Tag Archive | diabetes

The Brokenhearted

Portrait of sad little girl sitting near  wall in the day timeI struggle to sleep. My husband works second shift, and it messes with things enough that I stay up too late, and yet I can’t sleep in. Even dark curtains in the bedroom don’t help. When the sun gets up, even if I can’t see it, so do I.

It’s gotten to the place where I am considering seeing a doctor. Maybe there’s more going on here. But the idea gives me hives. I dislike seeing doctors. I have anxiety attacks in the waiting room. I agonize waiting for even the simplest test results. I have to be near death to see the doctor, and even then, I go with very low expectations.

I wasn’t always like that. My doctor fear isn’t unfounded. Just over a decade ago I walked into a doctor’s office and was told I had a chronic illness. I was a type one diabetic. And at that point, the role of the physician in my life changed. A doctor will never heal me. I see the doctor to manage my condition. I go hoping to die a little slower. But healing? No. The medical profession won’t heal me.

I forget that a doctor might be able to heal something else. If I’m sick, a doctor might be able to heal that illness. But I expect only bad news in the doctor’s office, something that will shorten my life or make it difficult or change my lifestyle. Again. And so I hate to go.

I realized recently that my expectations of God are similar. Sometimes I avoid the Bible, because I fear it will simply show me my illness–all my sin and failure–and offer a way to manage that, but not healing. I don’t expect healing from any corner. And I don’t mean physical healing, but soul healing. Emotional healing. The ability to turn away from deep-seated sin toward holiness (sanctification, if you like big words.). The ability to succeed today in areas where I failed yesterday. The ability to do God’s will and see fruit in areas where I’ve never seen fruit before. The ability to hope where I used to fear. I don’t come to Jesus expecting those things.

I should.

I love the Psalms. Two Psalmists, including David, speak of God’s dealings with the brokenhearted. And that’s where I don’t trust him. I don’t expect full healing of my spirit when life gets difficult. Even diabetes–it’s the fear in my spirit that causes me distress, expecting bad to get worse. The illness itself is a pain, and it will likely shorten my lifespan, but the real weakness is how I respond to it. That results in fear and hopelessness, not the level of sugar in my blood.

And yet the Lord draws near to the brokenhearted. (Ps. 34). He delivers the righteous from all affliction. He doesn’t condemn. He heals the brokenhearted (Ps. 147) and binds up wounds. He gathers outcasts. He delights in those who love him.

Doctors have limits. I have passed one of those. Certain issues of health are outside the realm of medical healing. But I need to remember I haven’t passed a limit with God. I’m never so tired or broken or hurt that he can’t heal, for he is greater than all my weaknesses. And physical weaknesses don’t have to translate to emotional or mental distress, because he’s got those under control. If not here, then in the next life all of it will come together, and all will be healed.

But for now, I can pray for and expect wounds to be bound. I don’t have to bleed out from anguish or brokenheartedness. I don’t have to bow to fear or loss or any other human infirmity, any other weakness or imperfection.

No, physical healing may not happen today, but every day I see more and more healing of my spirit as God delights in me and teaches me and draws me closer with his Spirit. The more I become like Jesus, the more I can expect his peace and comfort and fruit in my life. And that’s what I want most of all.

Advertisements

Secret Dreams of an Insulin Pumper

IMG_0082

This isn’t me. It was easier to steal an image off the internet than find my camera. But that’s what my pump looks like.

I’m a type one diabetic. That’s the kind with insulin shots. About a year ago I switched to an insulin pump, and I also wear a little monitor that checks my sugar levels every five minutes, and between the two of them I can normally stay on top of things. Sure, I still have highs and lows, because life happens, but I can catch problems before they become scary.

One evening this week, my sugar level kept going low. I hadn’t been especially active all day, and I’d had a normal dinner and my dinner insulin was out of my system, so I couldn’t figure out why I was falling. But the level was falling fast into dangerous numbers, and I couldn’t figure out why.

I turned off the pump to stop any new insulin from hitting my system until things leveled off, and a thought jumped into my head. Maybe it’s over. Maybe today God decided I’d put enough effort into this illness, and I’m finished with it. Maybe I’ve done some things right lately, and he’s going to take this particular thorn out of my side.

Oh.

