When It Rains . . .

So . . . remember that post I wrote last week? The one about Love and Fear? Yeah, that one.

About three days after it went live, I apparently had a kind of panic attack, the night before I was to visit the surgeon to learn if I’d be on schedule for this healing process or have to add more weeks on the dang scooter.

That was NOT fun. And it set off a bout of esophageal problems that I’ve run into once or twice before — days of heartburn, back and chest pain, inability to eat much at all. Last time this happened, it took the better part of a month to resolve.

The great news I got at the surgeon’s office (begin partial weight-bearing and physical therapy now, two weeks ahead of schedule) was quickly offset by feeling absolutely lousy and remarkably frightened about it all.

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So much for ‘love casting out fear,’ right? It seems this is a lesson I never quite learn. And it’s not going to get any better as I continue to age, of that I am quite certain. As we get older, a lot of our youthful defenses can’t quite pull off what they once could, and different kinds of intervention sometimes become necessary. 

My kind and patient husband and I went through one long day of medical testing to confirm my own diagnosis of this condition and my gastro doc ‘just happened’ to be in the lobby when I was near his section of our clinic. He promptly did a complete endoscopy.

The confirmation came when he sprayed an absolutely vile tasting numbing agent into the back of my throat and for the 60-90 minutes that stuff numbed me up, I was symptom free. He did find a few small things going on in that department, but apart from the very likely possibility of a spasm in that long tube between throat and tummy, there is no clear reason for this siege.

Except.

Stress brought on by worry.

Man, that’s hard for me to put into writing. So, he prescribed some stomach-soothing liquid medication, and a new variety of prescription GERD treatment.

And also? Ativan, to be taken whenever I feel that panic rising.

Somehow, that feels like a huge personal failure to me. Yet another of the many painful lessons I’m learning as we walk through this L O N G period of recovery and rehab. Deep breathing and the Jesus prayer are not always going to cover it all. They’re just not. 

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Despite my ill health, my disappointment in myself, and my overall fatigue with ALL of this, I wanted to go to church. It was Communion Sunday and Pastor Don was into 1 John 5. Oh, how I needed to worship, to sing, to pray, to hear the Word. And to sit with God’s people.
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I was reminded — again! — that we don’t do this journey alone, we belong to one another. That’s the way God designed and intended the Christian journey to flourish. We gather together, in the same space, and we remember that we cannot do this discipleship thing without the company of others.

And when you’ve been sitting on your butt for 7+ weeks, these moments of community gathering are essential, believe me when I tell you this. The service was lovely, filled with grace and good humor, lovely music, a well-preached word. And the Table.

Oh, the Table. The remembering and the re-membering and the visual picture of the body of Christ streaming forward to share in the Body of Christ. Yes, yes! I needed this.

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This is the great, old palm tree that stands tall in my backyard. I love it. And when I manage to scooter my way to the chaise lounge that faces it, I sit and stare for a while. And I marvel.

Birds by the dozens flit in and out of it’s immensity. All kinds of birds, from tiny sparrows to red-headed woodpeckers to noisy black crows. And there’s room there, room for every one of them. A safe space to build a nest, to nurture the hatchlings, and to rest, away from the dangers of coyote and bobcat, of riding mower and leaf blower.

I am deeply blessed to be able to say that church has always been such a place for me. Worship is a safe place, a nurturing place. A restful place. I’m so grateful that this is true in my life and that, despite the frustrations and limitations of these weeks, I am still able to be there.

It’s a humbling thing to have to acknowledge that even after many years of following Jesus, and many experiences of grace made real, I still do battle with fear and worry. I am asking for grace, most especially for myself just now. And for gracious acceptance of the limits within which I must live the rest of my life. The physical ones are difficult enough. But the emotional and spiritual ones? Those are proving to be the biggies, the ones that need daily relinquishment.

As always, I’m standin’ in the need of prayer.  

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Comments

  1. Beautifully honest writing – I love it!

    I’m praying for you to feel His Holy Spirit poured out on you as a healing balm…

    True, deep breathing may not always be enough… But the Table, the Community and the medication will do their jobs – in His time…

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. I so appreciate your transparency in this post. I think the vulnerability that comes with aging is a huge trigger for anxiety, worry and fear. I’m on the downhill slide to 60, which isn’t really that old, right? Yet recently I took a tumble that left me only slightly bruised and cut up, but it made me feel old and scared and fragile and filled with thoughts of “what if I’d really injured myself?”

