Tag Archives: chronic hope

The Frustration of Forced Rest

The value of Grey

My eyes followed the delicate floral pattern of greens, browns, yellows, and periwinkle that scattered haphazardly across my pillowcase. Except I knew that this floral print that I was laying on was not formed on accident, but had an intentional pattern…a repeat…that I had identified. I had been studying it minute upon minute, hour upon hour, day upon day, and week upon week. I knew it better than anyone.

I could also tell you the placement of each knot in our family room wall’s wood paneling, the number of vertical gray slats that hung lifelessly across the door wall that led to an outside that I wasn’t allowed into, and every color of carpet fiber that was woven into the Berber carpet where my mattress lay.

I was ten or eleven years old and enduring, what seemed to me, like an eternity of solitude. My pediatric neurosurgeon had ordered me to be on strict, flat bed rest for one whole month. This sentencing was preceded by spine operations to (once again) untether my spine. I was dealing with complications of cerebral spinal fluid leaking out from my Dura, which led to severe, head-throbbing, nausea-inducing, headaches and would eventually require another spine surgery to remedy. Grasping at wisps of hope, my neurosurgeon had placed me flat on my back with a tight dressing of gauze and hospital tape that covered the squishy fluid pocket sitting beneath my skin on my spine. The goal was to relieve the pressure of the fluid pocket long enough for the CSF leak to heal on it’s own, sans surgery.

My parents had moved my twin mattress down to our family room and it was there that I was “stuck”. I grew restless of TV and found myself sketching bridal dresses out of old copies of BRIDE magazine. I read “The Diary of Anne Frank” and cried for hours at the injustice of her story. I tried to journal my own thoughts in a small fluorescent colored Lisa Frank diary, but my words fell flat in comparison to the sharpness of my inner turmoil. Every time I needed to go to the bathroom, my mom would bring a bed pan and help me catheterize myself. My friends would stop by after the 3pm bell and excitedly chat about all of the things I was missing at school. They’d leave and I’d miss the warmth of their companionship as the cold, isolated, overwhelming pile of “make-up” homework grew taller.

And so I’d lay there. I’d memorize the pattern of my bed sheets, the knots in the wood paneling, the slats in the blinds; and warm tears would roll down my cheeks because I was in a forced period of rest and isolation that I never wanted to be in in the first place.

Twenty one years later, I can look back on this time of solitude…of stillness…and be thankful for it and many others like it because those are the times where I met God. Those were the moments where I felt the most dead inside, but God was cultivating the most growth. He saw past a small broken little girl and saw the potential for a women who could fiercely love and trust him even when she knew the pain would never stop. He knew that these inconvenient moments of isolation were necessary to transform me into who he wanted me to become.

Maybe you find yourself in one of these periods of “forced rest” right now? I understand friend….they can be so frustrating. We live in a culture where resting is viewed as laziness, where solitude is viewed as simplemindedness, and where unproductivity is viewed as worthlessness.

I am here to buck every one of these notions because they are unbiblical and I have repeatedly experienced their untruth. It is in these moments that we have the potential to discover how personal God is, how much he longs for peace and joy to be the markers of our lives, and his yearning to give us eternal vision…not temporary sight.

If this is you today, will you do something for me? Will you ask God to show you something about himself or about his character? Will you thank God for the exact position you are in, even though every fiber of your being wants to curse him for it?

I promise you that he will not fall flat. He will not leave you empty. He will not disappoint you. It may take you twenty one years to see it….but you will see it.

Jeremiah 29:13 ” You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Mark 6:32 “So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.”

God began impressing upon my heart to share this with you when I read Psalm 4:4 in one of my times in the Bible. It’s not a well-known passage, but it struck something inside me. It reminded me of this lesson that I have learned. It says, “In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord.” David says this because he has been spending a lot of time in forced solitude and isolation. He has been hiding out in caves and he knows the truth that if you are silent and honest in your hearts when you are alone, it is impossible not to find and know who God is. David has experienced that when he’s angry because of his circumstances, in silence before God, anger can be transformed into trust.

