The Way I Was

About a month ago, my best friend handed me fifteen pages documenting the last year of her life–the year she was diagnosed with primary lymphedema. It was everything I thought a year in the life of Katie should be. I laughed, I cried, and I walked away with a burning to desire to tell the story of a courageous young woman who dared to embrace the life God handed her. She graciously gave me permission to share these words with you…

Strange how I thought I was in control of my life. I thought that I was in control of my dreams. Like when I was ten and knew, in the very depths of me, that I would be married at seventeen. Well, seventeen came and went.

I thought I was in control of my time. But I realized that time is slipping through my fingers. Time reminds me of the sand I would grasp as a child. I tried so hard to hold onto it. But grain by grain it would be stolen away by the wind, the waves, of the desire to let go and build a castle instead.

I thought I was in control of my body. HA! That sneaky little twit proved me wrong with all the grace and quiet of an avalanche.

Most of the time the reality of my situation seems unreal. But there are days when it hits me. When I feel like one more stair to climb is too much to ask. When someone looks at me in disappointment because I have no energy to “come with” or “hang out” or “chill.”

I’m so glad that I haven’t gone off the deep end because trouble came my way. Without God’s grace I would have. I’m so thankful that I turned to Him. So many of my friends aren’t turning to Him in their trouble… no wonder they feel so hopeless.

I hate when people say, “you’re gonna get better.” Are they God? How do they know that? People have this strange idea that you want them to make you FEEL better or FEEL hopeful, when really all you want is for them to stand by you in the suffering. It’s like those parents who make promises to their children when they’re not really sure. They pacify the need while offering no solution to the need. Why? I feel like God is so honest and open. Sure, He is Great and Mysterious but He’s not out to get me by some form of trickery. He is so crystal clear in His love for me. He doesn’t pacify with promises of “I’m going to heal you, Katie.” But He does promise to never leave me or forsake me.

There are times when I get discouraged and start to complain to God saying, “Why God? Why can’t I just feel good? Why can’t I just live like a normal person?” It is in these times that I am hit with the realization that I’m not on this earth so I can live in comfort and be perfectly happy. I am on this earth to bring glory to my God. When contemplating the suffering of the Son of God, I realize I’m not entitled to a life of ease. My Friend laid down His life for me because He loved me. I want to love Him that way.

God brought me to the place where I COULD NOT live without His helping me to live. He brought me so low and took away so much, not because He hated me, but because He wanted my blinded, starry eyes to see the truth. The truth that this, all this that surrounds us, is but a shadow of real living. All this means nothing without Him. I’m thankful for the agony because it brought me to my knees… where I should have been all along. And I don’t want to be healed if it means that I, in my humanness, go back to the way I was. You see, I couldn’t be desperate for Him until I was TRULY desperate for Him. Every day I’m asking for His help. And every day, He is right by my side.

Katie Beth sometimes believes in as many as six impossible things before breakfast, which is perhaps why she is one of Rebekah’s nearest and dearest friends. This past year, God has taken her on a whirlwind of a trip where she is learning to disappear and let Jesus shine through her suffering. The full version of her story includes a dragon, a Brazilian dancer, and Frank Sinatra… but it might also involve a murder if I dared to share those details with all of you.

Stand With Them

I’m not sure how much you know about the plight of Christians around the world. If you’re the typical American, it’s probably not much. After all, we’ve lived pretty sheltered lives here in the States. And it’s easy to get caught up in the here and now. Unless we are looking for something else, we only see what is happening around us. I don’t fault you for that. I’m often the same way. And I spent two years of my life working at a missions organization.

There are so many things I could have written today. My journals are littered with scattered thoughts of a hundred blog posts. I could have picked any one of them. But yesterday I learned that Christians in Nigeria are being murdered for their faith. Today I read that Egypt’s new president is pushing Shari’a law. And now, I can’t focus on anything other than my brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering in the midst of these circumstances… and other circumstances that have yet to reach my ears.

These people aren’t just an idea to me. Not a general, “Someone around the world is suffering.” They have names and faces. I’ve met them. Carried on conversations with them long into the night. And though they live in different countries and speak different languages and lead different lives, they are no different than you and me. Some of these people suffering are my friends. And even if they weren’t, they are fellow Christians. My brothers and sisters in the family of God.

It is my job, my honor, my pleasure to stand with them. To hurt because they hurt and to fear because they fear. But also to hope when they find it hard to hope and to pray with their same desperate cries as if I were suffering alongside them. Because I am suffering alongside them. And if you had the privilege of calling these precious people your friends, you’d be suffering too.

And I don’t usually do this, but since it is the singular cry of my heart this morning, I’m going to ask you to take a moment and pray. Pray for Egypt. Pray for Nigeria. Pray for every country in which someone is being persecuted today. Stand with your brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering for the sake of the Gospel. Cry their tears, taste their fears, and join your voices with theirs in a glorious song of hope and deliverance.

“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” ~Hebrews 13:3