Never Really Alone

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As you might have gathered from some of my other posts, I had Lymes Disease for seven years. I got very sick, especially towards the end. I could go seven or eight nights without sleeping day or night. I barely slept through the night for four years. I had arthritis all over my body and was in constant pain. I had soars inside of my mouth and on my face, and sometimes I would spit blood. I had to take a year off of work. I lost 35 pounds in less than two months. My best friend has told me that she would sometimes cry when I left her house because she thought I might die. It was incredibly hard.

This was one of the most difficult seasons of my life to be single. I wanted a companion with me, someone who could care about finding a way for me to get better simply so I could rest. Someone who could hold me at night and tell me it was going to be okay. I wondered if I could ever have that, if anyone would ever love me enough to take on such a huge burden.

I remember coming home from a doctor’s appointment in which he had let me know how serious my disease was. He told me that if I didn’t get better I could pass it on to my children. I wondered if I should just opt out of having a family now. I wouldn’t want them to have to live through this. He also told me that with Lyme, my symptoms would probably get worse for the rest of my life.

I stood in my living room after that doctors appointment, my purse and coat still on, overwhelmed with the weight of responsibility on my shoulders. I was the only one in my life who could get help for this. I was so sick that I could barely walk into a grocery store, and yet I was expected to do the hard work of finding a cure to a supposedly incurable disease. (I did the hard work, and I am now cured, by the way.)  I had no insurance and probably could not get insurance with the record I now had. I couldn’t work, and the government would not give me disability as Lyme is not a very recognized disease. It was terrifying. I felt utterly alone.

The AA Big Book says “When we were faced with a crisis that we could no longer postpone or evade, we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. Choose.”

I was in my crisis and It was time for me to choose. Was God everything or nothing to me?

One night I had a dream. I was riding up an elevator and the doors opened to a hospital waiting room. A middle aged man who was slightly overweight with the kindest face you have ever seen came up and gave me a big bear hug. I had the distinct impression that we had started out as pen pals, and over the years we had become very close. He was so happy to see me.

I said “how is she doing?” He replied, “She is not well.” He had so much concern in His face. I could tell that he loved her with a very pure love.

It was then that realized that the “she” we were talking about was me. The sick version of me. Suddenly, I was the sick me, in my hospital bed. I was in and out of a coma, and I was very very ill.

Every single time I woke up, this man was there. Reading to me, doing crossword puzzles, holding my hand. Sometimes I would wake up and he would be eating in the room. He never left my side. Most of the time, I was too sick to say anything. I would just look and see him there and know that I wasn’t alone. Then I would fall back into another coma.

Sometimes, he would pick me up and put me into my wheelchair. There was a huge outdoor garden on my floor in the hospital, and he would bring me to look at all the beautiful plants and flowers. He would touch them tenderly and tell me their names and about how they grew. He would take my weak hand and bring them up to the flowers. First a stunning red amaryllis, then a delicate white orchid, then a big purple iris. I could feel the softness of the petals on my fingers.

He would take me back to my room, lift me out of my wheelchair and into my bed, and I would fall back to sleep as he knelt there, praying.

When I woke up from the dream I realized that the man was not a future husband or a father or a friend. This was Jesus.

Our God has many facets. Sometimes He is riding on a horse with stars in His right hand and a sword coming from His mouth, His face shining like the sun.

And sometimes, He is a middle aged, kind man who reads to us when we are in the hospital. He is the one who kneels down and prays for us by our sick bed. He is the one who does not leave our side.

This dream helped me to remember that I was everything to Him. That made my choice simple.

He would be everything to me.

That dream helped me realize that even though I felt alone, I was really never alone at all.

Years ago, I wrote a song called You Are Not Alone. Here are the words:

Sometimes you get so weary that you run to forget

Keep yourself so busy, anything to cover up that sometimes life just don’t make sense

And the reason for your running is a longing to be known

By someone who says your life is worth it, someone captured by your heart- someone you gave up on long ago

But you are not alone- you are not alone-His love is all around- He holds you even now-You are not alone

He will not leave you orphaned- that’s a promise He has made

When others leave you empty and the world has left you broken, still He will not walk away

So come and lay down all your questions- lay down your striving to be free

He has loved you since you’ve breathed and He will love you for forever- really what more do you need?

You are not alone-You are not alone-His love is all around and He holds you even now-You are not alone.

