The sting of illness hurts and just keeps hurting. We ask the Lord how long we have to endure so much illness that never seems to end. We ask him how long we have to withstand the effects of abuse and trauma in our lives. The physical and emotional issues engulf us like a swarm of angry bees. The pain from the stings feel like more than we can bare. Then one day we wake up and realize the sting of it does not feel as intense. How long we have we been asking “how long” without the answer? We eventually get an answer.
Life is Boutta Change…
As I have exhausted my own words to express the depth of my despair, I have turned to using words provided through scripture.
1 Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
2 Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
3 My soul is in deep anguish.
How long, Lord, how long?
4 Turn, Lord, and deliver me;
save me because of your unfailing love.
5 Among the dead no one proclaims your name.
Who praises you from the grave?
6 I am worn out from my groaning.
All night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.
7 My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.
8 Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the Lord has heard my weeping.
9 The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish;
they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame. ~ Psalm 6:1-10
Although there was a time when I found comfort in those familiar words, I was eventually given relief from my agony. Or maybe my perspective changed. However it happened, God did it in me and for me.
Blessings of Relief
Lord, WHEN will this stop? The chronic illnesses that seem to come with trauma all seem to be wearing down my spirit. I still have faith but not the energy to pray with the fervency I once had. I am secure in the fact that the situation is in God’s hands but there is a new level of numbness after so many years of the struggle.
How did we even get to that point of such despair?
As humans, we can endure a bee sting here and there. Our bodies usually have the ability to adapt and ward off the ill effects. We might even be able to adapt to the sting of life from several aspects. Yet no human can withstand a swarm of bees stinging with no relief forever. We were not made for that, not physically or emotionally.
God knows our limits and they usually far exceed what we think they are. In retrospect, I found courage and strength that I never knew I had, but he did!!
One day I just simply woke up and realized there had been a shift I never imagined. All the agony of chronic illnesses had taken its toll, but in a good way. It had removed everything that was an obstacle to healing.
No matter how hard I tried to do this on my own, it seems that it came in its own time. Yes, it took effort and faith on my part to remain in God’s word and not get too sidetracked but some of the details had to come in God’s timing and not my own.
Courage was the biggest transformation. Courage to believe in myself. Courage to believe that life will not sting me to death.
Delightful Unexpected Shift
I practiced believing in myself over and over and OVER and there still seemed to be a sting from others words and actions that I could not overcome. I spent the effort it took to look at my own actions in comparison to others and how I was doing some of the same things I was so repulsed by. I worked on MY attitudes and my actions towards others over and over again. Failed miserably and kept getting up and trying agin.
I was very aware that others can only upset me if I allow them. That knowledge kept me searching for the strength to keep working on this while I suffered terribly with chronic illness and the never ending effects of trauma on my life.
Then something shifted. I had been taking the proper steps for years, over and over. The effort was there with some changes and some victories but I knew it was not enough. Until I saw this shift. Maybe perseverance was what I had been working on all this time.
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” ~ Romans 5:3-4
What This Shift Looked Like For Me
There is no longer patience for the gossip and insensitivity of myself and others. I hear space being filled with this waste of air and time by most, myself included. Since when did God ever say that we are required to stop our lives to listen to such nonsense?
As I find myself without the mental and physical capacity to tolerate the negativity any longer, I have watched myself remove it from my life to the best of my ability. This has been quite successful. How does that look?
Worthy of Peace and Respect
Those who cannot show me basic respect and provide an ounce of peace while I walk through this do not need to be in my presence. Okay, this was the hardest to learn. It was forced upon me before I chose it. Now I choose it and am willing to relinquish any relationship that does not provide such. In turn I have to provide such for others. Chaos is not welcome!!!
Just Say NO
Accepting that I have the right to say no to such situations. Literally saying the word “NO” or simply walking away. It can be that simple.
Accepting that I no longer care if I am accepted by humans who participate in such nonsense. I would prefer the isolation that came with working through this than never learning the lesson.
Revealing Guise of “Information for Prayer”
The refusal to accept phone calls from people claiming to want information so they can pray for me yet taking the info for the use of gossip. God tells us not to participate in gossip. I take that as permission to refuse those phone calls when they are under the disguise of info for prayer requests. I have gotten very good at spotting those.
When the refusal to accept the phone calls turns into unending texts that try to stir the gossip pot, I now know that it is okay to literally “block” those contacts. Modern technology allows us to do such a thing that I never thought I would need. If others cannot accept my removal from the gossip loop, I simply block them. I see it as one of the armors of God that he has provided for us in modern times.
Wiping the Inviting Smile Off My Face
Wiping the smile off of my face has been a struggle but necessary to move through this. I do not owe anyone a smile simply to invite them to hurt me. I finally realized that the thing I thought was one of my greatest attributes was a contributing factor to the problem at hand. That smile had been an invitation to take advantage of me, to most of the people in my life. Invitation revoked!!
No Sugar-Coating For Others Comfort
Saying it like it is, not how others want me to paint it. Being chronically ill stinks at times. There can be many blessings that come from it but when I am in pain or do not have the ability to physically move or care for myself I have given myself permission to tell the truth about it whether others get it or not.
