Re-commitment Revelations Found in the Wilderness of Distractions

So many things have happened since I last blogged about my unique take on friendship and, being a mom and wife in Christ… No writing has been happening, but I have cleared my office of a lot of completed yet unsuitable manuscripts that had been gathering dust. And, I’ve spent about 10 months not sleeping at night, along with my husband. And, finally, I’ve asked God the Holy Spirit to clean house inside of me. Look, be a w a r e that when you ask for something like healing or growth in any area: You’re actually asking to see the dank basement areas inside of you – the places with the cobwebs… The places that loved darkness more than the light…

You’re gonna need the grace of God to reveal Himself as Christ then – if you’re going to be able to handle the Pandora’s Box that prayers like that open up before us. You’re going to need God’s hand on you (His power). You’re going to need His love.

When I started praying for patience and inner healing and searching for places to feed my starving Spirit (Wo)man the Word of God, I came across lots of podcasts and social media posts that made the hairs on my arms stand up.

Episode 67 of The Love and Respect Podcast: Relationships | Marriage | Theology | Psychology, “Parenting God’s Way Part I,” told me that whenever (an older, nearly independent) child does the wrong thing (something with which we do not agree), our model as Christian parents is the father of the prodigal. That was big and new to me. Joel Osteen preaching about the effects of mental magnification – like holding up a quarter near our eye and how it would block the sun (appearing bigger than what is billions of times the quarter’s size) – made me think of Mary: “My soul magnifies the Lord…” (Luke 1:46.) Understanding that what we magnify distorts our perspective, gave me something to say when I got a call from someone who felt like a bad grade was threatening to blot out her hope for a career she’s  dreamed of… Joyce Meyer’s prayer journal, starting and ending your day devotionals, together with her advice about asking God who we can bless every day, led me to be a blessing and, to write prayers…and see them answered. Tony Evans’ Instagram prompt – to read Joshua 24 each day one week, was such a powerful reminder that we need to remember – that God is good…and the cause of every victory. Ron Carpenter, in the short time since I Holy-Spirit-stumbled into him preaching on the Hillsong Channel, has shown me in many ways: We really are only as delivered and victorious as we have been cleansed with the washing of the word, having our minds renewed, and having grown in knowledge… And then Stephanie Ike’s Instagram photo with Dr. Caroline Leaf made me stop and listen to her The Same Room podcast, which made me compulsively take notes 📝 for my family’s sake. And that podcast made me subscribe to Dr. Caroline Leaf’s podcast, and ☝🏾 O N E episode (“#64 How to help teenagers and young children deal with identity issues”) made me realize: I’m a bad parent. I’m literally doing everything (most of the time) exactly wrong! That’s a huge realization to swallow, but I’ve been praying. And in my prayer journal I asked to know these things – to be led by God the Holy Spirit into such understanding. So, that’s an answered prayer I can record, a token of His faithfulness.

And God gave me the grace to swallow and repent (changing direction); I’m already forgiven, and as Joseph Prince said in a sermon: Jesus didn’t say, “It’s almost done, now do your part!” from the Cross; He said, “It is finished!” so there is no more unforgiven sin, no breach between me and God for my works to cross. Therefore, as much as I can accept and take on the truth that I’m a bad mom is as much as I can be changed and healed. Paraphrasing DeeDee Freeman’s Instagram post, An excuse is an invitation to see the same issue again. Therefore, I feel good about recognizing where I am, accepting it with a big gulp, and turning c o m p l e t e l y in the other direction.

I almost forgot to credit God for using Ron Carpenter’s Game Changers series to help me see that being a servant and a living sacrifice – setting aside my own wisdom and my own dreams and my own isolated independence from other Christians in an organized setting – is the way to find out who I truly am in Christ. That is, the woman God crafted me to be – the me that is living according to His calling, purpose, and good plan… I have to be willing to set aside my own authority and selfishness to see that happen, and I’m renewing my mind to relieve the cognitive dissonance between that truth and the will of my soul.

Thank God for the revelation of His grace, which was a secret, riches stored in His Son and unearthed circa 2000 years ago. (TD Jakes posted Isaiah 45:3 on his Instagram, and God the Holy Spirit cross-referenced it for me in Ephesians 1:3-9.)

The Race

It’s been a weird journey, and recovery in The Post Emergency C-Section Tunnel is the latest pit stop. My marriage, my motherhood, and my investment as a friend – every aspect of relationship – is in that dark place, the tunnel.

Sometimes I forget that I’m not all the way back. Not by a long shot… But I also cry a lot. Because it’s hard.

