Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” The path I’ve been on for the last 8 years is finally being made straight. I wish I could say I ended up here by always trusting in the Lord. Telling you my story means admitting things I don’t even like to admit to myself.
You see, it’s easy to tell you certain things about my story. Like I grew up in loving, Christian home, I accepted Jesus as my Savior at the age of 7, and I am married to a wonderful Christian man. But the truth that I often hide is I am suffering. Every day, all day, I am in terrible, exhausting, debilitating pain. Eight years ago I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, which is a life of chronic pain. I had only been married for a year at the time and the plans we had for a family, a future all seemed to disappear at the age of 22.
I began upon my doctor’s recommendation a very precise routine that included an arsonal of prescription drugs, physical therapy and rigorous exercise that consisted of 2-3 workouts per day. People assumed I was “better”…and I let them. I wasn’t. I thought I was doing everything I could to survive but the truth is I became vain and self centered covering up how badly I felt on the inside with superficial things on the outside. For two very long, dark years I lived this way in addiction and I wasn’t myself. The drugs kept me emotionally numb during the day and sleeping pills were my escape from it all every night. I wasn’t a good wife. My husband had every reason to walk away…but he didn’t. He fought when I couldn’t fight and prayed when I couldn’t pray and would not let me give up.
In the fall of 2004, what we thought was physically impossible was now a reality; we were expecting our first child. Fear surged through my body as I realized I could no longer continue in my addictions. I remember hitting my knees praying and pleading to God saying “I need your help! Please protect this child. This body isn’t just about me anymore.” I remember him distinctly telling me “Your body hasn’t been just about you…I’ve been with you all along.” He gave me an unexplainable peace and I knew everything was going to be alright, and it was. I know God sent Emalynn Elizabeth healthy and beautiful in many ways to rescue me.
We decided that after Emalynn’s arrival I would continue living drug-free. In many ways the first year of her life was one of the most amazing times in mine. It was very difficult physically, but the joy that the Lord gave us through her changed me. I went from darkness to light because Jesus was my new drug.
In 2007 God sent us another overwhelmingly joyful surprise package, Maxwell Fernando. I still struggled daily but my walk with the Lord became a necessity to survive. The passionate dependence I had upon Him was a mystery even I didn’t understand. But I was silent. Not even my husband knew the struggles I faced and how the Lord was so instrumental in my coping. I told myself “who could possibly understand this pain”…and “why even bring it up…no one cares.” I didn’t want to be labeled or pitied or judged. I wanted people to think I had it all together. I buried things that made me feel vulnerable and embraced focusing on my children and my work to hide the truth. I built a facade of things that didn’t matter to reflect who I was. What I was living was a lie and it was wrong.
While in our series in Exodus, our Pastor Jim Samra preached a sermon titled We All Need Help, the Lord convicted me to “come clean” and confess how I had been living. I reluctantly emailed Jim and told him everything. He too agreed that I had been wrong and encouraged I go before the elders and ask for prayer for healing. Through the elder’s gracious prayers, though God did not heal me physically, he began to heal me emotionally. I started to get more involved at Calvary and took part in the Easter “Cardboard Testimony” service and for the first time publicly acknowledged my pain.
In 2009 we found out that the Lord would bless us yet again with another surprise package, Jackson Douglas. The smiles I wear now are not a façade, they are genuine a reflection of the pure and utter joy that God has overwhelmingly poured into my life. I don’t deserve any of them, but I know they are a vital part of my emotional healing.
A few weeks ago Jim’s sermon was titled Healer. I almost didn’t attend and planned to watch it online but I am so glad I was present in that place. The Lord spoke to me in a very powerful way. At the end of the service there was a time of prayer for healing. I desperately wanted to come forward, but I couldn’t. Just as the Lord told me 6 years ago that he had been with me all along, he told me very clearly in that service that He was not going to heal me because He has a purpose in my suffering. “Trust me” He said. So I just sat in the front row and wept in acceptance. Every single day is a struggle and there are some days I long for this life to be over. I long for the promise of heaven and no more pain. I am so very tired and the pain seems to only be getting worse.
In all honesty, I never would have chosen this path, but I am so grateful to be on it. I often say that my life is not at all what I thought it would be, it is so much better. In what others consider a curse, I have found blessings. It has brought me closer to the Lord than I ever thought possible. I trust Him and I know I can carry any burden if Christ is the one carrying me.