It’s been an interesting five months of recovery from a car accident I was in. New normal for me is less about masks and social distance and more about length of time in a position and type of weights carried.
The first month after the accident I was the hardest patient to have. I didn’t take my injuries to heart as I was under the belief that I was going to bounce back in no time. Its always at the beginning of a struggle that you feel most motivated that this will pass.
Friends, encouragement, prayers, visits, and gifts enveloped me in a shroud of hope and I felt impermeable. I would make plans to go the the beach, worship nights, bowling, meetings, bible study – all of it. Life was the same just take your time and go was how I was treating it. I was undeterred. I was polite to the persons with their recurrent protests to my ideas. “Stacy, you need to rest.” They were so caring.
I don’t rest. If I stop I take forever to start back or I don’t start back at all. I was determined that this year I was going to be disciplined, hardworking, consistent. It was my Instagram pre-new years post, and that is a good as a contract, right? Furthermore action is what I do. Action is who I am.
I barely obliged the reminders to rest. No, I didn’t go to the beach. I didn’t go to the worship night… but I still had meetings… WIN: ..Right?.
I could do all I could and be all I could be via technology. I set meetings for outreach. I attended meetings for church. I took on virtual speaking engagements. I can do this!
But my body protested and the pain got worse.
False Starts and Hopelessness
I finally began physical therapy as one medical professional braved the first wave of the Covid scare. I aggressively sought out therapies online. I preempted almost every visit with ideas I got from YouTube. Friends offered suggestions and articles made promises. I researched and prayed, and believed and encouraged (myself and others). I changed my diet, began taking supplements and exercised twice a day for strengthening.
Every inch of relief brought hope. I was excited at the prospect of healing. I would always report progress and never setbacks. I didn’t want to let anybody down. They believed so hard. They prayed so consistently. My recurring pain would only cause them doubt. I would bear it myself.
But as the months continued and the pain was still my reality I began to doubt. My hope was faltering. Was I to stop beleiving for healing and start praying for grace to live this reality? The over thinking began.
Dont Take Who I am
What if I can’t do anymore? What if I can’t do the adventurous activities I always planned to do? What if I can’t go back to my daily jogs? What if I can’t dress up and be fabulous in heels? What if I can’t stand or sit at concerts?
Just like Peter on the waves, the gumption to jump out that ship was losing its effects and the water splashes, wave heights and evident distance between me and the finish line began to make me doubt.
Some days I watched dance videos. But with each music video I bemoaned how my once agile body couldn’t even rock from side to side without causing discomfort. The long lost love of dance loomed over my head. I felt ashamed for having delayed on prophecies to get back into it. “What have I done?” I thought. “Is this my consequence for waiting too long?” “God, I’m sorry.” I pleaded. “Please give me another chance.”
Hope continued to be shaken as other questions loomed in my head. Still the proverbial single Christian girl I analysed my “marketability“. “Who wants to marry the girl who has back problems? What kind of fun would I be?” Rolling on the floor with my kids; a romp in the bed with my husband, all might cause me pain and in the present state seemed improbable. “Who am I with this injury?” My value on the market seemed to plummet in front my eyes.
Oh the folly of the double-minded woman.
During this time I was still at the helm of my organization. We were in the line-up for a grant and I was working assiduously to put things in place. I had zoom meeting after zoom meeting laying down most of the time trying to be a good patient. I created protocols, set up teams, engaged vendors, outlaying a year long plan, researched things I never knew off, completed paperwork.
But one day I attended a training on trafficking, and it looked like they were doing the same program with the same people. I panicked. I felt the wind leaving me. What was happening? We may be working in vain.
My strength was there. God was keeping me going and I was being encouraged by community, divine recollection of songs, and quiet comforting words of the Holy Spirit. However, the disappointments wouldn’t stop. Pain was determined to manhandle my heart. I wasn’t prepared for the next section of this mountainous terrain – the worst relapse in pain and the resignation of a valuable team member from Pursued . I was pushing but now barely.
