|“We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.”|
William Somerset Maugham
One year — 12 months — 52 weeks — 365 days — Cold crisp winter paints the landscape white, purple and blue while it glistens and shimmers through icicles and endless snowflakes in the sun’s light. Rain filled Spring blossoms as the melting mountain run off fills the once frozen land and all shades of green burst forth as does new life from the tiniest firefly to the grandest grizzly bear. The heat of Summer fills the air, flowers are in the fullness of their glory and the grand bald eagle can be seen soaring high above the mountain tops. Autumn delights with its brilliant golds, crimsons reds, vibrant oranges and the air is once again crisp and cool. Yes, a lot happens in 365 days.
One year — 12 months — 52 weeks — 365 days —A baby is born, breathes her first breath, opens her eyes and sees her loving mothers face for the first time. As she holds her close and counts every finger and every toe, a bond grows heart to heart that is truly inexplicable yet deeper and wider than almost any other love. A first smile, laugh, and babbling sounds change and shape the heart of her mother making it soften and soar. Soon she sits unassisted, plays more independently, recognizes other significant people in her life. Her personality developes and shines showing she is uniquely “her” delighting all. Soon she is standing, clinging to tables and chairs or holding her Mom’s hand as she takes those first timid steps towards walking. Yes, a lot happens in 365 days.
One year — 12 months — 52 weeks — 365 days — Since my life was forever changed. Day one darkness filled my life and a shadow of hopelessness pursued my heart with a vengeance. As it fought to consume me, everyday I cried, wept, sobbed and grieved the profound differences in me. However, just like the seasons that change every year, slowly grief and sorrow changed and a deeper hope and trust in God began to blossom within. Inexplicable faith has become alive in me, pushing the darkness away and filling my soul with joy in the midst of my sorrow. My shaky legs have become more stable, my fragile mind more sure. Just as a baby reaches out for support to take those first timid steps, I too have reached out and found the support of my loving Heavenly Father’s hands encouraging me to walk in freedom – freedom indeed. Yes, a lot happens in 365 days.
One year — 12 months — 52 weeks — 365 days — that started in the Valley of the Shadow of death and have ended surrounded by green pastures and still quiet waters for my soul. 365 days filled with God’s faithfulness and enduring love. 365 days never alone or forsaken. 365 days of experiencing God grace in tangible and beautiful ways. 365 days of coming to know Him more and more. 365 days of experiencing the truth of Psalm 36:5.
One year — 12 months — 52 weeks — 365 days — so much has happened in the past year. I am sure a lot more will happen through the next 365. I have learned however, there is a grand loveliness that comes with the changing from one year to another. Each new year brings new dreams, fresh starts, and the quest that hope deferred will finally turn to hope realized.
Today my “new year” begins when I mark the one year anniversary of the day when the nurse overdosed me changing my life forever. Tonight, I will dance and scream happy new year to the King of Kings. Because of the Lord Jesus, I can’t wait for the adventure of the next 365 and beyond!
Today I resigned from my job. I knew it was coming – I know I am not ready to return to work. How couldn’t I know — every doctor I work with these days has taken the time to tell me that. I thought I was ready to just get it over with — that is until I had to do it and then I found myself blubbering like a baby.
There are times that life hurts so much no one can comfort — no one can help. It is God and God alone that can come to my side and let me know it will be OK. Today is one of those days.
Today I remember my first day working for Academy School District 20. I was so excited. I loved it! I was so proud. I felt as though I was contributing to something special. I remember my first day at Challenger Middle School. I was so nervous. It was so different from preschool. Some of the kids were taller than me. Yikes! Oh, but how I loved it. Driving with Faith to school everyday – seeing her at lunch – problem solving complex issues with the kiddos I loved – occasionally chasing my most challenging student down the hall as she said, “Ms. Nancy, I wish you would!” (I’m not telling what she meant — but I know!!) I remember another student looking at my sweater on ugly sweater day exclaiming, “How do you expect me to work when you’re wearing that???” I remember yet another student looking me in the eyes after he threw his coat on the floor for maybe the 100th time and then saying, “ok” as he picked it up and finally carried it down the hall to the bus. Small victories delighted my heart. I think of the dear friends I made – the people I admire so much. I’ve missed them everyday since last February – their smiles, jokes, support and love. A hole so big grows in my heart.
