Faith Through Pain

You know what… it’s time to be honest… this past year and a half has been miserable… possibly the worst I’ve had in my life… I’ve had a slew of health things pop up including (but not limited to)

  • The tendons in my left kneecap being stretched to the point that my kneecap won’t stay in place causing my knee to collapse and be in constant pain
  • The tendons in my right ankle being stretched and messed up so my ankle is always stiff, locks up, and are also in constant pain
  • Finding out I’ve had fibromyalgia all this time, so there was actually a reason I could never keep up with people
  • Finding out I also had NASH which compounds the Fibro symptoms and means my liver is basically constantly destroying itself (Still getting tested for if I have liver cancer as well)
  • Finding out that by trying to be responsible and “Kick it up a gear” all these years I’ve actually been permanently destroying my body

In addition to this there’s been car troubles, losing my job, missing out on unemployment insurance, realizing I didn’t qualify for disability insurance, having literal hundreds of job applications lead to nothing, my dog dying, my grandmother being hospitalized, family stress, heartbreak, offensive accusations and rumors, nearly going bankrupt, having most my dreams and plans for the future go down the tubes, increased debt, being forced to be a burden to those I care about, losing independence, having to get rid of the furnishings of my old apartment (and simultaneously admitting that it might be years before I could ever use such things again), time and time again hitting the barrier of “lack of working body” or “lack of finances”, the list goes on…

So why bring this all up? Believe it or not, it’s not just so I can whine… (though a good whine feels good from time to time…) It’s more so you can understand exactly where I’m coming from when I say what I’m about to say.

You see, my generation REALLY liked motivational speakers. I’m sure many generations had their motivational speakers, but my generation practically thrived on them. Every year we’d have 3 or 4 come to our school… And being the naturally cynical person I am even at a young age, there were two things that always bugged me.

First of all, there was the obvious thing… These people were paid to come to schools and businesses to tell them about how they were once hopeless and considered a failure by all… but now they had achieved true success…. By going around to places and telling them how they were once a failure, but were now a success…. I mean come on! I may have been in the third grade, but even I realized this was pretty cart-before-the-horse!

The second thing was probably a bit more subtle… You see… it might be encouraging to hear of people who were once failures but were now successes… but it’s not very educational… How did they survive those times when they were in the dumps? How did they think of a way no one else ever thought of to get out? Did they ever lose hope? Were they only able to act so confidently now because it was all over? Hindsight 20/20 afterall…

And so… I wanted to say this now. Now that I feel hopelessly lost. Now that my heart is breaking. Now that I feel like I’ve taken three knife-wounds to the chest in quick succession. Now that I don’t want to stand up even though I have to go to the bathroom because putting weight on my legs feels like my bones are made of shattered glass cutting into my muscles. Now that I wince as I type each letter because of the pain in my hands. Now that it’s hard to even think straight because the brain fog is so thick. Now when there’s no possible way visible to get out of my predicament… I’m standing up to my neck in a burning fire on a platform that’s crumbling away… and even if I were to gain the “Ordinary life” tomorrow out of nowhere, it would still take probably over a decade to recover from all the damage I’ve taken through this… While all my health problems are not only prominent, but also incurable. When I don’t want to fall asleep because it will mean I have to wake up. When I don’t want to wake up because what even is the point. When I walk through life behind a fake smile and lies about being fine because quite honestly, I’m never fine. At this point in my pain filled, stress filled, loss filled life, without even a glimmer of observable hope for the future I want you to hear me say…

 

GOD IS SO GOOD!

 

No… I’m not being cynical here. I haven’t gone to the looney bin either, nor was I overexaggerating my mood previous… My life stinks. I’m not blind enough to not see that. I try to ask people twice my age for advice, and once they hear the reality of where I am, they start to sweat and say they don’t know what to say. Major damage has been done, and major damage is being done. I’m not getting any younger, and peoples’ expectations of what I’ve accomplished by now are only rising as my options are vanishing. Life is horrible, I’m stressed, I’m depressed, I’m scared, I’m heartbroken, and there are days I just wish I’d never been born. But even still…

 

GOD IS SO GOOD!

 

So how can I say that? How can a “good” God let things like this happen? How am I not rebelling against my faith even now? People give up on God for way less than this… so why am I still here?

Instead of answering right away, I’m going give some encouragement… or at least some wisdom I’ve come to find when it comes to dealing with grief, despair, and the hard times of life. See, I think there are three things that every person needs to hear, no matter what they are facing.

  1. What you are going through IS hard.
  2. You are NOT facing it alone.
  3. God is with you, you CAN get past this.

 

What You are Going Through IS Hard:

This is an important one for you to understand first off. I don’t know what it is you’re going through. It could be the loss of a loved one… relationship stress… persecution… bullying… school stress… family stress… depression… ANYTHING really. But whatever it is, I’m sure there is something in your life that is in your mind that is stressful and weighs heavily on you.

There is a very unhelpful thing we have a tendency to do for the most innocent of all reasons. I’m sure you do it with your own problems… I’m sure a bunch of you were doing it to me while I was listing off mine… and that is telling ourselves “So what… at least it’s not *insert worst possible thing we can imagine happening to us*.

Now a part of me honestly gets this. We don’t want to become whiners. We don’t want to feel entitled or put ourselves into a corner where we stop trying to move forward and are just sulky about how our lives stink… BUT THIS IS NOT THE WAY!

First reason I don’t like this tactic is that it gives us unrealistic expectations as to how others are doing. When you belittle someone else’s problems, you simultaneously tell them “You have no right to feel stressed over this because I definitely wouldn’t.” Even if that is not your intention. Even if you totally would be way more stressed than they are right now in the same situation… that’s the front you give them. In our idiotic world that tries so desperately to hide any fault or struggle we have, we already struggle with trying to live up to impossible standards. Don’t encourage people to repress their stress. It just makes the problem worse!

