Five Minute Friday: Visit

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Gentle Reader,

Chit-chatting with Kate and the crew about the sacred, the mundane and the in-between. Tonight we: visit.

Go.

I’m fascinated by the Myers-Briggs personality profiles. As an INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging) person (and a female one at that, which is apparently rare), learning about the different types and how everyone navigates the world is right up my alley. I love seeing how things interconnect. I’m fascinated by both patterns and differences.

Yet as much as people intrigue me, they drain me. If you imagine a turtle pulling himself deep inside his shell, that would be me. I like alone time. I cherish alone time. I jealously guard alone time.

And then all of a sudden I pop out and go, “Where’s the party?”

I got to do that this past Saturday. The hubs and I invited a few friends over for a visit, something I haven’t been able to do since before I had surgery. I don’t dive into friendship quickly or easily, so I’ve had the same core group for about 10 years. Three of my dearest relationships stretch back to high school. When we get together, in whatever combination, the banter flies fast and heavy – and then turns abruptly to matters like politics and theology.

There’s such joy in that.

Such sweet comfort in the bouncing from the silly to the serious, knowing that the jests are made with a gentle heart and the thoughts shared have been weighed and considered.

I may not speak to any one of my friends on a daily or even weekly basis, but there is a love that connects us. If one of them needed a kidney and I was a match, there’d be no questions about it.

My heart swelled with warmth as I sat on my little corner of the couch and looked into those dear faces squished into every nook of the tiny living room. I was tired and sore. I’m always tired and sore these days. But I was so very glad to have arranged that visit.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

Five Minute Friday: Still

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Gentle Reader,

Hanging out with Kate and the gang. We are: still.

Go.

I get by with a little help from my friends.

And God.

Definitely God.

The two came together today in a sweet way. I was feeling discouraged and weary after my appointment with the surgical oncologist yesterday. He said that I need to have a biopsy, which means more waiting. I’m still going to have surgery, but the biopsy will determine what kind of surgery. As in, whether they will remove just the tumor or remove up to half of my liver.

Yeah.

I wanted so much to come out of the appointment with an action plan. I wanted dates and timelines. I wanted the operating theater booked.

Instead I’m waiting for a phone call from another doctor who’ll do the biopsy. And then I’ll wait for results. And then I’ll wait for the surgery.

This road has been so long. I made a decision months ago to trust God in this process, and I’m not wavering in that. I know He has a good plan for me. I know He’ll take care of me. But I’m tired. I’m ready to move on.

I prayed today (while in the staff bathroom, as one does when at work) and asked God to give me strength. I asked Him to lift me out of my discouragement and enable me to see joy. I asked Him to help me choose all that is positive and good.

When I got back to my desk, I found a little present and a lovely note from my coworker. Chocolate because it makes everything better and bubbles to ease the anxiety.

And God whispered into my heart, “I’m still here.”

Stop.

I am a wealthy woman. I really am. Everyone in my life has been incredibly supportive during this journey, and especially the last few weeks, the weeks of MRIs and oncologists. I’ve been cheered with inside jokes, heartened by good conversations, blessed through anointing and corporate prayer at church. Yes, I am tired. I am ready for this chapter to close. But God is with me. He still sees me. He still hears me. He has not given up.

So neither will I.

My journey to faith. (15)

The Detox Diaries: Assume Nothing

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Gentle Reader,

What sent me to therapy initially was the problem of messy relationships. I definitely had a part in making them messy: lack of good boundaries, an unwillingness to say “no” and overresponsibility. People pick up on things like that. If they sense that you already believe that their happiness is your job, they will make their happiness your job. Simple as that.They will put the responsibility of the relationship squarely on your shoulders and then will complain when you fail. Or maybe they won’t complain, but you will end up resenting the heck out of them.

My therapist and I spent a lot of time talking about relationships and how to take back the power of “no.” That small word packs a huge punch. In saying “no,” I differentiate between myself and someone else. I claim what is mine and step away from what is not mine. I draw the proverbial line in the sand. This far and no more.

She warned me that there would be consequences to putting that “no” into practice, but that they were consequences I could deal with. They would show me what my relationships were really made of. It might be painful in the short run, but that “no” would be rewarding in the long. Every proper, healthy “no” would enable me to say a proper, healthy “yes” elsewhere.

There were consequences. There was fallout. A lot of it was easy to handle; slight adjustments in relating to others. Some of it was difficult and involved conflict. But I didn’t die or anything. Just kept moving forward.

And yet I assume the worst.

Every time.

It used to be that I would assume the worst and say “yes” to anyone and anything, just to try and avoid whatever I thought might happen. Nowadays I say “no” with regularity but do so from underneath the table, hoping to ward off some of the blows from the storm that I am just positive is going to come. The illogical logic in this assumption straightforward: If I assume the worst and the worst happens, then at least I’m prepared for it.

