Some of my blogs are easy to write...they trip off the ends of my fingers at 100 words per minute, require 2 minutes of editing, and - presto! - I am moving on to the next thing. Others I wrestle with, clumsy, frustrated, and hit the "publish" button with some degree of loathing. And then there are the ones I don't want to write at all. This has been one of those. Oh, it's not NEGATIVE. Not a diatribe, not angry, not painful. It's not high intellectualism or deep theology that can be so hard to shape into words. It's the retelling of a story from my life - a miracle, really - and I just haven't wanted to tell it.
Cuz some of you will understand it, and some won't.
Some of you will get excited, and some will roll your eyes.
Some of you will ponder it, and some will get offended, maybe.
That's what happens when we dip into the topic of spiritual healing. <-There's your warning...if you want off this train, now's the time to do it, and I won't hold it against you! If you read on, know that it's MY STORY, absolutely, 100% real in my life, and all I can do is re-tell it (after the Lord has hammered my reluctant butt about half a dozen different ways for not doing so already.)
Maybe you've read my stuff enough already to know that in August, I followed the Lord's leading and moved back from a dream realized in Chicago to return to a job with the best boss I've ever had in Rock Island, Illinois. About a month after the move, I found myself getting tired. Really, really tired. First it was just the need to go to bed early - 9, then 8, then 7 PM most nights.
I figured I was just adjusting to the change. In Chicago, I worked a 6 hour shift on weekdays, and I lived in community, which meant I didn't have to do any of my own cooking or shopping, and even cleaning was just helping my roommate keep one little room tidy (other than once every other month, when I had a few extra hours of work helping keep our building cleaned up). It was a beautiful, much slower-paced life than the one I returned to. In Rock Island, I work 8 hour days, and I do all my own everything. I figured I was just adjusting. That's why I was tired. Just 45 years old, adjusting to dramatic change. I'd rest a bit and move on through it.
But it kept getting worse.
Soon I was going home daily to eat lunch quickly, and then get in 10-35 minutes of nap before going back to work. I needed the rest, to get through the afternoon.
Soon I was taking a 10-30 minute nap in the mornings before work, just so I could get moving enough to do work at 8 AM.
Friends speculated that maybe I was depressed about having left Chicago. I didn't FEEL depressed, though. I mean, I've DONE depression, on a rather major scale, more than once in my life. I know that place. I was feeling WAY too blessed to be depressed. I was having too much fun for that. The well of peace in me was much too deep for that. I was too constantly amazed at God's provision in my life for depression. People kept raising it as a possibility. I didn't argue. But I knew for sure it wasn't so.
I tinkered with my exercise regimen - more exercise, less exercise, a week off. It didn't help.
I studied my diet for deficiencies. I changed up my ratios of proteins to carbs and such. It didn't help.
Soon I was going home from work some days as early as 3 PM...to go to bed...FOR THE NIGHT. Around that same time, I missed a couple of days of work because I just flat could not get perpendicular for more than a few seconds. I've been a somewhat low-energy person all my life. Illness has often meant exhaustion for me. I know tired. But this...this was beyond anything I had ever experienced. And nothing was making it better.
I had fought seeking medical help for a long time. I didn't want some doctor to ask me 3 questions, not listen, make assumptions, and stick me on an anti-depressant. But missing work meant I HAD to do something - my employer is way too good to me for any justification of not taking care of an issue that affects my work. So I found a doctor and made an appointment.
The doctor (recommended by my boss of awesomeness) was wonderful. He listened so intently. He didn't cut me short. He didn't make assumptions. He made photocopies of all the notes I had printed out for him regarding my diet and exercise patterns and family health history - part of my objection to this exhaustion was that I was living more healthy than I have ever lived in my entire life. Great exercise, fabulous diet...how could I be so tired? Honestly, I was afraid. I thought I was going to get big, bad horrible news since I had studied it all so intensely, tried so hard, and the exhaustion had only gotten increasingly worse over time. The doctor ran tests: EKG, full panel of blood screenings, urine test, and just to be safe he had me get my past-due mammogram and pap.
He didn't speculate at all when I went that first time. I truly appreciated that about him. I felt like he had an open mind, and so often doctors seem to think they know the answer even before the whole story is out of my mouth. I came home from that doctor appointment at 2:30 in the afternoon and went to bed and slept til what would normally have been my bedtime.