The second reason I don’t like this is because, this is NOT how pain works! Out of all the functions of the human body, it’s ability to adapt is the most amazing. In the same way, if people get used to an incredibly arduous lifestyle, something rough might not seem as bad.

For me, I have been pain, which is too strong to ignore in every one of my joints. To many, the thought of this is insane, and to tell you quite honestly, I’d probably be able to accomplish a lot more if I wasn’t in pain, but here’s the thing… I’ve been in pain my WHOLE life! I don’t really know what it’s like NOT to be in pain. As such, it’s not really something I would notice as much as someone who doesn’t live in pain. When I say “I’m fine.” What that actually means is “I’m in a frustrating amount of pain right now, but it’s not causing too much of a headache and I’m still able to move without any limbs giving out which is pretty good for me.” Some people may have trouble understanding this, but it’s my life.

A better way to explain it might be to imagine you sitting in a car. If the car goes from 0-70km/h in a matter of seconds… well… honestly you might black out the pressure would be so extreme! However, if you go from 110-115km/h you would barely notice the change, even though you’re going WAY faster!

It’s not the intensity of pain as much as the amount of change from our norm that determines hardship.

The final reason I don’t like encouraging people to suppress their grief is because it’s downright unbiblical. Job, who God called “a faithful servant with no one else like him” spent an entire book talking about how horrible his life was and how he wished the Lord would take his life or cursing the day he was born. There are numerous psalms written by David where he expresses his doubt of God’s plan and exhaustion of trying to move forward. Jesus Himself even mourned twice! Once crying over Lazarus’ death, and the second time begging God to take the cup of wrath away from Him which was the entire reason He came!

At the same time, not all grieving is considered good… God got furious at the Israelites about their whining in the wilderness. He got frustrated with Moses for his complaints that he was too weak a man for God to use… so what is it that separates the acceptable grieving from the whining in the Bible?

I am no pastor… nor a prophet… nor even a very smart guy… but if I was to wager a guess, I’d say this:

God is okay and invites us to bring forward our pain and complaints to Him SO LONG AS we still hold Him as worthy and wise, and as long as we still decide to follow Him, even if we don’t understand why.

God knows what you’re going through is hard. It’s called a “refining fire” not as something beautiful… but as something harsh and deadly, which from it will melt away everything except for the most valuable and beautiful pieces. This was never going to be easy. This was never going to be comfortable. But know in you heart of hearts, that God lets these things happen for a reason. And trust in Him even when it hurts. He doesn’t ask us to feel no pain, He asks us to trust Him through it!

What you are going through right now, WHATEVER it is… it’s hard. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! But… know that God is having you go through this for a reason. Let this pain drive you to run towards Him, not away from Him. Let Him show you what He can bring forth from this!

You are NOT Facing it Alone:

If you are reading this post… you are most likely alive. If you are not alive you most likely cannot post a comment to argue this point because I’d probably have heard about something like that by now.

Humans are fragile creatures. We aren’t designed to live alone… in fact for the first 14… somethings 60+ years of our lives we CAN’T live alone. We’re young, frail, poor, weak… and most likely pretty dumb too.

I’m not here to fight or defend family matters. I know many people whose home lives make me cry or want to throw up. But all I will say is that, raising someone is not easy. If you are still alive, that means SOMEONE took the time and effort to do that. You are NOT alone… there are people who care about you. As you grow and impact lives, that number will most likely grow with it… even if you don’t fully realize it.

Ah… but people…. People…. People…………………………. People… People are both the greatest asset to helping you move forward, as well as the greatest barrier keeping you from moving forward… sometimes if they are incredibly skilled, they can do both at the same time. As they often say at my church… “We’re like a bunch of hedgehogs in the winter… we need to get closer to stay warm, but the closer we get, the more likely we are to stab each other!”

The truly mind-blowing part is that, people don’t even need to intend harm to cause it… I have been told far more destructive things out of love than out of hate. When someone hates you, you can at least be angry at them for being such a jerk… but when someone says something horrid out of love… well then all you’re left with is the crushing realization they really think you’re that stupid.

There was one case in particular however, which really changed how I viewed how I want to react to certain inputs. I had someone come up to me, older, supposedly wiser, and tell me that God had put it on their heart to tell me something…

Now this is my cynical side speaking again, but I instantly get apprehensive when people start a conversation with “God told me to tell you.” Because

  1. Why is God telling you? I was talking to God just 15 minutes ago and He told me a lot of stuff. Why wouldn’t He just tell me then instead of telling you to tell me? It seems inefficient!
  2. I always find it interesting how many people hear “God telling them” to tell other people things, when they very rarely hear God telling them to tell themselves things.

This is of course NOT to say that you should never trust someone who says such things. God has allowed me to touch the lives of people in ways I could never imagine in the past by putting it on my heart to ask them things… However, when faced with this, it is usually wise to take the biblical approach of analyzing what is said against much prayer and comparing with the scripture. If God could tell them, ask God to tell you too, because you serve God, not them.

But anyways, the person then went on to tell me their message… It was amazing… It was 100% the worst thing I could possibly hear at that moment… It took every insecurity I was trying to stand strong through and shot a cannonball through… It made me feel worthless, stupid, and like I had been a piece of garbage in everyone’s eyes this entire time only barely put up with.

Now I am a non-confrontational person… but unlike most non-confrontational people, it is not because I stink at fighting. In fact, it is the reverse. I am a fighter by nature. I am in fact such a fighter by nature that should I get mad, I will absolutely demolish my opponent till there is not a shred of them standing. Me letting myself get angry at provocation is like a guy with a Gatling gun finishing off a toddler with a water balloon, and quite honestly, I scare myself. It is for this reason that I usually don’t let myself get mad… but at that moment I was fairly close. Like a cornered and scared wild animal, I was ready to lash out with every last bit of righteous anger I had in me. I could hear the twitter replies coming in saying I was totally justified and for once I was going to fight back… But then God tapped me on the shoulder…

He asked me, “What if I did send this person?” no… not as an encouragement, or wise message, or advice. It accomplished none of those goals and God admitted that… but what if God sent that person at that time to see if I would still choose to trust in God, or instead lash out in my own strength….

