room as my descent into the valley of the shadow of death began. They did not realize that you cannot toss a china doll like you can a rag-doll, and unknowingly, they started a slow shattering of my delicate physiognomy that would usher me up to the gate of heaven.

 

Pain was unmanaged, my lungs could not cope, there was systemic collapse and chaos, shifting the balance of my precarious composition to a place of toxicity and implosion. No one can blame individuals within the system. They are over-extended, with computers full of faceless names, as they carry the lives of these names, into a place of fragility and vulnerability. It is their job. They may or may not care about the faces, about the back-stories, about the countless lives intertwined in the lives of their patients. There are many who do indeed care. But they are slaves to the broken system which is a slave to a broken system called fallen humanity.

 

I am thankful, exceedingly, abundantly thankful, that my life, my real solid substantial life, was never truly in the hands of the broken system. They were never truly in control. Under the master care of the Master Caregiver, I was always safe. He held my hand in the darkest valley of systemic bodily failure, cardiac uncertainty, and roller-coaster blood levels that threatened to send me careening into eternity.   I was never abandoned in the midst of compromised external care, because my Jehovah is the Lord who heals, who holds, whose arms are never too full, who never loses His children in the shuffle, or overlooks a critical lab value. The same would be true if He had carried me into eternity in the midst of the chaos of last week, because HE would have been the one who carried me there. I am not lost or overlooked. I am the beloved of the Most High God, and He holds me in the palm of His careful, tender hand. He knew all about my journey to the precipice of death before I took my first step into the surgeon’s office, and He whispered to my soul, “It is well. I am with you.”

I am so thankful that I am not lost. I’m also very glad to still be on this side of eternity.

Looking for Easter

Looking for Easter

 

“Calvary is Judo. The enemy’s own power is used to defeat him. Satan’s craftily orchestrated plot, rolled along according to plan by his agents Judas, Pilate, Herod, and Caiaphas, culminated in the death of God. And this very event, Satan’s conclusion, was God’s premise. Satan’s end was God’s means. “

Peter Kreeft, 1986

I am on my second Lenten season of reading through Bread and Wine, an incredible collection of writings by ancient and modern Christian writers, philosophers, activists, theologians, and leaders.  I am in love with my mornings of directed readings.  The book is broken up into six sections:  Invitation,  Temptation, Passion,  Crucifixion, Resurrection, and New Life.  It has 72 articles, and I am slightly behind because I usually marinate on one article a day.  72>40, so I need to step it up, but I feel that I am drinking from a fire hydrant as I soak up the wisdom of those who know a heck of a lot more than I do.

The quote is an excerpt from today’s reading, and I have always found something wonderfully exhilarating about what Kreeft terms “Christian Judo.”  Jesus remarkably used the enemy’s power against him, in that he willingly stepped in as the passover Lamb, wielding the keys to the kingdom.  This is the hope that surfaces when it seems that all hope is lost.  This is the shift that I had the privilege of experiencing in the heart of my three-year-old as we watched Aslan willingly lie down on the stone table as the ice queen slaughtered him in the Disney rendition of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.   I told my daughter ahead of time not to worry, that Aslan would come back to life and “save the day.”  She can watch any movie as long as she knows that the good guy will save the day in the end.  Can’t we all?

In the depth of the dark night of Aslan’s slaughter, as Lucy and Susan were weeping into the shaved, cooling skin of their murdered beloved Aslan,  Lily sought reassurance. “Mommy, you said that he would save the day.  When will he? Are you sure?”

I responded, “Wait for the sun to rise, sweetie.  The stone table will break, and he will be alive again to save the day.”

Her anticipation was palpable.  My daughter was longing for Aslan to cancel out the evil magic that had rendered him the lamb to be slaughtered on Edmund’s behalf.

We both exhaled sighs of elation and relief as we saw Aslan’s profile rise over the stone tablet with the rising sun.  This was Lily’s first portrait of kingdom judo.  And this is the beginning of perfect love casting out fear for my three-year-old.

The enemy’s power is used to defeat him. Not only is the enemy defeated, but his own efforts to destroy us are thrown back in his face as the means by which our redemption is made possible.   Only God can do that. It is the greatest twist in the history of time. The death that the enemy thought would undo all of God’s plan was actually the death that opened up the opportunity for death to be crushed and turned on it’s head. This is the fragrant essence of hope. This is why we hope. In our seasons of death, we rejoice, because we know kingdom Judo. God’s secret weapon, His trump card, is always safe in His hand, and He will play it when the enemy is finished with all of his moves and thinks arrogantly that he has won the game.

