It has been ten years since the inception of Danny's illness. A whole decade. The internal battle for an answer or an end was a long, painful process in which I needed to reconcile God allowing the challenge of this process with the additional purpose He called me to of raising a family. The emotional support of encouragement throughout his journey was the key ingredient to his sustenance. Thankfully, only one thing in particular was needed in which I was gifted in--encouragement.
Looking back I realize that was a gift I possessed. I did nothing to earn it. I just naturally did it. There were definitely many times throughout where my words felt empty...the ones spoken as well as the ones received. The times I was particularly discouraged in my role as his wife was when he would tell me, "You always say that and NOTHING has changed". The ONLY thing I had to offer was that God assured me through a deposit He made into my spirit that my husband would be healthy again, and a message of hope to a hurting world would be his offering after his restoration.
When Danny and I had been dating for almost 5 years, without a lifetime commitment as part of our relationship plan, I began to feel insecure. How could I know in my heart that this was the one I could easily spend my life with without him speaking about our future with the same perspective? He would tell me that he was waiting for God to "show him" with absolute certainty that it was to be me. I wasn't sure what would have done it for him...fireworks going off over my head perhaps as I used to jokingly suggest. I had done enough reading and listening on the topic to know that there were certain elements that were undeniable: mutual respect, the same goals for life, philosophies that were congruent, and most importantly a faith that was built on Jesus Christ as the cornerstone of the blueprint for this life. We had all of those. In fact, early in our relationship, when Danny was challenged by a friend about his unsettled perspective of the meaning of life, through a process of scientific investigation (which initially revealed to me his mode of learning truth) the undeniable reality of Jesus as the son of God and therefore being who He said He was and that is the ONLY way to God became evident. As a result Danny hung his hat (as well as our physical relationship) on the hook until the appointed time of marriage. (We did not have sex again until 5 years later after we walked down the aisle.)
There was always one issue that weighed heavily on me in my dating relationships and that was whether or not those relationships that I was involved in were right. Were the men in my life truly valuing me as a person or was the relationship driven by the physical aspect of the man's desire for sex?
When Danny realized that he had no idea how he would be able to accomplish no sex before marriage when he was accustomed to that being a driving force in his pursuits, I simultaneously knew that it was ME that he valued. To have been sustained in the relationship for the "right" reasons left me an obvious conclusion of him being "the one for me". It was disturbing that his brain needed a different assurance. Perhaps that was the first obvious place to me that we were wired differently. I had to release feeling insecure and trust that God would bring him to the same conclusion that he had me but I had to respect that it would be through a different process.
When I began putting the pressure on him near the end of chiropractic school and feeling undervalued with little effort (it seemed to me) of him searching for the solution as he did for meaning of life, it further added to my frustration. I began spending less time with him and more time with friends. I somewhat selfishly used it as an excuse to pursue my own ambitions without searching for God's purposes in them. Then I came to a crossroads. I saw Danny's faith grow in God's purpose for his life. There was an assurance about God's word--all of it--being true. It was the manuscript for life which wasn't open to interpretation; and the bible, in its entirety, was the infallible word of God.
I already knew this to be true but something happened to me when I saw the truth of this being applied to his life. Simply put: I didn't want to miss out on the life God blesses because of my own selfish desires. I told Danny this. I think it may have been the first time that he saw hope in me as becoming the woman for him to spend his life with; knowing that even though I did not necessarily know how to trust and allow God to mold me, I was willing to admit it was the only way to life a life that had purpose and meaning that would become an investment beyond my limited perspective.
Trust was a difficult concept for me. It is defined as having faith in another person or entity. Signifiant people in my life had let me down beginning with my biological father. Next my mother who was supposed to be there for me not just emotionally but also physically but never seemed to be. I understood her limitations but nonetheless I was impacted by the void that was created. As I encountered friendships from 1st through 12th grade I experienced many additional disappointments that further challenged the meaning of trust.
How then could I trust Danny to the point of feeling at peace with his character as the man I desired to surrender my heart to?
The only answer that fits is that in our relationship, this was the first gift God gave to me. I did nothing to earn it other than be myself. And this self was obviously the perfect one for him...handpicked by God Himself for the purpose he had for him.
It didn't take long to own that perspective when he first began experiencing strange and scary symptoms that squashed the personality of the man I knew and loved and revealed a threatened and threatening character underneath.
