Shift

You spoke with truth
Filled it with passion
Sprinkled with emotion
I saw Word take life
Touched the tender parts of my heart
Philadelphia sprung up
In the neighborhood of scars

You inspired the better in me
I desired the best for you
Desired to bless you
Encouragement to press on
To effect change in others
Like you affected me

Then came the Shift
Like a bandage pealed off over hours
As roots deepened
The pedestal I had put you on
Began to topple
When it fell with a crash
The roots ripped out
Tearing open never healed scars
Like a tree centuries old
Shoved over by a sudden burst of wind.

I’m not placing blame.
You were just being you.
The more I learned, the more I loved.
But somewhere the expectancy
Shifted to expectation.
The desire to bless…you
Shifted to the desire for praise…me
Desiring to serve…you
Shifted to wanting attention…me.
Before I know it, I hate what I’ve become.

More shifting.
Laying down my crown
Selfishness, Pride, Worry, Fear, Insecurity
Taking up the slave’s humble cloak
Confidently relying on our Father to provide.
This is gonna hurt.
I pray for the pain of healing.
I am sorry.
I love you like a brother.
I love you like a sister.
May the God of peace
Rest on us like a dove
In this ever shifting world.

Surrender Cavern

Darkness is all I can see. It has it’s own depth and weight. I blink a few times to make sure my eyes are open. Yep, they are open. Without the precious sense of sight, my other senses become heightened. I hear nothing except the rhythm of my own breath echoing off the space. This strange sonar gives me a sense that my prison must have some height and depth. I hear no natural sound. I am not outside, or even near to an outer wall. A cave? I hear no water dripping or trickling thru fissures in the earth.  No mustiness lingers in the air caused by the constant presence of mist and dampness.  In fact, I smell nothing at all. If I am underground, it is not a natural structure.

What am I laying on then? Oh, yes. I’ve just noticed I’m laying down. Strange. Complete darkness is so very disorienting. The floor is smooth like granite except, wait a minute. What are these? When I move my hands metallic clinks echo throughout the chamber. The cold, oval structures appear to be interlinked. Chills cause the hairs on the back of my neck to stand on end as I recognize the shape: a chain large enough to anchor a ship to the bottom of the sea. With the same hand, I follow the links, the size of my palm, toward me to find their origin. The chills shoot through my body as I find the chain is not attached to my wrist by any kind of strap. It is growing from or was implanted there! With a gentle tug, pain shoots up my arm. An involuntary cry, the mixture of physical pain and rising panic, escapes my throat. Quick inspection reveals the other wrist in the same condition.

Momentarily incapacitated by fear, I evaluate my situation. Giving in to the panic will get me no where. Breathe. Just breathe. Get a hold of yourself. Chains have two ends. So, let’s see where the other end is. Yes, by now I have resorted to referring to myself in third person plural. You find chains coming out of your wrists and see how long you hold it together! With plans to investigate by way of crawling, I flip over on my stomache. Gripped by horror again, I gasp as pain shoots from my feet up my legs. I suck in air thru clenched teeth, willing the pain to subside. I try to control my trembling hand as I slowly, carefully, reach down to inspect. Though motion shoots fire through my body, I must confirm what I fear to find. Identical chains protrude from both ankles. With as little pain as I can manage, I scoot up, put my face on my knees, and succumb to all manor of deep despairing emotions. Time means little in complete darkness. I vacillate between why I am here and how I came to be at such a miserable place and condition. When I cannot reason the answers, I wallow in despair until it circles back to the questions of why and how.

A gentle touch on the crown of my head startles me out of my black revelry. So focused on my thoughts, I had not heard anyone approach. I look up, expecting to see only blackness. Instead, I find myself squinting at a man. My eyes had grown so accustomed to the dark, it hurts to look where any light exists. He is not holding a light, but he seems to be lit by daylight. It is strange. The light is radiating from within him. He is not gleaming or glowing. It’s like soft warmth in his being that needs no light. Instantly I notice his eyes. They are old with wisdom, filled with more knowledge and understanding than one human being should possess. His face holds an expression of peace that frankly, makes me want to slap him. As I consider if I should think this, he chuckles, shakes his head, and begins to sit along the wall. I gasp, afraid he will fall. He looks up with concern as he rests comfortably on a ledge I apparently did not see before he began to sit. Maybe it was a trick of the shadows.

“Hi.” I smile sadly as my eyes meet his again. This is not how I would have expected to greet the King of the Universe.

“Hi.” The warmth of his voice washes over me. I close my eyes and listen to it echo.

Glancing around I see my burdens are four round weights, roughly two feet in diameter, at the end of a five-foot chain. Etched in each weight is the name of an affliction I carry.

I look back at him with concern. He returns my concern with sadness. Unable to stand the distance any longer, I stand and gather up the chains to protect myself from pain as much as possible. With my head down I lean into the weight, bear the pain and pull with all the strength I can muster. The cavern is filled with the screech of metal on the floor. White hot pain courses thru every cell as sweat beads across my forehead.

“Please don’t,” he urges through gritted teeth.