I had no idea I thought like that. I believe God heals, although I think supernatural healing is the exception, not the rule. I tell myself I believe illness and sorrow and hardship are simply part of life in a fallen world. It’s not personal. I’m not a diabetic because I failed at some cosmic test. And God won’t heal me because I figure out the answers and pass the next cosmic test with flying colors.

But maybe I do. At some level I’m not aware of, I must think I can make God so happy he’ll take away this illness. The thing is, I know he will. The day is coming when I’ll step into his presence, and he’ll take away not only diabetes but every sorrow. And in the grand time scheme of the universe, the difference between healing today and healing years from now or decades from now–it’s almost negligible.

Still, some little part of me seems to think I could be healthy if I  was doing better at life. And I don’t want to think that. God isn’t like that. He loves me. He doesn’t withhold good and give out blessings based on merit, not really. If he did, there would be no good anywhere, because we all fail all the time. And he doesn’t play favorites. I don’t have to be his favorite kid to get blessings.

In my defense, it was a rough week. I don’t know why, but the whole week was emotional and weepy. Starting on Mother’s Day when my kids neglected even to say the words “Happy Mother’s Day” and lingering through a few days of feelings of insignificance, I was already in a low place where it didn’t take much to set off the pity parties. I struggle with value, but not lately, and not like this. This was worse.

Could be spiritual battle, since all week I told myself I might be better off if I stopped writing, stopped cleaning, stopped participating in things where I know I should be participating. I’m pretty sure the idea of running away from home and living alone in my car wasn’t from God. Meaning for some reason I was under attack all week. So I’ll give myself the benefit of the doubt and hope that my belief that I have diabetes because God isn’t happy with me–let’s say it’s not really coming from me.

But I’m listening to the voice regardless of where it was coming from. And that’s not good. Means I need to fight. Usually fighting means digging into God’s word and speaking its truths to myself. It means focusing elsewhere. Too much introspection can make a person crazy, so I need to focus out a little bit. Maybe visit with a friend. This week I might take a meal to someone who needs it, and that will help me look out. Next week I’ll cook and help serve dinner for people downtown. That will help, too. This isn’t my first battle, and I know some strategies to get through them if I’ll put them into practice.

Still, though, thoughts like those can be hard to dislodge. We live in a world that grades on a merit system. I was a straight A student, and even though life does’t have grades, I still think in grades sometimes.

And weary, weepy days can’t simply be ignored. Maybe some days it’s okay to take a few days off, let a few tears fall, cling to God and even yell a little bit. He can take it. David wrote a few meltdown Psalms, so I can use those. Better to take time off than to let lies take hold. And I definitely won’t make big decisions during rough days, or I really would stop writing and ditch my family, jump in the car, drive to the coast to put my feet in the sand, and never come back. That’s probably not the best thing. Best just to stick with my current path and wait to feel better about life again.

I bet I’m not the only one who has those days when lies speak louder than truths, and fatigue hits hard, and dreams feel impossibly far away and maybe plain silly. Feel free to share–every pity party needs guests, right? But if you had to fight through something this week, lies that threatened to knock you off the path, I’m glad to know I’m not alone. I hope you’re glad not to be alone, too.

Next steps (The Date: part three)

dreamstimefree_662199I headed to day two of a conference about the Holy Spirit (check out day one here), less worried than the night before but still a little anxious, because that’s what I do.  I sat with people I knew this time, and I listened and waited while someone explained words of wisdom and healing prayers. Sometimes he gives us specific messages that will build up those around us. Sometimes he wants to use our prayers to heal others of their afflictions.

A woman from my church approached me that morning and suggested God had spoken to her about me, and she thought God wanted to heal me of my physical trouble here at the conference, my diabetes.  Strangely, although I would have loved that, I didn’t think it was the case.  But again, I know the mean girl in my head says I’m not worth much, that something huge like healing a decade-old chronic illness was more than God would do for me, and I’m trying to shut up that girl, so I pursued my friend’s words and asked her to pray for me.

Within five seconds of the prayer, I knew I was right, and this wasn’t about diabetes.  And I knew she’d heard from God about me, even though she had a couple details wrong.  As she prayed, she mentioned the belief that God was about to use me for something, to grow me up and send me out, and she prayed that things in my way–like a chronic illness–would be removed, that stumbling blocks and hindrances would be removed.