    • You nailed it – there is a vulnerability that comes with the deal. And I’m so sorry you took a tumble!! I hate falling – and it is so scary. Hope you’re healing well. (And yes, 60 isn’t all that old. 🙂

  3. Oh, and yes, I will pray for you!

  4. Thank you for your honesty.

  5. Gwen Axres says:

    This blog touched me deeply Diana. Recently I have looked within and seen myself in vulnerable ways that left me scared. Will I make it through my old age without falling apart? I believe God is there for me but I can’t seem to make Him enough to always eliminate the dark places. Is it time to just relinquish my struggle to overcome, to do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and rest in His arms, believing He holds me no matter what? Thank you for letting yourself be known. We can’t be there for one another without first letting ourselves be known. It is very good news that you are healing on time! Blessings!!

    • There is a scariness to aging as well as a rich well of learning and experience. It’s a daily relinquishment, this much I’m learning.

  6. Oh Diana – that anxiety stuff. I have had some GERD and it is SCARY and painful. I so appreciate you admitting to us what many of us already know, but know some won’t get….. Deep breathing and the Jesus Prayer don’t always do it. I was listening to a Christian Radio station (I dont’ know why i do it – I often end up talking back to it!). There was an Ad Spot that basically said “have anxiety – get Jesus and you’ll be free from it.” Well, I either don’t have Jesus after all or it’s simply not true. Yes we need Jesus. would hate to life without him, but that doesn’t remove all anxiety. That day I may have yelled at the radio. think about you often….and I do pray for you.

    And I am glad for the good news.

    {P.S I have total Knee Replacement in two weeks – A little – ok a lot scared about that one. )

    • Praying for you as I write, Carol! That’s a big deal and you absolutely should be scared. LOVE the yelling back at the radio. Keep it up!

    • Oh, Carol – I had total knee replacement surgery last fall. The right knee in October and the left in December. I will consider it an honor to pray for you. My only regret is not having the surgery sooner. I love my new knees – they aren’t perfect, so much better. If you need to talk to someone who understands, feel free to contact me.

      • Thank you, Patricia, for stepping up to offer consolation and advice to dear Carol. You two would enjoy one another!

  7. Diana, I can hear you beating yourself up because you STILL aren’t perfect. Darn it, shouldn’t you have that pesky little problem sorted by now?! Stress and worry are siblings of fear, and fear (in one form or another) seems to be one of our biggest problems in this world. It’s like whack-a-mole. You gain victory over it in one area, and lo and behold, it pops right up in another place!
    For all the times that you have said it to us, let us now say it to you. You are loved and you are enough – just as you are. Not ‘perfect Diana’, but stressed, worried, sick Diana, whose body isn’t doing what you want it to – YOU are loved, and you are enough.
    It’s funny, isn’t it, how much easier it is to extend grace to others, than it is to ourselves…
    Love you Diana, and praying often for grace as the healing process continues.

    • Thanks so much, Donna, for these good and kind words. It is tough to hang onto truth when fear pops up like that blasted whack-a-mole! Perfect analogy. Thanks for the prayers and for the love, my friend.

  8. I love you. I am praying for you.

  9. Anne-Marie says:

    Wow. I am so sorry you had another trial to overcome on top of all the rest.
    What I don’t understand about myself and all of us is that way we feel shame when it’s something we can’t really do much about and didn’t choose. I’ve felt that way a lot about the sudden aging due to bone and gum loss in my mouth. It’s genetic and I’ve done everything possible. But I keep feeling like I’ve done something wrong to look less young than others my age. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Your humility and willingness to get help are a very good example to me Diana. With you! Hoping it eases very very soon.

    • Yeah the combination of aging and genetics can lead to some painful episodes in this life. Thanks for your kind note, Anne-Marie, always love hearing from you.

  10. Diana, I had some tossing and turning of my own going on last night and finally got up to take something to help me to sleep. I woke up this morning rested and for a nanosecond thought, “you shouldn’t need a sleeping pill. Why can’t you just give it all to Jesus and trust in Him to carry things?”
    Why indeed?
    Because, first of all, I am still a flesh and blood human, and although my old man has died, I am still learning to lean on the power of the Holy Spirit to change me–the daily challenge of ‘more of Him and less of me.’
    I also am learning that to stop a cycle of insomnia and anxiety, besides the prayer, a pill may be the best and first defense to get me where I need to be…..does that make sense?
    Anyway, thank you for your honesty.
    You will be in my prayers.

