Here are some silly thoughts as I’m processing some pain:
“So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.”
Here are some silly thoughts as I’m processing some pain:
“So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.”
Hi! It’s been a minute.
Well, for those who know, you know I process a lot by writing. And I haven’t been writing, so I don’t think I’ve been processing a lot. It’s been quite the past couple of weeks so I cannot truly imagine all of the things I have been refusing to process.
However, as usual, God arrested me and forced me to stop and to think about everything happening in my life. BUT he forced me to look at it differently. I have been thinking about things, but through this lens of negativity. Everything had bumps, ditches, hurdles, crashes, pitfalls – everything was negative. It was like I couldn’t win!
And I did feel isolated for quite some time. What with my health dragging me down and ministry crumbling to bits – I felt like a failure trying to put out raging forest fires with no knowledge of how and only holding a watering can for help. God did not feel close.
As I read the Word – he sometimes appeared. I read through Genesis and it was fun! But, he was so far away. That was so long ago. Yet, he still made his attributes known. But then I felt like he wasn’t here even still! Who were we to care about! In middle of nowhere Ohio with a bit too much pride and hardly any gifting, with no experience and low IQ’s, with hardly any energy and no insight – who were we to help?? I started feeling like the world was very big and I was very small and stuck in a tiny box – doomed to repeat and repeat and repeat and to burn and burn and burn.
So, it all seemed like it was going to shit in my head. Until this week. I started getting some divine intervention, I would call it.
SO, yeah – I felt stuck and weighed down. Honestly, I still do. But it wouldn’t be walking in faith if it were easy all the time, would it? I feel very fortunate to have opportunities to choose God’s ways instead of my own and despite my feelings. And I feel like God is pushing me forward, not letting me miss anything I’d regret. And I feel he is catching me before I hit the ground, right at the last second, when I’m about to crack my head open – saving me by whispering little truths into my ears to KEEP GOING. That he is there, that he loves me, that life is worth it, that people are worth everything, and to keep seeking him because it is there I will find the peace and joy I am looking for.
I am so blessed to have Jesus in me. I am so blessed to be able to interact with God – a two-way relationship where I sometimes even feel him at work in me, correcting me, encouraging me, loving me, strengthening me and more.
I cannot walk away from the day and say that God was not at work here – he is always! His hands are so obvious. And it’s so funny to think that I have wasted so many recent days on feeling hopeless and despairing. No, life with him is an adventure every step. It DOES NOT feel that way most times, but when I take a step back – there is NO denying it! God is there, he is holding our hands, he knows me, he rejoices in me and he knows where my foot will fall.
I’ve hated my head for many reasons over the years; for what goes on in it and what’s on the outside of it. But here I am, hating it even more for just what it is: a head. Full of pain.
For the past few months now, I’ve been having a lot of pain. It’s really a let-down when you hear the cause so I’ll just say it now: “complex migraine.” Yep. A migraine. Well, it’s not just any old migraine, it’s complex, ya see, just like everything else about me. (HAHA.) I’ve had migraines since high school. The usual – painful, sensitive to light/sound, throbbing, pressure, eye-watering pain… I wish those were the days now. So, this year, I kept getting them – again, then again, then again. Worse & worse & worse. Till one day, it was so bad and so long and so different, I went to the ER. I thought I was having a stroke. My left side went numb, I lost vision in my left eye, words weren’t forming, I was having trouble breathing, and I had such pain everywhere. And the world was spinning around me like I was on a roller coaster. So, to the ER we went for them to tell me nothing.
Weeks go by, and I get into a neurologist. (After my doctor also had no answers.) Even in the waiting room for the neurologist, my hands went numb. But at this point in life, it was a daily thing. My hands went numb and the room spun and my head pounded within itself all day and all night. In the room, he told me about complex migraines. Sounded right. But then, I have some previous health stuff that made it a concern, worried him that one of mine may get “stuck” so that I may have a stroke… So I got on some seizure medication. And that was stupid. I experienced spinning in a whole new way! I couldn’t drive, I was drowsy, a side effect is literally: inability to concentrate. Another one is: panic attacks. But my migraines went away… for two weeks. Only to come back full force while I was teaching my Bible study. So I stopped, sat down, and tried to stop from crying. My lips weren’t forming words. It lasted three days. Sleeping didn’t help… I had my first panic attack and my body was really cold for a really long time. And then I had another one two days later.
