Thanksgiving Day, 6 years ago, my life changed completely. That’s the day my stroke happened. I had to relearn so much. I’ve posted updates every year since then, except for last year. I deliberately skipped the update then. Even though, last year, I was sooo excited. 🎉 I was hitting the 5 year safe mark.👏
You see, statistics show that many people who have a stroke will have another one within 5 years. So, if you make it to 5 years without a second one, then the chances of having another stroke greatly decreases. It’s a big accomplishment in the medical world. And I was SO excited to finally get there. Idk, I think I must have thought I somehow would never worry again. That I could just be rid of the fear of it happening again; that the 5-year mark would be something “magical” somehow.
Well, it wasn’t. And the fear didn’t go away. I began realizing I was trusting in that statistic instead of looking to the Lord. So, this last year since then has been much about sorting through that fear and lining out my thoughts on suffering, and dealing with my willingness to do God’s will even when it means suffering.
It’s been a long process of sorting out, but what he brought me to was: refuse to be a victim. A victim is a “person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event”.
You might think me harsh, but God’s people are never victims. Nothing in the life of a child of God happens randomly. So.. if in my hurt and pain i get sucked into playing the victim, as I was doing, then I’m essentially saying God is the merciless criminal who did it to me. And ultimately, I’m saying that God was wrong to make me suffer.
Another thing he showed me was that as long as I’m focusing on “how hard” this is for me and how I “feel” about it, then I will remain in victim mode. It’s not that we don’t have to work those things out. We do. We absolutely do. It’s often an arduous, lengthy process. We have to name what we’re feeling. We have to get it into words. Our emotional and mental health requires that.
But, we also need to learn to let those statements of our pain become our freedom. To let the acknowledgement of our feelings become our exorcism of them. When we hug the bigness of the anguish and trauma and loss to our self and take it as our right to feel as we do, and caress that again and again in our thinking and emotions, that’s when the lies of fear take over and we get trapped there.
Man. That runs so deep. When I think about the ways that many have had to suffer this last year; so much death. So much grieving. So much loss in so many directions. So much pain. So much stolen from us. This is the story of my stroke 6 years ago. This is the story of suffering in 2020.
But, we cannot live in that. We suffer MORE when we’re not giving it to God; when we’re holding it to our self. We suffer MORE when we are unwilling to suffer. Being willing to do God’s will whatever it takes, even if it means suffering, is exactly the place where rest and peace will be found.
Think about it. The fear of suffering is WORSE than the reality.
When I had my stroke, Jesus was with me at every step. I never felt the Lord’s closeness and attention as much as I did in that trauma. We feel his closeness MORE in trials and tribulations and sorrows. There’s such a bittersweetness to suffering. But in the fears and “what if’s” and “how bad it feels” and all the worst case scenario musings—there’s no sense of his closeness in that. And so, it becomes pure TORTURE. Being anxious, fretting, emotional, stressed out. Constantly. It’s hell.
When we do suffer, he walks through it with us. He wipes our tears, he holds our hand, he becomes our light, our source of strength. It sounds like nonsense, but when we suffer we live in him more alive, and more fully than we’ve ever done. But, when we live in the fear of suffering, it’s emotionally and mentally just as awful as the real thing… except …that he’s not in it with us……
So, feel what you feel, but refuse thinking of yourself as a “victim”. God is a good Father. And he knows that his closeness is best for you. Don’t fear it. Don’t fear suffering. I know we do, but when He speaks to you that it’s time to give it all to him… then leave it and stop touching it. Leave off the fear and lamenting about it, and submit it to God.
Wherever there’s submission to him in our hearts regarding what we may have to suffer, there is peace even when everything around us may feel in shambles.
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