Chronically NOT My(OLD)self

Learning to LIVE WHOLE in spite of chronic pain and illness!

LEARNING TO ABIDE IN HIM July 10, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kimberly Walker @ 4:22 PM

John 15:4-5 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (NASB)

For years, I tried to earn the love and approval of God and everyone else by doing everything I could find to do in ministry and at home. If a position needed filling, I filled it. If a job needed doing, I did it. If volunteers were called for, mine was the first hand raised. You couldn’t find a cleaner house or more organized schedule. After all, if I was doing all of these important things then I must be important, too. Right? The result was dark years spent at the bottom of a deep, ugly pit called clinical depression. Even after I was injured and acknowledged chronic illness in my life I still continued to try meet every need of everyone in life with all the energy I could muster up. The harder I tried – the more I pushed myself – the more I sick I became.

On the Sunday after my oldest son’s wedding, where the night before I prepared, decorated for, and served a three course Italian meal for a Rehearsal Dinner to some 25 people, I lay in sobbing a heap on my bed – exhausted and in horrific pain. I had come face to face with the sin inside me. The kind of sin that mimics humility but is all about pride. MY sin that screamed, “Without you, Kimberly Walker, the world will fall apart! Without you nothing will get done or it won’t get done right! Without you…..” Prior to this moment had you asked me if I REALLY believed those “without you” thoughts I would have been insulted. It was such a unconsious SIN. But, I was being awakened to it.

The conviction was from the Lord. I could hear His still, quiet voice clearly state, “That is enough, my child! You must stop. You are hurting yourself. I want you to learn to abide in Me. It is there that you will find PEACE!” Truth is…I didn’t know much about “abiding” at all. What I was expert in knowing about was “doing”. I knew NOTHING at all about how to set boundaries and for most of my life I had unwittingly surrendered my God-ordained priorities to what I learned was the empty, vain addiction of just “doing the next thing”. I discovered I had been running the race for the wrong audience and as a result, relied on my own power instead of God’s power to do all the “good” I was doing.

I began to seek my Lord’s heart asking Him to teach me about abiding. He showed me I needed to understand what it meant to live in BALANCE. I needed to understand how to balance my activities. I have been studying balance. I’ve been studying HIM.

That morning in meditation while thinking on the above scripture I prayed, “FATHER! How do I REST and ABIDE and still accomplish anything in this life? They just seem like polar opposites.” 4 years later I am still praying that prayer and trying to understand. We serve a God of PERFECT BALANCE and yet He created the earth in 7 days. How do I remain balanced and yet accomplish not nearly as much?

I have so much to learn at His feet. Throughout today I think I can hear Him saying to me “It’s IN me, my child. IN me.” IN HIM. While resting IN and abiding IN Him I can accomplish everything I need to accomplish. Not anything more. Not anything less. Outside of Him is the darkness of depression and sting of paralyzing pain. IN HIM is REST!

IN HIM I constantly have to re-evaluate my priorities and goals in order to find the holy balance God intends. Daily I must make difficult choices between the good things and the best things. When I make continual “good” choices (accompanied byt the bad ones I naturally make), I can sense myself sliding toward the dangerous edge of darkness. I don’t want to go there again. It IS a battle. The good news is that I don’t have to fight that battle alone. God is with me. He is IN me. Calling me toward the light and a life of resting in Him.

Me IN Him and He IN me. Apart from HIM I bear NO GOOD FRUIT!

Father, teach me to ABIDE. I desperately need Your guidance in setting the priorities and goals for my life. I ask that you would show me the ways I can make YOU my priority and how to accomplish the goals that YOU set for me.

John 15:7
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it shall be done for you”.
John 15:10
“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love”.(
NASB)

IF YOU ARE STRUGGELING WITH DEPRESSION AND CONTEMPLATING SUICIDE, LIVING WHOLE with CHRONIC PAIN CARES! PLEASE CALL: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) AND TALK WITH SOMEONE WHO CAN HELP YOU THROUGH THIS TOUGH TIME! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

 

DISTRACTED by Chronic Pain May 27, 2009

Blurring the FINE Line's

Blurring the FINE Line's

1 Corinthians 1 Paul refers to Jesus Christ nine times in the first nine verses. We are correctly focused when we can say from the depths of our being, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21, ESV), and that our determined purpose in life is “that I may know him …” (Philippians 3:10).

