I never learn.
I tend to live my life in overdrive. I don't just give 110%, I give 1,010%. I see everything that needs doing and I figure I am the best one for the job. Work-a-holic? I left that title in the dust, and then some.
Panic attacks are such a FUNNY punchline... until they happen to you.
Three and a half years ago I had what is quaintly termed a "nervous breakdown." After years of being the one thing I could count on, my body conked out on me. No amount of coffee could make up for the cold sweats, the anxiety attacks, the total lack of sleep. It's called adrenal fatigue, and left untreated, it can kill you.
The breakdown pulled me up short, exposed not only terribly my precarious health but also an underneath of breath-takingly audacious pride. A despising of weakness as I relied on my exhausted body to push through one more thing, speak at one more event, pull off one more banquet, give one last drop. A lifetime of internalizing my role as the pastor's daughter, the pastor's wife's right-hand girl, of deeply-seated pride that would rival the most arrogant Pharisee that ever walked planet Earth.
It's hard to describe that that felt like to experience. He brought me to the basement of myself, ripped out my moorings and left me with nowhere to look but up in supplication.
I got better. I started taking supplements We changed churches, to a larger one where I could sit in a pew for a while and marvel at the wood, hay and stubble that had been the previous 17 years of service. Scales fallen from my eyes, every song made me cry. I felt like a newborn.
Everything I had counted on was ashes. Everything but Jesus.
But I'm a real slow learner.
And so here I am again, back in the basement and looking up.I put a bandaid on myself three years ago, and this spring it fell off. Surprise, surprise. I had stopped taking the supplements as soon as I started to feel better. I didn't cut back on speaking engagements, instead increasing my audience size and number of commitments. I didn't stop using coffee as a crutch, made no real changes to my business, no significant progress on my health routine. Didn't deal with the sexual assault nightmares that recently resurfaced. Wouldn't allow myself to acknowledge the mental stress of having two kids with special needs. Put my fingers in my ears when loving friends began to look at me in alarm and question my frenetic pace.
Remember how I said my goal this year was to concentrate on Micah 6:8 and nothing more? do justly, love mercy, walk humbly?
This is the humbly part.
Adrenal fatigue is no joke. Imagine total sleeplessness-- but constant exhaustion; feeling "wired" but unable to get going in the mornings without increasingly ineffective doses of caffeine; a brain fog so profound you are unable to make even the smallest decisions and are totally zombified mid-afternoon; out-of-context anxiety and panic attacks for no reason at all; add in racing thoughts, racing blood pressure, racing heart. Towards the end stages the body can no longer make cortisol and has run out of the material with which to make hormones, with horrific consequences on monthly cycles and mood stability. Iron levels tank from blood loss, the body cannot fight off the smallest infection, skin conditions from A-Z develop. Depression sets in as life is completely different from it used to be and you never EVER feel "good" anymore. Hopeless thoughts creep in. And that's just stages 1-3. The final two stages are too grim to discuss.
I will get better. And you'd better believe, this time I'll be taking it more seriously than I ever dreamed. Instead of four supplements sitting unswallowed in bottles on the counter I'm on daily doses of over twenty different things to help heal and counteract the destruction my negligence has wreaked. I've jettisoned everything from the schedule that wasn't bolted down, and I know in my heart I have more to let go before this is finished. People will be inconvenienced, things will be left undone, my business will take a backseat, but I no longer have a choice.
I have to sacrifice this moment for the sake of the rest of my moments. But the prognosis is good. Recovery is possible. It just takes time.
I'm taking that crazy go-getter-ness, that incredible inner drive that was a gift from God, and using it to fuel my determination to get those pills down every day. To put on the Sketchers and get out there even if I'm only up to walking around the block and I wind up laid out on my own porch for a half hour afterward. To measure out my coffee and take another tablespoon out every day until it's basically water and I no longer get a migraine when I miss it. That drive will fuel my study as I look up the medical terms, read the health books, educate myself on where I am and how I got here. The go-getter in me is already imagining a finish line, and I'm crossing it in victory, healthy and happy and finally, finally not defeated by this anymore.
God gave me that drive. My good God gave me these gifts and abilities knowing that I would turn them into the biggest idol of them all--my self.
And in mercy and love colored by absolute justness and holy jealousy, He pulls the idol out of my clenched hands every time.
He can be my only god. There is none else beside.
It is a hard thing, one of the hardest, to be brought to the bottom of oneself. But this, too, is from God's good hand. He knew what I would do with His gift of drive and determination, and He also knew I would need it to come back from the place where I have gone.
Both of those things came from the hand of an only-good God. And so there is no other option but to trust.
And this time, learn the lesson.
God Who Sees Me, hear my prayer. From the ends of the earth, from the bottom of my basement, I cry unto you. Leave me here as long as it takes to destroy this idol. If ruined health is what I need to fix my eyes on You, then don't take away this thorn from my flesh. If this is the only way I can fall on my face in true humility before the throne of holiness, then help me accept it from Your only-good hand. I cast the outcome at the foot of the cross. Help me rest--really rest--in You and You alone.