    • Exactly, Jody. We are still flesh and blood human beings, with all the limits that that involves. Thanks for your good note, and I’ll be praying for good sleep for you. That’s not fun.

  11. Pamela green says:

    You know Diana maybe hitting the “lovely age of 69″” is some kind of a turning point, a little look into the struggles of getting older? At this stage of life I too am experiencing fear and anxiety over what the future holds. This Sunday at communion was a comfort and blessing as I cried to The Lord that I was having such great fear over our future, even though I know He desires the best for us and has proven that over and over again. Jerry fell playing racket ball two weeks ago and and for the last week has been in extreme pain. No broken bones , fractures, dislocations or torn ligaments but much swelling and bruising in his thigh and knee. He is healing , just takes time. All that to remind us of our fragility. Unbelievably mom has been gone for almost 9 months but this past week the tears and deep sense of loss seem to spring up often. Even though our fears and anxieties are caused by different things, I just wanted you to know , dear cousin, we are in it together and we can uphold each other in love and prayer. Love you

    • Oh, I hear you, sweetie. I’m so sorry for Jerry’s accident, and for the continuing uncertainty about your life. And you know I’m sorry for the grief, although I think it’s important and necessary, it still hurts. Thanks so much for your lovely note. I love you.

  12. Mark Nelson says:

    Thanks for this. (And: go, palm tree! go, birds! go, Diana!)

  13. So sorry that it’s been such an eventful week. Continuing to pray for continued healing and the relinquishing of control. It’s so much harder than it sounds, isn’t it? I’m fairly certain it’s one of those lessons that we all keep having to relearn, time and time again. And fear and control become so deeply intertwined. For me, sometimes the panic reset button seems to be set at about thirty seconds. Embarrassing, but true. Praying that you’ll be able to find some soul rest in the coming days!

    I think one of the few reminders that calms this troubled heart is the story of Jesus calling Peter out of the boat in Matthew 14. And I leave half my seminary training at the door and hold onto what my husband whispered across a NICU corridor at a difficult turning point. Jesus never makes promises about making it to the shore–or my goals–he only tells us to come to him. To take the next right step. That there is a hand out waiting to catch me when I falter.

  14. I don’t think you are a failure. I don’t think you are stupid. I think our bodies take time to settle down, and our minds too.

    I’m remembering that psalm that says he has compassion on us FOR he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. We’re just dust and blood, really, and so frail, and we forget – but God remembers, and has compassion.

    Sending you a whole heap of compassion and hugs xx

    • Thank you, Tanya. More than words can say. From you, these carry rich layers of encouragement. I have thought of (and prayed for) you so often over these weeks.

  15. Oh, Diana…I love you so. We may be blessed to live in this age of rapid scientific, medical and technological advances, but it sure does make life complicated – with too much information and so many choices for far too many decisions and no wonder this aging process can pull the rug out from under us. It’s a different kind of suffering, but suffering none the less. Praying for you my dear friend – to rest in the abundant grace and the assurance of the extravagant, everlasting love of Christ that I know you know you have. Standing in the need of prayer right next to you, my dear friend. xoxox

  16. LW Lindquist says:

    “even after many years of following Jesus, and many experiences of grace made real, I still do battle with fear and worry.” Yep. Even after. 🙂 Just like I like to believe that “even after” Pentecost, Peter was still a hot-headed goofball and that the NT writers just stopped recording it. We’ve all got our stuff that comes along, and pokes out its head at inopportune moments, even after. 🙂

    Keep healing, Diana. Thinking of you.

    • Even after. Indeed. Love your thoughts about good ole Pete after Pentecost!! He has been a source of comfort and encouragement many times. As have you, dear friend.

  17. Aging is wonderful, and scary. It brings you face to face with your fragility, doesn’t it?That’s my experience, anyway.

    Thanks for this post. To me, your perscription forAtivan is no different than one for Metformin, a drug for pre-diabetic conditions. You take it to prevent a far more serious condition from manifesting.

    I mean, the original disciples had Jesus right there with them, right? But they still ate food during those three years.

  18. Bless you and this. Sending hugs for your continued healing and your candid heart. Wish I could bring you a casserole 🙂

    • Thank you, Elizabeth, for your kind words and thoughts. Unfortunately, eating a casserole is sorta beyond me just now. But I love the thought.