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“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV)

I think for those of us with Chronic Pain and Illness the distraction can often be our pain and suffering. We once had a clear VISION. For many of us our focus was once squarely on Christ. Then the unthinkable happened. And out of shear GRIEF our focus became consumed with the details of our illness. We became completely distracted from our true passion and slowly we ceased to be LIGHT UNTO THE WORLD that we once knew Christ has called us to be.

In our desperate attempts to take cover from the frequent strikes of PAIN being perpetrated against us, our sight then becomes fixed on finding anything that can distract us from the gnawing painful ache that often ravishes our body and often our SOUL. These distractions we choose to use for relief often are steeped in self and selfish needs that quietly draw us away from a pure devotion to Christ. We crawl into the crevices of the world looking for solace finding it in darkness rather than LIGHT. As a result we are stolen from our spouse…our family…and even ourselves. Indeed, the enemy will use whatever means it takes.

We have to keep in mind that the enemy brings his very best performance when he is in character playing the role of an ‘angel of light’. The distractions that are calling us away from the ways of Christ are not necessarily BAD things in and of themselves. But, we must be ever vigilant for the tricks of the enemy to draw us toward “good causes” rather than experiencing God’s best which is found in Christ Himself. Paul said it this way, “”But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV) Paul knew about distractions.

We do have a choice you know. We can choose Christ. We can. We can choose to keep our focus on these things which are lovely, and pure, and holy, and right. PAIN that has been allowed…and yes, it has been allowed by our Maker…can become the very thing of BEAUTY that our heart desires when, instead of finding worldly “distractions”, we draw nearer to Him. Our Brother, Jesus Christ, had a moment in the garden where he pondered if there might not another way. A way in which that the ultimate outcome could be accomplished without the need to go through the PAIN and SUFFERING of the cross. Oh, how terrible it would be for us today had he allowed himself to become distracted, finding a way…any way…to NOT have to endure the excruciating PAIN cross. Thank you for your obedience Jesus. God’s perfect LOVE indeed gave Your OBEDIENCE PURPOSE!

What our Father chooses to allow to enter into our lives is with tremendous and deep consideration. He is never flippant with His Love. He is sure of what He allows. It is not a mistake. Although, it can feel like more than we can endure – with Christ nothing is impossible. And we can take what the world sees as a CURSE and help them to see the true BLESSING that it is.

This kind of spiritual surrender is not accomplished by being strong in oneself, but in yeilding our “right” to live pain free by whatever means – distraction we can find. Prostrating Himself before the Father, Paul, in response to the thorn in his flesh, writes that it is the GRACE of God (which is Christ) alone that is his SUFFICIENCY. And this kind of humility will find that Christ alone is indeed sufficient for our THORN as well.

In her book Between Walden and the Whirlwind, author Jean Fleming points to the example of ‘simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ’ in the life and letters of the apostle Paul: “The apostle Paul’s obvious center was Christ. His writings never digress from Christ. They ring with the steady, predictable hammer striking the anvil of life; life is in Christ, of Christ, through Christ, by Christ, with Christ, for Christ, from Christ. To live is Christ, and to die is more of Christ.’

In Christ alone I put my trust.
~Seleh

 

“It’s gonna be OK” May 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kimberly Walker @ 4:26 PM

1 Corinthians 14
Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts…. the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.

Now and again I hear a story that touches my heart so deeply that it gives me reason to “pause”. In the case of the following story, not only did I “pause”, but tears welled up to the brims of my lower eyelids, spilled over, and streamed down my face. They were not tears of sadness, but tears of “joyful realization” that the TRUTH INDEED SETS US FREE.

Every May the 4th grade students from three elementary schools in the small town community where a dear friend of mine teaches gather for a sort of “graduation party” to celebrate their passing from the 4th to 5th grade and ultimately from elementary school to middle school. The purpose of the celebration is to relieve some of the anxiety the kids feel about leaving the only school many of them have ever known in life by introducing them to some of the other kids that will join them on their coming journey to their new school in the Fall. Running around the park that day was a boy who lives with Autism. His special education teacher says that he normally doesn’t talk much at all. But on this day when fears were high and assurance was needed, this young “Messenger of the TRUTH” was repeating in a loud voice, “It’s gonna be OK! It’s gonna be OK!”

I still shake my head in awe when I think about this. A young man with hardly a “voice” in life being used to shout “PEACE” to the weary. Oh, that we would all have those people in our life that cry out to us in the dark nights of our soul that “It’s gonna be OK!”

