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My wonderful mother-in-law gave me a book that has helped me heal emotionally from the brokenness in my life, including fibromyalgia. Of course, this is an ongoing process, full of continual turning to God, but this book has really helped.
My favorite quotes:
I underlined so many sentences in this book that spoke to me in my current circumstances. I hope that you find encouragement in these quotes and my reflection on them.
The miracle happens in the breaking.
A recurring theme in this book is being broken, the joy that can come from the pain. This turns my normal thinking from how to protect myself in pain to how pain brings us closer to God, makes us better people.
It strikes me that sight is only possible if light can break into us…Refuse to let Him break into you, and you will die.
If, when I have pain in my life and various trials, I don’t turn to God to heal me in these broken places, I may become worse than when I started. If I face my pain with anger and bitterness, those feelings will only grow in me instead of growing my trust in God.
The way to slowly die is to believe you live in a space of scarcity and not abundance of generosity.
I have written about this before. As long as I hold onto my spoons tightly, I will lose spoons by holding on to them so tightly. Anxiety can take away spoons so quickly. If I remember that the God of the Universe is in control of how many spoons I will have during the day, I can live freely, giving my time and energy generously.
Somehow you begin to discover life when you fall sick…when you’re closer to death – then you realize “I need you, I need people who trust me, I need people who love me”…Most of the time to discover new meaning we have to go through a crisis, we have to go through a breakdown. – Jean Vanier
This quote greatly resonated with me as someone who is and will be sick for the foreseeable future. There is much more a sense of need for others to walk through this time with you. There is a beauty to it, not that I would wish fibromyalgia on anyone, but you realize what you value when you are unable to do it. Idols are much more obvious than when I am completely well. I want to ignore that I have idols, but I can’t because they can’t be hidden behind the idol of perfectionism anymore. Fibromyalgia, any illness, makes perfection obviously impossible.
Going through pain makes you realize who you really are. This is a way for me to draw near to God. I am much more willingly dependent on God than I ever have been. This is actually quite freeing. When you can’t do it, you must depend on God to do it.
Barriers that falsely advertise self-protection are guaranteed ways of self-imprisonment.
For the longest time, I wanted to keep my illness a secret, especially before we had a name for it. I felt so awkward saying:
“Hi, my name is Elizabeth, and I have this sickness that no doctors understand what it is. I am deficient in all of the vitamins, might look like I’m having seizures, get really tired, and my joints hurt a lot. Nice to meet you?”
I was afraid though that people might think that I was just dramatic – psychosomatic. I felt so alone, so judged.
There is freedom now in having a name for these symptoms. I was encouraged by the many people online who are so outspoken about fibromyalgia. They seemed to find healing in sharing their struggle with others, so I thought I would try to do the same. What a joy it has been! It is a rare joy to read others writing about the same physical issues that I have, not that I wish them pain, but it is so beautiful to say: “I am not alone.” There are people that I know personally that struggle with fibromyalgia too. They have helped me walk through coming to terms with having this for the rest of my life and how to live with it. Hugs and tears shared are so powerfully healing.
I do know that there will still be people who judge me for having fibromyalgia, but I have learned to accept that. If they had fibromyalgia, they would understand that it is “real, unexplained pain”, as my doctor says.
Yet being brave enough to lay your heart out there to be broken, to be rejected in a thousand little ways, this may hurt like a kind of hell – but it will be holy. The only way in the whole universe to find connection…is to let your heart be broken.
It was scary. It does hurt when others judge, but it is so worth it to be able to step in there with fellow warriors and say: “You are not alone.” I am here in this hurt with you. We will get through this together. I have found my truest friendships have blossomed when I have laid out my heart, open and bleeding, and had it held by another person. Usually, they have a terribly bleeding heart of their own for me to hold. We sit in silence, in compassion for each other.
Beauty is not in your formidableness, but your fragility…Look to your vulnerable God. “Sometimes – some things have to break all apart so better things can be built.”
My beauty and your beauty is not in how wonderful of a teacher, mother, sister, daughter, or writer we are. It is in our tears that God meets us. That is beautiful. In our pain, we are made open to being vulnerable with God. Our breaking is part of our healing.
God takes us into the wilderness not to abandon us – but to be alone with us…where He speaks to our hearts.
I have been in many wildernesses. I am sure that you have too. This is not God’s way of punishing us. He wants to be close to us. Sometimes, in order to do that, He has to take away everything else. He has to take away the busy, the noise. I imagine Him like a lover who says to His beloved: “Can’t we just go somewhere where it’s just us?”
He offers His open wounds as the only home for ours…He’s inviting me to heal, but also to see my most meaningful calling: to be His healing to the hurting…we can be brokers of healing exactly where we have known the most brokenness. Why have we swallowed the lie that we can only help if we are perfect?
Have you swallowed the lie that you can only help if you are perfect? I certainly have, every day. In many ways, this comes out most in relation to my blog. I don’t want to post something if it is not perfect, therefore, I agonize over my words, what people will think when they read it. The imperfect writer, fibromyalgia patient, teacher, wife, and daughter knows that this imperfection seeps into the blog. I hope though, by showing you my brokenness, you are encouraged, healed even. This is why I talk about being a recovering perfectionist. Fibromyalgia knocked down any notion of being perfect as a possibility. From that brokenness, I am experiencing freedom and joy. I pray for you that you may experience healing from our Healer.
Those who’ve known an unspoken broken can speak to the most healing. Stay weak and dependent. This is how you stay strong in God.
