I remember not knowing what this meant exactly, other than an unwanted, hard, gawky, painful, bulky, stiff brace I was to wear 22 hours of the day- one that began under my armpit and ended at the tailbone.
The brace changed significant areas of my life. Even while it wasn't on me- mentally and emotionally I wore it.
The once bubbly young middle schooler became a lone ranger as I purposefully isolated myself from friends and school peers in fear they would touch and feel the brace through my bulky, oversized shirt. My crafty and well-thought out plan was to protect myself by staying away from anyone who may desire to enter beyond my thick iron bars of self-protection.
After just over a year of this cycle, x-rays revealed the growing process was complete and was now given permission to be free from the brace. Little did I know, however, even though the tangible brace had been thrown away, the brick wall of protection still remained strong and permanent. Each brick identifying me- flawed, said one. Defected, said another. A deceiver, a reject, a counterfeit, a failure and many more made up the names of the others.
All in an effort to hide the truths I believed about myself, I shoved the well-built brick wall deep into the darkest corners of my heart. There, resided the pain, the lies, the shame and the guilt the enemy planted during this season and it remained in a deep prison within- dead bolted shut. Never to be re-visited.
As the path of life followed multiple ups, downs and curves, so did my spine. I knew my body was slowly becoming more affected by the curvature and I quickly became an expert at hiding it. The scoliosis affected every day life- what I wore, who I embraced, what others thought, what activity posed a threat of discomfort and pain. Much energy and time went into keeping it unknown to others, which presented a deep seeded fear that ultimately dictated my life.
I prayed, begged, cried, pleaded with God year after year, month after month, week after week, and often times day after day to straighten the spine. But, nothing.
The shame, isolation, secrecy, guilt and anger over this caused an immeasurable dis-connect from God. I searched for years for someone or something to fill my heart reserved only for Him, not realizing He was the only sufficient One able to fill it- to overflow it with life, beauty, fullness, wholeness, purity, grace and freedom.
Little did I know, if He were to "fix" my spine, It'd do little-to-nothing to "fix" by broken, distant, hurting & confused heart.
After complete emotional exhaustion of people-pleasing, following fleshly desires, craving earthly pleasures and seeking to quench an unquenchable thirst, I handed God the knife and asked Him to do an internal surgery of the soul.
Although this was not an overnight transformation, God, little by little, piece by piece, layer by layer, performed surgery on the inner spirit- removing areas of deep implanted lies and replacing them with life-giving truths.
Dismantling crippling effects of shame and resurrecting fullness and wholeness.
Eradicating self-destructive coping mechanisms and implementing His Holy Spirit.
I was no longer bound and held captive to shame and been offered the gift of His unfathomable grace, which led to my freedom.
Chains were snapped. Emotions were purified. Counterfeit gods were released. Jesus, only Jesus, was placed back on His rightful place and position on the throne of my heart. He offered me right order living and provided the power, the desire and the courage to accept it. All the while, releasing the addiction to idolatry, emotional strong holds and the toxic lies I believed as truth.
During the four year span of God performing an internal surgery of straightening the path of my heart, the curve of my spine was increasing to the point of requiring surgery.
I took this no-small matter before the Lord. It was a beautiful August morning and the sunlight streamed in through the window of the front room where I was sitting comfortably with my fresh cup of coffee in the left hand and my loved prayer journal and pen in the other. "Father," I wrote. "You know the details. You have the answer. You know what should be done according to your perfect plan and desire. I will not do this, if this is not your will. I do not want to do anything without Your approval..."
Immediately, a clear tender all-consuming voice in my spirit said "This is my plan for you."
I began to sob. Weeping from the joy of His presence and the enormity of His voice. "Thank you Jesus. Thank you Jesus," I repeated. I recognized and heard immediately this surgery was to glorify Him. To reveal His power and to prove His love. The sobbing continued as I sat in His presence.
not an immediate miracle. THIS, was part of His perfect plan- just as He did with the internal healing of my crooked heart!
He desired for my faith to deepen as I refused to allow fear to consume me regarding the 6 hour surgery.
He desired for my character to grow as I leaned on Him during the painful months of suffering while in recovery.
He desired for my strength to endure, as I chose to fight the good fight.
He was after my calling, not my comfort.
He was after restoring my joy, not my wavering happiness.
He was after my legacy, not my feeble desires.
He was after my unshakeable faith, not my shallow prayer life.
Yes, a miracle was not His choice in this circumstance. He desired and required a season of healing and recovery- for a specific reason far greater than just the here and now.
The surgery was set for March 3, 2015. I was experiencing a bold confidence while sharing with others our decision, regardless of their response. I knew-that-I-knew God wanted this for me. He was going to be glorified, regardless of the results. If the results were different than what was expected, I was completely and fully convinced that was what HE wanted. I knew He was to be glorified in all of it- good or bad.
On the morning of March 3, I quietly tucked my hand-written sealed letters under the pillow of each of my three babies and kissed their warm pillow-creased cheek while they slept and headed to the hospital. The next 24 hours were a complete blur. Lots of medicine, lots of pain, lots of nurses, lots of noises, lots of wires, lots of machines in the ICU. The days were mixed into the nights and the nights into the days, while pain remained as a constant companion. There were good moments of precious company and horrific moments of poor staffing. Good moments of receiving love and poor moments of excruciating pain. All of which were part of His plan- molding me, refining me, encouraging me, strengthening me and equipping me.
However, it was precisely in this state, where I met Jesus even more intimately, more uniquely, more personally, more tangibly than I had ever encountered Him.
I began to see all things with an attitude of love and gratitude. His presence was overwhelming and He began to reveal deeper mysteries into His mysterious ways. Almost every night, while the world slept, Jesus and I wrote.
I wrote what He would tell me, share with me, enlighten me. Though written while experiencing physical pain,
the pain opened doorways to deeper truths and revelations of Gods love like no other time or experience in my life.
My life's purpose was no longer about comfort but the recognition of how suffering had the power to catapult me straight into the arms of my Healer.
As of to date, I am currently 14 months post op. My 20-ish inch scar may be fading, but my gratitude, devotion and love for Christ remain a constant anchor.
Proverbs 3:6 "In all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight."
Yes, indeed He did.
And so, dear friends, If you are facing a storm, a disease, a loss, a rejection, a hurt, a wound, a violation, a grief, an illness.... I don't believe it's by chance you're reading this. He desperately and passionately wants you to not lose hope if the miracle you're praying for has not come into fruition. God is doing something much greater, grander, larger than anything we can wrap our heads around. Our only job is to cling to our Healer and know He loves you too much to give an instant miracle- He's after your legacy, your character, your impact, your joy, your peace and HIS GLORY radiating through the gift of your precious and valuable life- regardless of the pressing, difficult and fearful circumstances. "The pain that you've been feeling, can not compare to the Joy that's coming."