04 August 2008

in a dry & weary land

Hi friends,

It's been awhile -- at least it seems that way to me. I could hardly believe it when I saw my last post was two weeks ago. But as blogging seems to have slowed down in general for the summer, I'm okay with it.

I'll be honest: I've had a hard time of it lately. My health is not improving; in fact, my insides are behaving as though they're forty or fifty years older than I am. As I was discussing the latest slough of symptoms with my naturopath, he told me that the conversations we're having about my health now are ones he usually has with patients in their seventies. Simply put, my body is failing at some of its most basic processes: digestion, elimination, absorption, and some others that I just don't want to talk about here.

The word chronic has been used.

On a good day, I'll tell you that this body makes me long for heaven. I'll tell you that I am finding blessing in unexpected places. I'll tell you that I know and trust that God will redeem this.

But on the days that aren't so good or as hopeful -- on days like today -- I am angry. I'm frustrated and weary and truth be told, just plain furious. I wonder what my later years might look like if this is my life and my health now. I wonder what the point is of trying to be healthy at all when my body is failing anyway. I wonder where God is when I cry out for mercy and heaven is silent and still again, again, and again. I wonder with the Psalmist, How long, O Lord? How frickin' long?

I'm tired of investing money and energy and hope into remedies that seem to help at first, but later have no effect on my body.

I'm tired of the way hope inflates and deflates inside me.

I'm tired of having a carrot dangled in front of me only to have it yanked away time and again.

I'm tired of being chronically unwell. I'm tired of the sounds of my own complaints.

I'm tired of trying to find blessing or anything good in this place. I'm tired of taking the long view, of wondering how God might use this to bless others in a distant time known only as someday.

I'm tired of the tension that exists between knowing God is there, but having the feeling as though He's absent, silent, and idle. I'm tired of how any prayer I offer hits the ceiling and falls in a heap at my feet.

I'm tired of spending time in the offices of every doctor who has a chart for me, of talking about my bowel and menstruation habits at length, of being subjected to test after invasive test, of lying exposed on cold tables, of hands pressing in on my body.

I'm tired of the looks from physicians who are as baffled and frustrated as I am.

I'm so tired of trying every possible option to be well and as far as I can tell, of it meaning nothing.

I'm tired of how isolated and alone this makes me feel, of how difficult it is to feel engaged in my own life, of how much I don't want to accept that this is my life.

I'm tired of being the oldest thirty-year-old that I know.

This doesn't mean that I don't want to know how you are, and it certainly doesn't mean I don't want to celebrate with you or hear about your days. This doesn't mean that I don't want to talk about other things or that I've lost sight of the world beyond the boundaries of my skin or that I'm incapable of laughter. I may be quiet or I may be absent from time to time, but I'm still here and I love knowing that you are, too.

I know it's difficult to be with people like me in these kinds of places. There's nothing you can say or do, no solution you can offer that will make it better. I understand this, and I can appreciate the difficulty. That being said, please know that I don't expect solutions or cures or words that will illuminate all of this perfectly. I don't expect you to know how to fix this.

I'm just glad that you're here, listening and sharing in this life with me.


  1. frick.

    just one f word. no well meaning job's friend blah for you. why? i don't know. but i am here, listening, praying you well from the inside out. {hug}

  2. God's okay with our anger, too.

  3. hi, friend.

    this really sucks. it really f*ing sucks. [and just so you know how strongly i feel about it, i typed out that whole word up there that's been replaced with an asterisk and then stared at it, willing myself to not care about offending anyone else. of course, i couldn't. just know that, between you and me, it f*ing sucks.]

    i don't get this, God. i really don't get it. you, of all people. in a slew of un-answers. i just don't get it.

    i'm amazed at your willingness to try caring for us in this place, telling us what you can still do and what you don't want us to be afraid of in this friendship. it's okay, friend. just breathe. we'll be okay, and we can stand here with you.

    this makes me think of something i wrote recently in "divining grace." in the chapter called, "the gift of presence," i wrote these words:

    Sometimes when talking with close friends about how things are going in life, difficult experiences and questions appear on the scene. It could be a rough patch at school or work, a bumpy road in a relationship, or even tough questions about God, our purpose, or the human condition.

    When I find myself faced with such difficult questions in conversation, I often find myself creating a self-imposed pressure to provide answers or have something helpful to say. It is a tall order, as it is not easy to know the right answers or things to say in the face of big questions. But I’m learning that answers and helpfulness are not necessarily what is most needed in those moments.

