Finding faith in pain

Here I am with a new injury added onto the other two I am dealing with, chronic pain, a failed surgery and feeling depressed. These circumstances would normally be enough to have me spiral out of control and then give into my emotions, but my faith is not in my circumstances. My faith is finally in God and his promises where it belongs. Don’t get me wrong, I feel every bit of my situation, the good, the bad and the ugly feelings. God is bigger than all of it though. A wonderful friend once told me, “how you feel, is NOT who you are.” She is right, God tells us who we are, not our feelings.

As I prepared to go back to the Doctor to tell him the radio-frequency neurotomy(burning the nerve endings off) didn’t work, I felt scared, disappointed and just tired of the pain. I worried about being able to afford the only other option, Prolotherapy, which is not covered by the OHIP. And since this other procedure failed, does that mean Prolotherapy is even an option now? Will I have to continue living with three injuries? The original back injury is permanent, will this new back injury be permanent too? And what about my hip injury, there is no guarantee that it can be fixed even with the surgery I will eventually have, will I live with three permanent injuries? Your thoughts and worries can take over so quickly. Although these are all valid concerns, I stopped myself. I remembered where my faith was. I decided to trust, I gave my worries over to God and knew that whatever the news was, God was in control and he is faithful.

I arrived to my appointment with one of my extremely supportive and amazing friends who has been to almost every single appointment through this journey. The Doctor began by examining the sites of my last procedure and I informed him that I had no relief. All I wanted to hear was that the Prolotherapy is an option, as far as the money for it went, I would figure it out somehow. He told me that not only is it an option but that he wants to do the procedure for my SI joints, and also my upper back and neck, all areas I have been having a lot of problems with as well due to being so unaligned because of the injuries. Wow! Such great news! So he is going to perform Prolotherapy in stages, first deal with my SI joints which will be a 6 week process and then I will need to do this all again for my upper back and then neck. Awesome! So I asked him to give me the cost I was looking at for all of this. He started out by reminding me that the Government will not cover a penny of the amount, it would be at least $4000. I don’t have that kind of money! Before another thought could come in, he said the most beautiful word I could have heard…BUT. But? But what? He continued on, saying that just that morning, before my appointment, his clinical staff and investors had a meeting about Prolotherapy. They voted and decided that they were no longer going to charge their patients for this life changing procedure! All I would need to pay is $50 per session for the medication they inject, so at very most for getting all of this done it would be no more than $600. I looked over at my friend and we both just sat silent and cried. WOW! God has a way of going above and beyond when we trust him. After thanking the Doctor as many times as I could, we left the office in tears. This was the first time I’ve left that office in tears of joy and not from the tears of a painful test or procedure. My friend and I just sat in her car in disbelief for a few minutes and cried tears of joy, hope and Gods unfailing love.

Less than a month after this wonderful day, I went in for my first Prolotherapy procedure. November 1 was my first of 6 rounds, over a 6 week period, of injections to hopefully fix my SI joint permanently. Last weeks procedure caused me the most pain I have ever had to endure in all the tests, surgeries and procedures I have ever done. Since the painful injections that day I have been doing ok, the recovery has not been too bad and I am now back in my “normal” pain with some additional tenderness. Mentally it has been tough I can’t lie. This season has been very long and adding any more pain is almost intolerable. Thankfully I don’t have to do this is my strength, because I couldn’t. Even though I may feel weak, God is there to hold me up. Today is November 8 and I am going in for round 2! This time they will give me an IV before the procedure to help me cope better through it, I’ve never been so excited to get an extra needle!