For 10 years prior to Donald and I getting married, and before I was injured, I was a single mom with two boys. While going through an especially difficult “moment” in life back then I can remember telling this same dear teacher friend of mine that I was “lonely” and that “I wished I had someone who could put their arms around me and tell me, “Every thing’s going to be alright.”

Isn’t that what we all want in life. To be assured that no matter what we are going through that it is going to be OK?

God is so very precious! He so often gives us the desires of our heart in terms that we can understand. He gave me that husband that tells me “Every thing’s gonna be OK, honey.”

As one living with chronic pain and illness, I can tell you there are days when I don’t feel like “it’s gonna be OK”. The worry for what may happen in the future looms large. Will I get worse? What will the long term effects of being on relatively “new” drugs be on my body? Will my inability to exercise like the average person eventually catch up with me? Will I lose my Disability Income someday? Will Donald get tired of caring for a “sick” person? If Donald dies before I do, who will help to take care of me? Will I wake up again tomorrow morning in an as much pain as I am going to sleep with tonight? Will the pain tomorrow be even worse than today? And on and on and on.

WE NEED ONE ANOTHER.

I’m pretty sure there is someone in the life of that little 4th grade boy with Autism that is regularly telling him, “It’s gonna be OK!” I can just imagine his momma holding him in her arms in those “moments” when life becomes difficult for him and her whispering in his ear, “It’s gonna be OK, sweetie! Just hang on. It’s gonna be OK!” And I can imagine there are times when he struggles against her as if to say, “NO! I don’t want your words and love to set me free from this turmoil!” But, at some level he must listen. For he is repeating it LOUD and CLEAR. I wonder if she knows he does this?

If I am honest with you there are times when God is so kind to send an earthly “messenger of truth” to me in my moment of despair and I will become annoyed with their celestial reasoning. I wish I understood why I do that.

I need you. I need all the support and encouragement I can get in my life.

The TRUTH is that it is gonna be MORE that OK! Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

God says that “in all things” (all those difficult situations), that He is working them out for the GOOD of those who love him! Not just OK. Not just Alright. BUT for GOOD!

**Remind me of this next time I get off into fear about what’s to come.**

And if this is one of those days when you just don’t want to hear the TRUTH…well today God is using me as the MESSENGER :)

 

The Ripple Effect of Pain April 19, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kimberly Walker @ 8:10 PM

“The extreme greatness of Christianity lies in the fact that it does not seek a supernatural remedy for suffering but a supernatural use for it.”~Simone Weil

the-ripple-effect-of-pain

The depth of my relationship and knowledge of Christ oddly enough can in some ways be measured by the depth of pain I experience both emotionally and physically. I know that even writing this might bring a storm of responses that will disagree with me. But, the truth is, our relationship with CHRIST was absolutely dependent on PAIN. My relationship with Christ required Him to take the beating of a lifetime and to be hung to suffocate on a cross. It was His pain that made our born again experience possible. So, why wouldn’t it be that my own pain would somehow drive my relationship with Christ in someway? I am not saying that the more severe the pain the greater the relationship is. But, I am saying that if we allow chronic pain to be our the conduit by which we are driven towards Christ instead of away from Him, then our chronic pain can very well have, dare I say, a Divine Purpose – allowing us deep relationship with Him and with others.

We have another biblical reference that relates pain with “Divine Purpose”. In Genesis Chapter 32, there is a story of God delivering severe pain in the midst of Jacob wrestling with Him all night in the wilderness.

24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. 28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” 29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. 30 So Jacob called the place Pineal, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

Jesus is in the lineage of Israel (aka:Jacob). Hmmm…wrought out of pain comes the Saviour of the world!

You know – I have many days today where I walk in acceptance of my limitations due to my chronic illness. I treat my self pretty well and do the things I know will help me to feel my best. I try not to over do, but I also try not to under do. Most days my pain is manageable through holistic herbs and vitamins, medications, prayer, meditation, redirecting my focus, etc. But some days the pain gets the best of me. And when I have several of those kind of days in a row, the kind of days where the pain is greater than I can mentally-spiritually-emotionally overcome, I find myself wrestling with God. You have to get mighty close to person in order to wrestle with them. Wrestling takes a lot of mental energy and emotion all in itself. While wrestling, as I pose my objections to the Father, he gently gives me a picture of His EXTRAVAGANT love for me. As God breaks my hip, which in the Genesis 32 analogy represents my will, the demand to have things my way in essence, I gain a new level of acceptance of my chronic condition and a greater understanding of the depth of my Maker. And I receive a new name:

Courageous
Strong
Overcomer
Faithful
Writer
Speaker
Creative
Friend

Our deep calls unto His DEEP and DEEP answers.