So, I have a stuck migraine that could lead to a stroke. What does it mean? When the pain is the hardest and my chest isn’t cooperating, then I think: this could be my last day here. And that’s scary to me. And so sad. Much more sad than I thought I’d be…
So, that’s the purpose of this blog. To confess: if I died tonight, I wouldn’t be OK with it. At all. I wrote a blog a while ago (last time I almost died) about how I WOULD be OK with that. And I would have – back then. Today, life is different. Today, I have much more invested in life. I have a life with my husband and my house. I couldn’t imagine leaving him. I couldn’t imagine leaving my friends. I couldn’t imagine leaving my family. So, I am just NOT OK with dying. God, did you hear that? He knows. And it’s terrifying. It’s challenging my view of God because now I think: will he smite me for controlling this? Since I don’t have enough faith as I thought, will he just take me out for trying to be in control? Why would be trust his work to a fearful, present-life clinging girl?
I’ve invested my life in this life. Is that so wrong? I think, as much as it pains me to say: it is. Oh yes, it is. My favorite verse that I even have tattooed on me, for Christ’s sake, refers to the hope that we have that IS NOT in this life at all! (Romans 5:5) It’s in the life to come. The “celestial city”. The life when I’m no longer flawed Elli, but completed Elli, standing next to my Father, between him and my Jesus, grasping at them, kissing their hands, as they stroke my head, assuring me that finally I can rest and everything is OK, and that peace is here with them. I’m sure laughing at all the stupid things I’ve told them over the years & asked for. Asking all the questions weighing on my heart. And hopefully, oh I hope, hearing the words, “Well done, my good & faithful servant.” That’s where I should be placing my hope. And I’m such a shallow, feelings led, limited thinker that I can’t see past the tragedy. I can’t see that no matter what, Zak will be OK without me – since Jesus will take care of him in my absence. So will my family and my friends. And I’ll get to watch them finish the fight without me, but greet them all with open arms when they are done. It’ll be so cool. Because I’ll get to live with them forever, not just now.
I always say – we get to take people to heaven, that’s it. But now, I’m kind of forced to face that for what it is: do you really believe you’ll be spending eternity with these people? Then why not be able to give them up now? Because they’re not yours. And your life isn’t yours. And God has so much for you – in heaven when you get there, whenever you get there. Just trust him.
Maybe it’s now. Maybe it’s in years. Just trust your Father who has come through on everything for you. He just wants you to trust him.
Anyway, I don’t think I’m going to die tomorrow BUT sometimes I feel like it. The pain hurts and slipping in and out of consciousness uncontrollably is quite scary. However, knowing I have peace in my best friend, my Savior, my comforter, my master, my Lord, my God… It’ll be OK whatever happens. Just thought I’d share this little part of my drama.
“My father! My father! I see the chariots and charioteers of Israel!”
A couple of days ago, I finally decided to pull the plug; I deleted Snap chat and Twitter from my phone. (SHOCKING.) I still have Facebook and Instagram. My goal is, in one year, to have deleted all other apps but Facebook. (It just is so useful to communicate with people.) I still allow myself access to Twitter on my laptop and I’m assuming that alone will cut my usage of it by 75%. Why did I do this? I came to the conclusion a while ago that not only was I spending WAY too much time on my phone, I spend MORE time on it than ever before! (My addiction is growing.)
As the months passed, I continued telling myself my phone usage wasn’t that big of a deal. I mean, it’s MY down time. I think it’s fun, relaxing, and refreshing to spend mindless time on my phone. Why not get some down time for my brain? It went on like this for a while until one day I “woke up” from an HOUR session thinking, “Where did the time go? What did I just look at?” I realized I had opened one app, closed it, opened a different one, gone back to the previous one, opened another different one, etc. That was the reality of that hour: over and over again, checking for anything new, anything stimulating, anything to entertain me. And I wasted a whole hour. What did I do? Nothing. I filled my mind with literally nothing.
