Thursday, January 07, 2010

Fearless

Last week Wednesday night I woke up with the worst case of acid reflux I've ever experienced. I've had the condition for awhile and sought my doctor back in October about it. He put me on Prilosec daily, but I was still having break-through reflux occasionally. For those who have never experienced this, let me try to describe it delicately: I wake up suddenly in the night choking down acid. It feels like like my throat is in flames. My epiglottis feels like it's been doused in sulfuric acid. Every breath and swallow feels like torture.

Most of the time a good swig of milk or Pepto-Bismol helps, but last week, nothing was touching the pain. I woke up screaming from the pain and shock, then I stood in the doorway trying to catch my breath, but I could feel that the acid had gone into my lungs. I spent the rest of the night sitting completely upright in bed and listening to the fluid in my lungs. I was finally able to sleep around 8 am, so I set Mia up in front of the Wii and went back to bed, but I felt horrible. I couldn't get warm and every time I laid down, I could hear the fluid in my lungs sounding like water going down a clogged drain. The first time I took my temperature it was 100.3 and throughout the day it climbed up to 102.6.

My little brother Jake called at one point, I have no idea why, and all I could do was squeak on the phone. My voice was gone, and I was too tired to even talk. Soon after that, my mom showed up insisting that she was taking me to the hospital. All I wanted to do was sleep, but Mom was on a mission. She dressed Mia, called the hospital and got me into her car through a sheer force of will. (Don't mess with my mom when she's in Mama Bear mode) Mia grew concerned when she saw me in the emergency room. She became very quiet and clingy. My stepdad came to pick her up, but she really didn't want to leave my side.

The chest x-ray showed that I had pneumonia, and the doctor wanted to admit me. I desperately wanted to go home, but again Mom insisted and I was too tired to fight. (Thanks Mom!) She made arrangements for Mia the next day (Jesse would drop her off on the way to work and she would stay with Mom) and called Doogie, Molly, and Jesse to let them know what was going on. And she stayed with me until Jesse got there over three hours later.

The visit was hellish: it took five sticks to get an IV in me, the fourth infiltrated making my whole arm swell up, and then I had an allergic reaction to the antibiotics. All I wanted to do was sleep, and I was in so much pain. It was an absolutely miserable experience.

I woke up around midnight, clarity of mind renewed and offered up my first real prayer; the prayers from the previous hours were just "God, please. God, please." I prayed for God to show me the reason for this illness. I know that He didn't make me sick, but I also know that He uses all things for good for those who believe in Him, so I asked what the lesson in this misery was for me. I didn't like what the Lord showed me.

I've been struggling with some anger for the last few months. Not explosions of temper, but a deep sense of disquiet and unhappiness, and I had no idea why. I was frustrated with many of the people in my life and while occasionally I talked about it to others, most I kept to myself. That bitterness and hurt was affecting every area of my life. I was ascribing hurtful motives to others' words and actions. I was seeking offense. And I was talking about family members behind their backs and inflaming others' opinions against them as well. All in all, I have not been a very good person recently, and while it was impacting my friends and family, most of all, it was hurting me.

The acidic bitterness was building up in my heart and washing over every relationship leaving them scarred. Just like the acid in my stomach damaged my lungs, the acid in my heart was killing me from the inside out. This was not an easy revelation, as you can imagine. God convicted me thoroughly of the lack of love in my heart.

Pneumonia was something that I hope to never experience again. It was painful, exhausting, and humiliating (I work at the hospital where I was admitted, so it was my co-workers seeing me at my worst), but due to good care and lots of antibiotics I am much better. My heart is not so easily healed, but I have turned it over to the Great Physician, and I am praying to be freed of the illness that has sickened my heart. I will not go so far as to thank God for my illness, but I will thank Him for using it to show me where I have been sick at heart, and I know that He will not leave me until I am healed.

Today's picture is of a letter that Mia wrote while at Mom's last Thursday. Translated it reads: I want to run away. Love, Mia. I am heading for Mom's doctors. Thankfully, Mom read the letter before Mia made it outside, and I was released from the hospital just a couple of hours later!

Fearless
by Max Lucado is a well-written reminder about why we as Christians have nothing to fear. Lucado has written countless books that has made him one of the most popular Christian writers today. Fearless focuses on the many ways we live in fear and then Lucado deconstructs each one through Scripture and anecdote, proving God's boundless love for us. We all worry every day about money, the safety of our children, our health, the future, but God has made promises about all of these in the Bible. Lucado has the warm conversational tone of your favorite preacher. He's always encouraging and uplifting with the occasional touch of humor. This book doesn't have the punch of previous titles like God Came Near and When God Calls Your Name, but it's still a must read for those looking for reassurance in these uncertain times.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishers for providing me with a copy of this book for review.

2 comments:

Joy Kennel said...

Thanks for your transparent sharing. God is very patient with all of us. Glad you are better!

P-Ponderings said...

Your honesty and heart-felt transparency is comforting. Confession is like cutting open a wound that didn't heal properly and draining all the puss and poison out of it, which is very painful... all so it can heal again correctly. I've been through those surgical procedures in my journey. Being honest with ourselves is an enlightning trip in itself. Max's writings can make that roadtrip a little better. I love his books, and the Lord has used his ministry to encourage me in so many ways. Thank you...