I feel like a million bucks in the morning and a million years old by early afternoon; and it’s hard, even though I prayed for this baby and wanted her for all these 7 years. Even when I resigned myself to the possibility that the motherhood part of my womanhood might be a memory and deeply mourned that change, I wanted this baby. But it’s hard, and I cry a lot.

Partially because of something I heard in a sermon recently: Experience reveals our weaknesses. And Hubby and I have never had a baby in our forties…7 years later, like starting over again. It is, in a lot of ways, like being first time parents again. Except, of course, in the ways that it isn’t, like in our being the parents of 3 other kids who’d settled into the reality of a family…of individuals – all with their own significant measure of independence.

Babies don’t want to leave you. This baby didn’t want to leave my womb, ostensibly. Babies want you and want to know you deeply, trust you instinctively, and need you for everything. Every day after birth, this baby will (as all babies do) grow away from her parents. From me. She’ll grow into her own significant measure of independence.

But today, she watched me do everything, and she wasn’t just happy to watch me…as I watched my phone or the tv; No, she wanted to stare into my eyes and imprint everything about me into her soul – my skin with its blotches, and my hair. Today it (the hair) was too messy to be seen pushing her in her stroller, even for the shortest walk. Today there are gray curls where they weren’t when we took the pregnancy test that confirmed she was coming.

Today, Experience has made me afraid of the very things of which I once dreamed, made me doubt the things that I felt anchored me.

But the thing about being at this pit stop of life, about being in the darkness of the tunnel…is you don’t know exactly where you are or, when you’re almost out. You don’t know til the light starts to blind you.

This is one of those pit stops along the race – one with the table full of cups of water and surrounded by the litter of all the people who made it there before you (SEE ALSO, II Timothy 4:7.) And just like in the race you’re envisioning – your 5k or, my half-marathon, you have to realize: It doesn’t matter who or how many made it there before you. It doesn’t matter who’s running beside you, who’s out in front, or who might be drafting you (in the unlikely event that that is even happening)… The race is yours. It’s personal. And the race I’m talking about is the one with a finish line in heaven, where Jesus Christ is Himself the light and there is no darkness, ever.

And this pit stop, no matter how tough a place to abide, has to be viewed in that light…so we keep looking up up toward and, listening for God.

How God Heals Us

I just thanked God. For all the “delivery systems” of His grace and love in my life… Even in the midst of the changes that scare me, and the doubts… As I watch the child who was the “baby” for 7 years seemingly come unanchored from all the certainty that made her the John in the parable of our relationship – the one who rested assured of the love of Jesus Christ for him… Loved ones who have observed us have asked aloud whether the former “baby” will become a “Lost Child.” Which is a nightmare, it should go without saying…

I have to listen, my heart breaking, to my children as they call out for me…before they remember that it’s Daddy whom they want now; because, he is the one who tends to their needs now. He’s the one who makes the lunches, as I recuperate from my Emergency C-section, hobbling around with my 3-5 month “pregnant,” deflating belly 2 weeks later. He waits outside with them for the bus and makes their meals and answers their incessant demands – the ones I miss now that they have been detoured away from me to my partner.

And my partner is tired of being primary caregiver to 4 children and a nagging, sickly wife. Even though I do blame him, in all honesty… Also, in all honesty, if it were the other way around after 2 weeks, I would go outside somewhere and leave my cell phone behind. Just so I could breathe and get a good whiff of freedom… I’d have to get away and pretend for a little while that things were normal, too.

Because we have not achieved that new normal yet. We’ve barely managed to keep our heads above water on this part of the water ride, y’all. But there is a glimpse of hope on the horizon that we follow doggedly, almost against our will. Christ in us must be pulling us toward that light the same way the new baby’s cries convince me to feed her again – through the pain.

And people bring us meals. They bring us gifts. They spend time with us and take the kids on fun missions that don’t focus on the new baby. They agree to take The Littles to activities that they otherwise would have missed. These acts of generosity and friendship and family represent the system by which God delivers His grace. His love… And they staple our transition wounds back together. They tape the openings closed where infection could otherwise seep in. These people that God has given to love and to care for us are one way that God heals us.

14For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. 15Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. 16And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Hebrews 13 (New American Standard Bible.) That’s what came to mind as I thought about how, even as I doubt and fear for the future, I thank God – sacrifice of praise. I always feel like the speaking of what I know about God – even when it doesn’t feel good – changes my reality. So, I praise. I worship. I pray.

Messy Miracles

With no judgment – none from me in my postpartum messy soul and, none from anyone else… Because no one else knew… Well, in that condition 🤦🏽‍♀️ I drove during my c-section prohibition.

