Coming Up for Air

It’s been a long time since I felt this… ok. Not amazing. Not great. Not even good, but ok. If it sounds like a low bar, that’s because it is. The theme of the last few blogs I’ve shared has been about spiritually turbulent times. About hard health stuff. About learning how to shut up my inner critic/mouthy teenager.

Those things haven’t changed. Last April, I shared a blog called, “I’m Ovary It.” And gosh, was I ever. Suuuuuuuper over the health stuff. But if you follow me on Instagram, I shared in November that I was going under the knife again. This time all the plumbing was coming out. I was going to be finished. Finally.

However, it was surreal to lay on an operating table, having been uterus-less for six years and have grief wash over me related to all things reproductive. The finality of my sixth and final surgery hit me like a sucker-punch.

Fear assailed me. As in, if I continued to have issues related to my lower abdomen, there was now literally nothing left to remove. Thoughts moved about one million miles a minute. And then the anesthesia kicked in, and those thoughts floated away on a gas cloud.

Buckle Your Seatbelts

However, moving from no pain to menopause has been bumpy. And by bumpy, I mean a constant thunderstorm on a flight across the Atlantic. Insurance issues, hormone issues (as in lack thereof, allergic to, inability to purchase), hot flashes, sweating… The list goes on. As one friend told me, I look great for 55. I laughed, but the sentiment rings true.

In the midst of it all, there have been so many lessons. Hardship and suffering can be powerful tools in the hand of Jesus if we let them. It’s tempting not to. I find it much easier to drown in a pool of my own tears and sweat than to acknowledge to the Lord that this is one stinking hard journey and I need Him to show me the way.

Emotional upheaval and losing my mind is much more enticing than the road of endurance, patience, and possessing my own soul. The gratification of the moment always seems like the better option. The easier way out. It’s like the soothing whisper of a breeze, not realizing it’s the foretaste of a breathtaking hurricane.

Embracing the Windswept Way

It is good to acknowledge those things and expose those temptations for the lies they are. Having given in to each of them at least once, I can tell you the payoff on the other end was sorely lacking. It was empty and still full of frustration.

It was when I finally turned my frustration to the Lord and poured it out before Him that I found incremental relief. When I started exploring every avenue, even ones that were dead ends or slammed doors in my face, I had Someone who would let me channel my hurt, my confusion, and my frustration.

Jesus didn’t change anything in an instant. In fact, He didn’t really change any of my circumstances. But He turned me. It sounds cliche until you experience the power of being left in the storm instead of saved from it. It is a sticky sweet platitude until you learn not to fight it but allow it to shape you. It’s something you laugh off until you find yourself listlessly beating the very wind that was sent to direct you.

For the first time in 36 years of living, I saw patterns in my behavior and how I let my hormones and my health really rule me. Excuses and dependency littered my path. Hindsight showed me how Jesus tried to get my attention in different seasons of life to stop letting these things rule me.

But now, in this menopause moment, where control felt like a fable and my emotions were a tempest, Jesus stepped in.

When I felt like I could not hold on one moment more, at the very end of myself, my sanity, and my reason was Jesus. He led me through the storm. He showed me the necessity of fighting with Him in it, versus fighting against Him. His word led me and taught me that, in the midst of trials, suffering can be a gift from the Hand of God.

Falling to the Ground and Dying

Nothing illustrates my life and what I’ve shared above more than a few verses in John 12. Read what Jesus tells His disciples:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

These verses contain what used to be some of my deepest fears. Dying. Remaining alone. Losing my life. On the surface, I love to tell Jesus how much I want to follow Him. For my life to really be His. Walking the narrow way of that is much different.

Yet, through all of this junk, the buckets of tears and struggle, I read this verse, and I gather from it the most profound comfort. There is so much promise from Jesus in these verses. Hope for today. Leading from Him for today. And in Him, a bright expectation for the future.

There are many important words in this verse. But for me, the two words that stand out the most is, “unless” and, “but.” For unless I…

  • I surrender my life to the leading of Jesus and pressing into knowing Him…
  • I am willing to sacrifice all the hopes and dreams I had for my life on the altar and let Jesus do with my life as He wills…
  • I let Him use all that I have been through for His glory and His name’s sake…

My life will remain empty. Alone. I will be as barren as the womb was taken from me. Unless these things, and so many others, are true, this life means nothing.

But.

Gosh, that word can brim with hope and grace if we let it. BUT if… I do all the things that I listed above, then suddenly…

  • I bear much fruit. (Fruit of the Spirit, eternal fruit of the Kingdom, I become a good tree in the vineyard of my Father…)
  • My life is kept in eternity. I have a hope and a future not tied to this world but tied to Triune God.
  • I am known, I have a purpose and my life, still lived in the flesh, is now laid down for the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. Because this is a life-altering truth, I gladly offer my whole life to Jesus, because I love Him.

All of my health issues have been, in many ways, answers to prayers. Through them, Jesus gave me some of the things I sincerely desired, even though it came to me in a way I wanted to reject.

My friends, hear my plea for you: do not reject the hard things in life out of hand. Wrestle with them, fight through them, do what you must to meet them head-on. But don’t reject them. Embrace and surrender. Seek Jesus in the midst of it with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Press into Him in love and pain and joy and heartache.

I promise you, He’s worth the price of pain.

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