I’ve learned that God is never late. This whole situation has been in his perfect timing. I still have a very long road ahead of me with no guarantees of anything, other than pain, but I also have hope, and the assurance of God’s promises. It has been a long journey to get to this point and I continue to learn new things each day and to push myself in new ways. I will continue to share openly and honestly, the good and the bad. Sometimes it takes the hard times, the seemingly impossible to deal with storms of life, for us to find our strength and identity. I have found none of this in myself, but i have found all of this and so much more in Christ. He is hope, he is love, he is faith, he is mercy, he is grace, he is redeemer, he is joy, he is all of those things that I was not capable of understanding without him. This storm is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:1-5

Tall Jen

Exchanging hearts

I had hit rock bottom. Depression had taken over my life again after being freed from it after 25 years. Chronic pain in my back and hip with no end in sight. I compromised standards and boundaries God had given me and had fallen into old habits that were hurting me and those I loved. I felt so guilty and ashamed that I couldn’t even bring myself to talk to God. I weighed my options, do I walk away from God, my church, my friends and just give into the darkness or do I finally surrender it all to God, like I told him I would, and live? Well…I chose to live! I surrendered every circumstance, every mistake, every worry to God. I chose not to live by my emotions or to live by my circumstances, but to live for Jesus. Now, with this decision did my situation change? Absolutely not! My heart changed though, it was as if something just finally clicked, my heart hit the reset button. I ran to God instead of away from him. I asked for forgiveness and cried out to him for help. He forgave me, not because I deserved it, but because God offers us perfect love. When we come to him with a true apology and heart for change, he listens and provides us a way out from our troubles. My full trust is now in God where it belongs, my foundation is in him. No matter what circumstances or storms come, I know that God will take care of me.

This heart change and my surrender to God were definitely tested very quickly. My circumstances began to get even worse. The physical pain is at an all time high, I am having new pain. My lower back below my original back injury is giving me trouble now. I have nerve damage from the original injury, but this was getting worse. Most days I have very little feeling in my feet and sometimes up my legs. My hip surgery date is still yet to be determined since hurting it in march 2015. I was also informed by my work, that after 14 years of service, they may end up terminating me after my long term disability runs out. My finances are cut in half and now I may not even have a job to go back to because of the limitations they feel I will have. I feel stuck in almost every area of my life due to either finances or physical ability. I am still fighting the depression each day, especially on those days I can’t function or get out of bed due to pain. BUT my trust is not in these circumstances, it is in God. I didn’t let these new things that were added to my storm stop me from believing the good things that God has promised me. It doesn’t mean that I don’t feel worried, or sad, or angry, or any of those emotions that are in this season of life, but I have hope. A hope that only God can give me, which allows me to not live my life by these feelings.

June 2016 I received a call from a pain clinic, I had been waiting to hear from them for about 6 months. I honestly felt nervous to see them, I figured they would just offer me was drugs to cope. I have been doing each day with no meds which is a personal decision due to addiction concerns and not wanting to numb my mind, as I had done in my past. I decided it wouldn’t hurt to have a meeting with the Doctor to see what he had to say. He looked over the MRI of my back injury and told me straight away that it was not repairable. Also, that he would not even address my hip since I would be having surgery for it. I knew these things already so was not surprised by this. He told me he wanted to perform some tests on my back because he was wanting to see if he could give me better quality of life and some relief. What!? I had lived with this since 2012 and had never received anything to help other than pain meds, so I was overwhelmed and confused at what I had been missing out on. He wanted to perform a facet block and an SI injection, he said that if either of these tests came with positive results he could help me out. I was so excited! I went in and had these done in July 2016, only a month after our consultation. These tests were incredibly painful, and as he was performing the SI injection and taking x-rays he discovered a new injury. Turns out that my hip and back had worked together to create a new injury in my SI joints, there are gaps where there should be none. Double the size of what would be considered ok. I knew something wasn’t right, but was shocked that I now had a third injury to deal with. I was frustrated, devastated, and remember thinking a lot of those ugly thoughts. I decided to throw myself a pity party as I had done in the past, although this time there was a guest. A guest that was the life of the party, who overshadowed all of it. God was the centre and the party quickly ended. When God is your foundation, you find yourself having an unexplainable peace even though your circumstances don’t line up with it. A peace beyond all understanding. So I refocused and continued to trust God.