  19. Diana, thank you for this. I spent some time yesterday with my Dad who is beyond exhausted by this full year of Leukine therapy to battle systemic melanoma. I think within the Christian community especially, we forget that David lamented. Lamented. Long. Deep. Anguish felt in the marrow of his bones. We have such expectations of ourselves to be holy, to get it “right.” But we are wrapped in flesh in a world warped by sin. We need His grace upon grace upon grace poured, because life this side of the veil is hard. We forget sometimes that honesty, raw and real, is where true communion starts, where relationship flourishes, where growth is nourished and hearts are strengthened, where healing begins. Thank you for being real. I needed to hear your heart today. Love you, my Friend! Praying for you.

    • Oh, thank you for these beautiful words. You and yours know more about this kind of stuff than just about anybody I know. Bless you.

  20. ro elliott says:

    Thanks for being real… and vulnerable. I think as we turn the corner toward “home” …when the finish line is closer than the starting line… it is an opportunity to choose the path we finish on. There are two roads… one where we can slowly slide deeper into habits and old age… or one where we can face the wind… and turn our face like flint…”But the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.” and we allow these rough patches to bring us greater freedom. We face our weakness … we don’t hide in shame… and we humbly bow and ask the Lord to continue to work in our hearts. He is for us… He is cheering us on… He will walk us all the way… even if we are limping… He is walking us in His strength. Your are finishing stronger than you know right now… cheering and praying you on!!!!

  21. It is so hard to be honest like this in our writing! Two thumbs up for the truth!

  22. Ellen Painter Dollar says:

    “Deep breathing and the Jesus prayer are not always going to cover it all.” – Truer words were never spoken. Seems so obvious, but for many people, it’s not. And those of us who have found some relief from whatever our burdens are via pharmaceuticals must put up with not only our own doubts but the doubts of others, as to whether we should be able to handle this on our own. I’m glad you’re getting the help–all of the various kinds of help–that you need in a hard time.

  23. Alita Rhodes says:

    Thank you for your honest words, Diana. Will continue to pray for your recovery.

  24. I like you just the way you are … but am sorry it has been hard.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

  25. Donna Baker says:

    Diana,
    Thank you so much for sharing your journey in such truthful and vulnerable language. In an odd way, your candid description of your struggles is “refreshing” to me. You are helping to normalize STRUGGLING — and I believe when we feel normal, and feel IN community, it’s easier and we have HOPE. Thank you.

    • You are so right, Donna! Thanks for these encouraging words – I’m glad you found this truth-telling helpful.

  26. It HAS been a long road through this for you, Diana. I’ve been keeping you in prayer. And when I read this about the panic and GERD, I’m thinking, wow, I wouldn’t have made it this far without a meltdown. I will keep praying. and I love this image of the tree as the church! So beautiful, Diana. Yes, you are such a great storyteller. 🙂

    • Well. . . I’ve had a couple of smaller meltdowns along the way. 🙂 Like the time I was making my own shake (my husband did them for me the first 2 weeks – I’m on a special medical weight loss program in the midst of all this!) and after putting all the ingredients in, including two beautiful pieces of fruit, the entire blender came off from the base and spilled that viscous pink goop all over the kitchen! Dick cleaned it up – bless him! – and he managed to salvage a little over half of it. But I just wept. My sister-in-law had been staying with us and I could hear her in the bedroom on the phone, I was twisting every which way on the dang scooter just to be able to pull together the ingredients together for this thing and I just lost it! But that was nowhere near a panic attack – it was a teary meltdown, that’s what it was! Thanks for your kind words, my friend. Love to you.

  27. I’m sorry to hear this Diana, but I’m so grateful for your honesty. I’m wading through some deep and difficult relational waters over here, not much I can write about, but it blesses me so the way you continue to affirm that struggle is part of the journey. You’re church is such a gift.

    • I’m sorry for the struggles, Kelly. Relationships are complicated! And yes, our church is a great gift in our lives; we are grateful.

  28. Sandy Hay says:

    Vulnerability..we want to make it an ugly word. But it’s really a healing word. I think so often people in the church, not THE CHURCH, but people don’t have any idea what they’re saying. Either they’re living in denial or in a sheltered Christian world of “and they all lived happily ever after.” Thank you Diana fort allowing us to travel this journey with you.