I am sad. I am so sad. I am so incredibly sad. I would not write the story of my life this way. I pictured it so differently. Tears flow, my heart aches, I am so sad.
Yet, I can’t help but remember the words…
“This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.”( Psalm 118:24)
Yes, I know choosing to trust God is where the peace will come. I know choosing to forgive is where the hope will come. I know finding the strength to praise is where the peace will come.
So today I hurt so bad I feel as though it might consume me. I hate this – I hate it more than I can even express. I’d like to scream at someone — but instead I will turn my eyes and heart towards heaven and say,
Though the story of my life is so different than I ever dreamed.
and the pain of the day feels as though it will consume me,
I will trust my friend, my father, my God and my King.
You have faithfully led me through many fires and through many waters
and kept your promise — I have never been burned or swept away.
I know, you will be faithful in this too – I know you are worthy of my abounding
thankfulness and enduring praise.
This IS the day that the Lord has made and I WILL rejoice and be glad in it.
Forgiveness opens the heart to love again and frees the soul to be filled with enduring hope. It heals, reconciles, transforms hearts and restores broken dreams. Forgiveness comes from the very heart of God.
Anyone who has read this blog know that last year a nurse overdosed me causing a heart attack and brain injury. It was traumatic and life changing. During the past year, as I have struggled to recover, I have wanted to forgive however the process of forgiving has been a lot harder than I thought it would be.
Just last week as I penned my resignation letter, (all my doctors say I am unable to go back to work at this time) I wrestled deeply with feelings of injustice and sadness over my circumstances. I wept as I wrote each word. I felt so inexplicably sad that the actions of just a few people changed my life in such profound ways.
As I finished writing, I spoke with the Lord about this current trial and many others He has walked me through. I told Him I needed His help to settle my heart and open it to forgive again. Events of just a few years ago came to mind and quickly paralleled with my current need to forgive. God’s perspective, I am learning, is so much better than my own.
For several months nearing the end of 2009, I struggled with low-grade fevers and diffuse abdominal pain. I didn’t feel well, but was still able to work and be the mom and wife I wanted to be. On December 7th that suddenly changed when I was admitted urgently to the hospital with a high fever and mounting evidence that something was terribly wrong.
For a couple of days I laid in the hospital very sick, but with the help of antibiotics, I was holding my own. On the 9th however, things became dramatically worse. The surgeon monitoring my condition performed emergency surgery where he found a ruptured abscess (about the size of my fist) and infection throughout my abdomen. After repairing the abscess area, he washed and rewashed my abdomen ensuring all the infection was finally gone. My life was saved and the relief we felt was beyond words.
Post surgery, it became clear that while the most critical issue (the abscess) had been fixed, some underlying issues remained festering under the surface. Low grade fevers began to come and go and pain in my lower left side became constant again. In June of 2010 two surgeons performed a drastic surgery where they removed part of my colon, scar tissue and performed a hysterectomy. OUCH!
It wasn’t until all of that was done that they found the hidden issue causing my problems. A small strangulated hernia was leaking its contents into my abdominal cavity, (ewww) literally poisoning me. Something so small – yet so dangerous – almost took my life. As I pondered my current situation with the Lord, I believe He used the experience of my surgeries to demonstrate what unforgiveness can do to my emotional heart.
Pain caused by hurt, misunderstandings, misinterpretations, failures, and out right sin can cause figurative emotional abscesses that hurt every bit as much as physical ones. My first response to pain like that is to withdraw and never touch that area again. The only problem is, by doing that, I don’t leave the door open for the Great Physician to come and heal the hurt. I instead choose to let it fester.
When small areas in my heart are bound by unforgiveness, bitterness and anger leak to the very core of my soul making me very emotionally sick. Without the proper care and cleaning process, (forgiveness and grace) those emotional abscesses grow and bring a spiritual death of sorts that I believe is almost worse than a physical one. A spiritual death – where joy and hope cannot be sustained. This tyoe of death is so painfully evident in me when I choose not to forgive. In a blink of an eye my heart becomes cold, mean and full of spite.
The good news is God in Heaven does not want us to be walking wounded. He desires peace to fill our hearts, hope to endure and forgiveness to be a gateway to growing freedom for our weary souls.