Polite Yet Honest & Truthful
As Christians, most of us believe we always have to be nice and polite. Where did we get that teaching? Just because churches teach it does not make it scripture.
Yes, God tells us to endure much, have patience for others beyond what we think we are capable of. Yes, we should adapt in a way to be available for nonbelievers and encourage believers in their walk. But to be this nice polite walk-all-over-me Christian is not what I have learned in relationship with my Lord. I have not seen through his example on earth to ALWAYS be nice and polite.
Truth has to be spoken at times, even when it does not appear nice and polite to others. At this point, when things get out of hand with another person, I have the capacity to speak more truth than ever. Jesus usually gave short remarks that led back to God’s word to refute the nonsense. I am learning how to do that and feel at peace with those truthful responses.
Little Honey to Catch Flies
There are times when it is appropriate to be nice for the benefit of moving through a situation with the least amount of drama possible. To win the race, we need to find the wisdom in the sweetness of honey.
I do not like every person I am nice to. I do not agree with all of them. But they are humans just as I am. There is no point in being combative in most situations so that we can be who we think we need to be. Let that go and be nice sometimes to induce peace.
That is when I just smile and am nice. I have learned new boundaries that allow me not to get walked on in that niceness. I know the importance of quickly walking through some situations with a smile and kind words. Quickly is the key word!!
Do you know how smoke is used around bees? My first thought was that its use was to get them to move away from the area because they would not like it. Instead, smoke is used to calm bees so that humans can invade their space to collect the honey. It is a smoke screen.
Use smoke screens wisely in life to enhance our mission here on earth.
Sarcasm To Fill The Gap
No, I am not saying sarcasm is Godly the way our current society has applied it. There is a bitter cruelty in the way we use it today, in general. I have done it and I am good at it, not proud of that fact. It is the revamping of it that has allowed me to use it for good.
There are moments when Jesus applied subtle sarcasm for eternal purpose. Sometimes this is how others can identify with what we are trying to say and cannot get them to hear. The sarcasm brings just enough truth into the situation to get their attention.
We have no control over others choices. Sometimes others choices are so outrageous that all we can do is speak a note of sarcasm into it.
Being Inoculated To Overcome
In many people a bee sting will allow us to endure future bee stings better. It is like what vaccinations were supposed to do but fail at (that is a whole different novel). A little bit of something venomous allows our body to create antibodies to ward off the future invasion. In theory, this works.
Life can be that way. We are vaccinated with the stings of life and people. We usually become numb to it after years of onslaught through chronic illness and trauma. Then it takes effect like we never imagined. The “sting” of it lessons. We become removed, lifted from, transported away from that awful hurtful sting.
It is not acceptable to seek immunity from the sting of others on a permanent basis. Isolation in chronic illness gives us the time to sort this out but at some point we heal and move into community again. That is where our spiritual growth can be the immunity we need to interact with others again.
God not only fills the gapping wounds, he heals. He heals in a way that we learn to have the courage to be ourselves. Who we are in him, no one else. The sting subsides. We start to taste the results of our perseverance and his goodness, the sweet honey of it all.
God did it, but we participated in the transformation. We allowed the pain so we could see glory in his healing. We found ourselves through all the pain. This provides us the opportunity to live out our purpose that was God given in the first place.
I will never regret all the years, heck, the decades, of illness and trauma that brought me to this place of God’s glory. I continue to be a work in progress, that will never change until my dying day.
My illnesses and my complex trauma have allowed me the vehicle to give up the noise, the nonsense, the ways of this world that destroy man’s spirit. It gave me the permission to give up the participation that made me feel the sting of life.
I have been transported through pain, into numbness, and catapulted into a much more peaceful life. Nothing about my life looks appealing to others, yet I love my life. My life has taught me of the precious suffering and perseverance it takes to obtain the type of character I desire.
How God has chosen my character to be built won’t be the same for others, and others stories won’t be the same for me. I can cherish how God has carried me through my healing journey of character in the unique fashion that belongs to me. In turn, I will cherish how he does that journey in you.
We are all so different, yet the same in so many ways.
Hope For Us All
There is always hope, even when we cannot see it, it is there.
As we walk through perseverance and build our character we can see hope more clearly. And sometimes we start with only the fact that there is hope. Even when we cannot see it in the environment that we live in, we already know it is there, because Jesus came and died for our sins, so that we have it.
With that knowledge we can choose perseverance. The suffering already exists in abundance. There is nothing easy about chronic illness and trauma but we can persevere. The journey brings blessings beyond human comprehension. Those eternal victories are a testimony that we all can do this, it is a choice.
Enjoy the transformation from the sting of bees to the sweetness of their honey.
God sees the desires of your heart (he put them there) and hears your prayers to move through this. Have clear intentions to surrender to him. Do what you are able to every day, over an over again. It will change.
May all of you choose perseverance in a time of illness and trauma. May all of you be greatly blessed with the sweet rewards of such.
Maribeth Baxter, MBNC (Certified Mind-Body Nourishment Coach)