Except that’s not ever how it works. And I’m also miserable in the meantime, but, hey. Whatever.

I said the logic was illogical.

Do you have any idea how exhausting it is when everyone’s happiness is on your shoulders? We could talk about how this is a bizarre form of pride, because it is. I’m not avoiding the reality of that. But, as I said before, when people take advantage of your vulnerabilities and burn you on many occasions, it’s difficult to avoid thinking that it’s going to happen again.

Honestly? I assume that most people are angry with me all the time. And It’s just so frustrating to never feel safe.

I need to make a choice.

I choose to assume nothing. Given my current mental and bodily states, it’s going to be monumentally difficult to assume nothing, but if I keep on down the road on which I find myself today, I will wind up in a very dark place. I don’t want to go there. There isn’t a single relationship I have, not even my marriage, that’s worth it.

More importantly, sacrificing my relationship with God and my sense of identity on the altar of people-pleasing isn’t worth it. People are fickle. They are impossible. There is only One who can meet the needs of all the people in my life, and that One sure ain’t me. I’m not rejecting relationships; I’m just rejecting relationships as the be-all, end-all focus of my life. I can’t let them twist me into a pretzel. That happened before and it is far, far too painful.

So, if someone is mad at me and chooses to sulk or give me the silent treatment instead of being honest? If someone is bored on a Friday night and expects me to provide entertainment? If someone wants to say mean things about me to others?

Her problem. His issue. Her choice.

Not mine.

My journey to faith. (15)

To read all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.

The Detox Diaries: Bless the Man Who Invented Benadryl

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Gentle Reader,

Yesterday was bad.

Like, really bad.

I can handle the crying at the drop of a hat a whole lot better than I can handle not sleeping. For two nights I ran in the insomnia marathon. The one snatch of sleep I did catch was filled with a super-creepy dream about a doll. If there is one thing I truly loathe, it’s dolls. (Yes, I played with Barbies and stuff. I’m talking about the antique, eyes-follow-you-around-the-room kind).

Combine the sleeplessness with the sudden, constant restlessness in my legs and the continued “whomp, whomp, whomp” of the brain zaps. Add a dash of irritation because of the heat. Stir and you get a VERY UPSET Marie.

As I lay on the couch yesterday, just a little bit of hopelessness crept in. And I wallowed in it.

“This will never end.”

“I hate my life.”

“Why does central air cost an arm, leg and the soul of your unborn child?”

“I’m going to sue Eli-Lilly.” (The makers of Cymbalta).

I didn’t mean to wallow. Pessimism is my default setting and my brain is quite mushy. It took me awhile to remember that I had to consciously choose hope.

Onto Facebook I went and messaged the first people I could think of. Asked for their prayer. Then I called my mom and talked with her about taking Benadryl along with a natural sleep aid. (I wanted to be KNOCKED OUT). Turned on “That 70s Show” on Netlfix and allowed the antics of Eric Forman and his friends to make me laugh. One by one, I got responses to my S.O.S Facebook message – and each one boosted me. Prayers, encouragement, Scripture passages. Took the first Benadryl pill at 6:30 p.m. while eating a delicious (and free!) sandwich from Caruso’s. When I was still awake at 9:15 p.m., I skipped the natural sleep aid and took a second Benadryl. Stumbled down the hall on shaky legs and crawled into bed.

This is where my husband got awesome. He told me that he’d sleep on the couch so I could get as much rest as possible. He gently rubbed my back and prayed over me, asking God to give me what I needed. He took the dogs (they follow me everywhere) and left the room.

The restless legs mocked me for awhile and I started to cry. In what can only be described as begging, I burst out, “God, just let me sleep!”

I woke up at 7:54 a.m.

At least 9 solid hours of sleep.

What a difference that makes.

My circumstances haven’t changed. I haven’t been to work this week, though my boss has graciously allowed me to do things from home so I don’t lose all my hours. The “whomps” are still whomping. The house…it’s kinda messy. I crave weird foods at weird times. My brain is going to ooze out my ear any minute and my body feels like jelly.

But this won’t last forever.

I don’t hate my life.

Our window-unit and strategically placed fans provide adequate relief from the heat.

I’m not going to sue Eli-Lilly. Not unless there’s a class-action case. Then I’ll consider it.

I bless all the people who prayed for me last night. I bless my mom who told me to pop the pills. I bless my husband. I bless the man who invented Benadryl.

Most of all, I bless God. John Piper defines blessing God as “recogniz[ing] His great richness, strength, and gracious bounty and to express our gratitude and delight in seeing and experiencing it.” Yes. I bless God.

I sing this along with Josh Wilson:

My journey to faith. (15)

To read all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.