I discussed the options with the Doctor. He informed me that because the facet block was not successful that there was no relief to be had in my original back injury. I thought, ‘Ok, thats alright. I did years of physio to get it where it was manageable, so I can do that again once my hip is fixed.’ So we talked about the new injury. He said there were two options. Radio-frequency Neurotomy(burning the nerve endings up and down my SI joints) which if successful would be repeated every year to continue to give me relief OR Prolotherapy, a one time fix with a 95 percent success rate which essentially “glues” it back into place. Well no brainer, obviously, the one time fix please! Well, turns out the one time fix is not covered by the government and was way beyond my financial means. Once again, I needed to trust God. After all, I was so incredibly blessed to even have options, many don’t. I opted to try the free ‘temporary bandaid’ of Radio-frequency Neurotomy. I figured take the relief I could have for a year and spend that time to financially figure out how to afford the permanent fix. So in August 2016 I went in for my minor surgery to get the nerve endings in my SI joints burnt off. It was a very painful process that I was at least partially sedated for. During recovery I was given pain meds that were very much necessary, as it was more pain then could be tolerated. It took me about 3 weeks to recover from the worst of it. The results of this surgery aren’t known for 6 weeks, I had no relief but knew there was still time for this to happen. I was back to my “normal pain” so it was time to give up the pain meds. I found this to be one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. My mind and heart fought hard! Usually you go off of pain meds when your pain gets better, and here I am going back into chronic pain. I looked to God to find that unexplainable peace he provides, and as always, he provided it. I gave them up. After a few more weeks the results were clear, the procedure was NOT a success. What now? In the next part of my story I will bring you up to date on where I am in this journey, and how God can do the impossible.

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Tall Jen

Free falling into darkness

Chronic pain is a rough way to live. No end in sight and no relief had me really doubting everything. I had lived with mental illness for 25 years and was finally just freed from it. And now chronic pain was my new reality. A permanent back injury and then a tear in my hip that may not be repairable. I was a little over half way through my wait time to see a surgeon about my hip. I was learning pretty quickly that my faith wasn’t in God as much as I thought it was. This is why it is so important to have a solid foundation in God, to know who he says you are and to %100 believe the good promises he has for you. That way when these big circumstances or storms come, we don’t fall. Well, I was falling and falling fast. I had those ugly thoughts and feelings that we don’t like to admit. The ‘why me? Haven’t I been through enough? Are you punishing me?’ I had a rush of self pity and I felt completely alone, as if God had just thrown me away. These thoughts were not from God because that is not who he is, but I slowly let them take over and I went into the darkness. My thoughts were going to those scary places. ‘What is the point of believing in God? I’m not meant to be happy, so why would God tease me with hope. What is the point in living?’ This is why it is so important to be mindful of our thoughts, and to gain control of them before they gain control of us.

I let these thoughts consume me. I stopped caring about myself and living for God. A deep debilitating depression came over me, so fast that it felt as if it had never left. I began to harm myself by cutting. This was a coping mechanism I had used in the past to try and stop the thoughts, knowing it would bring nothing but pain, but that is the desperation I found myself in. Things I was freed from years before were taking over and starting to make sense to me again. I needed a wake up call. Well eventually a few friends discovered how far and deep I had fallen. I was beyond embarrassed and ashamed. I could no longer keep up the appearance of being ‘a good Christian’ which is something I felt I needed to do. I needed help. My group of friends, who had become my family over the years, rallied around me and fought for me when I couldn’t fight for myself. I had no reason to get out of bed, my mentality was ‘why bother?’ Wether I’m in pain in bed or on the couch, what is the difference? My world was falling apart. Chronic pain in my hip and then muscle I built up to support the back injury from years earlier slowly disappeared and I was now at the point where the back pain was worse than before I first injured it. My finances were cut in half due to having to go on disability, I was also putting on weight rapidly and hated everything about myself. I knew how God saw me and who he said I was, but knowing and believing are two different things. My faith was not in God. I was very careful who I let into my new reality because I was so ashamed. You know, God never gives us more than we can handle, although in this chapter or season of life, I have really felt stretched to my limit.

