Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Marriage (wish I had known!)

I just threatened to write this post when I was doing the last one, so I might as well get it over with. It's not going to be a long post, but I wish I had seen something like it before I made the decision to get married.

I heard an awesome sermon on the subject recently. Basically, it was about what a wife should expect from a husband. (There is also one for what husbands should expect, but I'm a woman, so...!)

In a nutshell, a woman should expect a man to be a man. In the relationship, he should be the 3 P's: Provider, Protector and Priest. He should be her "covering" and he should take that seriously.

Pretty simple, right? Like I said, if I had ever thought of a husband in that way, I would have been so much more careful in my choices (and I would have gotten it right ONE time, not having to do it twice).

Part of my problem is that while I was a "believer" at a young age, I was not a "follower." That sounds weird, but, like a lot of people, I was a believer in words only. I was brought up "in church" so I just went along. I don't think that I was a sincere Christian until the last maybe 3 years. Unfortunately, I married inside that time. I was not praying over things in my life. I was still operating on feelings and moods.

If I had looked at my husband through the eyes of Scripture - or even looked at myself that way - there is no way I would have gotten married to him. But, again, I was making decisions based on my feelings and moods and wants.

So, for anyone out there looking to get married, you might want to remember to take it to the Lord in prayer before you make that lifetime commitment.

{NOTE: I can't remember exactly which of the sermons spoke of the husband and wife roles. I think it was this one, but, if not, feel free to listen to the others on this page until you run across it. All the sermons are excellent for Bible study and prayer.}


Passing Storms

Ah, how interesting life has been these past months (years?)

I've been on rough roads. Beaten down, in despair, depressed, ill, hurt... But through it all, God has been good.

I went to the doctor yesterday for my first major check up after getting this nasty sarcoidosis. That went very well: good tentative prognosis (yay!) and the clearance to go back to non-strenuous work. (And, trust me, I need to be able to work after all these medical bills!) Most of all, the medicines seem to be doing their job and I should only have to be on the 20mg of prednisone for another month or two. That the bill for that appointment nearly put me into heart failure is minor since I was able to pay it - again, thanks be to God. The fact that I can go back to work is another blessing, and the fact that I might possible actually have a job to go back to is even more of a blessing! (I've already contacted my former employer, don't ya know? LOL)

All of this is like having been in the middle of a really bad storm. Right now I feel like it's still raining, but I can see a clearing up ahead. I don't know when it's going to be clear again and maybe I'm living in storm territory, but I know that God will be with me. And I have learned things from what I've been through:

I've learned to be good to people who are going through their own storms. Not just being good to them in the way I'm comfortable being good to others, or in the way that I want to be good to them, but good in ways they need. It's easy to give to people what you don't want yourself, but to give where it might hurt just a little bit is a real deed.

I've learned to be more sensitive to people when they are down. To watch what I say and how I say it. To understand that no matter how down a person is or why they are down is not as important as it is to either say something useful or shut up. LOL. I haven't always realized (until I was so much on the receiving end) how easy it is to poor even just a little bit of salt into a person's wounds. You want to really hurt someone who is already down? Go ahead and talk a lot about what you have or what you are able to do. I've done that in my life, but now that I have sometimes been on the receiving end... Oh, but we do learn the hard way, don't we? And, no, I don't think that it's done on purpose. I think it's done out of either thoughtlessness or out of fear (as in, "Wow, hope I never end up like that!"). For whatever reason it's done, it still hurts.

I've learned to be as thankful in the bad times as in the good. It's like all the sayings: "Hard times builds character," and "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

I've learned that God didn't do this to me. The Devil didn't do this to me. My actions, decisions I made in life, and genetics did this to me. Maybe if I had considered God when I was doing things and making decisions, I would have done things differently (please see a future post on marriage!) and not had as much hardship. Because I didn't always pray first over major decisions and actions, I ended up having to pray to get through the consequences.

