Friday, October 7, 2011

Maybe I'm Just Blind...

Please bear with me. I'm very tired but I felt like I needed to write a follow up to my posting from about 12 hours ago. If you have read that entry, well, you know that I have found myself in a very dark place, a very lonely place, a place that finds me unsettled. But, just as all of my friends have assured me, God will find me, even when I'm lost - literally lost!

Earlier this afternoon, after some rather emotional conversations with dear friends, I decided that rather than going home, I'd go to the park for a little while and just enjoy breathing in the fresh air. My first thought was to go to Columbian Park. I definitely know where that is. Then I thought to myself, no, I'll go to Happy Hollow Park. I'm 97% sure where that is. And then it hit me. I wanted to go back to Earl Park, to a place I would go with one of my closest friends a little over 12 years ago when I wanted to sit back and enjoy God's creation. I was 85% sure I could find "our spot" again. So, I headed out, set the cruise, cranked up the music and started my journey to a place that is about 30-35 miles west of Lafayette (I think?). When I saw the sign for Earl Park, I made my turn off of US 52. And I didn't recognize anything at all. But I was still sure that I could find my way there because I found it in 1999.  I mean, come on, how hard could it be? I'm a smart girl! I started down a road that led to another road that led to another road that dead-ended at a corn field. The road just stopped. There was a cornfield to my left, a cornfield in front of me, and some water to my right (a branch of the Wabash? a stream? No clue.) I had been driving for about an hour. Far enough away to cross into another time zone and there I was, in a field. No bathroom in sight. I forgot to go before I started out because the place that I was trying to find had a bathroom. And now...I had a little problem.

I got out of the van which I parked at the edge of the field and started for the corn. Even though I was somewhere, in the middle of nowhere, west of Swarmington, Indiana, I started wondering if I should roll up the windows and lock the car before wandering off. Because my iPod was laying on the front seat. And maybe, just maybe, someone could be lurking behind those dried out corn stalks, waiting for their opportunity to snatch up a free iPod. Didn't think about that for too long because...I had a more pressing issue. I walked far enough into the field that I was pretty sure I couldn't be seen from the road and yet I could still see my van. And I had a dilemma. Many know that I'm just a little particular when it comes to restroom facilities. I won't even use an outhouse or Porto-potty. But I had to go. Sorry for any visuals this creates, but I've already bared my soul so...I kicked off my flip flops. And lost the pants and the pink boy-shorts. I balled everything up and tossed it a good 10 feet away so nothing would get wet. I figured out how to stand so that I wouldn't pee on my legs because that would just be gross. And after a few minutes spent convincing my body that it was OK to let go, I...yeah. Putting my pants back on was more of a challenge because I can't balance at all on my right leg. And yes, the surgeon did mention something about having difficulty walking on grass. He didn't say anything about cornfields but he probably didn't think he should have had to. Dried up corn stalks are not very sturdy for those city folk friends of mine. So I grabbed onto three of them and bunched them up to make one strong one to hold onto while I worked my way back into my pants. Got my shoes on, headed back to the car. The car keys were not in my pocket. I had to go back to find them, somewhere in the vicinity of where I marked my territory. Found them. When I turned around, I noticed that there were a couple of logs floating in the water. There had to be at least 20 turtles sunning themselves on the logs. And I had to smile. If you've noticed, my blog picture is of a turtle, sitting on a log, in the water. I do not believe that that was a coincidence.

I started out on a journey to find something, anything to bring just a little bit of peace to my heart. I thought I knew where I was headed. And I got lost. Maybe it's hard to find what you're looking for when you're straining so hard to see something you want to see? I thought I needed to be at Earl Park. God thought I needed to be lost amongst the fields somewhere in rural Indiana, next to a couple of logs floating in the water, and the turtles basking in the sunlight. I was out there, wandering around, lost and a bit nervous about my ability to find my way out of there, and God found me. He came out there after me, turned me towards the sun, and said "Here I am, silly girl!" As I got back in the car to leave, I noticed that the leaves had changed colors. Yellow, auburn, violet, orange, brown. I hadn't even realized that they had changed colors, even though fall has always been my favorite time of the year. If I hadn't gone searching for something to restore my hope, I would probably not have noticed that the leaves were brilliant in the sunlight. I do believe that I could have laid down and fallen asleep right there in the corn field. I immediately felt the tremendous load I've been trying to carry lifted off of my shoulders and I felt light, free, loved. I felt peace. I turned the music off for the ride home. I let my hand hang out of the window and felt the breeze blowing through my hair (I haven't had hair long enough to blow in the breeze since 1997!) and I could breathe. I could breathe!. And I know now that I am going to be OK. I'm going to be more than OK. I'm going to be able to start moving forward again.

As I entered back into the West Lafayette city limits, I turned on the radio. This is what I heard:
"Somewhere in this darkness
There's a light that I can't find
Maybe it's too far away...
Or maybe I'm just blind."

The next verse starts like this:
"So hold me when I'm here
Right me when I'm wrong
Hold me when I'm scared
And love me when I'm gone
Everything I am
And everything in me
Wants to be the one
You wanted me to be"

Even though I was "gone" for a while, quiet a while, God kept looking for me and when I was so sure that I was lost, he found me and he led me home.