I started to see a little light again when I received a surprise call to see a hip surgeon in my city, 4 months before my other appointment. I was so excited, that was until the fear hit. What if it was my brain like my doctor thought? What if he can’t fix it? I went in March 2016 to see the surgeon about my hip and he told me the pain was definitely due to the tear, not my brain and faulty nerves as my doctor had thought. He then went on to tell me he was going to do surgery to try and repair it. Wow! What a relief, there is a chance that this can be repaired. I praised God for being so good to me, even though I had done nothing to deserve it. That is how God is, unfailing perfect love. I had a new fire in me but again I struggled to trust God. Wait times for surgery are at least 9 months and then recovery for this surgery is 6-9 months due to the amount of physio required. I let the weight of my circumstances keep me from surrendering it to God. Depression still had it’s strong grip on me. I found myself still falling, I found the negative in everything and let every situation steal my joy. I was compromising my standards left and right, little slips here and there. I made excuses but said there were certain lines I would not cross because I still had a small part of me that wanted to be faithful to God. I knew that if I crossed those lines, I probably wouldn’t be coming back from them.

Well, I crossed a line, I numbed myself with alcohol and got wasted. Not only did I do this, but I did this in front of someone who is a friend, and who I had been telling about the goodness of God months earlier. I felt like the biggest hypocrite and I was! Some may ask what’s the big deal with drinking? For me, numbing is something I used as a drug to cope with life. This is not how I intend to live and I had declared to never live like that again. I was shaken to my core that I could so easily slip over a boundary I had set and was confident in. After falling so hard in so many areas I knew I had two choices. Walking away from God and giving into the darkness, which would ultimately lead to death. Or finally surrendering it all to God like I prayed and asked for. I’ve learned that asking God to take control and willingly giving it to him are two different things, that require different levels of faith in God, who cannot be physically seen. I made my choice, and in the next part of my story I will tell you what I chose and how things have changed.

Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

Tall Jen

 

Purposely loosing control

In the 6-8 months leading up to March 2015, I was alive! Not existing as I had done for pretty much 30 years before that but truly living. God had given me a hope for my life that I never thought was possible. I was learning how to live intentionally, how to live for God’s purposes and will. I worked hard on my back injury with more physio. I was working full time and coping really well with chronic pain and no medications of any kind. Things were really going well, don’t get me wrong, it takes effort to maintain the victories and freedoms, but it began to get easier each day. The better things got for me, the less time I seemed to spend with God. I was grateful for all he had done but I found myself leaning on an arrogant independence that was certainly unfounded. I continued to pursue him half heartedly. I realized I was starting to slip backwards again. Then I remember our Pastors at church talking about truly surrendering to God and how that is the kind of relationship God wants with us. I thought YES, that is what I want. During worship(singing songs of thanks to God) I would pray for God to take it all, that I surrendered my everything to him. I truly meant it with the deepest part of my heart. I mean, what I did on my own had always gotten me nowhere fast. The thing is, that as a human I’m sure I was reasoning with my subconscious on the things I wouldn’t mind losing control of, you know the convenient things. Sure God, take those bad feelings and problems so I don’t have to deal with them, please and thank you. But, leave me my comfort zone. God heard my heart and not my mind and is answering that prayer. He needs us to give him control in all of it, so that our foundation is in him and not ourselves, which is where true surrender is found.