Consider with me just a few verses.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. ” Ephesians 4:31-32
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:13
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9
The scriptures above are only a small sampling of many verses that talk about forgiveness. The Bible is filled with them. The truth is, forgiveness is found right at the very heart of the Lord – it comes hand and hand with His love. We see this so clearly when Jesus cried out, “Father forgive them…” on our behalf as he hung dying on the cross for us. (Luke 23:34). Yes, let there be no mistake, forgiveness is unbelievably important to the Lord and it needs to be equally important to those who follow Him.
Points to ponder —
Forgiveness begins with a choice.
Forgiveness is not always easy.
Forgiveness takes time, intention and committment.
Learning to walk the road of forgiveness may not be the easiest road to choose but it certainly is the most rewarding!
Some of the fruits of forgiveness are:
- a guarded/hardened heart becoming more soft and open
- mercy in place of judgement
- reconciliation instead of dismissiveness and avoidance
- love overcoming fear
Just as I needed skilled surgeons to help heal my body a couple of years ago, I need the Great Physician working in my life to heal hurts, carve away anger and infuse me with the grace to forgive. Without forgiveness growing in my heart, His light will dim and His hope stagnate.
It is my hearts prayer as we all learn to forgive more, we will become more like Stephen who showed forgiveness at a level I still cannot comprehend as he was viciously stoned by the crowd.(Acts 7:57-60)
Yelling and hissing, the mob drowned him out. Now in full stampede, they dragged him out of town and pelted him with rocks. The ringleaders took off their coats and asked a young man named Saul to watch them.
As the rocks rained down, Stephen prayed, “Master Jesus, take my life.” Then he knelt down, praying loud enough for everyone to hear, “Master, don’t blame them for this sin”—his last words. Then he died.
Amazing. Humbling. Without a doubt – from the very heart of God!
Forgiveness opens the heart to love again. It fills the landscapes of our lives with the colors of grace, texture of authenticity, and breathes hope and joy where only hurt and bitterness once thrived. I, by the grace of God, am on the journey of learning how to authentically forgive…I hope you will join me too!
I never knew what it felt like to stand in a grocery store confused for no reason or how scary it would be to drive somewhere only to get turned around and lost. Now I do, and I’ve discovered in the confusion, Jesus’ safety is still there.
I never knew how painful it could be to hear the words, “You are so different. You aren’t the person you used to be.” Now I do, and I’ve discovered even with my differences, Jesus’ unconditional love is still there.
I never knew what it felt like to walk with tremors and feel the sting of people’s judgement that I am not, “normal.” Now I do, and I have discovered Jesus’ strength is still there.
I never knew the deep pit of depression that consumes and takes hope away. Now I do, and I have discovered Jesus’ mercy is still there.
I never knew what it was like to wake up in the morning with no clear purpose, plan or direction for my life. Now I do, and I have discovered Jesus still has a wonderful plan for me.
I never knew what it would be like to work hard to reach goals and fail over and over again. Now I do, and I have discovered Jesus’ peace is still there.
I never knew what it was like to be belittled, mocked and openly made fun of. Now I do, and I have discovered Jesus’ courage is still there.
I never knew pondering the beauty of the Lord through a sunrise or sunset could quiet my soul. Now I do, and I treasure those moments with Him as often as possible.
I never knew, that no matter the circumstance, Jesus’ love never fails. Now I do, and I have discovered because of His love, I am being changed and shaped.
I never knew that Jesus would take the ashes of my life and truly turn them to beauty (Isaiah 61:3). Now I do, and I have discovered because of Him, hope is blossoming again within me.
I never knew someday I would with all my heart believe the truth of the scriptures that say, what my enemy meant for destruction the Lord would turn for good (Genesis 50:20). Now I do, and because of the Lord’s faithfulness, I look to my future with excitement and joy!
I never knew…I never dreamed…I never comprehended the vastness of the Lord’s love for me. Now that I am beginning to, I am discovering, no matter the pain, His enduring joy is with me.
There is still so much to learn. Today however, I stand amazed at how He is lifting me out of the darkness and helping live life to the full! It is my prayer that as I learn more about Him, I will shine Him more brightly so all can see His goodness in the midst of life’s storms.