But I know me.  Diabetes is a pain, but it isn’t what stops me from doing what God wants.  If anything, it adds something to my life by humbling me and causing me to think through my priorities.  Doubt slows me down.  Fear slows me down.  Lack of trust, too.  They were what I wanted healed when I’d walked through the doors on Friday night, and now a woman of God was praying for them to go, even though she didn’t quite know that.

After my friend prayed with me, she took me to the front and asked another couple people to pray with me, and I admit I was afraid.  One of the men who was about to pray with me kind of scared me to death.  He is a wise man of God who seems more in tune with the Spirit than most people.  I had been afraid of him ever since I’d met him, because I was sure he’d look at me and say What are you doing here?  You don’t belong here.  You’re a pretender, a false Christian playing at being a daughter.  Go away.

But I approached him.  He put his hand on me.  And one of the first things he said was The Holy Spirit is all over you.

Bingo.  I could have gone home at that moment, because I’d gotten what I’d come for. I needed to hear that.  I feel a little bit ashamed that I didn’t trust those words from the Bible, that I had to hear them from somewhere else before I truly bought into them, but I guess that’s why God puts us in community, to encourage each other to believe truth.  And I believed.  And the tears poured.  And the man praying with me talked to me a bit, and I think he realized where I needed healing, because he asked for God to send me more joy, deepen that knowledge that I was loved, give me more of everything the Spirit has to offer.

It was an amazing weekend.  I wish I could remember every second of it. I wish my family had attended.  I walked out renewed, knowing that yes, I have things laid before me, likely things that aren’t easy for me.  One result is that I’ve chosen to blog again and share what God does in my life.  Another has to do with deepening my prayer life.  Being more diligent in the Word, both studying it, meditating on it, letting it–and the presence of God–infuse my life in new ways. Being less fearful of people so I can perhaps again hug a stranger or pray with someone and share words from the Spirit with him or her.

I don’t know what’s coming, not in the short term.  But I’m more confident of the long term than I’ve been in a very long time.  I’m a daughter.  Dad has plans for me.  Time to stop making excuses and listening to wrong voices and let his love for me drive me.  As someone said recently, the Spirit is all over me.  And that should affect every bit of my life.

 

 

On idols, idles, and idylls

I took some time away from blogging recently, mostly because I was in a bad mood and figured it wasn’t wise to go passing that around.  During my week of irritation, though, I think I learned a couple lessons, and I think I’ll pass them on.  They’re not entirely related, but they make a cool blog title, so here goes.

Last week I asked my pastor a question, and I think he answered me on Sunday with a powerful sermon.  In fact, because I wasn’t wearing my glasses it seemed me he even looked right at me during the sermon as if to say “Jill, this is the answer to your problem.”  The answer to my problem was that I am an idolator.  The problem is I’m becoming sick to death of unemployment.  But it isn’t about unemployment.  Honestly, if someone showed up at the door and gave my husband a check for five million dollars, I would never whine again about unemployment.

So the problem isn’t about a job.  It’s about money.  More specifically, it’s about the illusion of financial security.  Financial security is an idol.  Take it away for a couple years, and I lose my mind completely, because it was supposed to make my life perfect, and now it’s gone.  So, time to call a horse a horse and deal with the idol of financial security.  Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread.  Then he assured us God knows we need food and clothing–not that we can’t pray about those things, but if he gives them to the birds, who never pray for them, we can be sure they’re pretty much a done deal.  So, from now on it’s time to think in terms of my daily bread and not a great job that promises long-term financial security.  God will deal with the hows of the daily bread, whether it’s just given each day like manna or stored up in warehouses for the future like Joseph’s Egypt.

The next lesson has to do with idling.  I don’t mean being idle as in not doing anything, but moving in that slow, steady, mindless way a car moves when nobody’s foot is on the gas.  I realized this week I have a list a mile long of very good things I plan to do–meet with people, involve myself in ministries, spend time with my children, etc–and I never get around to them.  I just let time slide right on past.  I know it’s a good idea to live life with more intention.  The thing is, those are the easiest words in the world to say, but I have to do something.  To vainly quote myself from FB, I think I would have less time to worry about tomorrow if I put more energy into doing what I need to do today. The KJV Bible uses the phrase “redeeming the time” to describe how to live a life.  I need to redeem a lot more of my time from average tasks to Kingdom-worthy tasks.