That’s sad. I am sad that I wasted time. Time that could have been spent with someone, thinking about someone, listening to a teaching, reading a book, studying the Word, actually hanging out with a person… Any number of more productive options! Instead, that hour was spent on social media/email/Pinterest/games/etc. – being mindlessly entertained.
It’s remarkable to see how far technology has gone to draw us in. I look at younger generations and I tremble: do they even know what they’re up against? Do I even understand the extent of our culture’s ability to suck mind power away from people? I can’t begin to imagine the extent, but when I try, and step back to analyze the situation, I am struck by fear. Not only is it social media, but articles, images, songs, TV shows, video games – there are so many things fighting to fill our heads.
The question is – what will we let win the battleground of the mind?
Whatever we choose to fill our heads will rule our life. Whether that is social media, video games, Netflix, online shopping – where we put our focus becomes the most important thing in our lives. Isn’t that scary? If I fill my head with useless shit I will miss opportunities, I will become numb to certain ways of thinking, my critical thinking skills will dull. I have no responses to certain people/situations, I become lazy, more selfish (than usual), heartless, obsessed with material things, wanting immediate pleasure. I’m speaking from experience, here! That is what happens to me when I don’t take the time to train my mind or when I let it run unleashed.
Take a look at these verses. They illustrate the effect our thinking has on our lives:
Are we going to let these things rule and waste our lives? There’s a wonderful book published in the 70s titled “The Christian Use of Emotional Power” wherein the author describes how our thoughts control our feelings which control our actions. This book convinced me that the infantile motto “I can’t control how I feel” is false. You can. Because you CAN control your thoughts. (**For the most part.) I know, every emotional teen girl would punch me for saying that, but it is possible! This truth set me FREE. Of course, it was a struggle and it continues to be a battle, but controlling your thoughts can change your life (see Romans 12 again.)
To my fellow iGen and Millenials, I hope you can also decide to win the fight that is happening to fill your head. You can take control not only in your emotions, but also in what you DO and what you let your mind SEE – you are the gatekeeper for what enters your head and you can police what is going on in there. It is your greatest weapon. Let us not be sucked away, sucked in, then thrown away by the trash we encounter. Rather, let us fill it with truth, with challenges, with gratitude.
Slowly, but surely, you will experience an enormous weight lifted from your mind, the freshness of clear-thinking, and the ability to become more like Christ.
In my experience, this is what you will encounter:
Lastly, the fear I have most for us young, easily distracted, entertainment addicted people is that we’ll have calloused minds unable to be “shrewd as serpents”. With all of the issues piling up around us, on us, and on those we love – we can’t afford to have our minds taken out of the fight…
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
*If you find yourself struggling with phone addiction (yes, I said addiction, ugh) check out these tips. I’ve not only deleted some apps, but turned off notifications and set my phone to gray scale. I think these restrictions are useful and would fall under the self-control point of this journey.
**I acknowledge that there are certain thoughts and feelings we cannot control. These may occur from circumstances outside of us (such as abuse or even spiritual attack.) But for the purpose of this article: I’m talking about selfish things we let our minds think, which many of us think are uncontrolled, but are actually able to be tamed.
P.s. Thank you Zak, Alex & Megan for editing!
Sidewalks, beaches, cliffs & more/
Challenging each other to all out war…
Walking to your houses around the block/
Late night hikes, a scare plan to shock…
Growing up and seeing so much change/
In us, in life, in our group – it can be strange…
We’d stay best friends forever, all of us would/
But I think it’s better that we didn’t, even if we could…
I’m so glad you’re still here today,
I can simply reach out with something to say
& you’d be there for me, like you were for years,
Always ready to laugh or with open ears.
