I'm watching "The Bachelor, After the Final Rose" right now. How ironic that I'm watching this gripping drama about romance. Because in just a couple of hours I get to tell my own tale of drama regarding romance to an audience of about 40 women. I've been asked to speak to the ladies at the Trinity House (the college women living at the house on campus owned by our church). I'm going to share with them my "Relationships Testimony" - and can I just tell you that I have such a heart for the woman "leaving in the limo" because I've been her! No, I've never been on a reality show competing with 24 other women for one guy (who would do that to themselves?!) - but I have been the one hurt, the one wondering why it all ended, what I did wrong.....
I am SO EXCITED to have been asked to share tonight. I can't even tell you what a thrilling opportunity this is for me. I know that my stories of romance and heartbreak aren't life-altering, but they were for me. And, I learned a ton through those experiences, and every step of the way longed to be able to turn those triumphs and defeats into something that would ultimately glorify the Lord in demonstrating His hand through it all. And, tonight's my chance.
But, wouldn't you know it, but these last several days have been very trying! In regards to the title, an old enemy of mine has returned. I've written about it in the past, but I used to really struggle with anxiety - particularly worry. It really began after Brayden was born, subsided and escalated at different times, but came to its full ugly head about 4 years later. The worry was primarily in regards to my own health. After Brayden was born, I just started falling apart. Looking back (as so often hindsight is 20-20), I can recognize just how difficult physically being a new mom was for me. I produced a ton of milk (yes, my record in pumping was 24 ounces in one sitting!) and that's hard on a body! By the time Brayden was 6 months old, my muscles ached, I was running a low grade temp, my neck was so out of whack due to carting around a huge baby - and thus it would result in nerves being affected - muscles quivering, feeling weird. I was sure I had MS, leukemia, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis. Medical tests revealed none of that - not even anemia. And then, the whole "Catch 22" sets in - you are thankful you are clinically healthy, but wondering why everything is still wrong. Not to mention, feeling so anxious - but even more worried because you are so anxious.
Some of you can relate. Others might think I'm a nutcake. However, I will say that in 2003, I saw a new doctor, was prescribed Lexapro, was given some further diagnoses regarding tightness in my chest at the time (gallstone) and told that due to my family history, having an SSRI in my life might be similar to a diabetic needing insulin. Literally, physical symptoms would emerge for me - racing heart beat, palpitations, and a heart beat that would pause and seemingly somersault. Ultimately, given heart disease is also a familial inherited issue (but no cancer, yeah!), I decided to forgo my pride and "scorn" of having to take an "anti-depressant" and recognize that God gave scientists the amazing talents to create such medicines and there is no good reason for me not to take advantage of them.
That period of my life was one of the hardest I've ever gone through. I remember feeling like I would never be free from this burden that plagued my mind 24-7. I remember one conversation with John asking him if he could relate to having a sin in his life (my sin being the constant worry) that he was thankful would finally be stripped from him in Heaven. It was bondage in the truest sense of the word. However, it did draw me to the Lord - I was constantly in His presence just to get through each day.
I can give you the silver lining that the first medication prescribed for me - and simply finding answers, was nearly an overnight success. I know it doesn't work like that for everyone, but it did for me. I'm a different person than I was - and those issues are VIRTUALLY a thing of the past.
And therein lies the danger; to believe I'm cured and not merely in remission because of God's daily grace. This week, I let that sneak up on me. I let Satan get a foothold. Something seemingly insignificant, a total medical "non-issue", turned into a big deal to me (I won't even detail - really, that stupid), but I turned to my "old ways" and panicked. It was awful! I felt that darkness start to settle in over my mind, threatening to overtake all my thoughts of peace and wellness. And, then, of course, I turned into that person I used to hate - a shell of myself - just trying to fake my way through the day to exist.
About 24 hours later, it hit me. I was going to be giving a talk on Monday night and, boy oh boy, this strategy of Satan's has been employed before. Because, I have had the opportunity to give talks before, and although I tend to forget when the time comes, almost invariably, the week before the event - I am attacked. I go through circumstances where I feel worthless, incapable, hopeless, or totally distracted by drama. BUT, when I put the pieces together, and recognize the battle being fought against me - I gain the victory. I recognize this sort of thing wouldn't be happening unless I have something to offer that is a threat to the enemy - and there you go, the tide is turned. This week was a bit of a new strategy, but even stepping back and putting all of the pieces in place has allowed me to recognize one more way I need to be on guard - and grasp that God is so much bigger than all of this.
So, there you go - I'll show up at the Trinity House in about an hour, dozens of chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies in hand (what can I say, I'm a suck-up) - and hopeful to impart a bit of wisdom to some amazing ladies. Little do they know, though, that the wisdom I've already gained through just this week is probably so much more valuable than anything I have to share...