    What’s needed is simply our presence, the offering of our attention to the words and feelings of the other person. It is this attention that gives them the freedom to explore the truth of how they feel and how they want to respond to their situation. It is our presence that helps them feel known and less alone.

    When I am worried about what I will say to someone who is confiding in me, I am more concerned in that moment about myself and maintaining a reputation of helpfulness, rather than being concerned with what is of utmost importance in that moment: what the other person is actually facing, feeling, experiencing, wondering.

    I have found that being present, simply attending with another person to their life, is one of the greatest gifts we can offer. Perhaps this is because our world is so fast-paced that we don’t often have the chance to actually sit and consider our experiences. Perhaps it is because information abounds and we are bombarded every day with advertisements that pretend to understand who we are and what we need, offering us plenty of quick and cheap solutions to our problems. It leads one to wonder, is anyone really listening? Does anyone really care?

  4. Frak!

    Thought I'd add to the collection of precise sentiments.

    I'm here.

  5. Oh Kirsten, I'm so sorry you have to deal with this. For what it's worth, I will be praying regularly for you.

    Lots of love. :)

  6. Your post got me thinking, and my comment was really long, so i just decided to post it on my blog instead.

    Love you my friend - I'm excited for you that in 15 days you get to see a few wonderful women who are coming to visit you (I have loved seeing that countdown clock go down).

  7. So full of sorrow for you. No words really. Just a squeezing in my heart.

  8. *sigh*

    there are really no words for this. i think i have some little bits of understanding...some familiarity with this territory you find yourself in. it's isolating in the worst way. i hope it helps in the tiniest way that we're willing to sit here with you and share in your confusion and fatigue and anger. we love you.

  9. No words today, just sending my love. Hang in there, we are praying for you and listening any time you have something to say. Dont ever hesitate to share.

  10. It was so nice to speak with you yesterday even if it was a brief chat (i hate how work gets in the way sometimes,uhh most of the time, of most of our lives).

    I appreciate you sharing with us where you are at right now. It allows us as the body of Christ to "bear one anothers burdens".

    For what it's worth, you'll have a ups guy driving around all night covering you with prayer and thoughts . . .

  11. Kirsten
    I am so freakin proud of you for writing this blog! I don't know if i can effectively explain that. We so dress ourselves up for the world when we are not "presentable." I HATE THAT, IT PISSES ME OFF! I would so much rather you say i am sick and tired, when you feel sick and tired.

    And dammit I want you to unload all shit don't carry it inside. I think we can take it, that's what love does it embraces all of us, from our sins to our sorrows.

    I don't think love is always understanding someone or having all the right answers, i think love is the WANT to understand them when you DON'T have all the answers.

    I love your words here about not always having the right words to say. Girl you put this so beautifully and with such insight, you are going to make a hell of a counselor one day.

    Kirsten you finished out your blog saying that people don't always know how to respond to that sorta grief. And it is true they don't. But like David or Job, we all need an outlet.

  12. di - thank you for being here. i keep thinking of a lyric from a caedmon's call song:

    words aren't remembered,
    but presence is.

    so thank you for being here.

    heather - i thank God for that: He can handle & understand us feeling angry & forsaken.

    christianne - i agree that it f*ing sucks, & i haven't been afraid to use the real word either the last few days. the fact that you typed it out tells me so much about how angry you are with me in this. there's something so offensive in this, isn't there; a thing that warrants that kind of unrestrained anger??

    mmm, your words from "divining grace" get exactly at what i was trying to say in the last few paragraphs: about being present & allowing the sufferer to attend to and explore his or her own thoughts & feelings about whatever it is they're facing. i know how hard it is to sit with someone who's facing an impossibility or who is grieving or facing chronic illness. i've been on the other side of it, too. so i know how hard it is to have nothing to offer, but just to be present & listening instead. i'm so thankful that you get this, that you live this, that this is your life's work to offer this to others who are walking (drudging, sitting, screaming) through such a difficulty.

    your words are beautiful friend: both the speech and the heart those words evoke.

    i love you so much.

    sarah - i agree!! frick, frack, f***. all exclamations i can appreciate. thanks for being here & very soon, for really being here.

    jodi - that means quite a lot. everything, actually. thank you. i know you've got a new little one to care for, so it means a lot to me that you would direct some caring on my behalf.

    ilse - thank you for stopping by. i haven't read your post yet, but plan on stopping by once i'm finished here. thanks for sharing your heart & your thoughts. your love & your friendship mean so much to me!!

    l.l. - thank you. thank you.

    terri - it does help so much that people are simply willing to sit with me in this place, all of us without answers or solutions or helpful ways of understanding what this is. thank you for listening, for taking time to hear my heart, for grieving with me (especially since you're fresh off vacation!!).

    carl - thank you for your heart, & for being here to listen.

    dave - it was nice to hear your voice too, to chat with you briefly. your voice is warm and familiar & i want to hear it in person someday. i'm really thankful to have a UPS guy driving around offering up prayers. i wish i could say more than thank you, but that's all i got right now. thank you, from the depths of my aching heart.