It was at that point I realized how much we chase after the wrong enemy. We waste so much time and energy getting angry at humans. “HOW COULD THEY SAY THAT!? HOW COULD THEY DO THAT?! HOW COULD THEY LET THAT IDIOT GET VOTED IN?!” that we forget how much we aren’t acting in faith.

The Babylonians in the Old Testament were DEFINITELY not Godly people. Sex crazed, cruel, irrational, impulsive, sadistic… even history textbooks tell stories about the horrible things they were known for doing… Yet if you read in the Old Testament, it’s very clear… GOD sent them… GOD raised them up… it was part of GOD’S plan that they would do what they did. It does go on to say that they go to far and as such God punishes them… but the Bible is very clear the only reason they rose to power was because God let them… and He let them rise to power, not because He was angry and wanted the Israelites to suffer… but out of love to save the Israelites from their own corrupt ways. To make sure they would survive even though they demanded they wanted to live in such a corrupt manner.

When people hurt you… don’t waste your energy getting angry at them… Quite often, even the most hurtful people act out of love… but what’s more, it was God who decided to blind their eyes to what you’re going through. It was God who decided to let them say what they were going to say at that time you were closest to bursting… If God lets it happen, there is a reason for it, even if it is to make you stronger through enduring. When those around you hurt you… yes feel pain… yes grieve like we said before… but don’t hold bitterness and anger against them… it will only destroy you. I know this because I struggle with it myself. But pray to God. Ask God what it is He wants you to see. Pray for the strength to forgive and the wisdom to learn.

There is however, the other extreme as well. I HATE asking for help…. Which is a bi hypocritical considering I’m a busybody who’s always pushing to make sure everyone who lets me be in contact with them is alright. But still I hate it. I feel like I’m burdening them. I feel like I’m a bother to them. I feel embarrassed by all the things they’ll judge me on. I hate going through the repetitive task of trying to tell them “Yes I tried that… No, I really did… Okay see I’ll try it again… and no it still didn’t work… and yes I got hurt again trying it…” but most of all… I feel like if I can suffer alone, isn’t that better than letting others suffer my fate as well?

 

DO NOT BE ME! THIS IS WRONG!

 

We are human beings. We were never designed to stand alone… in fact we can’t. We’re like incomplete puzzle pieces. Each one of us are different and unique, but it’s only by fitting them all together that the true picture can be seen.

David could not stand alone when being chased by Saul. Moses could not stand alone when leading the Israelites through the desert. And yes, even Jesus did not stand alone, having the disciples with him.

There are people who care, but communication is key. Most people can’t tell what your intentions are, and as such all of their judgements are based on your results that they can see. Results and actions are THE WORST WAY to understand who someone truly is because there are so many causes that can bring forth the same results.

You have to communicate and build a relationship with people. Most people are open to doing this, because quite honestly, everyone knows what it’s like to feel pain, it’s universal. And those who feel pain, most often, don’t want anyone else to feel the pain they went through.

Even if you don’t know if you can talk to your family, or your friends… there are professionals out there too! Pastors, Counselors, Suicide hotlines… People are out there. And they’ll listen to you. They’ll help you the best they can. At the end of the day they can’t take your pain from you, nor can they always give the answers for you. These are things which only you can bear. But to quote Sam Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings, “I can’t carry it for you… but I can carry you!”

God is With You and You CAN Get Past This:

Now time for the point of encouragement. No tunnel lasts forever!

Yes, while I’m writing this, I feel like I’m climbing out of a pit where the walls are made of loose sand, and the longer I climb, the more caved in the exit seems to be getting to the point that there’s barely a pinhole of light left in it. Yes, there are times where I wonder that even if I get out of this… what will I have left to come out to? But when I think of it… Joseph was sold into slavery, accused of rape and then thrown into the worst jail where he was forgotten about for years. David was chased by an entire army for years having everything stripped from him by the one he most loyally served and was forced to live with the people he had killed for years. Job lost his family, house, wealth, health, friends, and more…. And yet… it all worked out for them… in fact, in spite of there being no logical explanation for it save for “God”, they all ended up with far more than they even started with or could have ever dreamed of getting if any of this hadn’t happened to them.

Many people point out that “God won’t test you any farther than you can handle.” But I’m going to put an asterisk on that… Because God DOES test us farther than WE can handle… I’ll tell you right now, I was ready to give up after the second month of this past year and a half. I remember crying in the shower in despair, because God put it on my heart “What if I don’t save you from this yet? What if I let this go on for 6 months? A year? Will you still trust me then?”

God tests us FAR farther than WE can handle… on our own… but we aren’t on our own. God is with us. Rely on Him. He wants us to! He wants to show us what He can do through us.

“But I have nothing left to get me out of here!” you would probably be thinking, if you’re like me… A verse that has really stood out to me recently is in the book of Mark where Jesus and the disciples are on a boat. Jesus had just gotten frustrated with the Pharisees and told them “Don’t eat the yeast they provide” meaning “Don’t listen to their words.” Which the disciples had taken to mean as “We didn’t bring enough bread.” At this point, Jesus points out to the disciples the two times he fed thousands of people with just a few loaves of bread. The first time he fed 5000 with 5 loaves (1 loaf of bread/1000 people… TOTALLY DOABLE!) and they ended up with 12 baskets of leftovers. The second time he fed 4000 people with 7 loaves of bread. Now… even if you’re bad at math, you can probably figure this one out… You’re feeding less people with more loaves of bread… THERE’S GOING TO BE A TON OF LEFTOVERS THIS TIME! But… there were 7 baskets.

