The Detox Diaries, Five Minute Friday Edition: Fill

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Gentle Reader,

After my two-week hiatus I am once again linking up with the FMF crowd at our new hangout, Heading Home with Kate Motaung. Yes, our beloved Lisa-Jo has passed on the baton. But that’s okay! Sometimes it’s right to let a good thing go.

For this first post with Kate, we: fill.

Go.

“Omer”

I’m running on empty today, God

What You gave her just isn’t enough

I need You to meet my need

Adjust Your outpouring supernaturally

I don’t want to complain

I don’t want to be greedy

I just need enough of You

To fill the omer within me

I wrote this poem, based on Exodus 16, years ago, but it came to mind as soon as I saw this week’s prompt. God has answered this prayer over and over again, today in a parking lot being the latest occurrence.

Just a brief recap: as many of you know, I live with some chronic health issues and back in May began the process of coming off of Cymbalta due to liver problems. Thankfully the withdrawal symptoms have passed, but the road to an understanding of what’s happening to my liver is a long one.

A long one full of potholes.

On Monday I had blood work done. Tuesday the doctor called and told me that my enzymes were elevated. Higher than they were in May. I needed to come and see him as soon as possible and get a referral to a specialist. I stayed late at work yesterday so I could leave at mid-morning today and trek across two towns to get to the appointment. He didn’t tell me much more than he did on the phone, but I got the referral and an order for more labs, to be done tomorrow morning.

I’ll be honest: I freaked out when I got that call on Tuesday. I’ve made changes to my diet. I’ve been exercising. I was really hoping that, after two-and-a-half months, there would be some improvement. I certainly wasn’t expecting things to be worse!

The closer I got to the office today, the larger the lump of panic in my throat. Pulling into the packed parking lot, I located an open space beneath and tree and clunked into the…whatever that concrete thing is that keeps you from running into the grass on the other side. Turning off the engine, I closed my eyes, took and deep breath, and prayed.

Okay, God. I need You. I need You really bad. I need You to fill me with that peace, that peace that doesn’t make any sense. I don’t need high blood pressure right now. Calm me down. Help me to hear what the doctor says and make whatever decisions I need to make. Give me clarity. I am with You, Jesus. You are with me. 

I got out of the car and finished with, “Let’s do this.”

My blood pressure? 117 over 70-something.

Almost before the words came out of my mouth, the peace flooded in. From head to toe, I was filled. Completely. There wasn’t any room for fear. I listened, I asked questions. When my doctor told me not to freak out, I smiled.

Because whatever happens, I’m with Jesus. And His plans are good.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

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

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The Detox Diaries: Dreamer

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Gentle Reader,

The words are pouring out of me.

Ideas swirl around in my head, some concrete, some as tangible as breath crystallizing on a cold morning. I’ve begun to see the world in terms of word-pictures. Longing for just the right phraseology to capture the vibrant fuchsia and mustard yellow of a rose in full bloom; for letters to come together for the perfect words to describe the bursting palette of a summer sunset; for sentences to somehow convey the thoughts and feelings crashing into the elastic walls of my soul, I write. Notes here. Jottings there.

In the last month I filled the last third of the journal I’d been scribbling in since January. This blog you are reading has seen more activity from me in the first six months of the year than almost any other time previously. The margins of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, where I have been studying, are full of little bits and pieces.

I feel creative.

And why now?, I wonder. Why not before? Why do I feel as though I have emerged from a long hibernation?

What stopped me from writing?

“Stopped” isn’t the right word, really. “Slowed” is more accurate.

Certainly part of it has been a lack of discipline. Much as I love to write and find it the best form of communication, I have never been consistent. I don’t have a set time each day that I sit down and bleed onto the page (thank you, Hemingway). Part of it is also a lack of, or perhaps a plethora of, topics. I draw a blank when attempting to come up with them on my own; there are too many to choose from. Participating in link-ups like Five Minute Friday has helped, as well as documenting this detoxing/withdrawal process. Being assigned a topic helps to focus my mind.

Yet ultimately, I blame Cymbalta.

If I had a time machine and could go back to the day I took the first pill…well, I wouldn’t do anything differently. Even though Cymbalta did me harm, it also did me a lot of good. It helped to stabilize my mood so that I could get through the therapy process. It played a role in preventing my suicide.

But it also stopped the words.

Antidepressants blunt emotions, and I am so very thankful that they do. There was a time when I felt too much, too deeply, too all-the-time. That kind of thing overwhelms someone who operates from her head. I needed the relief Cymbalta provided. I needed to be able to detach from my emotions in order to both feel them truly and examine them objectively. That statement doesn’t appear to make any sense, but, trust me, it does. My emotions had me in a quagmire. I needed to escape.

You can’t write when you don’t feel, though. It’s taken me a long time to realize that. Looking back over past articles, essays, stories and poems, I see that my best work is done when I can both think and feel clearly. Or when the writing process helps me to think and feel clearly. Either way, the head and the heart both have to be in working order.

Only God can bring that order.

********

I think of Paul writing to Timothy:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

Other major translations have “self-discipline” instead of “sound mind,” but the Greek is the same: sōphronismós, meaning “[a call] to soundness of mind, to moderation and self-control.” In other words, God enables us, if we will allow Him, to think clearly. He gives us weapons to do battle in our thought-lives, weapons that:

…are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. – 1 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NKJV, emphasis mine)

In short, His perspective is available to us at all times. We just have to ask for it.

God does not only heal our minds, however. As referenced above, He works within us not to produce fear (or timidity, as some translations use, which I love) but to produce love. It is only a healthy heart, healthy emotions, that can love properly. Only a healthy heart will feel all the feels in the presence of God. Unhealthy hearts, as mine was for so long, try to deny emotions and hide them from God.

A significant part of the healing of my mind and heart was done through medication. Getting all those chemicals to dance an orderly foxtrot instead of a wild salsa was central to my being able to learn how to bring every thought and every feeling to God. I don’t get this right every single time. But oddly, I have the medication that I can’t take anymore to thank for giving me a great running start.

My journey to faith. (15)

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