This sickness, these shortcomings, and these areas of brokenness are indeed the undoing of me. And in this undoing, I am made whole because the ends becomes the means to God’s redemptive, overarching stunning plan of life destroying death. We don’t have all the answers, but we have the final answer. Life wins. Death dies. The love that surrenders to death actually releases the power that dethrones death. No fear is needed. Fear is negated and made obsolete.

We can exhale the fear of death’s finality when we see the cresting of our King on Sunday morning as He pulls out His trump card,  His deeper magic, and says, “See?  I hold the keys to life and death.  Why were you afraid, beloved?”

And I sigh with my daughter, able to freely take a deep breath for the first time, releasing it in trust of a Lord who breathes life into death, into me.

The Old Thoughts in the New Life

The Old Thoughts in the New Life

I had an old thought last night. It was about ending my life. That thought does not fit in my today-life. It was part of an old story that was my life a long time ago. My today-life has become stressful and overwhelming. We are being hit on all sides and at every angle as a family. It is all that I can do sometimes to keep breathing and moving forward minute to minute, second to second.

I sent my husband to the ER with my poor sick three-year-old, and stayed home to tend to my also sick two-year-old.   Lily had collapsed in the hall. Croup and asthma don’t work well together. I collapsed with her. My husband swept her up, buckled her in her car seat, and barreled off to the emergency room while I sat with my youngest and wept in anxiety, fear, and inadequacy. She will be fine, but last night, neither of us was fine. My life became too heavy for a moment. As I cuddled with my youngest in my king-size bed, I felt my heart ripped in half. I wanted, needed, to be at the hospital with my eldest. Yet I couldn’t. I’m too sick. And my youngest needed me. We are at T-minus 48 hours until my husband goes out of town for a week, and I feel the crud that has attacked my children descending on my own vulnerable body. How will we survive this one? Will we survive this one?

Waiting for my sleeping medicine to kick in, that old thought assaulted me for the first time in years. You could end it all. Shocked, I guffawed at the absurdity of that thought in the context of my meaningful and fulfilling life. At the same time, a part of me leaned into its familiarity. Horrified at my inclination toward this suicidal thought, I prayed that my sleeping medication would kick in and knock me out so that I could wake up the next morning fully planted in the present again.   It did. I slipped into sleep, in that massive bed with a tiny two-year-old and no husband, next door to an empty room where my three-year-old should be sleeping.

Oh, the speed bumps in life are brutal.   When half of your family is not under your roof with you when you so desperately need them. When you are not under the same roof of the pediatric wing of the hospital with your sick child when you feel that she so desperately needs you. Someone told me today ,”It’s not fair,” when I told her the medical drama that is occurring in my family.   I know that fairness is just a construct of our fallen human minds that leads to nasty comparison, leading to either pride or envy. With that said, it certainly doesn’t feel fair at times. To move from hellish situation to hellish situation, squeezing in quick breaths every once in a while. To feel like you are standing on the tips of your tip toes in an unsteady ocean, with your nose bobbing in and out of the choppy water as you spit and sputter, trying to come up for air. It does not feel fair.

Suffering never feels fair. To pursue suffering would be utter insanity. And yet, suffering can serve as a sharpening tool, as a refining fire, burning and destroying any sense of self-sufficiency or pride in our own resources. If I ever thought I could do life on my own, that notion is snuffed out when I collapse on the floor daily, when my daughter is whisked off my husband in the middle of the night unable to breathe, when I come up against that same old thought that haunted me for years. I can’t do this. Not in my own strength. I’m at the end of me. I’m exhausted, spent, maxed out. It has to be God. Suffering is a quick trip to the end of ourselves, where we find at the end either despair or God. Out of those two options, I don’t know what inclines some people to end with despair and others to land on God. I do know, however, that I have had seasons of my life where despair seemed to be the clearest answer. This is not one of those seasons. Suffering is driving me to the cross. The old thoughts of suicide drive me not to actual attempts, but to my knees in confession of my dependence on my life-source. Thomas Merton states, “ Suffering becomes good by accident, by the good that it enables us to receive more abundantly from the mercy of God.”