John Ortberg said, “Waiting is the hardest work of Hope.”.

Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.”

Rest well friends.

-Adri

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“Just Between Us”

We are currently in the midst of a semi-major construction project; finishing our unfinished basement. In addition to doing this, we will be re-configuring several rooms in our house to better fit our needs and lifestyle. While all of this may sound fancy and exciting, it really just translates to one thing; our house is a freaking disaster.

As I was attempting some semblance of order, I found myself rummaging through our bookshelf in the office, tossing into a box those books that no longer needed a home on our shelves. During this process, my fingers stumbled onto the bindings of some familiar high school and college journals.

I flipped to the first entry in a worn black journal that I knew dated back to pre-college days. The first entry said this;

“An autobiography…what a looming task! All I know is that it is something I must write. This may never be published or even read by more than a few people, but it’s the only bandage big enough to cover all my pain.”

The words came back to me quickly. I remembered laying in my old bedroom, periwinkle colored walls surrounding me, while I scrawled them with a pencil just days before I was supposed to have what would have been my sixth major spine surgery. That surgery ended up being canceled the night before it was to occur and I desperately needed an outlet for my feelings and emotions.

Unfortunately, one of those outlets at that time was the sharp end of a metal bobby pin against my wrist.  The other outlet was this blank lined piece of journal paper.

As I continued scouring my journals, I came upon entry after entry identifiable only by my handwriting. They were full of a hurt and anger that I no longer feel inside. I had written them in some of the deepest corners of my depression while in college.

I tell you all of this because I want it to be a testament to the enormity of God’s work in my life. Of his ever-sustaining love and compassion toward me, even in those very dark places.

Without his grace and redemption, it would be absolutely inconceivable for me to share this next part with you.

This past spring, I was invited to write a quarterly column for “Just Between Us” magazine. Started by Jill Briscoe at the age of 55, JBU celebrated their 25th anniversary of “encouraging & equipping women for a life of faith” this year. In the process of re-formatting the layout of the magazine, they asked if I’d consider writing a column dealing with physical suffering and God’s plan for it in our lives.

photo 1 (1)

After discussing it with Chris and praying through what a commitment like this would look like (and thinking of about 100 people more qualified than me to write this), I agreed to the terms and submitted my first column. It was just printed and distributed in the Fall 2015 issue.

jbu article

Head Shot Photo Credit: Robyn Vining Photography LLC

I had been a subscriber to JBU prior to being a contributing writer, but it was fascinating to learn more about the magazine. JBU is distributed to over 65 countries throughout the world and translated into many of these countries native languages. It started as a ministry tool to encourage pastor’s wives and continued to broaden to the scope of women it currently covers. What is even more amazing about JBU is that, in a publishing industry that can be cut-throat, the magazine has not only survived but continues to flourish with a staff of six women and a host of donors and contributors.

I could go on and on and ON about this magazine and how God is using it, but instead I invite you to explore it for yourself at http://www.justbetweenus.org .

jill and me

As I let my mind reflect on the memory of the words that my hand etched 15 years ago, I am filled with thankfulness for the opportunity that God has provided through my column, “Chronic Hope”. It’s been an answer to prayer that I could never have conjured up. An answer to that prayer that I cried desperately in my heart when I was 9 years old: “God, you have to use this pain for something good, or else I don’t want to live anymore”.

It’s humbling and overwhelming to know that he is and always has been using my pain.

I know I won’t understand the half of how he’s used it until I’m in heaven, free from the chronic hurt, but for now I take great comfort in the chronic hope it brings to my life.

“The Lord gave the word and great was the company of those that published it.” – Psalms 68:11

(JBU’s founding verse)

-Adri

*Due to this opportunity, I have changed my blog URL to http://www.chronichopeblog.wordpress.com*


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