Finally, it’s time to get the idea out of my head that this life can be heaven.  That’s the idyll, the image of the future I hold in my head that can’t be real.  In it we have a job that makes plenty of money, live on twenty acres, and don’t agonize over cars or medical bills or college for the kids.  Things just go well.  I struggled most with this right after I was diagnosed with diabetes.  I’d walk past homes in the neighborhood next to ours, an area of beautiful homes, and I imagined that within those homes people were eating whatever they wanted, and planning nice trips, and living this carefree lifestyle that would never be mine.  I do better now in certain ways, but I still spend too much time grieving something that can’t exist here, as though I don’t believe it will exist better than I can ask or imagine down the next road.

Time to start a new week.  Time to put things into perspective–something I seem to need to do on a daily basis–and put what I know into action.  Words are simple, but actual transformation…  well, I’m into the third year of a few of these lessons, and as the world’s slowest learner, I have to say transformation at the heart, mind, and body level can take work.  But with God’s help, I will keep at until I meet Jesus and find out the reward was worth all the difficult lessons.

The plane isn’t crashing; put down the oxygen mask

I haven’t been on an airplane in a very, very long time.  But, my memories of airplanes include that quick safety demo at the beginning.  The flight attendant holds an oxygen mask and points out that passengers with children should put on their own masks before placing them on their children.

A lot of people, though, seem to put on that oxygen mask and never get around to using that energy to help anyone else.  The I-need-to-care-for-myself-before-I-can-care-for-others mentality is rather a hallmark of the society surrounding us, and it’s as common in Christians as in others.  I definitely find myself doing it.  But so often it ends there, and my self care isn’t really about preparing to help others; it’s just about me satisfying me.

Too much oxygen isn’t good for a person.  Someone getting too much can suffer confusion, headaches, and sleepiness.  I wonder if too much self-care might have similar effects.  It’s so easy to lose track of how much time I spend on myself.  It never feels like enough; there is always one more thing that might satisfy me more.  And the more satisfied I am, the more I have to give to others, right?  The past couple years have been a little rough, and I tell myself I deserve a little break, a little me time.

Of course we all have to stop and care for ourselves.  I don’t think God meant otherwise.  But there is normal self care and emergency care, and some of us go into emergency mode and then stay there.  When my blood sugar is low, it’s time for emergency mode.  I have to eat; I have to sit quietly and not do much until I can think straight and move about safely–it’s when I let myself play computer games and ignore the world.  But within thirty minutes I’m fine, so if I’m still sitting in front of the video games ignoring things I need to do an hour later, it’s time for someone to pop off the oxygen mask and give me a shove back into gear.

In his letters, Paul seems to point to an idea that intrigues me.  He suggests there is this giant circle among believers, where we each put ourselves second and others first, where we receive so much care from our Christian family that we can give of ourselves without really losing anything.  It’s a big part of Christian community, where we bear each other’s burdens and fill each other’s needs.  If it’s done right, I can give of myself in a big way, because there are loved ones around me giving of themselves to fill me back up.  And I do the same for them.  Perfectly balanced.

I’m not sure I’ve ever really seen that work.  Perhaps it won’t work well until Heaven itself.  But maybe that should be the goal.  Society screams in my ears that I need to look out for myself.  School told me to take care of my own papers and grades and ignore those around me.  Media tells me I deserve to get the best I can from life.  But that’s not really the goal of the kingdom I live in.  This kingdom is a little backward, where the lowly and poor come first, and my needs come last.  But it’s safe, because someone should be watching my back.  A lot of someones, meaning nobody’s work is too hard.

Even when it doesn’t work quite as planned, though, I have a Comforter in the Spirit.  He wants to work through my spiritual family, but if they fail–and of course they will fail at times–then He’s also enough on his own.  And yet I give very little thought to the Spirit’s work, too engrossed in making my own way in the world.

Emergencies happen, where we have to become the most important person around for a time.  But most emergencies have ends, and we give the oxygen mask to someone who needs it more than we do.  If you’re feeling a little confused and sleepy in your spiritual life, and you realize you spend more time looking into yourself than out at your Christian family, perhaps it’s time to put down the mask.  I need to do the same.  We need to trust God to take care of our needs while we focus on the work he has for us to do.