It is no good to worship the actual suffering in life. In suffering and in abundance, we can know God. We worship and believe in a God who can transform suffering into mercy. This knowledge transforms the phrase “God is good all the time” into so much more than a mere cliché. It gives me the assurance that no matter what floods my life, even if the mountains give way and fall into the heart of the sea, even if I lose my own life, my Lord loves me and is for me. His presence is good, and He never leaves. Therefore, wherever I go, I am safe.

Psalm 46: 1-3

God is our refuge and strength,

    a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,

    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam,

    though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

Turning Our Eyes Upon Jesus

Turning Our Eyes Upon Jesus

The last few weeks have been difficult.  Last October was a bad-health-month (like a bad-hair-day, only like 1000 times worse), and it seems that this October followed suit.  Maybe my illnesses have least favorite seasons.  Being sick feels manageable some fraction of the time, but over the past month, it has NOT felt do-able.  Yesterday was particularly bad, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  I felt poured out, wrung out, and blown-dry with a hair dryer.  I had what felt like nothing left.  My husband was shivering in bed with 102-degree fever, sputtering, “Is this what chills feel like?” My children were acting like the three-year-old and two-year-old that they are, and I was dancing on the impatient side of parenting.  I was not savoring each moment with them, that’s for sure.

Bed time is sacred time at our house.  We read, rock, and sing about Jesus. The kids have special song requests, each one gets his and her own time in the rocking chair with mom, and I get to sniff their sweet little babyish heads before bed (I think that baby head-sniffing works better at calming my adrenaline rushes than any medication that I have found).  In between Jesus songs, my daughter usually comes up with deep questions that I am not prepared for, like, “Mommy, what is death?”, or like, “How is Jesus going to come out of my heart so that I can sit on His lap and rub His beard like I rub daddy’s beard?”. I stutter and stammer for a few minutes, and then God in His wisdom usually helps me communicate some little nugget of truth that hopefully her three-year-old mind can comprehend.  She deems my response acceptable, closes her eyes, and settles her fair curly head into the bend of my arm, safe and comforted, trusting that she knows enough now to rest for the night.

Bedtime last night did not feel sacred. I was an unholy terror, and I hurried and scolded my kids, stretched too thin in all angles.  I just wanted to go to bed and have the day over. I was hurting physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and I was done fighting.  Rocking a child, however, seems to be the antithesis of hurry.  The act of sitting in glider with my son and singing a JJ Heller lullaby was enough to snap me out of my impatient self-centered focus. I pleaded with God to help me to be present with my children, at least for the final few minutes of their day. I sniffed his freshly washed hair for a couple seconds longer, and laid him in his crib with his blessing: “May the Lord bless you and keep you…”.

My daughter met me at the chair, and asked for the Jesus song. Which Jesus song?  You know, mom, the one where Jesus is REALLY BIG.  Where His face shines.  I sing the hymn “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”, and she sings the chorus with me word-for-word.  After the song, my big-hearted prophetess child says with the concern and agony of a 25-year-old, “Mom, why does it feel like Jesus isn’t here?  If it is so dark in this world, and Jesus is light, He can’t be here, can He?  And Jesus is too big to be in my heart.  He’s not in my heart.  He’s too big.  He would break my heart.  Is Jesus not here?”

On this night, October 31st, a night of darkness, when barely three-year-old daughter questions the existence of her Savior, my throat swelled, and my eyes filled, and I said, “Baby, I know how you feel. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like Jesus is here, but He is.  I promise. He promises.  And it is dark, but His light is here.”  I said a few more things.  I felt a lot more things. She asked a few more despairing questions, and she finally settled into the tension of not seeing yet believing.  She was okay.  Jesus was with Her.  She could rest.

I laid her down, tucked her princess comforter around her tiny body, blessed her, prayed over her and her brother, closed the door, and sobbed.  OH, I know how she feels, but I never imagined that she would feel this so soon.  But God met me in her questioning.  In this dark night, full of pain in all forms, God met me through the need of my darling daughter. He answered my despairing questions through my own mouth as  I answered her despairing questions.  We will keep trusting.  He is present. He is good. He loves us.  He is sovereign.  My sweet dreamers will learn to trust and hope, as I am learning to trust and hope, in the One who is present, gentle, and faithful. We can’t always see, but we know because we have seen undeniable manifestations of His goodness.  We therefore

Turn our eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.  (Helen H. Limmel, 1922).