I quickly jumped roles from the one being protected to the one protecting. I protected our children, I protected myself (the best I could) but mostly I protected him from himself. This untrusting woman, who trusted no one but my husband, became epitomized by the circumstances that I now found myself in.
As God called me to trust in His work in our marriage I remember wondering what role I would play once Danny was restored. I now understand that due to being disappointed so often as a child and adolescent I had a theme of apprehension that had woven itself into the fiber of my being.
Again I had another opportunity to be healed myself from this hole in my own soul. It may not have been a physical wound as my husband possessed but it had consequences that were equally devastating.
God gave me another opportunity to trust. He brought Dylan and Olivia into my life. Ironically He did so when I was trudging through the emotional pain of having my husband not being able to "show up" for me. During this season of our lives, Danny was running from himself. He didn't like who he had become and he wasn't completely sure he would ever be himself again. His mind had only one way of searching for truth and this was the second time in my life with him I watched as this scientific process manifested itself once again in a most critical space in time. His relentless pursuit for answers did not disappoint him. Initially the process that led him to answers wasn't forthcoming as it led him down what seemed like empty pathways. Looking back, it was evident that God allowed that as well as it not only taught him to persevere with God in prayer but it also taught him about many different processes within the body that unless fully understood would only lead him to become a doctor that managed symptoms, even if naturally and without consequence, as opposed to the doctor he has become which is one that addresses the root cause and looks at the life of the body beginning and ending at its foundation: the cell.
The three years before he understood where in his body the breakdown occurred was the most difficult for both of us. For him, it was a trial of trust in God whom he had learned held the answers to life and death and controlled mankind's purpose if we trusted Him to do so regardless of where we started. For me I had to put my husband on a shelf and trust that the God who chose us for one another would return him to me in better condition than before.
I also had to trust that my life as a mother to two children who weren't wired in the same way I was or what I had learned to adapt to were not only going to make me more effective in my purpose as a wife and a mother but were also going to bring me joy and completeness that I have never known within myself.
Luke 9:24 (a verse I had always feared) says, "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it." I am now learning that embracing God's call, while the process of being stripped is brutal and at times even seemingly unfair, there is victory if we surrender to it. When we remember that once God declares something to us whether spoken aloud or in our heart...IT IS SO. Just as it was revealed to me about Danny's future being one with hope and tremendous purpose, I had to learn that fearing God's word, while a healthy perspective to our understanding, can lead us to doubt Him if we misconstrue His intended meaning.
I must admit it has taken me walking through adversity where there was no where else to turn before I began understanding that trusting God is not something to be feared but embraced. He alone is the author and perfecter of our faith and therefore He knows our breaking points as well as our strengthening points as well as the delicate balance between the two. Just as a muscle needs to be torn down to grow so we need to be torn down to mature.
I have clung to the deposit of God in my spirit, expecting our future to be an offering of hope to others just as God has given us hope in the midst of our pain. However waiting is required between what we know and what He reveals. We must wait on God with a posture of expectancy until He manifests the destination of our calling. And as you wait, expect a spiritual battle unlike you have ever known! The more times you are attacked release those attacks to the power of God and remember that it is giving Him yet another opportunity to show up and show off on your behalf (see my previous blogs for how this occurred in our life).
Another extremely invaluable component to your trial is praying your blessing into existence. There is a powerful verse in the bible in Isaiah. Chapter 54:17 says, "No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment God shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me, says the Lord." If we take God in the literal sense that He intends for us, this is a verse that can offer tremendous hope. It indicates the spiritual reference of the battle you are going through and helps you remember that just before the release of your blessing as a resulting suffering and proven worthiness there is going to be an attack from the adversary unlike you have ever known. In fact, this is why it is so important to maintain this posture as we wait.
The final element that must be dealt with is the removal of sin from your life. These are events God ordains that prepares us to receive the blessing within our purpose.