I debated about sharing this experience, worried that I wouldn't be able to convey what I felt this afternoon. I had even briefly lamented that I didn't think to bring my camera to take pictures. No picture could have captured what was laid out before me. And I don't need a picture to hang on the wall in my living room because I have it wrapped around my heart.

Thanks for not giving up on me, God. And thanks for bringing back my smile. (Not sure I'm so thankful about the peeing in the field, but maybe that was a good thing too!)

And the song was "When I'm Gone" by 3 Doors Down. Funny thing is that although I've heard this song many, many times, and liked it, it was not on my iPod. It will be soon.

Thank you friends for your patience, love, and understanding. And for believing God wouldn't walk away from me, even though I couldn't seem to find him.

God Won't Give Me More Than I Can Handle? I Beg To Differ...

So, here I am. Sitting in front of the computer at 2:59 a.m. I say that so you will know when I actually wrote this entry because blog spot never publishes an accurate time. Maybe it's the time zone setting? I don't know. And I do not care to know.

It's been several weeks since my last posting. Since I had already written about my recent struggles with depression, I thought I'd wait until I was feeling peppy again. Well, I'm still waiting for that peppiness to return and I figure that if I sit around waiting to feel better before writing something new, I may never write again.
Those closest to me know that the past 12 months have been very difficult for me, especially with regards to my physical well-being. I've been to the ER 13 times, had a 4 day medical stay, a hysterectomy, gallbladder removed, hand surgery to repair a damaged blood vessel and remove a clot, and an ankle fusion and tibial bone graft. I have had x-rays, CT scans (with and without IV contrast dye), MRI's, ultrasounds, upper GI scopes, a colonoscopy, a biopsy...yeah, I think that covers most of it. And lots and lots of blood work. I don't know how they expect my blood count to stay where it is supposed to be when they keep taking tube after tube after tube of blood.  After each "situation" seems to be resolved and I feel like I'm getting back up on my feet, I get leveled by another earthquake, followed by sometimes more severe aftershocks. Each time, I have crawled out of the rubble, brushed myself off, and started moving forward again. But life keeps throwing punches my way. I have also dealt with some significant family relationship stress, attended the funeral of a friend's 21 year old son, and been notified that my prescription drug benefits are being cut effective November 1. And that is what has happened in the last 10 days. I started the appeal process for my health benefits and my appeal was denied. I spent 3 hours yesterday morning at the Social Security office and the Medicaid office. I then spent 1 1/2 more hours on the phone in the afternoon trying to get answers. Well, no one has them. I don't know how many times my calls were transferred. Each person said the issue was not with their agency or department and when I called who they told me to call, I got the same answer. I have had to fight for my benefits for 2010 and 2011. Each time, it took approximately 5 months to resolve the issue and constant phone calls and trips to meet with someone, anyone, in person. Well, I do not have the energy to go through that process again. Not right now. I am physically exhausted. I am mentally exhausted. I am emotionally exhausted. And I do not feel God's hands holding my heart.

Some of my medical issues are greatly exasperated by stress. I have medications to treat the symptoms but the problem will not be resolved until my stress level is under control. I have been praying, reading daily devotionals and meditations, and praying, and talking to friends, and praying, and going for walks, and praying, and taking bubble baths, and praying, and petting my kitties, and praying, and watching funny movies, and praying, and making a list of what I am grateful for and listing my blessings each day, and praying.....and I am barely hanging on. I have forgotten when the last night I got some sleep was. I haven't been able to keep food down again since Tuesday evening. I lost track of the days and so my bills got paid late for the first time in a year. I don't even remember when I last fed my cats. They were meowing rather loudly so I ventured into the kitchen to find their food bowl empty and water bowls dry. I feed them twice a day. And as I stood there, I could not recall if I had fed them that morning or if they have been without for a day or more. I'm putting part of that on them however (perhaps as a way of trying to alleviate guilt) because their food bag is sitting on the kitchen floor, open, and they haven't helped themselves. Every other cat I've ever had has always gotten into the food or chewed holes in the bag if it's been left out, even if their bowls were full. So I'm trying to decide if my cats are stupid or lazy. Either way, it doesn't matter. I'm not being a very good kitty momma.

I know that I can count on my friends for support and guidance. But at least for me, right now, I am not comforted by their words. Acceptance. Letting go. Doing the next right thing. Pray more. This too shall pass. And God doesn't give us more than we can handle. I do know that what I'm going through won't last forever. Nothing does. I know that there are many others facing some of these same struggles and then some. I'm not proclaiming that I have the worst life out of anyone on the planet. And I don't expect life to be rainbows and butterflies all of the time. But knowing that doesn't take the heartache away. A little bit ago I was sitting out on the patio looking up at the stars. Tonight, the sky is clear. I must not be looking far enough or hard enough because I still can't see God. And I don't feel him. And I am afraid. This is more than I can handle. There is no more "oomph" inside me. Since I'm not able to move forward, I'm just trying to hang on tight enough that I don't fall behind.

And I keep praying, even if I don't think God can hear me.