25 June 2008

this unnatural fog {part 3}

read part 1 here
read part 2 here

Let me just say ... it's so good to be back.

After over a month of feeling trapped in my own skin, there is light again. I've been alleviated of the heaviness that had settled in my bones. As my thyroid finds its way back to balance, I'm delighted to see other aspects of my health follow suit.

The fog is gone.

When I left the naturopath's office that Friday afternoon, I bore inside me an odd mixture of hope and caution, of anticipation and wariness, of joy and sadness. These feelings kept bumping up against each other in my insides like pinballs, pinging across my body from bone to bone as I weighed the new information I had taken in. But within four days, I felt the light coming back. Within seven, I was practically bouncing off the walls with energy.

I've had so many health journeys in my life (the past two years have been especially rich) and as much as I continue to learn from them, they wear me out utterly. My tendency has been to bear these times with patience and watchfulness until I would finally reach a point where I had enough. Frustration and anger would escalate quickly, overriding every vestige of patience and rationality.

I'm continuing to learn much these days in this body God gave me; I don't think any one of these lessons is fully realized; none of them are things I can put in the past tense as in this is what I have learned, but these are all the seeds of some things and the development of some others.

I'm thinking of these as my lessons learning:

The world doesn't stop when I do.
While it was difficult to see my normal schedule and activities fall to the wayside, and while I most definitely grieved the loss of my spark and vitality, I am learning that it was okay for me slow down and some days, to come to a full stop. The world did not spin off its axis, the foundations of the earth were not shaken, and those who normally depend upon me to accomplish certain tasks got by just fine.

It's okay to feel like I'm falling apart.
There's a special prayer that the gorgeous Christianne-girl and I have shared for some months now in which we ask God, when it feels like we’re so broken we will never be mended, may you remind us that you hold all things (even us) together. It seems that during the course of our friendship, one or the both of us have felt this way: our lives and our hearts were utter messes, lost and in chaos. Nothing made sense, everything hurt. Sometimes we wondered where God was in the midst of it.

This was definitely one of those times for me. As awful as that falling apart feeling is (and as much as it really does seem it is all falling terrifically apart), there was a measure of freedom in knowing that there was no chaos as far as God is concerned: He is in control and He is good, and I'm willing to bet He doesn't see chaos when He sees my life. He's got it covered. He's holding all things (even me) together.

My worth is not tied to my ability to be productive.
This will always be easy to acknowledge in theory (and for other people), but I imagine there will always be some difficulty in allowing for the truth of it in myself. The three or four weeks that it was at its worst, my days were comprised of dragging my sorry butt out of bed, going to work, napping, having a small bite to eat, and then going straight back to bed. Jesus spoke into this, His truth running underneath the fatigue that had settled into my muscles and marrow. His presence was an undercurrent that ran deeper than my body's imbalance. I knew that I was still loved, that I was not being punished, and that my lack of ability to be in motion did not in any way impact my worth.

I am a whole person.
While referring to ourselves in terms of categories like body, mind, heart, spirit, soul can be helpful in certain contexts, these categories have limited usefulness. We are whole persons and bodies are an important part of that. I am as much my body as I am my soul; all these things bleed into one another and all are vital components of our personhood. When my body is slow and sluggish and heavy and hurting, you better believe my mind, my heart, my spirit, and my soul are all a part of that. They cannot be separated. And I believe it's all sacred territory.

When I can rely upon myself, I do.
This is especially apparent now that I am well. After spending a month of feeling as though I was beginning each day at the end of myself, I was calling on divine assistance for every moment. I don't really do that in a body that is well and filled with energy: I'm more inclined to rely upon my own abilities. When I insist on being strong, it limits the ways in which God's power can be made perfect in my weakness.

One body, many parts.
I had no idea how crucial the thyroid is until I first learned over a year ago that mine was severely out of whack. When Paul talks about the body in 1 Corinthians 12, he mentions that no part of the body is independent from another, that the parts that seem weaker are actually indispensable. I don't know how much medical knowledge Paul possessed, but I do know he's spot on. I feel the weight of indispensable.

The valleys are holy places.
Like most -- if not all -- people I know, I infinitely prefer it when things are going well: I feel good, I'm happy, my difficulties are few, and (dare I say it?) my circumstances agree with me. Jesus is there and those times are a gift.

But He's in the valleys, too. And I think it's in the valleys that I confront myself in a way I can't on higher ground. I couldn't escape from the truths of myself that forced me to let go (one white-knuckled finger at a time) of those pieces to which I so desperately clung. In the fog, I saw myself as I was and got a glimpse of who I'm meant to be.

And that's a gift, too.

Thank you friends, for loving me in this place.

photo © 2008 jen fox photography


  1. hello, my beautiful friend. can i just say that i smile a mile wide when i look at this photo of you? and the new profile pic . . . very vivacious of you. :)

    i also smiled to myself on my drive to school this morning, just imagining you bouncing off the walls with energy. i'm SOOO glad you're feeling this way again. WOWZA!

    all the things you shared here are those profound learnings that take us a lifetime, aren't they? i adore what you called them: lessons learning. so perfect.

    you are a beautiful, soulful girl . . . do you know that? no, do you really? it's true. you are a soulmate to me. i love you.