Desperation in his voice causes me to look up, but I don’t stop. With each step, pain surges up each arm, each leg. Muscles spasm. With each stab of pain, I can see his face twitch, the muscles in his back, arms and legs convulse. It’s like looking in a mirror that transforms your reflection into the most precious person you can imagine. It is worse than any pain I can feel.

“Please stop.” He whispers again.

With relief for both of us, I drop my chains. There is still so much distance to cover. Still so little has been accomplished. Frustration sets in. “How do get there? What am I supposed to do? I can’t go anywhere when I’m weighed down like this. And it hurts. It hurts so much.” Tears fall, only now do I realize they have been falling thru the entire struggle. I turn my wrists over to show him where the chains enter my skin. They are now bleeding and bruised.

“I know,” he says and turns his wrists over, “the scars never really go away.”

I laugh through tears and cock my head to the side, “That’s not the same.”

“No?” He looks up from his wrists with just his eyes and wrinkles his brow. “Child, I did this for you.” Indicating toward the weight I claim as mine with a slight head tilt, he continued, “Those burdens I will take, when you are ready to give them up.”

“But I have asked you so many times to take them away. They are still here.” Tears run freely down my cheeks. This is a touchy subject, and we both know it. I turn away and begin running my fingers over the etchings in the weights.

“Sometimes giving me your burdens doesn’t mean they disappear. I will make ALL things new. Your scars, like mine, may have been made by horrific circumstances. But I can transform them into something beautiful. Let me have it. Let me do it.” These words are said with the gentleness of love, the authority of a command, and the want of a beg.

Tears still streaming down my face, “I do. I will. But I can’t promise I won’t steal them back.”

He stands. At the sound of his movement I jump, but I have no desire to run. After all, where would I go? He puts his hands on my shoulders and turns me to face him. With a rough hand on either cheek, he wipes away my tears. Forcing me to look into those wise old eyes he tells me, “I know. So until you are ready to give them up again, I’ll be here with you. Waiting. When you are ready, I will take it all over again.” He smiles. It brightens the whole room.

He kisses me on the forehead. I whisper, “Take it,” and I start giggling. His laughter is deep and full, filling the room with joy. With each breath the darkness surrounding us grows lighter. The sharp burning pain in my wrists and ankles has replaced the dull, bearable ache of healing. The weights have turned into balloons, each a different color. The chains are now strings. They are still attached to me, but the pain is substantially less. On each balloon is still written an affliction, but there is also hope, possibility, change, and potential written there.

Reconciling Chemical Dependence with Trusting God

The most difficult part of…

Well maybe I should start at the beginning, just lay it out there: I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This is a largely misunderstood illness, and I admit I didn’t even understand it until I was recently diagnosed. Many people think of OCD’s celebrity spokesperson Howie Mandel. I’m not quite like him. I don’t mind getting dirty and I love hugging people. Well…maybe not at the same time. I have some behavioral issues like repeating certain actions and even some obsessive counting. What gets me into the most trouble are obsessive thoughts. Once I get stuck on a particular idea or train of thought, it’s extremely difficult to get off. Not only does this make my internal thought life very distracting and confusing, it often leads to a downward spinning track toward depression. Because of this I have become chemically dependent. The medication I take is an anti-depressant that, in my case, seems to stop the Obsessive Thought Train conductor from flipping the dangerous switch on the track.

Another important fact: I was raised in a conservative Christian community. Depression, or mental illness in general, is not discussed here. In my experience, it is largely misunderstood by the general Christian population. There an unspoken agreement if someone is depressed, he is not right with God, there must be some unconfessed sin, or he needs to pray for healing with no doubt God will heal him. In a sense, those with mental illness have something wrong with them spiritually. Overall, the topic is avoided. Those who attempt to confess their struggle are avoided, not out of lack of concern, but simply because this community has not been taught how to approach the subject. Our pain makes our brothers and sisters uncomfortable. Unfortunately, this causes more wounds and confusion about our painful state. So depression is difficult to reconcile with a conservative Christian upbringing.

I have all this stuff bouncing around in my head. I have the knowledge that medication relieves my emotional pain by stopping these thoughts from taking over. I am able to function better when I am on it. I also have internalized a worldview that tells me to rely on medication to function implies there must be something wrong with me spiritually. I must not have enough faith or God would heal me. All this leaves me wondering why I must rely on chemicals manufactured by other broken humans to relieve the pain. Why isn’t trusting in God alone enough, like everyone says it should be? Do I just not have enough faith? How can I measure my faith? If only faith were available by prescription at a pharmacy as well!