That March I began experiencing pain in my hip, something was definitely wrong. The pain only got worse going into April and I had to take a medical leave from my job. I was now in chronic pain in my hip. My friends and I all prayed it was something easily fixable and I figured that in a month I should be back to my new life. Test after test came back fine and months later it was discovered that I have a labral tear in my right hip. Oh boy, this is not a quick fix I would learn. My doctor told me that the tear was probably not the cause of my pain and that she thought there was something wrong with the nerves in my brain. She explained that because I already lived in chronic pain from my back injury which left me with nerve damage, that other nerves can trick your brain into thinking any new bump or bruise is a serious injury. Unacceptable I thought, I’m in new pain and this came out of nowhere. I completely shut down and was thinking the worst. Is this is how I am going to live, chronic pain in my hip and back? I couldn’t think straight. Thankfully I had a supportive friend with me who was bold and demanded that my doctor send me to see an orthopaedic surgeon for a consultation. After what I thought would turn into my friend getting kicked out of the office, my Doctor reluctantly agreed to refer me. Well God bless Canada, I love my country and I am so incredibly blessed to have free healthcare, however wait times are a harsh reality. I received an appointment for July 2016. I was devastated, I now had to live in limbo for a year and a few months not knowing if I had a problem with my brain that was never to be fixed or if it was my tear causing the problem. And can the tear even be fixed? Well let me tell you I experienced every emotion that was humanly possible. For the first few months I was determined. I have been through worse in my life, surely I can get through this physical pain.

I set myself up for success I thought. I was spending time with God everyday, I was being open and honest, I had a support system to lean on during the really hard days. I was as close to God as I had ever been. He even put a desire and dream in my heart to be a small group leader in my church one day. This was so encouraging to know that God had a purpose for me. I knew that I had a lot of growing to do to be prepared to live out this purpose, but at least I knew why I was on this earth and the direction he wants me to go. I thought ok, I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing so I just have to keep trusting and hang on. Slowly my circumstances kept getting worse, I felt my joy slipping away and it scared me. Constant pain was getting the best of me. I was convinced that I needed to go on pain meds if I had any chance of getting through this without falling into that oh so familiar depression I had battled my whole life. I discussed the options with my small group leader and a Pastor because of my addicted past. And with guidance and accountability I tried meds. Med, after med, after med and nothing would work or it would make me incredibly sick. I couldn’t understand what was going on. Then my Doctor suggested I try medical marijuana as a last resort, well if that isn’t temptation I don’t know what is. I was coming up on 2 years marijuana free and didn’t know what to do. God is amazing that way, he knows what is best for us when we don’t. He protects us, even though we aren’t aware of it. After speaking with some people and praying about it, I realized that I was looking to numb myself out and ride this process blissfully sedated and I didn’t even realize it. And here is my drug of choice being offered on a silver platter. Ok God, message received, no meds. How I thought? How would I continue to go through waking up in pain and spending all day that way, only to get up the next day to do it all over again and for how long? Let me clarify, God doesn’t want any of us to be in pain or to live this way but he also wants us to make choices that will lead to his purpose for us. For me personally that means no meds because I would have been taking them for the wrong reasons. It’s so easy to trust God in the small things isn’t it? It’s when he truly asks us to surrender and trust him that we see where our faith lies. In the next part of my story you will see some ugly truths about where my faith was lying.

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

Tall Jen

 

Peeling off the layers 

Easter 2013 I accepted Jesus into my life and everything became amazing, I never had any more problems, and I lived happily ever after. This is what I thought would happen when I made the decision to give my heart to Jesus. I was very naive to the power of God. It was a whole new world of bible reading, praying, church, all things I had never done. I had a great group of women in the small group I attended through my church, ‘my church’ words that I never expected to come out of my mouth. They helped explain things to me, supported me, prayed for me and so much more. I felt so loved by them but I thought it was too good to be true, history had proven that those I loved usually left. This seemed different though. Now I know that when you have God in your life you are given the ability to love like him, to show love for people that as humans we aren’t capable of. I gave all these women every reason not to love me. I would hide away, ignore them at times, lie to them, not put in any effort in building a friendship, but they kept loving me. I was shocked, but because of this love my hard heart began to soften just enough to let them in. I would take small steps forward in opening up to God and then fear would pull me back. I decided to give it my all, what did I have to lose?