Only God got me home safe.

I went to church, arriving 5 minutes after the first service ended; that’s how I chose to rebel against Doctor’s orders.

Single moms “rebel,” because they have no partners to help.

Moms with other kids “rebel,” because there are needs beyond New Baby’s. Bedrest isn’t an option, and the helpful nurses and helpful drugs don’t come home with her from the hospital. Let me be clear ☝🏾 Mom Rebels are not 🙅🏽‍♀️the people rifling through Medela pump 🤱🏽kits for their nipple tops for personal use or financial gain 🤦🏽‍♀️🙍🏽‍♀️

I became a Mom Rebel, because I had a deadline to wellness: Hubby had ✌🏾 weeks before he had to return to work. The span between the end of Hubby’s parental leave and my due date was an incubation period during which I decided: You must force yourself from larva to full butterfly 🦋 . Your wings can be a little wet, but you have to be ready.

And that resignation meant to me: Straddle. A healing person shouldn’t straddle – that is, between Healing and Business As Usual. But I couldn’t be needy of anything when he returned to work for our family either, could I?

This thinking made me refuse to push nurse call lights so I would have to do…whatever…alone. I refused to use the bars in the powder room to leverage my weight… Because there are no such bars in our bath; I wouldn’t have that help, and I didn’t want to teach myself to rely on temporary help.

But…I’m a milky, sweaty mess. My emotions are mercury, racing through me without boundaries or alarms. I slide from one to another without warning. And I can’t make my family and friends into appendages of my actual body; so, what I want to get done and will to be done…are just frustrating dreams drowning in the impotence that comes with physical limitations.

As I said, I’m a mess. My family dynamics are a mess. It’s falling apart. But I believe it will grow back up – into a New Order of Family.

Here, too – between what my eyes tell me and the future for which faith gives me hope – is another painful straddle.

Now faith is the conviction concerning those things that are in hope, as if it were these things in action, and the revelation of those things that are unseen…

Hebrews 11:1 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English.)

 

 

Healed but not Whole

Some of us think healing is something God gives arbitrarily – that is, if He feels like it and without explanation. God doesn’t have to explain, but I have to ask myself: Does this idea match what I know of God and His character?

Some people think that God will heal you, but only if you have enough faith to grab hold of it. In other words, He’s tossing the tennis ball over the net, but we have got to be standing in the right place or, be able to move in time and to the right place in order to serve that ball (of healing) into our bodies. Does this sound like God?

I wonder… Is healing for people who have enough faith? Is it for the lucky? Or, Is healing a way for God to get our attention? Is it His way of snapping His fingers, so we’ll look away from our earthly idols and priorities and interests…to listen to Him teach us about what’s heavenly and eternal and true? If that’s true, Would we see God healing in way that causes people who don’t believe in the name of Jesus Christ to look up and see Him? What kind of situation would have an audience of unbelievers looking on with interest?

I see in the Bible that Jesus Christ healed people and did miracles for and in the presence of those who weren’t saved by faith in Him. Lepers were healed, but they didn’t all see God in their healing (Luke 17:11-19.) Men saw blind eyes open yet weren’t sure whether what they were witnessing was good or evil (John 9:13-41.) Jesus did so much good according to the power and will of God the Father, but it didn’t shift everyone’s perspective from earthly to heavenly. His works were seeds, but they didn’t sprout into faith in every witnesses heart.

Jesus asked one of those 10 lepers, “Were there not ten who were purified? Where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17.) There’s a lot to take away from this passage of Sacred Scripture, but what I’ll point out now is: One man, considered a foreigner, had his mind changed about God when Jesus healed Him, and he knew in the aftermath of his healing that there was a Man to thank, a Man to whom glory belongs.

Salvation is the will of God – that is, that none should fail to reach repentance. The shadow of the grace demonstrated by Christ is evident in Abraham’s prayer for God’s mercy toward Sodom. For the sake of a few, God was willing to give grace to many (Genesis 18:22-33.) There are those who will change their minds about God in the face of God’s healing and miraculous grace. For their sake, He is willing to heal. He wants them to be given a chance to turn toward the light, though He knows some will love darkness.

I heard it said recently: Our wholeness is not in our bodies – not even in whether we have all of our body parts or, whether they function. Our wholeness is not in our ability to get the things we want for ourselves or for others. Our wholeness is not even in our health. Think about that idea for a moment.

What if wholeness is only to be found in Jesus Christ and nothing that we seek or have – outside of Him – in this temporary part of life? What if wholeness is in grace through faith in the name of Jesus Christ and only in that place?

How does that affect your theology regarding healing?