This was on purpose! It illustrated that it’s not about what we bring to God. It’s about what God does through us. If you are feeling trapped because you have nothing left, so what kinds of things can you do with your life… YOU STILL HAVE GOD!

These past 6 years, and ESPECIALLY this past year and a half has taught me that there is honestly nothing you have that can’t be taken away from you, EXCEPT FOR YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD! That is one thing you can never have taken away from you, because you can only give it up yourself. And even when you do give it up… no matter how far you run… no matter how long you’re gone… no matter how impossible you feel it would be to go back… you turn around and repent, and BAM He was there beside you all this time.

You may feel like you have nothing, but with God you have everything!

And don’t underestimate what He’s doing in this time as well. Too often we view times of trials like “The waiting room.” We want them to be over so life can start again… YOU’RE ALIVE RIGHT NOW! SO LIVE!

I am not where I want to be. I have no “real job.” My health is a mess, my finances are worse… There are massive giants swinging their clubs one after another and no matter how hard I pray, God seems to be ignoring them… but if I look harder… I realize that around me, a number of other giants I had been ignoring are falling one after another.

My relationship with my parents is stronger than it’s ever been. My organization skills are rising. I’m fighting procrastination. I’m eating healthy and exercising. I’ve read through the bible cover to cover once and am going for a second lap. I pray every day. I’m learning skills they don’t teach in schools. I’m stretching myself and what I can accomplish. For the first time in my life I’m a high 90’s average and it’s in University. I can hold a basic conversation with people in Japan in Japanese. I’ve been home to look after the house while my grandmother is in the hospital so everyone else can be with her. I’ve made tough decisions about what matters and what doesn’t, both in physical items and who I am as a person. I’ve understood my limitations better and am learning to say no. I’m learning to rely on others more. I’m growing in confidence. I’ve accepted that I don’t just want to live a mediocre/safe life anymore (in fact I honestly can’t)

These times hurt a LOT… and the areas I want to get fixed, and where most people seem to be looking remain untouched. But God IS at work. I’ve seen His hand so actively in my life this past year and a half in ways no one can expect. The exit may be getting more blocked in, but He’s been making me strong enough to come flying out when He clears a way. I don’t know what the future holds, for all I know, I could die tomorrow. And quite honestly, that would be alright. God has still used me in this time. I could spend the rest of my life living a meager life alone… and again, if that’s what God decides, it’s His choice… I’d rather it not be that, but it’s God I follow not me… even still though… no matter what happens or how far it all falls apart… I know God CAN turn it around at any point. Because it’s not about what I bring, but how much I trust in Him.

So, whatever it is you’re going through in your life, know that it IS tough. You feel stressed and upset by it, and it is totally alright to feel that way. Don’t give up pushing forward, and let this pain drive you closer to God so He can help you. But don’t feel you’re weak because you feel helpless or in pain. Strength was never about not feeling helpless or defeated… Strength is about being willing to stand up again in spite of that and fighting again!

Remember you’re not alone! I just wrote about 5000 words to tell you that I know what you’re going through and care enough about you to be this raw and real with you about all this! On top of that you have friends, families, professional services, and more out there for you. Don’t try to carry life’s burdens yourself. You can’t. And that’s okay. Rely on others, and be there to help them when they need help too. A chord of many strands is not easily broken!

Finally, know that by relying on God, you CAN get through this… and what’s more, He’s using this time to make you stronger. Don’t fret and be dismayed about how you’re going to get out of this and all that you’ve lost, because God knows what you need and He can return all that and more as easily as can be! Live, learn, trust, grow. One day you’ll be able to help someone else through a similar time because of what you’re going through now.

If you’ve stayed with me this long, I thank you for your endurance… and hope this was encouraging for you. If you know someone else who’s going through a rough time and needs encouragement, feel free to share. This is no scientific study, or theological thesis… it’s just the writings of an ordinary guy being very raw, very real, and hoping that by being honest about what he’s going through, that he can encourage even one more person to not give up fighting forward.

So once more… in full recognition of the state of my life, the consequences, the implications, the slander, the pain, and more… I just want to say this one last time to tell you just how honestly, I believe it. In spite of my circumstances, my fears, others’ judgements, or more…

GOD IS SOOOOOOOOOOOOO GOOD!

 

Amen

~Malcolm

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A Prayer of a Broken Heart

“And Lord, I pray to you through the storm. Not because I am strong, but because I never was.
 
As paths around me crumble and there seems to be no way forward, I walk towards you, on the path I cannot see.
 
Though the world around me my disappear, and everything of value to me may be taken away, I cling to you who is of greatest value, who no one and nothing can take away.
 
Though pain and hardships have become my daily bread, and I feel too weak to walk forward again, still I follow you. Not for what I get, but because you are, and have always been the only way.
 
Lord, though you pull me beyond the extents of my endurance, the bounds of my wisdom, the distance of my foresight, still I will trust in you. For the limits I can go are but a drip in the ocean from the journey you can take me on.
 
So Lord, do not forget your servant, though he is battered and bruised, still he clings to you. Though the days come where I feel too weak to stand back up again, I shall crawl towards you and cry to you until these days shall end.
 
I know all you have taken away can be returned 10 fold at a mere word from you. But even if my life were to end at this time, I know my life has not been for waste in your plan. No matter the results, no life spent chasing after you first-most can be considered a failure. And so I shall pick myself up yet again, shakily on tired fight, and continue to cry out to you, until the day when it all makes sense.
 
You cannot expect a simple life if you wish to let God do amazing things through you.
 
Amen”

Looking Back at One Year

Welp, we’ve officially reached a year since I had my injury that started all of this. This year has not gone like I had expected. In fact if you had told me last May that 365 days from then I’d still be unemployed, unable to walk for long periods of time, and dealing with the further diagnoses’ of NASH and Fibromyalgia…. I might have given up right there.
 
