As much as I wanted to give up the idol I had made of my health and focus on God alone, it felt unattainable. As weeks turned into months--and eventually I hit the one year anniversary of my constant headache--my weariness, fear and pain turned into anger. The invitation to come closer seemed to be something I couldn't accept. I wanted to, but the realization that God could heal me, he could take it all away in an instant if he wanted to, was more than I could handle. I knew he had heard me crying out and begging for him to take this away, I knew he had seen my tears and my struggles and my fear and he wasn't fixing it. I knew there was nowhere I could go to get away from God, (see Psalm 139:1-18) but my anger made me want to walk away from him. I was giving my life to follow him; we had left our home in Washington, my husband had left his corporate job for full time ministry, we were living 1200 miles away from our families and friends and the return on all of that obedience was worsening health and constant pain. I know that God owes me nothing. I know that God made the ultimate sacrifice when he sent his son and sacrificed him for our sins. I know that scripture promises that God will never leave us or forsake us. But the knowing didn't change my feelings. What I felt was abandonment, disregard, and total lack of concern. And the longer I was angry the more I was sure that God wouldn't want to heal me because I wasn't showing him the reverence that he deserved. I felt bound, held captive by this anger that I couldn't seem to let go of and the helplessness of knowing that I was the only thing keeping myself from the God that I loved more than anything. Even on my angriest days, I still loved the Lord. I still didn't want to try to do life without him. I wasn't at the point of denying his existence. But I also didn't know how to reconcile the love that I felt for God with my anger because of my lack of healing and my constant pain.
I would like to say that I had some fantastic encounter with God that turned me around. That somehow God showed me this divine purpose for my suffering that made every moment of pain worthwhile. But that wasn't what happened. Instead it was a decision. It was as simple and as difficult as me just deciding that I couldn't go on so angry. It was the decision to believe that God loves me more than I can ever comprehend and that if he was allowing me to be sick, I had to trust that he would use it for his glory. So I began doing the things that I knew, the things that were the foundation of my relationship with God. I started reading my bible, praying, participating in worship. Most of all I started asking God to give me a new attitude. I started asking God to heal my anger, to heal my wrong beliefs rather than my physical body. I came to realize that God cares way more about the state of my heart (not my physical heart) than he does the state of my body. God had been working on my healing for years and continued to invite me to look at life differently. He asked me to develop an attitude that seeks to find the blessings instead of the problems. As someone who leans toward being a pessimist this wasn't an easy thing. One thing that really helped was a book that my husband gave me by Ann Voskamp called One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. One of the phrases she used in the book was "the beautiful ugly" which refers to finding the beauty God has blessed us with in the midst of difficulty. As I started to list my blessings, to focus on gratitude, God began to change my heart. He began to transform me into someone who can say that my circumstances may suck, but there are so many other things that are fantastic so I'm not going to be defined by the suckiness. It's not a denial thing, it's not a refusal to see reality, it's choosing to believe that God really does have my best interests at heart and there is beauty in this life if I open my eyes to see it.