I've learned that life can turn on a dime. You can be well, fat and content one moment and have it all crash down on you the next moment. It only takes a heartbeat.

I've learned that God does love me. When I was at my lowest, I felt like I deserved to be unloved. I felt like I was worthless. Something in me, though, would always remind me that God loves me. That's what kept me sane.

So, there may be another storm coming. There may be storms for the rest of my life, but God always sends me a reminder of sunshine. One day, we believers will bask in His light. Any storm is worth going through for that.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Crisis of Faith

Since I got sick, I have suffered such a crisis of faith. The feeling of being abandoned by God. The feeling of spiritual emptiness. Oddly enough, I know that some of it was caused by the medicine I had to take, and since being on a lower dosage has helped, I have proof of the side effects.

At any rate, I was really struggling to cling to my faith the past several weeks. This morning I had the energy to search the internet for examples of others going through the same thing. If you google "crisis of faith," and scan the articles and blogs, you would be amazed at what you find. Apparently, even Mother Theresa struggled (for FIFTY years!) with this. Personally, not being Catholic, I can't relate to what Mother Theresa felt, but being Christian, with my whole belief being in salvation through the blood of Jesus alone, I can relate to a sermon I found.

I can truly say that this sermon blessed me this morning:  Lenten Series - The Seven Last Words My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?  I feel it was just the thing I needed. Bless the author! Even if you are not having a crisis of faith, I suggest you go over and check it out because it's such a reminder of what faith is.

The first thing that struck me is that I am not alone. I'm not the only Christian to be tested. Christ himself was tested! Somehow, I had forgotten all about how the Lord cried out from the cross about being forsaken. Being fully human, Jesus was able to feel what we feel and, at that time, he felt given up on. So who am I to feel different?

The second thing that struck me is that all this time, I have been focused on the darkness of my situation - or the Good Friday - when I was ignoring the hope and glory of the light - or Easter. (The author's words are so powerful: "Those were not his last words from the cross." Amen! Jesus' last words were that it was finished.

So, here and now, I may have to go through this human pain and suffering (and it won't be easy; in fact, it may get worse), but one day, when I leave this world, I get to go Home and be with Jesus. Maybe even while I am still here, I will be happy again, but I'm not supposed to be living for this "life." It is for my life in Heaven that I am waiting for.

While I was feeling sorry for myself, I had forgotten about all the other suffering people who have it as bad or worse than me. Think of the little starving babies you see who live in famine, people born into a living hell of war or disease; people who have never eaten like I have or lived in decent shelter. I had not thought of the absolute luxuries I once enjoyed while so many millions of people suffered every day of their lives.

So, this day, I am thankful for this crisis. This struggle I am going through is going to keep me praying and holding on with both hands to my faith and hope for what eternity has in store for me.


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Attitude & Change

Attitude has a lot to do with life. The meds I am on have affected my attitude, which is why I am being dragged down by this apathy and low-lying depression. So... I am trying to fight back.

First off, I am taking advantage of any moment when I'm not feeling dragged down. When I have a moment like that, I grab it to get something done: clean, plan, exercise - whatever I can. Next, I am going to be talking to the doctor about alternatives to the meds I am on. If he can't adjust them or wean me off yet, then maybe he can give me something to counteract the effects. It's either that or I am going to have to look at being disabled and that's something I will fight hard.

So, this is my life. Funny how fast this all hit me. I still can't believe that just a couple of months ago, I was in a completely different place. I hope anyone who has been following the story is taking it as a warning. A warning to enjoy what comfort and peace you have before it all changes or veers off on a different path. Here are some lessons I have learned:

1. Don't get too comfortable with anything you have - not material things or the people in your life. Appreciate what you have, but be ready to lose it all.

2. Things change. Don't think that because you woke up this morning one way that you will be able to count on that every day.

3. Be prepared for the worst. Your finances, your health, anything that counts as "security" can all go up in smoke.

Actually, I guess all those are really about the same thing: not counting on things not to change. That's what I have learned, but I learned it the hard way.