 

Chronically Living in the Moment April 16, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kimberly Walker @ 2:38 PM

~~Knowing that testing of your faith produces patience.~~ JAMES 1:3

One of my favorite quotes comes from John MacArthur: “Don’t ever doubt that trials will accomplish something positive…With every trial, we build the tenacity of spirit that holds on under pressure while waiting patiently on God to remove the trial at the appointed time and then reward us…God allows increasingly greater trials in our lives to increase our endurance for greater ministry and joy, for the more difficult the battle, the sweeter the victory. When you come out of a difficult trial, you can rejoice over God’s delivering you. That proves Him to be trustworthy, and that strengthens your faith.”

Although the “trial” of chronic illness and pain may never go away in my life, the intensity of it DOES change. For me, much of my pain waxes and wanes. I can feel relatively “well” one minute, and as quickly feel very ill the next. Remembering that God has purpose in ALL that He allows, gives me courage and helps me to recognise the GRACE He is providing for me to LIVE in the NOW.

I ponder if I am getting the very MOST out of LIFE if I am always searching and waiting for my most difficult circumstances to come to an end. I can’t deny that it has been in the darkest times of my life that God has taught me the most about my relationship with others, with God Himself, and even with myself. It’s the trials that I cannot escape easily that bring depth to my life and my person.

This seems especially so when it comes to dealing with chronic pain and illness.

I can remember standing in front of my pain management doctor and him saying to me, “We’re doing all that we can, Kimberly. What is it exactly that you are wanting from me?” Sobbing I replied, “I want you to make this all go away! I want you to make the pain stop. I want my LIFE back – the one I had before all of this!” I’ll never forget the look of compassion on this precious man’s face as he said, “I can’t do that Kimberly. I am not God. I can’t make this all go away. We can make it better, but it is likely, outside of a miracle of God, that you will suffer for the rest of your life.” And although I knew this very thing he was saying was true long before he said it, as I crumbled into my husbands arms, I had absolutely no idea how profound that whole conversation was and how it would change me for the good.

I have learned that if I have my eyes squarely set on what I think will or should be the outcome of some trial, that things never turn out as I predict (using my “never wrong” crystal ball of course). I’ve learned that life is best when I am looking for what God is doing and joining Him in it, rather than asking God to bless my plans for life. I’m learning that if my eyes are on the “illusion of GOOD” I miss all the real GOOD that God has for me in the NOW of this moment.

I don’t want to lose the freedom that acceptance can give me. Acceptance is the key to PEACE in any given circumstance.

I want to be found ~ LIVING WHOLE with CHRONIC PAIN

 

Looking for GRACE in a Broken Body! April 15, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kimberly Walker @ 11:30 PM
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

graceI never would have imagined that chronic pain and illness could bring me so much LIFE. I know that sounds utterly crazy. Amidst so much LOSS I have begun to LIVE WHOLE – spirit, soul, and body. But, this “positive” attitude hasn’t come easily. I prayed long and hard for it. It took a long time for me to begin to accept life on life’s terms.

16 long years ago after contracting Hep A while in nursing school I first felt what I now know were the symptoms of FM and CF truly wreak havoc on my body. The fact is that many of the symptoms for these illnesses had been presenting themselves since I was very young – but after spending 15 days in the hospital with Hepatitis, I was unable to hide them anymore. 8 years later, under an exhausted overweight frame, I severely injured my back while working in the E.R. and I was never the same again. It seemed I was being “dismembered” by chronic illness and pain one piece of me at a time.

Following the injury I , Kimberly – the ME I had chronically been for 40 years, fell apart not just physically, but in every way. Emotionally. Spiritually. Mentally. It seemed I was being challenged and asked by everyone including God, “Who and what are you?” And at the very core of my being I had no answer. I was slowly losing touch with anything I had thought was ME when in a fit of anger one day I fell helplessly into a heap to the floor and screamed, “I don’t know who I am! I don’t know anything anymore!” And as I arose that day, a tiny bud of the “new me” began to emerge.

