It was a morning that had started out like every other morning during that life stage: kids waking me up at precisely oh-dark-thirty (because that is what 1-year-olds and 3-year-olds do), me changing a bunch of diapers and thinking sarcastically to myself “Yep, that master’s degree in physiology sure is coming in handy now!”, me getting a load of laundry going and unloading the dishwasher, and me trying to figure out what I will be allowed to eat that day…this was the aftermath of the poisoning (an extremely difficult and bitter time for me not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually.) See, during this time, my immune system was (for lack of a better word) wonky…I couldn’t fight off what I should so I stayed sick all the time (kept getting pneumonia) and I was fighting off what I shouldn’t (I became allergic to everything…including about 90% of my diet: soy, sugar, every single oil that I tested for, apples, cherries, peanuts, all tree nuts, yeast, wheat, oat, milk, cheese, broccoli, green beans, and pretty much everything else you can think of) so my doctor had me doing a rotational diet (really complicated but basically, if I ate an ingredient of something that I was not allergic to, I had 1 hour to eat it in and then I could not return to that ingredient for four full days (or anything related to that ingredient for two days…see picture) in order to not over-expose myself to this “safe” ingredient and turn it into another item that I was allergic to. Meanwhile, to try to regain the items that I was forbidden from, I was giving myself 9 antigen injections in my stomach every 4 days as well as having to occasionally test allergy ingredients to see if I was gaining any headway.) Glamorous, I know…try not to be jealous.
As I continued on this diet, I lost a lot of weight (as you would expect when it is that difficult to find food that you can eat.) The problem with the weight loss is that the toxins in my body were fat-soluble toxins (they lived in my body fat) which had to go somewhere as I was quickly losing that body fat. Science geek-out alert: I don’t know if you know this or not, but your brain is actually made primarily of fat (about 60%!) As I was losing body fat, the toxins that I was not able to expel from my body were going to my brain and causing me lots of issues.
Anyway, back to this typical day that began like every other: Caleb was in his crib and Michaela was in her room. I was trying to get some baby oatmeal out of the pantry when it happened. I lost my balance when I reached in, and fell into the pantry striking the side of my head on the shelf as I fell. I didn’t lose consciousness…but I couldn’t get out. What I mean is that I was aware of where I was and what position I was in but I couldn’t control my limbs. I would try to put my hand against the wall that I was folded up against, but my arm would flail around instead of doing what I was telling it to do. My legs were almost useless in that cramped space and I was feeling a lot of pain (the recycle bin was shoved into my back on the right side and my head throbbed from hitting the shelf and wall.) That is when panic set in. I couldn’t get out! I couldn’t get out!!!! The flailing increased as I struggled to get up…to move…to control anything about my body. My vision blurred but that was just because hot, wet tears were streaming down my face. I felt hot and my heart was racing as I sucked in ragged breaths…this was heading toward a full-on panic attack…and then I heard him…Caleb was crying and expecting his mama to come get him from his nap…and I couldn’t get to him. I listened to him cry while I cried and flailed in the pantry. Some time later, Michaela started banging on her door and yelling for mommy as well…and I couldn’t get up. Those poor babies were probably so very confused and feeling abandoned. “Oh God! Where the hell are you?!?!”
That’s when he showed up…God…by bringing some calm to this chaos. Instead of continuing to struggle, I yelled at God in that pantry…I told him about everything that I had lost because of this poison and how angry I was about it. In that pantry, I grieved the life that I had lost and finally came to terms that life was going to look different from now on. It was time to accept it instead of just being bitter about it. I was a different person than I had been: with this brain damage, my skills had changed…my thinking had changed…I was still analytical but less so than before…I started becoming more artistic and less rigid…I had a hard time with my memory (it was really embarrassing because I would be talking to someone and just stop in the middle and stare at them…it was like my brain had re-set and I lost the last 10-15 seconds…so I thought they were talking instead of me.) So much had changed and I had lost most of my relationships because people just didn’t know how to comfortably be around me…it wasn’t their fault really…they couldn’t understand…but it was so isolating…and now, I was isolated in the pantry with just Jesus…but He showed up…and that is something…I guess it’s not isolation if Jesus is still with me. With that understanding came peace despite my circumstances and a little while later, I noticed that my hand was on my head where the big knot had formed. How had I gotten my hand there? I tested it and was able to move it…I was shaky…but the connections were there…I was able to move my body around and control it some. I crawled out of the pantry and used the kitchen countertop to help myself to a standing position. A short time later, I opened Michaela’s door and told her to follow me to Caleb’s room where I sat on the floor with both of them and just enjoyed the ability to put my arms around them. We sat there and nuzzled each other for a long while.
Why am I telling you this? Well, for one thing, I think that we all have a deep desire to be known. This is part of me and part of my story. It is when this control-freak, type-A, uptight gal hit rock-bottom and learned, without a doubt, that control is only an illusion. I have fought writing about this for some time now and it kept coming to mind because, for some reason, I needed you all to know about it…so here it is…here is my mess…take it all in…know me.
I also learned that we are dependent on God for everything…EVERYTHING…right down to each breath, the ability to move, and each hug. He was with me and calmed me and that is no small thing. (I was in that pantry for 2 hours and I kept it a secret for several weeks (even from Stan) because I was processing what I had been through. I didn’t want anyone else’s take on it until I knew what my take was.) God knew me well enough to know how to calm me, distract me, and encourage me and the reason he could do that is because he is actively present and invested in my life.
Finally, I learned contentment…true contentment. I still have days where I am in a lot of pain or periods of time where my brain isn’t functioning quite the way it should, but those days are the exception now…and that is something to be grateful for…now, the bad days just show me how far he has brought me! Do you know that I had quit praying for healing when God decided to end my suffering with food allergies? I had come to a point of acceptance that this was my lot in life and then he gave me more. It felt lavish!
So, your story, in all likelihood, is quite different from mine…but how are you doing with it? Are you suffering under (or perhaps relishing in) the illusion that you are in control? Why do we tell ourselves this lie? Do you realize how loved you are by a God who wants an intimate relationship with you? Do you have any concept of what he could accomplish through you if you would only let him? What is holding you back? What keeps you holding him at arm’s distance? Is it pride? Anger? Bitterness? Doubt? Fear? (For me, it was all of these!)
My prayer today is that we would all allow God to point out tender parts of ourselves that we are with-holding from him and that we would offer those precious and vulnerable parts to God as an act of worship. Much love friends,