Sometimes, I get sad that we’re so close yet
So far. But I get to watch & smile. Cause we met
& my life was saved because of you –
My childhood, teenage, lifelong crew.
And all the breaking, fighting, laughing, changing we’ve been through –
I can’t wait to look back, recount it, to hold, all of you…
In heaven (of course) when we’re done doing what we’re bred for,
When we’ve finished our race & when we’ve won.
What a year. What – a – year! I look back at 2017 in total shock & awe. WHAT just HAPPENED? First of all – it flew by. My 25th year of life made me feel very old, but very young at the same time. And talk about HILLS and VALLEYS! Oh my… There were SO MANY ups & downs. I can’t believe it! I really, really can’t.
Here are a few highlights (& lowlights?):
David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him. But David found strength in the Lord his God. Then he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring me the ephod!” So Abiathar brought it. Then David asked the Lord, “Should I chase after this band of raiders? Will I catch them?” And the Lord told him, “Yes, go after them. You will surely recover everything that was taken from you!”
From these verses, even after everything David did, he finally turned to God for STRENGTH & then for GUIDANCE. So, I started doing that. Everyday, I’d pick up the Word & ask God the same two things: 1. Can you please strengthen me w/ your power today? 2. Can you please give my your guidance? (NOT mine, not what I think or how I think it should be… YOURS.) It’s been wonderful.
It is there.
As I mask it with ribbon & tape,
As I use these gifts & song to cope,
As I wish & wonder & hope,
It doesn’t go away.
It’s still there –
The fact that life… sucks.
It hurts. It squashes. It burns.
People pass & they… hurt.
Such a small word for something so…
Mighty. So altering, so meaningful.
Oh, the pain they feel – I feel.
I wish I could take it away!
But it won’t go away.
Maybe it will & then –
It comes back! Something new
To torment them.
And it sucks.
I wish I had the words for them,
Yet as I see the pain many see,
Sometimes it doesn’t sting.
Sometimes, I can smile.
Sometimes, I can breathe.
I can take in the beauty around me
Without seeing the death.
I can hear the sweet songs
Without the sad notes.
I can be rid of this prevailing reality –
And be consumed in a warm, never-ending embrace –
One shoulder I can cry, whom strokes my head,
As he wipes every tear from my eye,
He says he’ll get me through the pain,
And bring me to the end.
Where joy lives and where he conquers death.
(Those are the words I have… Thankful for the Prince of Peace sent to the world to rid it of all the sadness – someday – and presently, to give us hope & peace while we wait for eternity.)
Nothing out there for me
Trying, trying, trying to find
Something, something, to fill my mind.
With no answers, there is no end.
With no answers, what can be said?
Making up what I can to satisfy
The wants of my open mind.
But nothing will fill that gaping hole
That tries and wants and needs full.
It’s all just nothing out there,
Where they claim to bear
This is what I have to say:
If I could leave the world a word
I know it would go unheard.
But if anyone would care to share
This is the message I would bear:
God came down a person, real
to help, to hear, to start to heal.
He came to show all of the hope
that allows us in this darkness to cope.
I’d say to you: this isn’t a choice,
He’s a real being, a real voice.
I’d tell the ones I love to CEASE:
God is offering a great peace!
That you cannot get on your own
So stop living life as just ONE!
He offers forever with him,
Please: go out on a limb.
Ask him to allow you to understand
I assure you, he will stick out his hand.
He will show you that we are broken
and that is hard to hear once spoken.
But not without hope for he has an offer.
Forgiveness it is and he is the author.
So, please, reach out to the greatest Father,
Who wishes us all be sons & daughters.
I have been viewing losses as fail
And effort like breaking out of jail.
I’ve looked and said: “please, help!
I’m searching & there’s no hope I’ve felt.”
Yet, you’re always guiding, turning
Me and answering my yearning
Telling me: “Daughter, it’s going to be okay!”
Since his will is perfect & good
And his love is more than it should.
And even if I lose every single thing
To him, my heart, I will still cling.
At the gates he’ll yell: “what did I say!”
And every single thing will be okay.