When I got up for a late supper, I remembered "the book." Oh. The book. I HATE the book. It's a gift from a very wise and faithful friend. It's called "A More Excellent Way - Be in Health" by Henry Wright. The book is about spiritual roots of physical ailments. Wright has done massive research and the stuff he shares in that book tends to be spot-on. Unlike some spiritual healing movements, he doesn't say the illness is all in your head. He basically explains, when you have this specific spiritual stronghold, your body responds in that physically measurable way. The point of the book is that when you attack the illness at its spiritual root, you can often find it arrested or even healed, separate from the need for medical intervention.
I hate the book because it so often says things to me that I NO WAY IN HELL want to consider. It makes me mad. It scares me, because it puts some serious tools in my hands (all faith-related) and challenges me to use them, and not just rely on a doctor to write me a prescription. Often when I look something up in there, I say aloud that it is stupid and wrong and I throw it on the floor and walk away from it. (If you thought I was some kind of incredibly mature and deeply faithful person, here's your true revelation about my wonderfulness....Karen becomes offended and throws tantrums when shown spiritual truth.)
Well I didn't want to read the book. I had already been studying SO MUCH on the internet, and pondering my family history, and I had decided that the doctor was going to tell me I had a thyroid problem. I wasn't excited about the prospect of getting on thyroid meds...I hear that fine-tuning the right balance for those is often not fun, and who wants to have to take meds for the rest of their life? Nonetheless, it looked like the sure answer. I didn't want to read the book. I glared at it from across the room for quite awhile before opening its pages.
I looked up the stuff on thyroid. It provoked the usual response in me - anger, frustration, denial (and I'm not putting all the detail about that here in this blog, cuz if you haven't read the book, you won't appreciate the answers in their fullness, and it will just create more doubt and possible offense...so we're just not going there, 'k?) It listed specific spiritual strongholds as causes for thyroid, and gave testimony of people who were healed and med-free. I considered the causes listed and was LIVID. Both were areas in my life in which I had struggled in the past, but was CONSIDERABLY freer than I had ever been before. Areas where I had received much healing. Areas where I had grown and put much brokenness and weakness behind me. This couldn't be my issue!
The more I pondered it, the madder I got. I thought about the people I know of who suffer from thyroid issues. Down to the last one, I could see that the spiritual causes he listed were probably spot-on. True of them, but surely not of me! I was seething as I considered it.
I thumbed through the book, looking at lots of ailments that cause exhaustion. They all seemed to come back to these same spiritual roots. Well that just made me even madder. "This is wrong and stupid!" And I threw it on the floor. If the book were alive, it would surely cringe when it sees me coming. I hate that book.
Having been awake for more than an hour, I was again exhausted. As I rolled over to go back to sleep, a light dawned within me. My anger was WAY out of proportion to the situation. That's A HUGE SIGNPOST for further investigation. I fell asleep praying and remembering instance after instance of spiritual growth, healing, and deliverance in the past 2 years. In every case, without exception, here were the steps:
1. Someone or something points out to me that I might have a spiritual issue.
2. I become overly angry, saying silently to myself and even sometimes aloud what is really true: "I have been delivered from that in a major way! I've already had major healing in that area!" I insist that it's wrong. I don't have that spiritual issue. Period.
3. The Lord whispers silently to me...really, not even just a word...just...kind of like the feeling that He's raising one knowing eyebrow at me, you know?
4. Filled with reluctance and fear, I concede. Okay Lord, if You say so, I'll trust you. Show me and I'll do what You say.
5. BAM! Often instantly, but always at least astonishingly quickly, He delivers me. Often He does it with no further action requirement from me. Sometimes I have to go make an amends or something. But the healing and the freedom...they come SOOOO fast, once I surrender to Him.
That's what I fell asleep realizing.
I woke up ready to surrender. I told the Lord that it seemed to me like He was showing me that my exhaustion had a spiritual root - probably one or both of the 2 the book mentioned. I told the Lord I was terrified. What if I believed this, and then I was wrong?! What then?! It's hard to describe how scary that possibility was, and outside of the situation I have NO IDEA why it's so scary. But it's surely one of the major reasons we so often don't consider spiritual cures for physical maladies - I KNOW I'm not alone in this fear.