It is my greatest hope, if you are walking your darkest days and need an anchor to grab hold of, you will take hold my story and see God’s faithfulness. His faithfulness to me is not unique. It is freely given to all. He will be there for you always as well! His love never fails.
In a couple of weeks it will be one year since my brain injury. Much of this year has been spent on healing, reflecting and working through the deep disappointment and painful losses I experienced. More and more though, I feel the time is coming to turn the page of this chapter of my life and look to the future with hope and new dreams.
Of course, what happened can never totally be erased. Almost everyday, I experience struggles that are a constant reminder of what was, and what is. What happened is part of me and has shaped me into who I am today. Yet, I don’t want to spent the next 40 – 50 years of my life stuck at this point always dwelling on what went wrong. By God’s grace, I want to move into whatever plans He has for me and embrace them knowing He will provide the strength, hope and joy I need.
The question is, how do I let go and move into the future when there are so many constant reminders of all I have lost? I sure don’t have it all figured out but I know there a couple of really important things that are helping me move through this stage of my life.
I need to forgive.
What happened to me in the hospital was fundamentally wrong. It should have never happened. The nurse should have listened to my screams for her to stop and the hospital should have done so much more to right their wrongs. That said, if I spend the rest of my life holding on to those “shoulds” I will quickly become bitter and never move forward. It is impossible for me to forget that day, but it isn’t impossible to forgive. It is a choice I can make…a choice I have made…and a choice I need to continue to make as I walk forward in my life.
Years ago my mom shared the verse Luke 6:28 with me and taught me to follow it intently when I am struggling with forgiveness. It says,
Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.”
As I have followed my moms advice and prayed for the nurse who overdosed me, the pharmacist who prepared the wrong dose and the bureaucrats who worried more about protecting the hospital than me, my heart has softened. First my rage turned to anger and then, over time, my anger to forgiveness. As forgiveness as blossomed, I have been far more able to differentiate between the actions that were wrong and the people who committed them.
The journey of forgiveness for me has been filled with setbacks and back-slides. I have also found it to be one of the most life-giving journeys I could ever take. Undoubtedly, it is a very humbling process, but it is a good one. I am so thankful for my wise mom who planted the seeds into my heart years ago so when I needed them most, they would take root and grow.
Focusing on God’s goodness and love helps me avoid the hidden quicksand of dispare.
When I have an internal dialogue that says, God has forgotten me, doesn’t hear me, doesn’t see me or flat-out doesn’t care – the brakes are slammed and my life comes to a screeching halt. Almost instantly, my heart grows hard, my tenderness goes away, I become grumpy, angry and bitter. Instead of shining God’s love my through life; my actions become a barrier to it.
When I take the time to focus on God’s goodness and trust in His love, I find strength, courage, hope and peace just as Psalm 73:21-27 exclaims,
Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. 22 I was so foolish and ignorant— I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. 23Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. 26My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. “
Choosing daily to focus on the Lord’s goodness (whether that be through Bible study, time in prayer, admiring a beautiful sunrise, looking back at the markers of His faithfulness in my life and so on) lifts me out of my dispare. When I focus on His goodness and love, faith builds and I can more peacefully wait for His rescue.
When life is disappointing and I feel so sad, I literally picture myself standing at a crossroad. One direction leads to God’s promises, goodness and love. It points to the truth that His grace is sufficient and His love never fails. It is the side of the road where His mighty hand is extended – willing to guide me through even the most difficult and painful circumstances. Pondering the wonderment of these aspects of the Lord breathes life into me when I feel my spirit is crushed.
The other direction, whether I intend it or not, is a literal turning of my back against the promises of the Lord. It screams, His words aren’t true…at least not for me. It convinces me I don’t have strength and everything is hopeless. It is the side of the road that looks safe because it only requires me to trust in me. Yet, just a few figurative steps down that road, I am met with emotional quicksand that sucks me deeper and deeper until I believe I can no longer go on.
When I take the time to picture these two roads it is easier to see what I need to do. When I jump out on my own and don’t focus on the Lord I often get tripped up. That’s why the Lord is so amazing. When I do, He is still willing to rescue me and get me back on track. After his rescue I always find myself wondering though, “Why didn’t just take a moment to pause and dwell on His amazing goodness and love in the first place.” sigh…it is a journey.