This year has not gone like I expected… There have been many tears, sleepless nights, close calls, and hard discussions. There have been days where I’ve felt like I would give anything to make the pain stop even just for an hour…. there have been days I’ve wondered if I’ll ever have an income again. I’ve taken direct hits to my pride in places I never even knew I had pride.
 
Becoming a burden on those you care about, losing your freedom to do what you want, gaining weight no matter how hard you exercise or how much you change your diet, being open about mistakes in the past, being barely able to even do your own chores, not being able to help others do heavy lifting or shoveling of snow etc because you physically can’t keep up, wondering if you’ll ever be able to be self sufficient, wondering if you can ever be a breadwinner in the home, wondering if you’re even worth marrying or could even raise a family, getting judged as “just not trying hard enough”, the fear of going bankrupt, the fear of getting cancer, the fear of never being able to walk again, the list goes on…. but at the same time, it was all pride.
 
My situation may not have changed and my health my be in shambles, but even if my situation is still the same after a year, I am not. God has been working hard on me, and I don’t know why. But there are times in life when we aren’t meant to question. They’re times when we’re just meant to rise up to the challenges He presents.
 
I have become more organized, more studious. I appreciate the fleeting aspects of life, that I don’t have to stand alone. I used to believe that as long as I could have a house and a family and live a peaceful life, then that would be enough. Now I realize that I don’t want that, and can’t just settle for mediocre. I want to push myself to what only God can do through me.
 
I’ve realized that blame is pointless. It’s not about whose fault it is, but about what you will do moving forward. People can waste their lives obsessing over those who wronged them, those who couldn’t understand them, God for letting it happen…. but what do they gain from it? Can being angry at someone undo what was done? Did those who wrong you even do it JUST to wrong you? Chances are they were acting as best they could. And quite honestly it wasn’t other people who decided whether you rise or fall but God. And God does all things for your benefit, not your loss, so why blame him and miss the strength He is teaching you through it?
 
The truth is that all the things around you…. finances, relationships, health, comfort, future, world order, peace, chaos…. they are all nothing but waves crashing around you. Nothing but a distraction that doesn’t even matter. Keep your eyes on God. The rest doesn’t matter. Keep your eyes on God and He will strengthen you to endure waves that come at you, or may even block the ones you are not ready for.
 
How can I know this? Because it was not by my own strength that I have made it this far. I believed that all things would end come December, and yet here I am still standing. Things are still pretty bad, but this has been a peaceful walk compared to what it could have been. Compared to what it should have been. God is still working on me even though I fail Him time and time again.
 
Yes this road is getting to me. Yes there are days that I break down. But can I truly despair? No… because no matter how bad things get…. no matter how hopeless the future looks… I truly believe that God could undo all of this by tomorrow morning if He so wished…. but even if He doesn’t. Even if things continue to get worse (which I pray that they don’t) I have come to realize He will be with me to help me endure… and to protect me from that which I cannot.
 
There are a multitude of speakers out there who have been through rough times and are now on the other side. But I think it’s equally important to speak up when you’re in the midst of the storm as well. It is easy enough to say things like “I lost my job and it was the best thing that happened to me because now I have this successful company!” or “I was destitute in $80,000 worth of debt and now I’m a millionaire!” but… what can that give other than a brief moment of encouragement? It is good to hear that there is an end to the tunnel, but isn’t it better to hear what the person did to get through it? How they coped on those days when they could barely wake up? Or on those nights when they were so stressed that they couldn’t sleep? To realize that they were stressed and hurt…. and it’s alright to be human like that? That feeling too weak to move forward at times doesn’t mean that you never will?
 
And so if I can encourage anyone else standing in the midst of the storm, I’ll speak now. Because to ignore all that happened this past year would be to waste it.
 
My hope and prayer is that I become strong enough that I will rely on God just as desperately in a time of plenty and blessing, as I do in a time of pain and want. I’m not where I want to me, and there are days when I’m tired or scared…. but even still… God is in control. Whether I am blessed or cursed, does it really matter? Does my current situation limit what God can do through me? Does my current situation deem my worth? Even King Nebuchadnezzar was raised to a seat of power by God, and then later had it taken away by God. Even though he believed it was his own doing.
 
So no. While I do want to live without pain, or have a lot of the stresses crushing in on me to disappear…. I’ve come to realize it is not my ability that will determine which way life will go…. God will bring me out of this if He so wishes, or provide for me to endure if He decides for me to stay.
 
God never asked for us to provide results, only to do the best we can with what we are given and to keep our eyes on Him throughout it all. and quite honestly, that is labour enough! So, as we pass the one year mark, no I am not where I want to be… but I am where God has placed me which means I am where I am meant to be.
 
Amen.

I Blinked…

I was driving along the 400 a few days ago, when all of a sudden a car appeared right in front of me, clearly not aware (or caring) that I existed.
 
Now thankfully, I grew up in the city, and therefore was pretty used to such homicidal driving styles, and as such, was able to slow down, even on icy snow, enough to not get a newly reshaped front bumper… but I had to ask myself, “How did he appear out of nowhere?” and then it dawned on me…
 
I blinked…
 
Now, a normal person would have just left it there, but anyone who knows me should realize, that I am most definitely not normal… so it really got me thinking….
 
I blinked…
 
See, people know about blind spots…. They know we have areas we are naive and unwise in… we invest millions in technology and training to minimize the effects of those blind spots (much like how we install mirrors on the sides of our car and train ourselves to look way back before turning so we can keep an eye on our blindspots) but that doesn’t change the fact that….
 
We blink….
 