When So Much is Unknown

When So Much is Unknown

How do you know that you have a blind spot? That’s the problem, right? You can’t know what you can’t see until someone tells you that you should be able to see more than what you are currently seeing. And that is exactly what happened for me this past weekend.

In my medical journey, I feel like we are slowly collecting pieces of the broken puzzle that is my body. It is taking much longer than I would prefer, but we are finally moving forward with gathering information.

It was just an eye doctor exam. I expected nothing to come out of it. The doctor just wanted to make sure that my symptoms were not connected to optic nerve issues, and I expected everything to be fine (I always do).   Everything was panning out as I had anticipated, until the last test. The test is called an Automated Periphery test. It basically identifies blind spots in your peripheral vision, and somehow, that can point to problem areas in the brain. To my surprise and ultimately disbelief, I had an abnormal result that was consistent in both eyes. These blind spots indicated, according to the doctor, that I have something problematic in the middle section of my brain, in or around the pituitary gland. During this conversation, he cheerfully used the word “tumor” on several occasions. He also said that it could be benign, and he honestly didn’t seem too concerned or overly urgent. He seems to think that it is sufficient to follow up with the neurologist when we have the appointment scheduled in about five to six weeks at Mayo.

With this information, however, I have a couple competing and opposing reactions. My verbal response to him was something to the effect of, “Yes, I have been aware of neurological issues for some time, and this does not surprise me. I know that there is something very broken in my brain.”   A simultaneous internal response was, “Yeah right. Just wait. Everything is normal. He’s a quack. This, just like everything else, is a waste of everyone’s time and energy.”

In this moment, I am going to put aside the latter thought process so that we can deal with the seeming reality of this awareness. It has been difficult for me to assert the idea that there is something wrong in my brain. Maybe it is the fact that I have so many mental health issues that I cart around. How does one sort out what is brain structure and brain chemistry? What are blind spots and what are normal bouts of dissociation that occur within individuals with PTSD? What is normal? I have no idea, but I have something inside of me that screams, “THIS CANNOT BE NORMAL!!!” I don’t know how many times I have told someone that I think my brain is broken. But, really, who am I to say what a functional brain is supposed to be like? I’ve been on psychotropic medications for 20 years. So this is a tough issue, and I would not place myself on a platform as an expert on healthy brains. Evidently, however, based on my most recent medical feedback, it seems that I have more credibility than I initially suspected.

The other side of this “acceptance of reality” coin is that now I have grapple with the “c” word and the potential of a tumor. And I have to sit with this question for six long weeks. Fortunately, I am far from bored, and six weeks in my life zooms by before I can count to six. Time will fly, because I have two tinies to chase after and a wild pastor husband to keep up with. I have one Bible study to teach and two, maybe three others in which to participate. I have playgroups, music groups, story times, play dates, and crafts to do. I have choir and relationships to maintain. I will blink, and the end of October will be upon us. But still.. TUMOR. In my BRAIN. (Possibly). But still…

So this leads to me to my end of the world dreams. For months, I have been having dreams about the end of the world. I find myself in different but parallel scenarios where I am a protagonist in a fight to the end…the end of the world. I am trying desperately to keep whatever forces that be from destroying our planet. These bad guys are super bad, like aliens twenty times the size of planet earth, and they are out to wipe our species out from existence. They can snuff us out at any point, and for some reason, I am one of the few chosen to try to prevent them from doing so. The problem in this scenario is that I have no idea what the heck I am doing, and I am just a sitting duck along with everyone else. I am no hero. I’m just waiting around to be decimated, but I feel the weight of the salvation of the world on my shoulders. Fortunately, I wake up just as I see the fiery fury coming to consume the planet, including this powerless heroine. The key sense in these dreams is powerlessness. I can’t do one thing about impending doom.

So I wait, with one side of my consciousness (the one that comes out in my dreams) doling out heavy doses of doom and gloom and ultimate destruction, and another side invalidating every single step of this journey, unable to acknowledge a single ounce of my experience as real. Could there be hope, validation, and redemption in the midst of this battle? Could everyone lay down their weapons and surrender to the One who is in control, is the Author of truth, and has defeated death, making a spectacle of it on the Cross? I am powerless, yes. In a sense. But the one who is supremely powerful dwells within me. IN CHRIST, I am no longer a slave to the lies OR to death. Neither force will win in my life, no matter what happens. My Lord, the one who indwells me, is Truth Himself, and He is Life.   I will not shrink back or be consumed by fear. I am safe and secure, no matter what happens.