When I Thought I Lost Me

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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.

Rest!

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?.

Covid-19 Blessing?!?

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.”

Value Plummet

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.

Trudging Along

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.

Nothing is.

Its not so bad to be still.

Deceived by Desire

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired…she took of the fruit thereof…” (Genesis chapter 3, verse 6)

Desires are a normal part of human existence. The problem is sometimes it quickly morphs into demand. Carolyn McCully says that demand is us closing our fist over the desire.

Desire

Desire, she says, “leads to demand, which re labels itself as a “need” and leads to expectation of fulfilment.” We make ourselves, hear things, and see signs, and make decisions that are not led by the Holy Spirit.

Like Eve we sit and stare at the fruit. It looks desirable, good for company, able to make us feel special and will be there for us and, like Eve, we succumb to the deception and take of the fruit. We doubt God’s goodwill for us and lay aside His commands. There is no possible way that what we see in front of us is not from God. Us not stepping out must be fear.

Scarier still is that we hide our desires ever so deftly behind spiritual confabulation. “God said.” “I believe God is leading”. This traps your friends into silence because who wants to be the Pharisee that says you haven’t heard from God.

Deception

I first met him where puppy dog dreams began – youth summer camp. He was outgoing and sporty. I didn’t think he would ever like a girl like me, so I put feelings aside and enjoyed a friendship.

We soon lost touch but somewhere between gumbo and mid year’s, in college we reconnected. Old friends bonded by similar culture and a love for the Lord, we enjoyed our frequent chats on the phone. Separated by state lines our conversations started out infrequent but eventually became staple part of our lives. My friends began to question but we just enjoyed our interactions with no pressures and what-ifs.

I don’t remember why I decided to pray about us. It probably seemed like the natural progression in the whole scheme of things. He was attractive and fit a lot of what I wanted in a mate, so I prayed. In my heart I sensed it clearly “no.” My quick disappointment faded. I was used to hearing God say no, and we were not entangled with romantic gestures, so I continued the normalcy of our friendship.

Deceived

Then he called. I can’t recall anything prior to his concerned voice on the other end of the line. As he prayed the Spirit ministered to my heart with such delicacy and fervour that I could not help but become overwhelmed. It was a short to the point call. He ended it after he said amen. I sat in my room in awe of the moment and then it happened.

As I laid in my bed praying the thought “this is the guy for you”, played deftly through the corridors of my mind. It didn’t sit right with me at first, because of the “no” previously impressed on my heart by God. I pushed it out of my mind yet it played again, questioning why God would not give me a good thing. I thought more on it, and although I had my misgivings my desires beckoned louder.

Truth got pushed further away the more I looked at what I desired. He was a godly man, good to me and was able to help me grow in the Lord.

A way out

The Bible explains in James that it is our lusts that draw us away. In order to escape the depravity that is our sinful nature the following principles from Scripture are helpful.

1. Spend more time with God.

Where was Eve as the deception occurred? The more time I spent talking with this guy, talking about this guy, thinking about talking to this guy the more my desire increased. There is this constant training in godliness where we daily let go of our desires and put God in His rightful place as we spend time with Him.

2. Hold your thoughts and desires alongside scriptures

Adam Marby in article How not be led by the Spirit, states “Attempting to follow the Spirit’s leading without the Bible is foolish at best and sinful at worst… It’s entirely possible that someone had a profound spiritual experience that led him or her to no longer trust the Bible. That’s deception. The Spirit himself tells us we’re to expect such deception (2 Corinthians chapter 11 verse 14). The Spirit wrote a book, so being led by him starts there.” If what you believe you are to do does not line up with scripture and its principles, you are being deceived.

3. Get counselling

A sure-fire way to not walk with the Spirit is to try to walk by yourself. The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel. (Proverbs chapter 12, verse 15). Throughout the Scripture we see evidence that in order to live a Spirit-filled life it is important that we are being led into and among his people. “God—at the infinite cost of his life—has given us not just a spiritual relationship with himself, but also with each other.” Adam Marby

As Adam Marby states, “Sin is deceptive, and our desires even more so. So, in order to guard ourselves let us spend time listening to his Word, his people, his wisdom, and his ways.” Doing this will increase the ease of being led by the Spirit. If not, it’s open season for deception