This usually doesn’t affect us much. It’s usually something we don’t have to pay much attention to. After all, we usually only blink for a second, and we can usually catch ourselves afterwards pretty quickly… but as any gamer can tell you…. a lot can happen in the fraction of a second…
 
and so we blink….
 
we miss stuff… we get blindsided by things… We make incorrect assumptions due to corrupted observations. It’s not always bias. It’s not always pride. It’s not always incompetence, laziness, stupidity… sometimes…
 
We just blink…
 
I think this is important to realize. ESPECIALLY in today’s modern age. I see so many people running themselves into the ground with anxiety. They have to micromanage every aspect of their children’s lives or their children will rebel! They have to micromanage every part of their finances or they will be blindsided by debt. They have to micromanage every calorie of their health, or else they’ll end up overweight, sick, and dying of cancer…. but here’s the thing…
 
You can learn every technique, manage every detail, download every app, buy every fitbit, protein shake, gross kale combination, and non-everything recipe book you can find… but at the end of the day….
 
You blink….
 
You can manage your health as well as you can, but then one accident will send you down a rabbit hole of slow recoveries and missed medical issues because….
 
you blinked…
 
You can save every penny. Squeeze 50 cents out of every nickel, live as frugally as you can… but then one lost job and bad economy later, you find yourself having anxiety attacks every bill you get, because…
 
You blinked…
 
You can focus on “Fixing every mistake your parents made with you.” Read every pinterest article. Be the most empowering parent you can possibly be giving your children every frivolity and experience you feel you lacked in life, yet still have them rebel against you and say they hate you when they hit teenagehood because while you were focused on what to do you missed that….
 
You blinked…
 
You can do every thing you can imagine. And study further to learn things you couldn’t imagine… but no matter how responsible, strong, or mature you may become…. you will never be able to fix the fact that you are human…
 
You will blink…
 
And that’s why we can’t take the stress and strain of the results of our lives on our own shoulders. We were never designed to be able to handle such a vast and broad thing. Our perspective is tiny and limited. No matter how much experience we gain, we will never be able to grasp every detail we need to to know what the result will be.
 
But that’s okay. Because God knows that we are weak. He made us this way. God never asks us to “Make this happen.” God tells us what He’ll do through us and asks us to trust Him enough to follow Him as He does it…. And it’s hard… and it’s scary…. I write this honestly not knowing if I even have a future worth seeing…. In all honesty, if I was to carry it all on my shoulders there would be no point… I am way too small and far too many of my plans have fallen short by this point… but I’m going to keep following, and I’m going to keep trusting…
 
Even though I can’t say I feel it every day… God is with me… I may not see any freedom… but I would not have lasted this long without Him… It is honestly one of the hardest lessons to learn…. but at the end of the day I give me best… that is all I am ABLE to give… Sure, I’ll look back, and there will be things I SHOULD have done differently. I’ll see things I was dumb on. See things I could have avoided… I already do… but as I’ve kept saying…
 
I blink….
 
So I’m not going to rely on my eyes which blink. I’m not going to rely on my ears that misshear. I’m not going to trust my sense of touch that can go numb…. I’m going to trust God, who says to keep moving forward and trust in Him… because if I do that, the results are His, and it doesn’t matter if…
 
I blink

In His Hands

You know… when I really think about it, there’s absolutely no difference between living a life of comfort and ease, and living a life where every day is a battle and any moment everything could fall apart.
 
No matter how rich, powerful, or well off you are, God could wipe you out in but a single word. No matter how weak, broken, or destitute you are, God could raise you up just as easily.
 
Whether we have freedom or captivity, our hope for the future remains the same. For it was never on our abilities that we were to rise or fall… But by the hand of God.
 
So do not take pride in your standing, and think “I did good and now I am safe to do what I want”…. even though it is easy to do so.
 
Do not despair and say “God save me! I am going to drown!” Even though it is so very hard not to.
 
Your situation hasn’t changed. Your potential hasn’t changed. Your future hasn’t changed. You were, are, and forever will be in God’s hands, whether you follow Him or not. Find comfort and humility in that.
 
Amen

How Long Is The Storm

As I read the story of the disciples in the storm where they cried to wake Jesus so he could save them… I can’t help but wonder…
 
If their faith hadn’t faltered, would the storm have gotten worse?
 
Would it have continued until they were battered and beaten against the walls of the ship?
 
Would it have continued till the ship was battered apart into pieces?
 
Would it have continued until they had floated to land, cold and scared?
 
If this was the case… wouldn’t God still have protected them? But the path would have been quite a trial…
 
CS Lewis once wrote “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” and I find I can relate to that a lot… especially these days…
 
As my funds whither away to nothing… as my attempts to move forward get beaten back one after another… as my paths forward get increasingly less and less as my health checkups reveal problem after problem… As my daily prayers go by and still my circumstances don’t change…. I think it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed….
 
I am not strong… I simply have forgotten how to give up at this point… there are days I feel like a mutilated corpse, dragging itself forward by muscle memory alone… but even still… even should this whole life prove for not… God is still in control….
 
I see His hand in the little things in life. I see His comfort come when I ask for it. Though the giants still stand before me, and their execution axe are nearly at my neck…. though I feel chained to the ground by past stupidities and circumstances, and in spite of my cries God will neither loosen the chains nor defeat my attackers… it is impossible to say His hand is not present… it is impossible to say He is not in control. It is impossible to say He has abandoned me or Cannot save me… God is God. God is good. God is always here…
 
But it is also impossible to say I am not scared… I know God will look out for me. I know God will always be there… but that doesn’t mean there aren’t paths I’m scared to go down…. that doesn’t mean there aren’t paths I’m not scared to trust God even if He decides to take me down them. It doesn’t mean there aren’t paths I pray day after day and night after night that God will pull away from me lest I be forced to face them..
 
This is probably a lack of faith… This may be even why He does not bring them away until He proves that He is still God when brought through my fears… but that is where I am currently at in my state of human weakness.
 
But God is still God… God is still good. For all who go through life problems. For all who suffer and strain. For all who fear in spite of weakness…. I don’t know if I can say you’re right or wrong… but I can say you’re not alone…. I can also say that while Jesus did scold the disciples for their lack of faith, He also did dispel the storm in the end… Though I write this from the center of the storm. Though I write this at the peak of exhaustion… All I can say is pray. Give your best and trust in God. At the end of the day it was never your shoulders this was all resting on anyways. God is in control. Let Him be.
 