I.
DON’T.
KNOW.

Three little words that would change my life. “I don’t know” meant I could start over with brand new thoughts of who I was and what I was. I knew the Bible talked of us needing a “renewing of the mind”. I needed that kind of spiritual renewal in every area of my life ~ spirit, soul, and body! So, with “I don’t know!” at the forefront of my mind… I began to learn anew.

In the silence of my house for hours on end I reconsidered my understanding of who God was to me. I had studied the bible for years, but now in the “I don’t know” empty space of my life I discovered an aspect of God’s Love character that I didn’t know. Oh, I had heard plenty of teaching ad preaching on it, but I didn’t KNOW it – not really. I discovered GRACE! Grace! That thing that makes the seemingly impossible ~ possible! That thing that says, “Without God you can DO nothing! But with God ALL things are possible!” That thing that God spoke to Paul about when Paul questioned the thorn in his flesh. Do you remember what God said to him? “My GRACE is sufficient for you.” GRACE.

I began to see that throughout my life I had viewed myself as a human DOING instead of a human BEING. My whole worth was wrapped up in what I could do rather then who was. Unable to express my love with all I DID anymore, I began looking for new ways to express who I was now! Emptied of all my old paradigms of what made me a “good mother, wife, friend, minister, etc.” I began to find beautiful and generous ways of expressing love that I never knew existed before becoming “chronically NOT myself”.

I’ve received first hand experience of what living broken with GRACE as a WHOLE BEING truly is. By GRACE ALONE, what was once hidden behind all that I could be on my own is being found so that I can now do what can only be done by GRACE ALONE! “Twas GRACE that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home….”

1 Thessalonians 5:23 in the Message Bible reads, “May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together – spirit, soul, and body…”

That is INDEED what God is doing in me! He is putting me together – making me WHOLE spirit, soul, and body! I am “chronically NOT my (old) self” anymore! THANK GOD!

 

Is this life I live today Part of the Potter’s Plan? April 6, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kimberly Walker @ 9:31 PM
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

pottershands“We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 68:8 NKJB

My imagination soars when I think of being living clay. The idea that we are being molded and made WHOLE by the Master Potter excites my being to it’s very core – spirit, soul, and body!

For my SPIRIT this revelation brings about a sense of deep communion with my Lord. Like “deep calls unto deep”, when a potter is handling clay he is passionately intimate with it. His hands, his imagination, and his desire are left impressed upon the clay. In that sense the clay becomes like the potter, for as a finished piece it will exhibit his heart.

For my SOUL this particular analogy of the potter and the clay brings about the feeling of security. Because of the intimate nature of the relationship between the potter and the clay – the clay is guarded and protected. The potter’s plan for handling the clay is to leave an impression of his WHOLE self upon it. It’s personal to him and he won’t allow anything to interfere with the plan he has for this – for HIS lump of clay. It takes a beautiful mind full of creative imagination and emotion to take what is cold and dead and give it a heartbeat. In the end it is a finished work of ART to the potter to be used for the specific PURPOSE he had in mind from the very beginning.

And for my BODY this picture arouses intense desire. Desire to surrender to the process of being actively formed into what was always intended. It takes both tremendous force and a sensitive delicate touch to complete what only can be brought about by the touch of the the potter’s hand. The harder the clay – the more strength the potter must use in handling the clay.  Each step of the process is equally valuable and vastly important. Not one turn of wheel is for nothing. By working the clay between his fingers, by caressing it with the palms of his hands, by working the water into the clay, by literally impressing his fingerprints into clay so that it surrenders to his will he is able to complete a work that has immeasurable worth.

As a person who lives with chronic illness and pain I find even the lightest touch can sometimes bring intense pain to my whole body.  I have questioned the Potter’s need keep His hands on this broken vessel called a body of LIVING CLAY. I’ve threatened to crawl off the wheel.

My mind and emotions have desparatly cried out to not just have some sort of “mental assent” to the fact that I am secure and protected and provided for, but to “know deep down in my knowing place”  that it is absolute truth. I have needed for the Potter whose ways are infinitely higher than mine to somehow let my finite soul KNOW that “even in this” there is Divine purpose.

And I have desired to surrender my spirit in ways I would have never known imaginable if it weren’t for my desperate need for the Gracious touch of the Potter’s Hands.

I find something powerful in all of this that makes it so worth it to LIVE WHOLE with Chronic Pain.

Until Next Time ~ Shalom

 

 
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