Detoxify, Healing From the Inside Out, The Vulnerable Side

Hungry Bellies, Hungry Souls

It’s been a hard month. Writing has been so hard. But it has also, I think, never been so necessary. You’ve got me in the vulnerable places. And I can’t guarantee I’m going to say the right thing. But I can guarantee I am going to say the most honest thing. I remember years ago when I first started writing. Years before I even began to think of publishing. I just wrote for me. To get thoughts on paper, and out of this cage I called a head. I remember then my fear of vulnerability. And that’s another blog for another day. But I remember how much God impressed upon me the necessity of it. “I made you to be a storyteller,” He told me. “Tell your stories. With your whole heart. That’s all I’m asking.” And from that day on, that has been my motive. To tell this story the best way I can, with the most truth I can. Life is a fickle thing. It wavers and shifts. It ebbs and flows. And sometimes it just downright hammers and chips away at us. There is no perfect formula because we are each different. And the pain I ingest one way you will ingest another. And there is no one way to do things. Except, in Him. He is the only one way that agrees to all of us. And I don’t have answers. I have questions. I have emotions. I have hormones. I have needs. I don’t have answers. But He does. He always does. And in Him there is fullness. There is joy. So I’m telling you this to say that I may not have the answers, and I’m asking for grace as I walk these coming days vulnerable and honest and visible. I am probably going to make mistakes. But I am always going to point back to Him. He is my answer. He is my joy. He is my life. Everything else is just icing. And I believe He likes icing. So I know I will get my cakes with icing too. But for right now, as I walk through this wilderness all I need are the basics. And I’m OK with that. Cloud of smoke by day. Pillar of fire by night. I just need the basics.  

Pain has come to an all time high. Sleep became my pain management. The more I slept, the more I could ignore the passing realities. And so I gave into the exhaustion. I let my body slip in and out of consciousness, as a meager opportunity to forget current pain. And then I’d awake once a day starving, ravenous, ready to eat.

Food became and has become a bully to me. It is the thing that taunts me and rubs in my face all that I want, and all that I can’t have. It’s not just the food, although that in itself is enough. It is what the food represents: Life, joy, normalcy. I find myself watching people on such a critical level these days. Every move, every twitch, every flip of hair and reaction of face. And in those moments I find myself anxious to study why they are different. What did they do different?. Why do they get to be healthy and I don’t? Why can they eat, why can they eat whatever they so choose without a thought to the reaction? It is low to admit, but I have found myself jealous of babies multiple times as I watch them pick their squares of cheese and assorted vegetables and cram eagerly and satisfied into their mouths. And I try to distinguish what I have done that makes my body so unwilling to cooperate and theirs so eager to the opposite.

And so we come back to that time of day, every day. When my stomach can no longer ignore the call for food, and hunger takes on an almost animal reaction. I dread that part of the day. Because I know that whatever decision I make it will be the wrong one. If I don’t eat, if I ignore it, the pains come. Mixed with the nausea of a blood sugar level much too low. I leave myself to dry heaving and blackouts. And the mind games that follow from just wanting so much to eat. If I do eat, it does not matter what I choose, I will get sick. I have tried broths, and juices, vegetables, fruits. And some days I just give up caring and choose what sounds good. Big, hearty, casseroles of the soul that make me feel like I’m not really living this life that I am trying so hard to avoid. And then I get sick. And it is a choking sick. It is a crippling sick. Pain that curls me up onto the floor gasping, retching, begging for relief. Sometimes it lasts only a few minutes. Sometimes it lasts much longer. And if there is any good in it, it is that I am so exhausted afterwards I am able to sleep again for several hours. Able to escape again.

Food just doesn’t taste the same. It tastes like fear, like pain, like regret.  And the hungrier I get, the less sounds appealing. I sat on my deck watching the wind between the leaves this morning. I sat and we talked. “Food doesn’t taste good anymore. Nothing tastes good anymore,” I told Him. “When will it taste good. Will anything ever taste good again?” I sat with Him on that porch swing and we rocked while the breeze swirled around us.

What do we do when life no longer tastes good? What do we do when the pain overtakes beauty? When the mundane becomes reality and suddenly there is no longer pleasure on the tongue, on the soul, but bitterness that takes its place? What do we do when grief is greater than joy? What do we do then?

Food is such a basic necessity of humanity. It is the quickest reminder of these practical bodies. It is the quickest reminder of a soul hungry for more. To be satisfied. To be filled. It is what we were made for. And lest we forget, our ever grumbling stomachs are there to remind us. Or is it our ever grumbling souls? They grumbled through the wilderness. And the manna fell. And they grumbled again. And the quail fell. And they grumbled again. Filling, and filling their baskets full, their bellies full, only to watch the manna spoil before them as they took more and more never satisfied. And we do the same. Grumbling through the wilderness. And the manna comes. The bread of life. Taste and see that the Lord is good. But instead we stand and stare and whisper, “What is it?” Taste and see that the Lord is good! And still we stand to the side. “What is it?” Taste and see that the Lord is good. When do we reach out. When do we partake of the miracle He has brought to the dessert? The bread with which we can live on for years. The only food that sustains? When do we fill our baskets, fill our bellies, fill our souls, and know that it is good?