I have no idea where the Lord is leading through this journey yet I am peaceful. Through this past year He has shown me how to forgive more deeply and how to believe His word, His love and His amazing goodness. I am humbled the Lord would walk this journey with me hand in hand knowing the messy, messy person that I am. I know without Him this would have crushed me. Because of Him, I have joy and peace in the storm.
As I prepare to close this chapter of my life and walk into the next, it is my prayer that we all find the wonder of His abounding goodness in our lives and discover the secret joys of forgiving! As we do, may His love shine brightly for all to see and may our we allow Him to steady us every step of the way!
Take a moment to watch the video from the above link. It says this so much better than I can!
Tomorrow I have an appointment with the neurologist. I love my neurologist. He is kind and compassionate. He never makes me feel out of line with my questions and has done everything he can to help me get my life back. I am however, dreading this appointment with him. Tomorrow, I will ask him to complete the paperwork necessary for me to
return not return to work. Even though in my heart I have known for sometime I am not ready yet, I held a sliver of hope that I could — that I would — get there.
Last week, as I began the process of gathering the necessary information for my employer, the first letter stating my current abilities arrived from my cognitive therapist. It was honest and right but still cut deeply when I read it.
Nancy is receiving cognitive-linguistic therapy secondary to deficits in attention and memory. At this time she has hyperacusis, which has impacted her ability to participate in attention training. Nancy faces some challenges in returning to work including: hyperacusis, decreased ability to cope with both visual and auditory distracters, decreased mental flexibility, and decreased ability to complete behavior management with physical restraint secondary to risk of her head being injured.”
Yuck. There it is on paper. After almost a year of tireless effort to get back to my past levels of abilities, I can’t do the job that I love. I can’t do much of what I once could. I can’t go to restaurants, watch movies with my kids, balance a simple check book, stand in line at Walmart or even get through a grocery run without being frazzled beyond belief. No matter how hard I’ve tried, dreamed, prayed and dedicated myself to the task at hand, I haven’t been able to reach my goal. Feels a little bit like the Broncos playing against the Patriots. The heart is there, but not the ability.
Tomorrow, I will talk with my neurologist and most likely he will agree with my therapists view-point. Over the next weeks I will have appointment after appointment that will seal the deal. My hope of returning to work is pretty much over. I know it, and so does every one around me.
I have been here so many times over the past 11 months – it is nothing new to me yet it still hurts. Just as I cried when I received the letter from my cognitive therapist, I will likely cry tomorrow with my neurologist. I will cry/grieve every step of the way until the door to working with the kids I love – is finally closed for good. I find myself crying even as I type. This loss is deep, real, and heartbreaking .
Even with the tears though, I choose to put the biggest stake I have (my hope and trust) in the ground with Jesus – my friend and savior – and believe His words and promises are true. Though my situations hurts, I believe the Lord has plans for me even though I have no idea of what they are. They may include me being limited the rest of my life or they may broaden over time. They may involve me never working again, or someday a new door might open. The temptation is for me at times like this is to throw my fists up an indignant anger, question the Lords love and walk away from the faith that has carried me through so many difficult times. I have learned however, no matter what I feel, I can choose to believe Him and trust His goodness even though my heart is breaking. As I grab hold of the words in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” peace returns to my restless heart and soul.
It is times like this that The Lords Prayer is particularly comforting. In this prayer, taught by Jesus himself ,are the answers I need. “Thy will be done, on earth as it is, in Heaven.” Ah yes, learning to trust the Lord, even when it hurts, is where darkness begins to flee and hope returns. Coming to understand His heavenly view-point and plans are different and far greater than anything I could ever imagine; takes my tiny buds of hope and causes them to bloom. As those buds begin to bloom, I am strengthened and able to take my stake of trust and firmly plant it at the foot of the cross. At the foot of the cross forgiveness begins, strength endures, trust continues to be built and the sickness that comes is hope deferred becomes the health of dreams yet undiscovered.
Thy will be done; not my will be done, is the place a restless and hopeless mind can begin to dream again.
Yes, these days are difficult and disappointing but because of Jesus there is always hope. May I always remember His faithfulness. May my heart be teachable and humble. May I be willing to turn my heartache to praise — even on those days that hurt!