 I was becoming a new person, the things I was praying for were becoming reality. I felt lighter, I could breathe small breathes of life for what seemed like the first time. I had lived in such darkness, sadness was all I really knew, so when I started experiencing more emotions it was confusing and terrifying. All those coping mechanisms and addictions I had were falling away with almost no effort on my part. I stopped getting high and numbing myself everyday and began to feel. Feelings I had either never experienced before or they had been dulled with pain and medication. One of the strangest things that I ever felt, happened to me while I was at work. I was going through my daily routine and I was unusually happy. It was like I would burst from the amount of happiness I was feeling. I figured something was very wrong and began to panic. I called my small group leader, as she told me to do incase I ever needed to talk or if I had an emergency. Well this was an emergency! As she answered, with concern in her voice, she asked what was wrong. I told her something wasn’t right, I explained how I was ‘too happy!’ I then heard a little giggle on the other end of the phone and she explained that I was experiencing joy. Joy? I had never experienced this before and I asked her “what do I do with it?” Her words, “Enjoy it, and get used to it.” It took me time to learn how to embrace the good feelings and to identify them. 

I was doing well, the best I had ever been. Things began changing very quickly and it was so incredibly exciting and scary. You see when you let God into your heart he changes you. It’s as if you are an onion, and he is peeling away the layers. Not to punish you, but to make you new and heal you on the inside by getting to your core. My layers of depression, addiction, fear, unforgiveness, anxiety, and all the other hard layers I built up over the years were coming off. It was so liberating and freeing. What I didn’t realize, is that under those layers was a rawness and deep hurts and memories I had suppressed as a child. These things were now on the surface. Horrible memories that I had never dealt with. With encouragement, I tried to embrace them and find freedom. It was all too much for me I felt, and I hid away and started finding my layers I had taken off. I got back into smoking pot everyday and hid away from God and those ladies, all of whom did nothing but show me love. My comfort zone was sadness and I ran back into it as if I was running for my life. 

Time went by and I kept in touch with some of my new friends. Enough was enough though, I was becoming too attached. I needed them to leave me alone so I could be in my comfort zone in ‘peace’ before they figured out I was unlovable and left. I went to church and asked to talk with the woman who leads my small group. I told her I had a confession, I was secretly getting high everyday. I then told the rest of my friends from my group and felt comforted that at least I was controlling when they would leave me. There it was, the ugly truth. You know what they did? They continued to love me! What!? I mean come on! Didn’t you just hear me? I am secretly getting high instead of spending time with God or any of you. No anger or judgement at all, they just offered love, support, concern, and prayers. God’s love has no limit. God loved me even though I rejected him, for one second his love did not change for me. Does that mean that he was pleased or that it was ok what I was doing? No, but his love is unfailing and he sent me people who would extend me his grace, mercy and love. With this, I was able to break free from addictions again and was ready to face those raw layers with determination and the knowledge of how much God loves me. I was in love with him! I was baptized later that year and started ripping those layers off one after another. He blessed me with victories and freedoms from things I never dreamt were possible. My mind and heart were being restored. I had even strengthened my back injury up enough to be working on my own again. Things were going so well I started having this other wonderful feeling I had heard about, hope. I started to dream of the future and wanted to live for the first time ever. I began to share with people how God saved my life and changed me, and more importantly, how he offers this to everyone who wants it. My relationship with him was strong and loving. However, God asks us to build a foundation in him, so that no circumstance can pull us apart or knock us down. In the next part of my story I’ll explain how my foundation was built through epic failures and triumphs. 

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 NLT

Tall Jen 

The coffee that saved my life.