It is not the food I am hungry for. It is life I am hungry for. Life abundant. And time and time again, His manna falls from heaven. Taste and see that the Lord is good, He says. And I only stare. I do not partake. I do not taste. My grievances become greater than my joy, and I am blinded to the goodness. Oh may my hunger never leave. May it stir this belly inside of me, this eternal soul. May it grow and grow until I reach out, until I realize that man shall not live on bread alone. No there is far more to be benefited from. The truth? I am fed. I am full. I am satisfied. I know hope because of His calling. I know riches because of His glory. I know power because of His resurrection. And I know fullness because He fills all. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Taste and see. Do not stare at it. Do not stand to the side and whisper, “What is it?” Do not watch from the sidelines, while the mediocrity of culture eats away at your fullness. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Dig your hands into the Bread of Life, falling from heaven into the souls of men. We are hungry no more. Life abounds and we are filled. Oh that our eyes would see, and our lens be changed. Oh that we would taste and know that the Lord is good. He is my fill. And in Him is my fullness. And I am hungry no more.

Psalm 34:8 | Ephesians 1:15-23

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Detoxify, Healing From the Inside Out, The Plans He Has for You, The Vulnerable Side

This

Lord, This is hard.

This.

Miss Wankeral, my grammar teacher, told me to never leave a “this” alone. “A marriage is always necessary”, she says. “It must have a partner”. This rock. This doll. This something. But what is the “this” in this situation. This time. This trial. This learning. This acknowledgment. This job. This task. Yes, all of those. And more, I suppose. You are drawing me out. That is a truth I know. You are drawing me out and taking me to someplace new. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Yes, you are taking me to someplace new. A place of healing. A place of still waters and green pastures. You’re teaching me to walk away from the things of this world. Be in the world but not of the world, You say. That has always been so hard to understand. But I am finally starting to understand it. It means to let go of everything I see but cannot understand and to hold on to everything I cannot see but can understand. Let go of culture, let go of things, let go of people, let go of money, let go of dreams. Hold onto your love, your joy, your peace, Hold onto You.

Yes, this is hard. It is hard to give it all over to You. Yes, the hard things are the things I’m not ready to give over to You. There, that’s the truth. That is the “this”. The grammar that exposes my heart. This is hard, this giving over is hard. This letting go of the hope that my way could be better than Your way. I don’t want to give up my comfort. I don’t want to give up my choices. I don’t want to bend my back to Your will, to surrender to every possibility. I want to keep this fist clenched, and this is the hard. The faith to trust that Your will is better, every time. The faith to believe that despite what I hunger and crave it may not always be what is best for me. The truth that being in the world is not the same as being of the world.

I don’t want to give these things up, especially not to You. Because if I give them up to You, I know that You may not give them back to me. These relationships. These comforts. These indulgences. These desires. These things I want so much even though I know, secretly, they only hurt me. These images I have of myself, of where I should be heading. There they are again. My should be’s and want to’s. Oh how they creep.

Come unto me, You say. Come to me and I will give you rest. Yes, You are right. It is exhausting; juggling all my desires on spinning out of control plates. Fooling myself into believing that a tight grip on my desires equates to a tight grip on control, a tight grip on life. I have no control. And maybe I have life, but what kind of a life is it? It is not an abundant one, not with this fist so tight. Not with these plates spinning, always spinning, and falling off, and flying off. And where did that one go? And how did I forget to watch this one? And when did that one break?  Yet still I cling, except when I cling so desperately to anything but You, nothing goes the way I hope for.  And the very medicine I need is the very medicine I pull back from.

Surrender.

No, it does not taste good. And rather than swallow, I choose to hold it in my mouth, continually tasting the bitter I so believe it to be rather than giving it chance to soothe and heal. Come unto me, all who are weary, and I will give you rest. You know me so well. Yes, I am weary. Weary of the conditions of this world. Weary of what culture says I must be, how much money I must make, what I need to be happy. Weary of how this disease drags and pulls and blurs. Yes, I am weary. And the burden grows with each clench of my fist. And the very thing I hold to is the very thing that causes this disease to spread. I came that they may have life, and have it to the full. A full life, that is what you want for me. A full life, full of every possibility. Why then do I let this fear grow inside of me? Why do I tell myself that surrender brings loss? Why do I choose to ignore truth. Because surrender sews possibility. It is a door not a wall.

I swallow the stuff.