  13. tammy-friend, you snuck in as i was writing out my comment!! i'm glad you're here, girl.

    thanks for your thoughts ... i agree that sometimes we are far too concerned with dressing up how we're really thinking or feeling for fear of appearing unholy in the eyes of others. i just can't stand sanctifying the truth of this place. since i know i'm amongst friends, i'll elaborate:

    this place is downright awful. i hate it & i want it to end. i want a healthy body & i want it yesterday. i'm tired of waiting & experimenting & testing. i feel like i'm getting jerked around & sometimes i wonder that if God can stop it, why He doesn't. i've never been so angry in my life, screaming & crying myself to sleep at night. there is an ache in my heart and in my soul & i cannot find the bottom of it.

    i'm so glad you get this kind of anger and that like you said, that you understand there is a place for it. david felt it, and even jesus at his last felt utterly forsaken & abandoned by God. there's something i can cling to in that knowledge: i'm not feeling anything jesus didn't. it doesn't make me feel better, it doesn't change the dirty & fleshy reality of where i'm at, but it is something to know that Christ did not protect Himself from this kind of pain.

    now if only He would rescue me from it.

    i love you, girl. missing you --

  14. just sending love and prayers...xx

  15. Kirsten,

    Reading your words overwhelms me. There is so much I'd like to say here, so many thing I'd love to confess. But I'm afraid that my confession would only put my chances of getting any lasting help in peril. So let me be a coward for the time being.

    Maybe I can live vicariously through your bravery and outrage for right now -- not that you are fearless -- but at least you're willing to expose your fear and anger. That is more than I am able to express right now.

    Kirsten, I love you. You're tenacious, spunky and REAL. Peace to you, as much as it is possible. I'm sitting in the shadows with you.

  16. Kirsten!
    How my heart aches with knowing all to well this...the ups and downs with my own body is so trying as well.
    I am glad you can find your voice here...and I will be here listening my new found friend!
    You have some really lovely friends here and know that I feel blessed to call you my friend.
    I have no words of cure or wisdom but I have faith and the power of prayer. So there it is Kirsten!
    In prayer,

  17. Kirsten
    I am going to echo Nathans words here you are tenacious, spunky and real. True, you are. That's what makes you lovable.

  18. periwinkle - thank you, lovely lady. i cherish your prayers.

    nathan - thank you for your heart here; i don't feel at all brave or tenacious or ... anything. so thanks for saying that. maybe there is something of me left, after all.

    i love you too, brother. and if we have to sit in the shadows together, wondering and frustrated and a little bit afraid, then i'm glad we each have the other for company.

    robyn - thank you for your warm thoughts & your prayers. i am so surrounded by love, by people who do not try to make sense of it or tell me what to do, but can just love me in it. is there any greater gift??

    tammy - thanks, friend. that means more to me than i can say.

  19. Hi Kirsten

    Me too. Just here. Wishing that things were better for you and grateful for the awesome you that I've had a glimpse of.

  20. I'm sorry that has been your experience. I hope you can find the comfort in God despite it seeming to make no sense.

  21. oh dean. thanks for stopping by & for your well wishes and prayers. i treasure them.

    i really do.

    trooper - thanks for stopping by. this is a less-than-desirable state for me to meet people, but i'm thankful for the hope for comfort all the same. :o)

  22. My dear friend I am honored to be a part of your walk and even though it is from such a distance. You are in my prayers and your faith is a wonderful and beautiful thing for me to watch get walked out. You travel this miserable road with grace that is far beyond any thing that I could even come close to.

    I still think that the remedy is sunshine!!! Can I get an AMEN from Christianne? I truly believe in the power of sunshine. It is a beautiful thing.

    Be blessed my friend. You will continue to be in my prayers.

  23. This all sucks beyond suchage. I'll add my prayers to others. I had no clue what all you were going through!

    One thought though...have you tried going to House? He seems to find answers no other doctors can...(just a thought). =p

  24. I appreciate your candidness. Whats wrong with you? Healthwise. You may have included it but Im a skimmer.