(To hear this song, look for it on itunes, or click here to buy it off my website)

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Signs, Signs, Everywhere the Signs

HEY EVERYONE! I HAVE A NEW FANPAGE! HIT THE BUTTON TO THE RIGHT AND SPREAD THE WORD!

About ten years ago, my boyfriend Ken and I were contemplating marriage. I was  as scared as a pregnant porcupine.

Back then, I was more of a “pray them up, knock em down, move em out” Christian, and I really put a lot of stock in signs. I would pray for them all the time. “God if you really want me to marry him, please have someone stand on their head in the middle of this convenience store.” Stuff like that.

I fasted several times for the relationship, begging for signs  from God. I did one especially long fast. I started out with water only. Soon, I was throwing cherry pie into the blender.  I was on the verge of trying steak smoothie when I finally got my answer in the middle of the night.

I had a dream that I opened my bible to Fourth Chronicles. That was the whole dream.

I woke up the next day, and being the astute Christian scholar that I am, realized that there was no Fourth Chronicles. So I looked up I Chronicles 4 instead.

These were the shocking words that I read that day:
“The sons of Judah: Judah begat Pharez, Hezron, and Carmi, and Hur, and Shobal. These are the families of the Zorathites.”

Bingo. That was it. I was supposed to marry him.

Okay, that’s not really what happened. I was more like “what the heck is this? Come on God. I wanted a sign and I got a bunch of begets?”

Almost as a joke, I said, “God, if I’m supposed to marry Ken, put a version of his name in here.”

I turned the page and there it was, clear as day.

“These are the men of Rechah. And these are the sons of Kenaz.”

Kenaz certainly sounded like the Hebrew version of Ken to me. I had my answer.

What happened next? I will give you one hint. I am still the sexy celibate and it is ten years later.

Many years passed. Another serious boyfriend and I, let’s call him Gavin, were praying about whether or not we should get married. During the course of our relationship, he had really struggled with whether he loved me or not. We had separated into different cities for a season, (you know, the whole “we’re taking a break to pray” deal that actually means “we’re freaking out.”)  We had met together to reevaluate and he said that he wanted to move to my town and pursue making a long term commitment. I was worried that he would still struggle with whether he loved me or not and was very hesitant for him to move.

Soon after, I went to visit my mom. She said “Kate, I saved this for you.” She handed me a game of boggle she had been playing. If you haven’t seen boggle before, there are little dice with letters on them that you shake and they randomly come up on the playing board. Then you compete to find short words. Clear as day, the words “Gavin is in love” were on the little squares. I mean, out  of 16  letters, those were the ones that happened to be rolled. I have the picture to prove it.

What are the odds of that?

I had my sign. And my mom had 20 more boggle points.

Gavin and I broke up three weeks later.

I have a new philosophy on dating now, one that makes a lot more sense to me.

Step 1: Dating is about getting good information on whether or not this is a good match. Try to get good information every day.

Step 2: As you get more information, be very conscious of “your truth”- what is going on inside of you emotionally and logically. Remember that it is very wise to try to look at the fruit of something when it is still a seed.

Step 3: Don’t ask yourself whether you should get married too fast. Just ask yourself whether it sounds fun to spend the next holiday with him or her.

Step 4: Over time, when you get enough good information, prayerfully make a decision about whether the best thing is to get married or to break up.

Marriage, my friends, is serious business. And many of us in the believing community have created a culture where we feel pressured to know if we should get married within the first few dates. (I will post more on this later.) This can be dangerous. A decision this important deserves respect and time.

The truth is, if you get a sign, that may be good information, but it is not even close to all the information you need. If you “just know” the minute you go on a date with someone, that is good information, but it is not all the information you need.

I do believe God can use signs as part of your journey towards a decision, but you should’t depend on them. You have to remember that He can use other means to speak to you as well.

Sometimes he can use answers to practical questions. How does your boyfriend treat his mother? How does your girlfriend handle stress? Is he kind to people even in difficult circumstances? Does he talk well about me in front of other people, even in private? Do we love each other even when our projections of each other have finally been lowered, a process that can take months or even years? Would she be a good mother?  Do we communicate well? Do we have fun together? Are we a good match?

These are questions that take time to answer. Do not rush answering them.

I have learned that the reason I asked God for signs is because I was scared. I wanted Him to make decisions for me. Now, I have grown up. I want to make decisions with Him.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you have your own stories of signs gone right or wrong? Do you think dating this way makes sense? Have you ever been as scared as a pregnant porcupine?