I swallow the liquid medicine I have held onto for so long. I swallow and let it soothe, let it coat. I swallow the medicine and realize it is not so bitter. Come unto me, You say. Oh Jesus, let me come, here I am. Take me. Take my heart, take my desires, take these plates. I reach out to you and with it I realize I have let go. These hands no longer make fists. These hands, clenched for so long are now open. Open for possibility, open for life, open to hold Yours. And as you take my hand, I feel it. I feel that balm, as it coats and soothes, warming my innards, the deepest places of me. Warming all that is in and around me. This balm that sinks to the bowels of my heart. This balm that instantly heals. This abundant balm. And as it sinks I realize it’s not as hard as I thought. And as it heals I realize that my this has changed. Yes, my this has changed. And there is no more hard, there is only easy. There is only rest. There is only You. There You are. Come unto me, You say, Come unto me and I will give you rest.

And oh!  What a rest it is.

Isaiah 43:19| John 17:16| Matthew 11:28 | John 10:10 

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A New Day, Dear Love, Detoxify, Healing From the Inside Out

Faint of Heart

I jerk my eyes open. Sun glaring bright into my face but for the first time in weeks I am thankful for it. Thankful for the intrusion that this time isn’t an intrusion, isn’t an annoyance. I let the sun lay there, on my skin, it’s bright, sharp light burning into my not quite ready eyes. It was a dream. I can sigh. It was a dream startled awake by light. It was a dream, an untruth, an imagined reality.

“It’s not real” I hear myself grumble with morning voice. As if the encouragement will make the ache lessen. “It wasn’t real. No matter how real it felt.”

It felt real. It felt much too real. Driving to see friends, my mind imagined a place in which I was no longer welcome. Walking up the drive, anxious to see them, I hadn’t seen them in so long. But rather than walking into a hug, I walked into isolation. They had replaced me. They had replaced me with others. Those who were less of a mess than I. In my dream, I watch as they gather together, enjoying one another, and while I am there I am no much more than a bystander. They hardly even noticed me. And then, without a word, they leave. They all left together, leaving me there in that house, alone with the sun. The setting sun. And as I looked up into that sun that was sinking into earth, catching the last of its rays before it, too, left, my mind disconnected and woke up to a rising sun instead. “It’s not real. It was just a dream. I never saw them. They never left me.”

So why then, did it feel so real?

I’ve been detoxing for the past five days now. I thought this was going to be a physical thing. This has been so much more than  a physical thing. Yes, there have been cravings. Yes, there has been a lot of cleaning out. Yes, there have been some breakouts. But this has not been a physical thing. It started with cravings. Cravings for things I thought I had more control over. Forget sugar, these cravings came from a deeper place.  Cravings for people, those who rejected me a long time ago, rejections I apparently never got over. Cravings for things God put in the past to keep in the past. Then there was the cleaning out. Cleaning out of old thought and old ways. Cleaning out of a mindset that continues to agree with the put me downs and keep me downs. There is so much to clean out. I didn’t even know it was there. He said we were going deeper…We’ve gone so much deeper. And now, there’s these breakouts. Breakouts I can’t seem to remedy no matter what concealer I try to use.  So many breakouts. Little forest fires of the heart, suddenly engulfing emotion and mood, thought and desire, leaving me in a flurry of action, fighting with buckets of tears, desperate to put the fire out, desperate to put the mood out.

And so was I, waking from that dream. That all too real, but not really real dream. Why do I dream this? Why do I think this? I thought we dealt with this. I thought I handled this. But all to often I do not handle, I simply move on. I find a band aid that fits and sticks and I think, “There, its all done.” and so I move on, left with a wound that was on its way to heal and yet, was not quite healed.  I forget that aid implies helping. Not taking over. There was still work to be done, mending to attend to, and yet, I once again choose to see other things. Why go to the murky and the mucky when I don’t have to. We are a culture built around the beautiful, after all.

And so here I am. Five days later detoxing. No, five plus many more  years later. Detoxing from all these poisons I left in my body. Detoxing from all those wounds I left to fester. Detoxing from all those lies I chose to believe, to let sink in. He told me we were going deeper. I sat there in that hospital room, eaten alive with disease, and in a whisper God told me we were going deeper. We’ve gone so much deeper. I didn’t realize how sick I was. I didn’t even realize how many toxins were poisoning me, body, mind, and soul. I didn’t realize how much I needed it, this detox. But here I am. Dealing with more than just green juice. Dealing with more than just a diseased body. Here I am dealing with a diseased heart, a diseased soul, desperate for the remedy, desperate for truth. I’ve listened to untruths for so long, spiritual propaganda that has sunk into the deep places of my heart.

I thought this was going to be a physical thing.  This has been so much more than a physical thing. And so we go. On to the next chapter, on to the next day, on to the next toxin. How often do we let ourselves detoxify? How often do we awaken our souls the lies that have sunk to the deep places? How often do we sit and listen, letting The Still, Small Voice speak into the pain, speak into the disease, speak into the atrophied heart. And when He speaks, how often do we respond, choosing to believe His truth over those we have built our life on?  How often do we believe love, believe in the power we so desperately want to be true. It is a journey for the faint of heart, the faint of heart that is ready to become strong. And so I carry on, drinking this juice, hearing His voice, and going deeper.

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