  2. Yee-haw! I'm jumping up and down for you, now. Well, not literally...that's not generally seen as work-appropriate behavior. But I'm SO glad your energy is back. I feel like I'm reading Kirsten-girl again!

    I hear your heart in your list, too. Wow...what huge lessons. What power there is in knowing some of those things, what strength and majesty.

    You know, I'm glad you started coming to terms with your body-history before this last health journey. Did it make things different this time around? Seems like it might.

    Love you. Less-than-8-weeks...

  3. christianne - i'm so glad you like this photo. it is one of my favorites from the ones jen took of me. i'm so glad to be feeling this way, too: to have energy & vitality & life back. it's wonderful!!

    i think these are learnings that take a lifetime; i think they are things that we practice at, however imperfectly, moving tentatively toward practicing them more perfectly.

    sigh. i love you, girl. i have to admit i was taken aback (in a good way!!) by your comment when you said do you know that? no, do you really? maybe that's one of those lessons learning, too. i'll carry that truth with me today and hold it close to my heart.

    thank you. :o)

    sarah - i know what it is to jump up & down on the inside!! that, incidentally, is what i had to do when i first read your e-mail about coming to see me here. :o)

    sarah - i feel like kirsten-girl is back, too. a little bit different, maybe a little more me ... the me i was created to be.

    i definitely do feel like my previous health & body journeys impacted how i approached this brief and terrible season. i felt more able to accept the reality what was happening and to be gentle with myself in response. i inherited that stoic viking constitution that just says you push through everything. i didn't do that this time. i maintained the bare minimum in terms of my obligations, but the rest of the time, i was just able to let myself rest. i didn't like it of course, but neither did i try & force my body to do something for which it was ill-equipped to perform.

    long-winded, huh? wow, i must really be back!!

    and HOORAY!! for 55 days ... ;o)

  4. I'm celebrating for you with a cookie from Brother Martin (the cookie jar which quotes the dear monk: Cookies are like grace. They are never a blessing unless fully received.) Sounds like you have fully received the gifts of the fog. So happy for this chapter to be over, for you to feel whole and vibrant again.

    Joy and peace,


  5. So glad to see you have mended and are back in the saddle so to speak. When we walk in the valleys of life we pick up so much wisdom, wisdom that we only can truly learn if we are in a place where we have to live it.

    Peace and grace to you my dear friend, keep getting good rest, drink that tea and keep smiling, you knock the world out when you do.

  6. wow, kirsten. this sounds almost identical to what i wrote after i got out of the hospital. these seem to be the things God is always birthing in us in those times when we're "terrifically falling apart". i'm so thankful that you're feeling better, and i'm praying that we'll all be a tiny bit more able to hold these lessons in our minds when we're well. much love to you sister.

  7. Thanks for those truths. I can't remember if I've posted this before, but I'm going through my own mini-health crisis (which has yet to be solved) and I needed to be reminded of the things that you posted. Thanks again.

  8. I love that you saw God in this, that you chose to see what he could teach you in the midst of the pain. That takes a lot of strength and courage.
    And I applaud what you say about being a whole person. I believe when people developed all these categories of heart, body, soul (whether we're talking Tertullian or Schleiermacher or more modern day folks), it's to somehow remind us that all these parts make up us. But I think the categories deteriorated. As if we can think of the heart outside the body or the soul in an entirely different category.
    It doesn't work that way. God didn't design it to work that way. He designed us as a whole, and though we only have a tiny taste of our future redemption, re-creation, and resurrection now, when it comes in fullness, it's our whole selves he'll redeem, re-create, and resurrect.
    Can you tell I'm passionate about that?
    I'm so glad you're back! Thankful that God's breathing life and energy into you.

  9. joelle - thank you, sweet friend of mine!! it is so great to have the vibrancy & energy back.

    carl - i totally agree with you. there is much wisdom to be gleaned from the valleys. but i'm so glad we're not required to take up permanent residence there!!

    terri - i actually thought of you & almost linked to that post when i wrote this. this is my pain math. maybe the writing of it will help us to retain it.

    jules - so sorry to hear about your own health dilemmas!! i hope you're able to hold the truth close that God is closer than we can know, even when He seems the most distant.

    heather - thank you for your insight on this, friend!! i'm so glad that unity of self is a passion of yours!! it seems positively radical to some who are steeped in a more compartmentalized mode of thinking.

    it makes me so sad when people dismiss the body & i wonder ... how might people think of & treat their bodies differently if they knew we were taking them with us, being raised in the body (yeah, okay ... so it's a bit of a passion of mine, too). we will get those new ones of course, but they're part of the kingdom of heaven in which we're living now.

    i'm thankful God's given me this gift of renewed energy & life, too!!

  10. i'm new to this space, i've come here via the lovely linni of periwinkle.
    you and i share the same name and it would seem, have a few similiar interests.
    i love the title of your blog and your About Me is delightfully refreshing as is the gorgeous photo with this post.
    what you wrote here really resonated with me...
    and i look forward to returning with a little more time to visit.