Amen

Lessons From Weakness:

It’s been over 5.5 months since I injured both my legs, and I still have over a month to go before my appointment which will take me (potentially only one step) closer towards finding out if I’ve really had Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome or not (which the more I research it, the more I’m surprised of, if nothing else, how many people have lived through surprisingly similar stuff as me) and there has honestly been a lot that I’ve learned. Some positive, some negative, but all of which can be used to either make you grow kinder or harder hearted.

 

  1. It’s Surprising What You Can be Secretly Confident/Proud Of:

 

I have never considered myself to have that strong of an upper body, (though a lot of people apparently thought I did since I’m short and stocky…) but I had always been proud of my leg strength. They honestly always felt like they were made of solid iron. I could leap several feet away with a flick of my ankle, I could jump off walls, my sense of balance was pretty awesome, and mixed with a quick reaction time, there wasn’t much I felt I couldn’t do with them.

 

Ever since the injury however, walking on them has felt like they were being supported by bones of shattered glass. They randomly start shaking and give out on me. I tip over, or roll my ankle quite often, and quite honestly, merely stomping, jumping, jogging, or bracing myself feels like a series of tiny fractures popping all the way up my leg at once.

 

Where once my legs were the force I could rely on, their strength now pales in comparison to my upper body strength… and I’m not gonna lie, that’s hard to take.

 

  1. You’re Gonna Still Feel Like You Should be Able to do The Things You Once Did, And Will Feel Like a Wuss for Failing:

 

There are so many times these days that I go to lift something that originally was barely even noticeable, only to find me having to put it down 4 steps later lest your legs collapse underneath you. And you mentally kick yourself for it.

 

Because you know “It’s not heavy” that “This isn’t hard.” that “If I just push myself I could do it.” But that’s your muscle memory talking… not your body.

 

I honestly thought that if you suddenly lost half your strength, trying to lift 25lbs would just feel like lifting 50lbs did. But that’s not the way it works. 25lbs, still feels like 25lbs, but your body will NOT carry it long before screaming at you for being an idiot trying to carry it across the yard.

 

  1. The Pain is Not the Worst Part:

 

People don’t like pain… I have come to discover this… I don’t like pain… this is why, when I discovered people don’t normally live in chronic pain 24/7 I felt kinda jipped/furious! But the fear of pain will always be worse than pain itself.

 

If you live in pain long enough, your body will start to try and mask it out. On a lower level this works fairly well… you may notice you have less headaches if you take a painkiller instead of having your body try and compensate (though you will instantly regret that decision once the painkiller wears off) but when the pain grows to certain levels, it turns into a maddening numbness.

 

If you have ever pulled an all-nighter, you may know what this feeling is like. It essentially feels like your brain is too big for your skull. Like the parts of your body are layered on top of you vs actually being a part of you. This mixed with the feeling like your body is honestly hollow (Like mentioned above) creates this very surreal and rather unpleasant feeling that honestly, I would rather live without.

 

The worst part of all though, is when your body just “Gives out.” it’s not that you’re tired. It’s not that you notice your muscles aching because you’re pumping so much stinking adrenaline… but you’ll be walking along and suddenly *BAM* it just tries to collapse under you. You try to pick yourself up again only to find it doesn’t work… it is such a helpless feeling and honestly you feel ridiculously vulnerable during it. It is hard to take.

 

  1. There Really is a Bias About Guys and Manual Labor:

 

This one’s gonna get me in trouble… but I’m sorry… it’s real. And it’s frustrating. The amount of times people look at you like you’re the scum of the earth because you can’t be the uber strong guy doing uber strong things is ridiculous!

Not wanting to touch on this too long because I feel the angry mob forming outside with every word I type, but all I can say is this… the same way it’s frustrating for a girl to be told they can’t do ____ physical job, it’s frustrating to be told they’d rather not hire guys for _____ mental job. I mean I have a diploma in business, am acing a BA in business, taught myself to hold a basic conversation in Japanese, am teaching myself programming, write essay length Facebook statuses on rather advanced topics that was asked to be turned into a blog (check out www.macyaks.wordpress.com for shameless plug), can write professional business letters off the top of my head, am able to manipulate large amounts of variables in my head at one time, basically think in Gant charts, am a certified Excel Specialist, and more! I have abilities! Please stop judging my worth by how many heavy boxes I can move in how short a time!

 

  1. There are Many Ways to Keep Moving:

 

Life changes… you find yourself struggling to do things that you couldn’t do before. You’ll find it hard to carry down your laundry, to carry in your groceries, to drive for long periods of time, walk on uneven ground… there are so many things that change so quickly… but that doesn’t mean you just roll over and die.

There are many ways to move forward. If you can’t push past something, look for a way to work around it. Put it on wheels. Go down one step at a time. Cruise Control is an amazing invention. Park benches are as well. You may have to give more thought, but you don’t have to give up!

 

  1. It is Alright to Admit It Hurts:

 

This is one of the hardest parts for me. It’s one I’ve struggled with for a long time. However, reading through life stories and testimonies of people suffering from EDS I’ve come to realize I’m really not alone on this.

 

It is alright to say you hurt…. in fact, if you don’t say you hurt, no one is going to know.

 

Some people will roll your eyes. Others may try to tactfully trick you into “Growing up.” but realize these people can’t live in your body. Nor can you live in theirs. We can say “I’m in pain.” but what does pain feel like? Do we all feel it the same way? Are we all used to the same level?

 

The concept that someone can live with a distracting level of throbbing/stabbing pain in multiple parts of their body 24/7 without having a visible injury or doctor’s note saying “Their bones are broken.” is ludicrous to some people. Their bodies have never worked that way…

 

But the thing is, if they just continue believing your body feels as healthy as theirs is, you’re just going to frustrate and confuse them when they wonder why you can’t keep up with the same activities they do.