The devotions got dryer. I kept doing it. At least I was present. I knew that it was in the times we least desire to be in the Word that we need it most. But the physical pain kept coming in intermittently and sleep was becoming delayed, days were being missed and I was losing connection. I was there but not there. I couldn’t connect with God and I couldn’t connect with people.
“It’s easy to look the other way when confronted with grief or to busy oneself so as to not sit with grief long.” Jay Wolf (Hope Heals)
I wanted to keep doing but there was nothing left to “do”. No Pursued, no meetings, no socializing (thanks COVID!). One more disappointment came and it was the final straw that broke the camel’s back.. (the irony).
I had no more. No more. I could only just lay there on my bed. I played worship music to soothe my spirit. I couldn’t muster a word. I laid there motionless. In retrospect I can say finally, I suppose. Now I was still.
Journal Entry -August 19th
“I have never not wanted to talk to you, God. I have never lacked motivation. The truths are falling flat on my chest and not sinking in. I am not mad….
…I am mad this happened. it never had to. You are Sovereign.”…. .
” I have perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it so that people fear before him. ” Ecclesiastes 3:14
“Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:6
What a response. It was the beginning of me being still and allowing God to process. And what He showed me I needed to see.
Lesson 1: Stopping is Hard
The reason why I couldn’t stop when I got this back issue was because stopping was hard.
Stopping was hard because what I did, my accomplishments all of it became who I was. It was my way of saying, “hey, I don’t have the money like this one, or the looks like that one, but I am doing things for the kingdom”. It became my way of saying to every rejection I have ever experienced that I was worth something. “See, I did it!.”
Not only was it what I used to define me and qualify me, it was also what I used to distract me. With it I could avoid pain. Every accolade and well done was my drug. He didn’t like me, that’s okay, I helped a young girl at school today. I don’t have the house and car, its fine I own an organization. I was addicted to it. It meant more than God. Worse yet I believed it meant God favoured me.
I don’t believe I even knew this. I was too busy doing to see it. I don’t even know if it began this way but that was not important.
My deeper issue of validation and worth was still in need of a Jesus fix. It was just taking a different form. Being still God was able to do His work.
Lesson 2: Boast in the Lord
Journal entry August 28th
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” Jer. 9:23-24
“Boast in me. Boast in knowing me. Not intellect, looks, accomplishments. You know Me. That brings you before Kings, opens doors, validates you. I am ALL you need, babygirl. I love You.” These tender words drew me in to the the one who delights in me. It convicted and encouraged. Like the psalmist I delighted in His discipline.
..perhaps in the breaking of precious things, somethings even more precious than we can imagine might be unleashed. Perhaps in the breaking, we can find the healing we long for.” Jay Wolf Hope Heals.
I scheduled a week off from the world. No social media, no meetings, no plans. Just me and God, tempted though I was with thoughts in my head of things I could be doing. His kind words began to reverberate in my chest. Repenting, forgiving, processing and healing I surrendered expectations, disappointments, rejection all of it. All of which I don’t think would have happened except in the silence of loss.
Journal Entry August 31st
“We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. The LORD has made everything for His own purposes…” Prov. 16:-1-4.
God, you don’t ask for perfection, You ask for submission. Give me the grace to rest and be in submission., Father
Plans, People, Purpose there is a market to get right, get with and get at all of these things. Good things, some even God things as these gifts are given by the Maker. Some of them being needful and necessary but how quickly they become primary.
This struggle is as old as Genesis where the perfect gift was in a garden centuries ago. Without warning, without the many present day distractions, hard life experiences or disappointments the recipients of this gift turned their eyes towards the things making the temporal their ultimate delight.
The perfect Gift was never the the garden, its trees, and all its delights. It wasn’t their purpose of being fruitful and multiplying though a God given and blessed ordinance. It wasn’t even each other as divine their alignment and a certain gift from God. The gift was always the Garden Giver. I had lost sight. But God came in the stillness of my life to remind me nothing outside of Him is worthy of being primary.
Its not so bad to be still.