Honesty – Is it Really the Best Policy?

Honesty intimacy

 

A friend and I recently had a “discussion” over social media about the elderly and how they (some of them anyway- maybe most?) lose their filter and really don’t care what they say- whether it’s offensive or not. My mother and grandmother had a really bad case of this- my grandmother would say whatever seemed to enter her mind, completely filter-free for as long as I knew her. Or, well let’s just say if she had a filter, wow- I can’t imagine what her unfiltered thoughts were. My mother grew more verbally open the older she got, and the sicker she got. I guess when you know you’re about to meet your maker, you gotta say what comes to mind. I’m kinda okay with that. It really was pretty embarrassing at times though. Especially the time she gave the pastor the finger. And could be hurtful. But I don’t hold it against her- she is forgiven.

 

I was an only child and I will totally admit- I’ve never really been an adequate communicator. When things go south with anyone, I typically will keep it in and rot inside- which is probably why I have to drink Mylanta. I have often felt that I didn’t have a voice. I didn’t want to rock the boat. I don’t deserve to have an opinion. I’m not anyone special- so I don’t deserve to speak my truth. I feel this line of thinking has been a breach in my integrity. In finding myself again, I am going to have to verbalize who I am and what I want, and maybe even why. Clearly and concisely. In good times and bad. I got stuff to say.

 

So- I’m gonna start communicating- and letting the chips fall where they may. I’m gonna do It until I get it right. I’m sure I’ll mess up a lot as I try. It will be like a baby learning to walk. I’ll fall down and pick myself back up. I’m gonna say what’s on my mind (and not just via text or social media). I’m sure I’ll say things I wish I hadn’t said. People will receive what I say wrongly. But that’s just the way it is. I am going to start being true to who I am, developing me, trying to learn what makes me tick- again. The Word says I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, and I’m excited to speak my truth. I’m kinda looking forward to it.

 

The rest of the world, however- the rest of the world may need to duck.

What If….. A Dissertation on Illness, Need, Death, and All the Other Things We Dislike About Life

 

 

Last night, I was watching (for the second time) a documentary regarding the life and death of Joey Martin Feek (To Joey, With Love– you may be able to watch this on Netflix or Pureflix). I didn’t follow Joey’s story until she became terminally ill. She seemed to be an amazing person, who lived an amazing life and died an amazing death. Many have been so heavily impacted by her life (and death). It’s such an inspiring, yet sad, yet SO INSPIRING story- of a beautiful person with courage and faith. And she left behind a beautiful family whom she loved with every moment.

Joey and Rory

Since I have been sick (constant chronic pain since 2009, in 2016 diagnosed with a condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome- a genetic disorder that I have had since birth but only have recently received the diagnosis. EDS causes pain, migraines, anxiety, depression, gastrointestinal problems, genitourinary problems, extreme fatigue, PAIN (did I mention pain?) – and the list goes on and on), I have had multiple people, including myself until the last year or so, pray for my healing. I have had people blame my lack of healing on some sin of mine- there’s plenty of those it could be pinned on! I have walked through a miry swamp- wrestling God, wrestling disease, being worn completely out by my disorder, by irritation with people, with God, and with myself. I’m sure you can relate, because even if you are not sick, you have some sort of problem. In this sin-sick world, there are financial woes, physical woes, family woes. You may have a wayward child or not enough money to pay the rent. You may have people you don’t get along with, maybe even in your own home. You may have a marriage that is teetering on the rocks. I hope none of these are true. But you probably have at least one thing in your life that really gets your goat, and you can’t figure out why God isn’t fixing that thing. I mean, he supposedly loves us, right? And I love my kids, and the one thing I’d love to do is fix every single one of their problems.

But….WHAT IF. What if we threw our arms open in reckless abandon of our circumstances, instead of trying to change them? Hear me out before you assume I’ve lost it. I mean, if your kid is sick, or in rebellion, or your body is shriveling away, the right thing is for it to be- well, righted? Right? Made right? But if it isn’t happening, then, it isn’t happening. And why continue to beat our heads against a wall that isn’t budging?

I am wondering if the answer might be to just embrace the circumstances. Embrace the pain. Embrace the discord, or the person wronging you, even as they are wronging you. And even in their dirty muck. I long ago quit asking for healing. My logic was- I was made this way. It’s not like I caught some disease. I was put together chromosomally like this. Kind of the same way someone with Down’s Syndrome is put together. Do we pray that they won’t have Down’s? I mean, usually we just accept that they do and enjoy their beauty and loving personality. At least I do. I am wondering if we maybe should look at our own issues this way, embracing them, ACCEPTING them.