I know of a pastor who anoints people, lays hands on them, casts things out, prays with them for deliverance, etc. (and I know a story or two about spectacularly miraculous healings...we're talking from stage 4 cancer here, people.) I told the Lord I would call that pastor and make an appointment.
Here's the God's honest truth: that very morning, as soon as I made that promise to God, I was healed of my exhaustion. My energy went immediately, without hesitation, right back to normal levels. I mean, I didn't yet know that I was healed. But my surrender to Him was the moment of my deliverance - time proved that.
My surrender was on a Friday morning. That Sunday night, I visited that pastor and his prayer warriors (cool inside secret: 2 of those were MY PARENTS). If you've experienced these things, you will perhaps appreciate this detail: something didn't want me there. When I walked through those church doors, a pain like the stabbing of a filet knife seared through my head, and I felt very sick to my stomach. Something didn't want me to do what I was doing.
I ignored the something (somewhat thankful, even, for such a confirmation that I was on the right track) and walked right on into the sanctuary. They anointed me. Prayed with many hands on me. Gave me a prophetic word or 2. The pastor helped me renounce my ties to the things at the root. I had no idea whether I HAD to go through all of that or not, since the effect of the healing was by this point 2 full days old...but I had told God I would do it, so OF COURSE I did.
I was hesitant to believe the healing. I didn't want to tell people. I didn't want to trust it. I was still in the grip of the "what happens if I believe and it's not true?" question. I stayed quiet, watching. When friends asked me if I was better, I stated cautious optimism, but not certainty. I kept expecting that maybe the exhaustion would rise back up and push me back into bed.
But it didn't. I was really healed. Really delivered. I watched. I waited. I tried to believe. I tried not to doubt. I didn't do it very well. My energy stayed with me. The test results from the doctor took A LONG TIME to come. When I had been at full energy for something like 10 days, I finally got labs back in the mail The doctors answer: vitamin D deficiency. Take 50,000 units of vitamin D once a week for 4 months and then come back to see me.
Uh. Okay. Labs are labs and my vitamin D numbers were low. That's not imaginary! BUT. I had been healed already for 10 days by this point, without any vitamin D supplements. Get it? HEALED.
I went and got the prescription vitamin D pills. I'm taking them faithfully. I'll follow up with the doctor as ordered. I'm not dissing medicine. I'm not trashing the doctor. I'm not arguing with chemistry.
I'm saying the exhaustion - the actual spirit that was causing it in my body - was cast out when I surrendered to God. Maybe the thing I did at the church with the pastor and the prayer warriors somehow sealed the deal so it couldn't return - I don't know. I just know as sure as I'm living that the exhaustion was NOT depression, that it was REAL and had me completely as its prisoner, that it LEFT, and that the cure arrived 10 days (2 weeks, actually...I couldn't get to the drugstore for a couple of days) before the vitamin pills.
I've spent time around people of all different sorts of faith. Some people believe you get healed because your belief is strong enough - because your words agree with God's truth. All I know is while my surrender to God was 100% real, it was also plagued with enormous doubts and fears, and it was followed up with my repeatedly expressing reluctance to believe in the healing. People: I DID NOT "earn" this healing by my great faith or my true confession. GOD DID THIS WORK. All of it. At one point as I kept asking Him the question of, "What if I believe this, and I'm wrong," I practically felt Him chuckling, saying, "You're not doing this...I AM. You don't have to cover my butt, Karen...I'm big enough to defend my own reputation."
This all happened back in September and October. I didn't write about it before now because I've had so many conversations where people got upset when they heard about healings....like why should YOU get a healing if I DIDN'T? I told myself not to upset people, not to make trouble, not to risk creating offense. But in the time since then, the Lord has shown me repeatedly that I need to write it down. I need to tell the story. I need to share what I've been given. He even took me through a "round 2" of spiritual healing recently, when I discovered that the horrible loneliness I was wrestling with (and losing to daily) also had a spiritual root. Just as quick as I conceded to possibility that this was true - yup, you guessed it - BLAMMO that sucker was gone, and I was returned to peace and joy exactly where I am, free from the soul-sucking loneliness that had been wrecking one day after another for weeks.
So that's Karen's true-to-life story of a faith healing. I don't have all the answers. I won't defend it. It is what it is. May the telling bring forth every blessing the Lord intends.