Flatlining

“I didn’t know why I was going to cry, but I knew that if anybody spoke to me or looked at me too closely the tears would fly out of my eyes and the sobs would fly out of my throat and I’d cry for a week. I could feel the tears brimming and sloshing in me like water in a glass that is unsteady and too full.”
― Sylvia Plath

Many of you have asked where I’ve been on this blog of mine, and the above quote describes my struggle so well. I’ve been holding many things close these past months knowing that even my words cannot explain them or do them justice. There is much that has happened emotionally that has wrecked me in the past months. And there is much that is wrecking me physically, too. It wears on the spirit and the mind, and I am weary.

Over the past three months I’ve seen several doctors, and had to have a CT and MRI and every time it is because they are concerned about some pain I’ve been having. Every time I must wrestle with what this could mean.

This is what life is like for me… and I realize this is how it will be. If there’s pain, the first place the doctors will go is cancer. The first place my mind goes is cancer. And it is exhausting to live every day wondering if it’s back because the physical pain is so bad.

This time the pain is because somewhere along the way I tore my rotator cuff. I’m so thankful it’s only this. And thankfully, they think it can be strengthened with physical therapy and won’t require surgery, but we won’t know that for sure until mid-June. So I spend 4 1/2 hours a week at PT (plus all the driving time to and from), plus all my other doctor visits, and I am exhausted.

In every way.

And I realized along the way with this last scare… that joy is gone. I have flatlined.

The problem is that in flatlining, I’m not the only one that suffers. My husband suffers. My children suffer. My parents suffer. My friendships suffer.

And in the flatlining I find myself asking, “How do I do this?”

How do I live and love? And how do I laugh?

And then the asking turns to God and I say, “Where are You in this? What are You doing?”

The last few weeks I’ve spent a lot of time awake at night because of my shoulder and side pain. I’ve numbed the pain with medicine and movies, but I’ve also read good books and listened to great sermons online, because I know that even if I feel like I’ve flatlined, I can’t stop looking for life.

I look at Thomas, the doubting disciple. He gets a bad rap being remembered as The Doubter, if you ask me. Because, yes, while he doubted, his doubts led him to ask questions, questions that led him back to God. Questions that led him to make one of (if not the) the strongest affirmations of faith in the New Testament. He SAW Jesus for Who He is, and He cried, “My Lord and My God!” Thomas the Doubter is Thomas the Believer.

And it was this weekend that God pulled out the paddles and jump started my heart, because I was struck with how I’m not really seeing or hearing. I’m not taking steps. I’m looking and asking, but I am blind to His works and my ears are deaf to His whispers. I’m asking, but I’m not reaching out and putting my hands into the scars and touching and seeing and hearing His voice.

And I realized:

If I’m so busy asking what God is doing, I tend to forget all God has done.

Today there was the warmth of my sweet boy snuggling in my chair while I read with them before school. There were the kisses of my children as they bounded out the door for school and the fingers signing “I love you” from car windows. There were the arms of my husband circling me before he grabbed his computer and readied for work. There were piles of laundry that I folded and memories as I traced the drawings on artwork I filed. There were words I read, blurred by my tears, Words about Who God is mingled with my cries to see Him today.

I stopped asking what He was doing and only asked for Him.

He is working, friends.

The tears still slosh. My heart still skips beats. But He is working.

And in the working, there is life. There is hope.

Your hope is not that you understand your past, present, and future, but that the Lord of all three holds you in the hollow of his hand. (~Paul David Tripp)

4 responses to “Flatlining”

  1. I just wish that we lived close by. I would stop by with lunch and you could cry the whole time if you wanted. And then I would just sit with you…we could just sit, and be still and not talk at all. Just be. Maybe eat cookies. Eating cookies tends to help me. 🙂

    I’m so sorry I’ve been absent. I have not done well by you. Forgive me? I will do better.

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  2. Your words are so powerful, Angie. I wish there were something I could offer you. I hope you know what light you bring to other people and what an inspiration you are to them. But I know that doesn’t help much when you are suffering. I pray for healing on all fronts.

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  3. Angie,

    You are in my prayers daily- I thank God for the ways your writing has blessed me time and again.

    Here are a few good words from Whitman that strike me as appropriate:

    (from “Oh Me! Oh Life!”)

    Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
    Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;
    Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;
    Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined;
    The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

    Answer.

    That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
    That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

    You have already shone a great light with your life, and I have every confidence that our God, the writer of our life script, has some beautiful lines for you yet to come. Hold on, Friend.

    Leah

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  4. My dear dear one,

    The many firey ordeals that we go through. Peter said, “Don’t look at these as something strange, but to the degree you are tested to that degree you will see a revelation of Jesus Christ and the outcome will be the salvation of your soul. James said, “Count it all joy when you encounter various trails knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance and when endurance has its work you will be perfect lacking nothing.”

    To come to the place where we must count it all joy is a place where trials abound. We no longer look at our trials as destroying us, but as angels of mercy and making us into His image.

    I know how hard it is to grow up into Christ, to realize my new life is hid with Christ in God, but He is faithful to bring me to a place of surrender that I can know Him.

    His grace is sufficient, His power is perfected in our weakness, we can through His grace, glory in our weakness that His power will rest upon us.

    I stand with you in your victory that you have been given. We will walk this life of faith together and know our God and abandon ourselves to Him.

    Love and blessings,
    Judie

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