I despise the mere thought of ACCEPTANCE in my own life. I am a fighter. I historically have fought problems, and have warred in prayer. I am goal oriented. I am always thinking forward to the next big thing. I always have a goal in mind- finish a degree, buy a different house, accomplishing something/anything. But maybe that’s not always the answer.

While watching Joey Feek, I saw her cry. I saw her and her husband and family pray for good. But the greatest thing I took away from this wonderful documentary, is watching her live, despite the dying; watching her embrace her circumstances. Sometimes living meant having a surgery, or just ironing a shirt. She didn’t fight against the cancer all day, every day in prayer for healing. They seemed to pray as they normally would, asked for healing, and then embraced in faith the circumstances that did not change, only worsened. Then she died. She received the ultimate healing, the ultimate victory, from a good God that she had entrusted her life with. She had a baby, a husband, and every reason to pitch a hissy fit because of her circumstances. I’m sure she had her moments. But I didn’t see any hissy fits.

Circumstances are what God uses to mold you into the person you were created to be. The clay doesn’t fight the Potter’s hand while it’s on the wheel. It curves and bends to mold to the hand. It doesn’t yell back demanding prayers either. It doesn’t stand there scratching its head, or get bitter and dry up. It just turns into a beautiful piece of pottery. And that is what our lives are likened to in the Book of Isaiah- we are clay on the Potter’s wheel.

I was inspired by Joey’s life. I want to be like her, as she followed Christ. Her life is a beautiful testimony of a life well lived and a woman who loved well. Even though she is no longer with us, she still lives on in the hearts of those who loved her. Isn’t that what we all want in life? Well, I do.

I want to be a Joey.

Blessings,

Andra

Misunderstandings

“Man, I hope they find something soon that will help you.”

“I hope you get well soon.”

“I pray for your healing.”

“Are you alright?”

Sweet, huh? Concerned responses by sweet people to my physical “issues” that people, including me, just don’t get. I don’t know that I really see it as an “illness” or a “sickness”. Well, the fibromyalgia part, yes. That is pretty darn miserable, and feels sick. But the Ehlers Danlos- it is a genetic malformation. One could argue (and I kinda have) that I was made this way. I used to do party tricks and I didn’t have pain. Not until I was 10 and had the intermittent knee pain that went away. Then the intermittent migraines. And then the cervical herniations, on and on- other than that- I’ve been good at party tricks and yoga.

Misunderstanding chronic illness is an issue that can be hurtful and bothersome to the patient and/or caregiver. Don’t worry, if you have said any of the above TO ME, I likely don’t remember it for one thing- and secondly I’m just glad you care. I have been in this body a while, doing this a while, and see the heart behind it. I appreciate the well wishes. I am glad when someone isn’t plagued with illness and doesn’t have to know it intimately. I’m glad for the awkward-ness dealing with it, because that is a sign of a foreigner to this territory. I’m glad they don’t know what it’s like to be not alright, not getting better, not getting well, not healing, lying in wait for the next flare of symptoms. I’m so glad they don’t experience pain all day and night like I do, waking in the middle of the night. Lord knows, I hope they never ever have to.

I’m also glad that I DO get it. I’m glad that I know what it feels like if you hurt all night. I’m glad I understand when your family doesn’t. I might be awake at night when you are! If you wake in the middle of the night and see me on Facebook, you could message me and I might answer back. If I don’t, don’t take it personally though. I might be sleeping, and we chronic pain warriors need our sleep right? We need 10-12 hours of sleep a night; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! God doesn’t waste a pain and if I have to hurt, I feel much better knowing that I’m hurting to benefit someone.

So- what can we say to the chronic illness sufferer? Is she really such a fragile beast? You can say any of the comments above. I think they will appreciate them still. Or how about-

“I’d be glad to go to the doc with you sometime if you need that”.

“Why don’t you let me bring you lunch?”

“I was thinking- maybe you have some laundry I could fold and I could hang out with you, too.”

“What if I pick you up for church?”

“How have you been feeling (really)?”

“You are very important to me/us. We love you.”

“How can I pray for you?”

One last word-

Please don’t assume a lack of faith on behalf of the chronic illness warrior. Please don’t assume a lack of prayer, some unpardonable sin, or some brokenness that has stood in the way of their healing. In these people you may find some of the rarest treasure, deepest faith, most dedicated prayer lives. Get to know them. Yes, they may have some huge, glaring sin. But it has been in my physical brokenness that I have come to know the Lord at a level that I don’t know that I ever would have if I were well. And I don’t know that would change a thing. I think I have been hurt more at times by people assuming these things than the fact that I was sick and in pain. Let us be careful that we don’t devour one another- especially the weak.

No, I wouldn’t change a thing.