I’ve considered many times how I might write an update on my journey through this back injury, after my post about coping brought on such an overwhelming response from my friends and family. Seriously, my Uncle Gary called me from Texas because he had heard about it through facebook and was worried. I love my Uncle Gary so much.
I am really still amazed at the support that poured out. Friends sent me private messages, texts and calls. Others sent me little uplifting gifts in the mail with encouraging cards. It was humbling and tendered me very deeply- still does as I reflect on all of what the last 4 weeks has brought. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I focused on the love that people had for me and tried to love myself through it, despite my frustrations. Loving yourself through a difficult experience is a distinct effort and choice you have to make every day. It’s not very easy. It requires conscious thought, effort and renewal every day, sometimes numerous times, depending on what the day may bring!
When I think back on the the last 6 months, I see two distinct themes that emerged which have safely delivered me back to the point I’m at now.
A friend at Crossfit, who is just a downright great person, suggested I read it to help find purpose in what I was going through. The author, who was a psychiatrist that survived several years in Auschwitz, wrote a book not entirely about his experiences there, but more how he developed his idea of logotherapy because of what he experienced, and the importance of finding meaning in your suffering. That realization is critical to survival. If nothing more, I clung to a phrase he quoted numerous times throughout the book by Nietzsche, “He who has a Why to live for, can bear almost any How.” I cherish that. I could dedicate multiple blog posts on tid-bits in that book, and how they left me weeping at the beauty and truth in them. I spent many nights reading and re-reading certain parts and finding new ways to think about love, life, and all the meanings within. I highly recommend this book to everyone- it will have a profound impact on you no matter what you believe.
The second pillar that re-materialized was my relationship with God. I gave my heart to Jesus when I was a teenager and, like many, have walked near and far since that time. Ultimately, God calls us to Him in all situations, but I believe he allows us to wander for his own divine purposes too. Much like a shepherd watching a flock, his sheep are always within his sight, though they may roam freely away from him as they choose.
I find though, that God wants our hearts every day; it’s not a one and done deal. He already knows what is buried in it, but so loves to hear us reveal it in our own words. There is this song that I love so much that I find myself singing and the words are so simple but so meaningful.
God you know my heart. I’ve laid it down before you. God you know my deep desires; how I only want to honor you. And I know, that you’ve got the desires of my heart, and you’ve got them set apart. And you know the better thing, and I’ve simply got to trust, that if you choose not to give me what I want you’ll give me something better.
This constant confession has been my staff as I’ve walked through this valley. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the meaning of it all too. And, I don’t think that in my earthly limitations, I could know what His purposes have been to allow me to go through this, but I have some ideas.
I fell in love with Crossfit instantly – you know. I’ve blogged about it over and over again. It changed my life forever and before too long, I discovered the version of myself I always wanted to find. But somewhere in there, my focus turned into a self-inflating blur. I set aside other things and elevated my own self and this new identity I felt I had earned. As I’ve prayed on this, I’ve felt that perhaps God allowed me this set back to show me two truths. The first, is that He is the giver and taker of the desires of my heart and my joy should not be conditional on one or the other. Period. The second, is that He is the center and the glory of it all. Not ME, not Crossfit, not a PR, not a sweet potato instead of a white potato, and not anyone or anything else that I am chasing or trying to emulate in my training. The bible has much to say about idolatry and the worship of false gods. I can see in my self that I began to worship all of the wrong things.
Don’t mishear me though! The realization that “God is the giver and taker of all of what I want and my joy shouldn’t be conditional” is not easy to swallow. Yes, maybe now I am acutely aware of this, but that doesn’t mean I’m suddenly out of the woods. This is I think, one of my greatest challenges, but I accept it because I don’t always know the plan. It is not really my plan after all. So my faith requires trust, and that trust is what my focus should center on. Even when I can’t see through it.
I love this illustration because it really is just that.
…and I’ve simply got to trust, that if you choose not to give me what I want you’ll give me something better.
When I was at my worst suffering (after my coping post) I accepted that this was not on my own terms anymore. Until then, I begrudgingly bartered with myself, making a plan and then abandoning the plan when it didn’t fall together like I had wanted. I finally had to surrender all of that. I had no choice but to give it all away to God because my sanity and my spirit couldn’t take the burden of it anymore. Quite literally, my mind started to lose control of itself.
Since October, I’ve had two MRis, a CT scan, and multiple sets of X-Rays. I thought about totaling up the amount of co-pays from the Spine Doc, the Chiro, the physical therapy, and the pharmacy, but I won’t. 🙂 I wonder how many times my mind has been consumed with worry. After all of that, all of my scans have come back normal. My bloodwork is near perfect. There has been nothing medically wrong with me to diagnose as cause for the crippling state I’ve been in since June. I stepped away from “my life” at the end of September and sidelined all that I felt made me whole in order to try and heal. And somewhere toward the end of November, things started to shift.
Over and over God began revealing his presence in all of it. A co-worker of mine, Andrew, prayed over me every day that we took a business trip together. He would specifically ask for healing on my behalf. An amazing couple from our Crossfit gym invited us over to dinner, and prayed over me too- gently asking God to provide what I needed to get better. Our good friend David invited us to his church, and we went. And then we went back, and find ourselves making plans to go back again. One of my Crossfit coaches openly commiserated with me on how she’s endured similar struggles of the body and mind and how that impacted her Christian walk. True empathy is a potent medicine for the spirit.
A week ago, I began to feel better. I stopped taking any type of medicine and stopped wearing a pain patch. I discovered I could bend over at the waist normally, and the day before Thanksgiving, I even washed the X5 while Rob was at work as a surprise for him. I was able to bend and stoop and move around and I felt so thankful!! I started smiling again. I drank a lot of Egg Nog. And after multiple days in a row of being comfortable under normal movement, I decided to visit CFHSV and see my friends, and do a little work out.
And it felt awesome. So I went back and did another. And I got sore, but the good kind of sore. And here I am, slowly, SLOWLY, piecing back in the components of my heart that God wanted me to have all along, but I’m doing it on His terms and not my own. And by that I mean that I’m not making any kind of plan with any of this, but instead taking each of these opportunities to get back as gifts. Because, doing what we love is a gift. It’s not guaranteed, not our right, not belonging to us. So I appreciate it so much more now, and recognize that it not of me, or from me that I can do anything.
I asked Rob to take this picture so that I could send it to the friend who sent me this shirt when I was feeling down. He had the shirt made for me, using the Sorcates quote at the top of my blog banner, and replaced the word man, with woman. The gesture meant so much to me, and I felt so happy to finally have the chance to wear it last night. This picture isn’t meant to be about me at all, except to proclaim that I am present. I am finding my way back.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)