Unless…

God created human intelligence and put it into specific people. What if He then put those people together at the right time and place to develop anti-depressants and drugs to relieve OCD in people like me. What if using these drugs is a blessing, it’s not trusting in something less than my Savior for healing. What if this is an illness like any other. If I knew someone was in debilitating physical pain, I would strongly urge them to find medications to take it away. I am just doing everything in my power to be well. When I’m on meds, I think clear enough to get out of my head and see God around me and in others. Meds bring relief. Miraculous healing would be nice. But maybe then opportunities for learning and glorifying God would be lost. In that case, I will press on…

I wish this story were real…

Have you ever been reading a story and thought, “I wish this were true,” not because the story was so good, but because you had come to know and maybe even love the characters so much? Well guess what! It’s happened. It’s still happening. God wrote a story, but while he was writing it, it was also happening. Then he entered into the story but also completely embodied it (the Scriptures, The Bible, The Word) as the GodMan, Jesus, the Christ, Messiah. All the depth and meaning behind it all was wrapped in flesh and filled with Holy Spirit to show us how to do life with the Creator of the universe. The best part? This story is not yet finished. That same Creator longs for each one of his Masterpieces (you) to join in the story with him. How? Get to know this Jesus. Read about him in his story, The Bible. Maybe start with the Book of John. Get to know his people, The Church. Build a relationship thru prayer. Not sure how to do it? Get connected to a Bible-reading, Jesus-following group of people near you. If they love Jesus, they’ll love you.

What might be holding you back?

It Ends Today.

It ends today. This is the last day you can hurt me. Just like all the days before, you were subtle in your comments. With carefully chosen words and actions, hoping I wouldn’t notice I am treated differently. I notice the subtle, a careful curator of the details. I see how you fawn and dote over the others. Cheerful greetings and lavish compliments are showered over the others, everyone but me. Today is the last day you make me question what is wrong with me. All my insecurities brought out by your presence. When I tried to do something nice for those you treated like children, I was harshly scolded. “Don’t let it bother you,” was the advice from others. Should I have to earn a thicker skin because of you? My tender hearted empathy is one of my dearest assets. It allows me to feel what others feel, to sense the emotional state of those with whom I am familiar. Today is the last day you turn my strengths into weaknesses. Though I feel I should hate you, I cannot. Though you have sent me to quietly weep in private, I have also wept over your sorrows. I have prayed for you; for the times you have been in pain and for your physical and spiritual health. No, I cannot hate you. I have spent too much time around you to hate you. Though you have hurt me enough that I will not let you close, I love you. Today was the last day you will hurt me. Today was my last chance to show you I love you. I am sorry I missed it. Farewell.

Wishes & Whispers

I don’t expect every new meeting to become a confidant.
But I wish my constant companion wasn’t loneliness.

I don’t expect a cure from this constant pain.
But I wish for momentary glimpses of relief.

I don’t expect you to be with me all the time.
But I wish you didn’t feel so distant.

I don’t expect you to know all the answers.
But I wish you would be still and listen when I speak.

I don’t expect you to understand.
But I wish I had no doubt you cared.

Through the loneliness, the pain, the isolation,
A calm voice whispers to the depths of my soul.

I know what loneliness is.
I AM your closest confidant.

I know every kind of pain.
I AM your relief.

I know sometimes I may seem distant.
I AM with you always.

I know questions seem to fall unheard.
I AM the answer when you are still to listen.

I know what it is to be misunderstood.
I AM wisdom and love.

Ghosts, Purpose, and Insignificance

I keep hearing, “everyone has a purpose, maybe you’re in your current situation for a purpose.” Well I’ve looked at it from every angle, prayed, asked for guidance, begged for wisdom, pleaded for discernment, and about run out of tears. Let me tell you, I’ve got nothin’. I just can’t see it. I so desperately want to find an area where I can succeed. Success does not necessarily mean becoming a millionaire or having half the world know my name. Though a little extra money would be nice. I just want to make a difference within a community of like-minded individuals. I long with every fiber of my being to share my passions with a group of people and work toward a common goal. More than anything I want to shed the feeling that I am an imposition, an intruder, a burden, or a disappointment. I just want to be me and not think that I have to do or offer something to be acceptable. Why can’t Just Me be enough? Why can’t that be enough for me?

I’m afraid Just Me will fade in to the background. Just Me is not important and insignificant. No one will notice Just Me. If I don’t do something or offer something, eventually I’ll disappear from everyone’s memories. I’ll be stuck watching everyone achieve their purpose, be successful, make a difference, while I float through life aimless, invisible. Like I’ve died but I’m still living. I’m afraid of becoming a ghost.

Where is God in all this mess? Truth is I don’t know. I trust He’s there…somewhere. I pray. Sometimes I hear something. Most of the time I can’t tell if it’s my own crazy ideas or God’s fear-inducing nudges to step out on faith. Irony is I do nothing and fade into the background. On the rare occasion I do act on what is unmistakably God’s inaudible voice, great things happen and I am blessed beyond more than I can imagine. Then I take it one human step too far and mess things up, make the wrong decision, think that I can do it better than God, or just plain forget to ask God’s advice before moving. The truth is, I don’t want people to see me anyway. I truly want people to see Christ, or Christ in me. So I guess I’m just frustrated with myself and tired of the constant fight.

Being a follower of Christ is hard. Being an introvert is lonely. Being sensitive is painful. Being a deep-thinker I write a blog to get it all out. Maybe all this difficult, lonely, painful, deep thought will make a difference for someone. I can only hope.

With love,

Megan