As I was driving to work this morning, I was listening to an account on 105.9 about how worship music has made an impact on one particular individual. I started reflecting on all that has happened in the past year or so and how my hearts desire in the good and in the bad truly is to worship God.
This past year has probably been one of the hardest in my adult life so far. There has been tremendous loss, heart break, health concerns, loneliness, and questions of my value in others' lives. There has also recently been a heart-wrenching (but very heart-healing) adventure to encounter new freedoms from old pains. But through it all, my go-to is worshiping at the feet of the Lord.
I have said it before - transparency is hard. I try. But really, I am terribly afraid of other people's opinions and possible rejection. And so, I keep most things hidden away inside of my heart. I don't think that it is the healthiest thing for a heart - and really it isn't the easiest - but it is a process that I am working through. On my bathroom mirror I have written, "My value is not found in the opinions of other's, but in knowing who and whose I am." I need to read this each day, to keep my heart focused on the truth. So, because I think it will be good for my own soul, I am going to write about some of the challenges of my journey over the past year and a half.
Loneliness: I feel like there is a vital piece of me missing! I am alone. Most all of my friends have moved away from the Austin area over the past year. I am not "attached" to any community. My day consists of caring for wonderful children, but there is not really any adult camaraderie. I have a church, but it is not a church home. I go, I worship, I listen, I leave. I have a couple of friends, but do not feel connected or know HOW to feel connected -- it isn't organic for me. And as the days go on, my soul longs more and more for a help-mate.
Grief: As I mentioned, many friends have moved away and there has been a need to mourn the loss of having someone to be with me ... to get coffee, have a fun shopping day, cook a meal, or just hang out with. I mostly do these things alone now, and it just isn't as much fun. In addition to friends moving, my oldest sister -- my very best friend in this world -- also moved ... to Arizona. I miss her so much! Sure we talk, but I miss "Baby Sister Day", sister hugs, and lazy Sunday afternoon movies with her and her husband. And from that list, I think it's the hugs that I miss the most. To add to this sadness, in April (almost one year ago) my dear Grandfather (Mom's Dad) passed away and then less than six months later my Grandmother (Father's Mom) passed away. She was my last living grandparent, and having her pass away made my heart feel so very empty. And grief does not limit itself to the loss of relationships - I have also grieved health issues, childhood pain, and other "losses".
Health: My battle continues. 7 years ago I had debilitating migraines, severe pain, loss of ability to move properly, and a myriad of other "symptoms" that made no sense. With many doctors looking at me like I was either insane, excessively needy, or just a hypochondriac; I continued to pursue "figuring out" what was "wrong" with me. Finally, I said the right combination of things to the right doctor (who by the way had encouragingly and repeatedly told me that he would not give up on me) and a diagnosis came in the summer of 2007 -- Advanced Rheumatoid Arthritis with organ involvement (or what the Dr. refers to as Lupus Tendency). I immediately went into a rigorous treatment plan involving some horrible medications. Shortly after the diagnosis of RA, came the addition of Celiac Sprue Disease. And shortly after that, my list of food allergies began to exponentially multiply. Although this all occurred over a long period of time, my body has continued to attack itself to the point that last year the proverbial rug got pulled out from underneath me. I do not have health insurance and because of that, once I got to a "maintenance" point in RA treatment, I stopped taking most all prescription medications. There was an immense amount of provision from the Lord to get me to this point and I do not in any way want to discredit the miraculous thing that this was! However, a little over a year ago I had an injury to my neck that led to a herniated disc. Treatment began for this, but I was in an overwhelming amount of pain - which led to additional flare-ups of RA, which led to additional joint damage and fatigue, which led to a further compromised immune system, which led to an additional need for medications... And so the saga goes! I have been doing my very best to manage my health, but I feel extraordinarily limited. I am in pain - both physical and emotional - and I am weary!
Finances: Isn't it always the case that we could think of a thousand ways to spend just a little extra money? I am always very reticent to mention finances because I want to be sensitive to my readers. And even more-so, it is very important to me to have a grateful heart! The challenge is that I also want to be able to be honest about where I need prayer, support, and a greater measure of faith! This is it. And very very honestly, health is the largest financial fight that I have! I have been amazingly blessed several times this past year in the way of finances. In part because of this, I don't stress about money nearly as much as I once did. I have learned that somehow it usually works out. :) Having said that, I do still experience stress here. There has not been a single month in the past year that I haven't needed financial support in some way. I HATE IT!!! I am a very independent person AND I really do want to be a self-supporting real-life grown up! Not to mention I feel like I am not able to prepare for the future because I am so financially caught in the moment.
So where does that bring me? First of all, please do not read this and think that I have forgotten all of the good things this year has brought. There has been much to rejoice over and thank the Lord for! And that is where this started! Through all of this pain and misery, I find myself lost in worship! When my heart aches, I am before the Lord seeking comfort. When I am overwhelmed with gratitude, I am in His presence declaring His might and faithfulness!
And through it all I can smile, laugh, rest, and declare that God is good...ALL THE TIME!