 

Admit it’s hard for you. If they can’t accept that from you, they would’ve never accepted you in the first place.

 

  1. You Will Get MANY Mixed Reactions:

 

We live in a world of polarized extremes. “Invisible Disabilities” seems to be a word that drives people to their respective pitchforks and torches.

 

Half the people you talk to will cry out “You need to go to your government! And demand that they give you supplements! You need support workers! And medication! And we will rally with signs to protest for you! (which not gonna lie is kind of encouraging to have people fight so hard for you… even if in some cases it’s more they want to have a cause to get behind)

 

The other half will cry out about how “Kids these days are such wusses! You just need to get out and exercise! Get desperate! Light a fire under you backside and put your nose to the grindstone! Then things will look up! You just haven’t really tried yet!” (and admittedly there are times you want to slap these people upside the head and yell “IF EFFORT WAS THE PROBLEM THEN YOU GUYS WOULD BE FAILING MORE THAN I AM RIGHT NOW!” but honestly, they do mean well, and there are a bunch of people taking advantage of the system, but ya… tact people, tact)

 

The truth though is… you are what you are… they are what they are… people will either accept that or not accept that, but reality is reality…. Keep fighting to give your best, not to keep up with them, but because that’s how we grow as human beings! You are neither entitled to an easier life than most, nor condemned to a miserable one trying to keep up with others.

 

  1. Your Best is Good Enough…. (But it Will Rarely Feel Like It!):

 

You hear it a lot these days: “Just give your best! Don’t worry about the results! Just keep giving it your all and realize that things will always work out for someone who gives their best! Great things happen for those who give their best! You can accomplish anything if you only give your best!”

 

But here’s the thing… Just because you give your best… doesn’t mean you’ll hit the standard…

 

No matter how hard you try, a failing grade is still a failing grade

No matter how hard you try, if you go broke you go broke

No matter how hard you try, if you’re unemployed, you’re unemployed

No matter how hard you try, if you can’t afford food you starve

 

There is a reality that people rarely talk about… either the people who write these posts are lucky enough to never reach those points of worry, or they just try not to think about these parts. But these problems nag at you. And all the inspirational speeches in the world can’t compete with the frustrations you feel.

 

But here’s the thing. You’re still growing! You may not be able to deal with the threats that are stressing you out right now. But you are still growing! You’re growing wiser! You’re growing stronger! You’re growing more compassionate! Don’t underestimate what you’re earning through these times!

 

Our life experiences may not always be pleasant… they may be painful, and they may feel like we can’t get what we want. But if you just throw these moments away as “Wasting your life.” That is all you’ll have…. Years of your life that you’ve just thrown away, when you’ve learned so much through that time that WILL help you for years in the future! Don’t underestimate the value of what you’ve learned!

 

  1. God’s Still in Control:

 

You’re not here to please others. You’re not here to acquire great wealth or power. You’re not even here to survive as long as you can manage. These are not the keys to your success or failure! You are here to serve God and go where He leads. You are here to see the amazing things He can do through you.

 

Once again, this is a touchy subject because of the divide. Beyond the “Religion/IHATERELIGION” sides which seem to be growing more and more volatile these days, there is also, within the church the “God will give you everything/God wants you to provide for yourself.” Sides which grow further and further apart ever spurned by their fear of the other.

 

God will provide for you… I cannot begin to point out how many verses in the Bible point this out. Even the parable of the talents that many like to turn to as to say “LOOK! GOD WANTS US TO TAKE CHARGE AND MAKE OUR OWN WAY!” ….let me point out, that

  1. a) They did not “earn” money, they invested it
  2. b) The servant was not scolded for not earning money, he was scolded for doing nothing with his talent
  3. c) God was the one who gave them the talents in the first place, not them.

 

God will provide for us. God WANTS us to rely on Him. This is not to say, “Oh just C’est la Vie! Life will do what life will do, but God will save my butt no matter what I do!” no… the Bible is also very clear that that is ALSO not right…. But stop beating yourself up over what you will eat and where you will sleep… God literally says that He’s got that covered. (Full disclosure: I rarely sleep or eat for fear of these two so I am not condemning you as weak if you are worried about it, just reminding you of what’s promised.)

 

But realize as well, that God providing doesn’t mean He’ll prepare the path YOU want… in fact it usually means the reverse of that.

 

We like our control. Well… let’s be honest, I’ve never met a human in my life who is truly in control of their life so… we like our ILLUSION of control. Whether we’re being led by our emotions, our desires, our fears, or our idols, we like to believe we are the ones taking charge of our lives and plowing the way.

 

God doesn’t beat around the bush. He isn’t here to give you freedom and power to make your dreams come true. He is here to lead you down the path He has in store for you and grow closer in relationship with you in order to show you the good He can do through you as well as how much your dreams PALED in comparison to His reality!

Though the road may be scary. Though you may lose things you thought you could not do without. Realize He’s got you and He’s still looking out for you!

Don’t run off the road when things look scariest and you want to grab the wheel and run for where you think looks safest… those are the times you need to rely on Him most! Don’t make a dark situation even worse! He doesn’t just want to make you happy, He wants to make you mighty! He made you, He knows you, He loves you. TRUST!

 

  1. You Haven’t Lost Until You Give Up!

 

I used to say “You haven’t lost until you’re dead.” But this isn’t entirely true… There are many who did not succeed until after they died.

 

Don’t give up. The moment you do, it’s all over. But as long as you keep fighting, there’s still a chance you’ll succeed!

 

You’ve come too far to give up! We are far too limited in our perspective of the here and now to see just how the present will be used in the future… but nothing is wasted. No effort is useless. No life accomplishes nothing.

You are strong.

You are influential.

You’ve got this!

Hang in there