And finally, remember, that when you are waiting in the space between your revelation and your manifestation, it typically will not happen quickly, but it will happen suddenly. What you have sown in tears you will reap in joy (Psalm 126:5). When we were faced with the legal investigation regarding our children's trust, I remember being in the attorney's office in utter disbelief. We had done all that we knew to be functioning within the laws of the trust document...so much so that we paid for the services of others to guide us through that process so we would never be where we were physically finding ourselves. (the complete story is in my blog titled How We Got Here...Where We Are...Where Are We?...Mother's Day 2010)
Once again I had to remind myself of the original intent of God through our suffering and He was giving us another opportunity to grow, first within ourselves and also as a family and beyond. What kept coming into my head was God's reminder to me which was becoming a theme: "Do not look at your circumstances, just look to Me." This statement was running over and over in my head just as it had in my heart through first my husband's sickness and also through my challenges with integrating Dylan and Olivia into our family. I am grateful as God has returned my husband more whole than He allowed him when he was taken. I have experienced becoming more at peace with myself despite my too numerous to mention challenges as a mother with one child much less five. And again, as we wait, I have to trust Him.
A pervasive theme of trust. Trusting that while God doesn't always choose our method for our maturity in our faith and our purpose, He certainly does allow those challenges to make the best of us for Him.
While we have had many opportunities to be sifted for His calling and having the requirement of trust as the prevailing element of our faith, in these past several months of legal turmoil God has shown up suddenly. While it certainly has not happened quickly, it is happening suddenly. Suddenly the phone rang the very same day we sat in the attorney's office at the beginning of this whole debacle and we were asked to meet with the owner of a direct marketing company that we had been involved with as a result of our appreciation for the quality of their products. Their interest in us was for the possibility of our mission being infused into it as it sought to become more purpose-driven. The story of our life had become most intriguing to those that desired to make a difference.
During that visit, the conversation also addressed the possibility of this company, Zylene International, manufacturing my husband's cellular detoxification product that would help so many that suffered without understanding, but through education on the scale of a successful direct marketing company, that we had the opportunity to become the voice for, we immediately saw the sudden move of the hand of God. While it was not something that occurred quickly, it certainly happened suddenly. While we were being shamed by the media, God was revealing yet another scripture that has shown up more than a few times as we have cried out to Him. Joel 2:23-27 says, "Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God; For He has given you the former rain and faithfully, and He will cause the rain to come down for you...I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, And praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; and my people shall never be put to shame. Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I AM the Lord your God and there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame."
Is faith required to believe these words? You better believe it! Faith is a confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea or thing. It is belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. Trust is a synonym of faith. Is it any coincidence that God has given me faith while He challenged me with trust. How is that even possible? How can I further understand the dichotomy that exists between these two words that have such a powerful pervasive presence in my life and in the lives of so many Christians today? My mind is expanding as I type! The human condition is one of survival in times that are tough. We are faced with a challenge and we dig deep. It isn't until we have exhausted our natural resources that are within our reach that we are faced with being overtaken by our greatest nemesis that we are able to fully surrender and trust in our God through faith in Him alone. Unfortunately that typically does not happen until we are in dyer straits. In fact, when we finally release our greatest burden(s) to God we find our freedom and our peace. This cannot happen unless that process occurs fully. Ultimately. Finally. And with that release, we give God the carte blanche to act. Until that time, we are withholding His power. He will not be released in the spiritual realm and act on our behalf until we release Him to do so. Under His authority we have partnered with Him. We can now personify the principles of God by becoming the word of God in action.
If God has a specific purpose for those who love Him, and He does, and He alone is the giver of the gift, and He is, then we must prove worthy of it. We also must demonstrate trust that He can do it and posture ourselves expectantly. Within the confines of this world there are many stagnant places that need His influence. It is time for the wounds that prevent trust from delivering might to be healed. It has come into my life through a process of great pain but it has left me more whole. Yet another dichotomy within the plans and purposes of God.
Do not run from the places of life that challenge you. Embrace them. Relinquish your control. Know that by losing your life you are gaining your purpose. The scripture that used to scare me now excites me as we are about to be released for His glory, not our own. I will leave you with this: "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly (2 POWERFUL adjectives; not by accident is any word chosen by God himself for our internalization as we read His word), above all that we can ask or imagine, according to the power that works in us, to Him be the glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen" (Ephesians 3:20) NOTHING is impossible for Him, but until we trust Him alone for it, we will not fully see the purpose for which He has called us. Lay your burdens at His feet. The process of being proven worthy is costly, but it is also a revelation of the closeness of God to the hurting soul as well as the power by which He desires to change the world.