I often speak to people about my past. Looking back I can see how God has been with me through it all, even when I refused to believe he could exist. I always had the attitude, ‘well if there is a God then I’ve certainly never heard from him or experienced all those good things “religious” people go on about.’ I knew many things before I started my personal relationship with Jesus. My knowledge was brokenness, depression, anxiety, addiction, insomnia, isolation, abuse, guilt, and shame, to name some. My first 29 years of life were a mess, I was molested by two different men by the time I was 8 years old, one of whom was my father. I lived in an alcoholic home and dealt with fear and profound sadness everyday, my mental health issues had me off and on medication for 17 years of my life and dropping out of school in grade 10. From a very young age I wanted to die. I couldn’t have healthy relationships with anyone which left me with very few friends and a divorce at the age of 27. The shame and hurt of an unfaithful husband and an unwanted title began my day to day coping mechanisms of sedation medication, anti-depressants and chronic pot smoking. Having hurt and disappointment had become what I expected out of life, it was my normal, my comfort in a weird way. So when I permanently injured my back at work when I was 28, I thought, well no surprise, this is how it goes. I was done, chronic mental pain and now chronic physical pain. Suicide became my one ambition. I had never wanted anything more in my life then to die. Fortunately, anxiety still had an incredible grip on me and I was just too afraid and guilt ridden to take my own life.

So, as I continued to work up the nerve, I started physio and began to alter my life accordingly. I also added pain pills to my daily cocktail of numbing drugs. I was able to do modified work and started training a new girl who began talking to me about God. I laughed inside as she explained his goodness to me, I mean come on, where was he these last 28 years if he existed? I wanted to be polite so I listened and acted interested. We quickly became friends as we had a lot in common, you know, minus the God loving of course. She invited me out to a small group she went to through her church. I honestly don’t know how the word ‘sure’ came out of my mouth because I avoided social situations like the plague. I instantly tried to come up with excuses as to why I couldn’t and explained my anxiety as a last attempt. She said she understood and that instead, why not just come and meet the leader of her small group? People pleasing had me agreeing to this, I figured a quick coffee with her and her friend could have me back home and high by the time 9pm hit, so lets just get this over with.

Well God has interesting ways of getting your attention, this was no quick coffee. I met an incredibly friendly woman who just oozed joy and I thought, well she seems too happy for her own good. She was interested to get to know me and asked me about myself with a genuine interest and care that I didn’t understand. As I stared at the ground and awkwardly squirmed in my seat, I found myself sharing my life with her for some reason. I told her all those ugly things that we don’t tell people, I told her about my death wish and deep struggle. She sat there and listened. I was no stranger to therapy as I had been in and out of it for about 6 years until I aged out when I turned 18, but I had never been more raw and open to anyone than I was in that moment. I didn’t realize it, but that night I experienced God’s love for the first time. After I finished pouring my heart out, I told her for all these reasons that I was done, there was nothing else I could do. I had tried everything to keep going and I was tired, so I was throwing in the towel. She looked at me with love in her eyes and asked me “If you have nothing to lose, then why not give God a try?” Everything changed in that one moment, although I didn’t recognize it. I couldn’t think of a reason not to, so I agreed to let him try. I didn’t understand what it all meant in that moment but she was right, I had nothing to lose. I began going to her group each week and then found myself in church a couple months later. I began learning about God and how to have a personal relationship with him. I was surprised to learn its not about a religion at all like I thought, it was about getting to know God personally and starting a relationship with him. About 6 months after my not so quick coffee, I went up to the front of church and accepted Jesus into my life. God had always loved me, even though I didn’t know him until now.

I’ve learned that God doesn’t force himself on us, he waits ever so patiently for us to come willingly to him. We were given free will and some of us go through our whole lives thinking that living by the worlds standards and doing it in our own strength is the only option, but it’s not. If you find yourself lacking purpose, strength, love or any of those important things we need as humans, why not give God a try? God was a part of me now, I was a new creation. This was just the start of my new life, it was as if I was starting from scratch. In the next part of my story I’ll explain how letting go of the past is much harder then expected.

this means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Tall Jen