I stand in awe after some days at how He has worked through me. I will wake up with too much pain to move. He gives me my husband to get me painkillers. He allows me to get out of bed. I am reminded to stretch. I ask for prayers because this will be a difficult day. Every time though, something beautiful happens that was so obviously not me that I couldn’t take credit for it even if I was completely healthy. For example, I am able to reach a student who is hurting. Encouraging words come from my mouth that perfectly heal where another person is broken. God is ministering through me.
The wounds that never heal are always the ones mourned alone.
It is very lonely to have fibromyalgia. Although I have the fibromyalgia community whom I love, no fibromyalgia person suffers in the same way. My friends who don’t have it will never completely understand. Canceling plans at the last minute, never knowing how I will feel day to day, and unable to be there for the people I love are difficulties that I mourn.
I am able though to understand loneliness like I would not be able to otherwise. I can sit with a student who tells me they are lonely and have real compassion for them. These experiences make me able to have true empathy.
What’s slowing me down and braking me could be a gift that’s keeping me from breaking into a bad brokenness.
Trust me, I do not like having fibromyalgia, but I do believe that God allowed me to have it as a way to break my pride, my perfectionism, my belief that I could do everything on my own. It is painful and good. My ego gets chipped away at every day. It hurts, but it is good.
Jesus comes to give you freely through His passion what every other god forces you to try to get through performance.
My life has always been a performance. My unconscious question when meeting a new person was always:
“Well, how do they want me to act?”
I always had to be on. No weaknesses could be admitted much less accommodated for. Now, I am able to tell a group of friends that I have to go take a walk when the pain gets bad. I am able to identify and provide my own accommodations in order to function.
Compassion heals what condemnation never could.
Fibromyalgia has given me a greater capacity for compassion than I ever would have otherwise. To be honest, I have never been able to sit with someone in pain if I didn’t understand what they were going through to some degree. Having fibromyalgia gives me experience in a kind of suffering that can relate to many different kinds of suffering. God has given me the gift of understanding, at least a little.
Life isn’t overwhelming when you simply understand how to serve in this minute.
Being present. This is quite difficult. It is much easier to let go of my pain or confusion about the present moment when I think of how I can serve others in this moment. I am learning to focus less on myself. By giving myself through my time, I am becoming more like Christ.
Since I have a tendency for self-depreciation disguised as humility, I tend to laugh at this idea. “I’m not enough. My time isn’t that valuable.” Jesus has determined that we are valuable, that we are purposely put where we are supposed to be to serve others. When we reject that, we are rejecting an opportunity to minister, to love, to grow.
Lament is an outrage… that still trusts in God’s good outcome.
It is difficult to lament. Guilt for being sad and angry that I am in pain fills my mind.
I have been learning though that even David cried out to God. Jesus asked for His cup to be taken away from Him. I am in good company when I lament. It is even right for me to do so. Once I have lamented though, I pray for God to grow my trust in Him. When I pour out my broken heart to the Lord, He takes my offering as a sweet smell.
“…pain is like a pack of wolves attacking sheep, and it’s pain that always brings out the heroes.”… Hard things can bring out good things. We don’t have to be afraid.
I know that my fibromyalgia has made me more like Christ in beautiful ways. I would like to think of myself as a hero. In a way, I am. I try to give hope to those experiencing pain both physically and mentally. Instead of looking at pain as my adversary, something to be afraid of, I can look it in the eye and trust my Savior that it is something that will make me stronger in Him.
Sometimes it’s more than being afraid of any broken things – we’re afraid to be a burden to anyone…Sometimes – it seems easier to bury our hurt than to break anyone’s heart.
This is one that I especially struggle with. I had a comforting conversation with my husband about my being a burden.
He said, “Yes, you are a burden, but just like a hiker carries a backpack full of food and water that he needs. Does the hiker get tired of carrying the backpack? Would he go faster without it? Yes, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t still need it and want it.”
Thanks for being a safe place to come with a mess of broken.
So many of you reading this have been my safe place in my brokenness. I am so blessed to have such wonderful people in my life who lead me toward healing, toward the God of healing. My intentions, my hope, with this blog, to create a safe place for you to come with your own mess of broken, to point you to Christ, the True Healer.
Any healing communion that we can give will come not through our strength, but through our brokenness…The miracle happens in the breaking.
This is why I share stories with you of my specific brokenness. I hope that you feel less alone and feel more comfortable to share your stories in order to heal in this safe place. I would love to hear your story!
Let the brokenness come. Stop holding on to a standard of perfection instead of being held by the arms of grace…Perfectionism is slow death by self. Perfectionism will kill your sense of safety, your self, your soul. Perfectionism isn’t a fruit of the Spirit-joy is.
What happens when we stop holding on so tightly? I always have a vision of falling, falling into nothingness. In reality, I fall right into the Strength that created the universe. When I hold on tightly I am strangling my own throat. I am squeezing that joy out of myself.
Joy can be found through the brokenness. Joy is never found where I have a tendency to think it will be. It is not in perfectly organized paperwork, a delightful homemade meal, folded clothes, or hair with no trace of frizz. Inevitably though, when I do chase those things, chase perfectionism, I slowly die inside. Joy is found in sitting with someone in their pain while you cry with them.
I think maybe – at the root of all control-wrestling and stress lies a fear of brokenness…Fear of brokenness has pushed away everything I have ever wanted, everything I have loved. It…has kept me from so much living; it has kept me from so much loving.
Fear of brokenness makes us grasp. We grasp for everything. From the outside, we look ridiculous, like a drowning man trying to hold on to the water around him. We are lonely because we are trying hard to hold onto the love of others instead of giving love to others. Spreading my arms out wide seems risky, but that is the way to loving, the way to living. This is swimming.
Never be afraid of broken things – because Christ is redeeming everything.
So, I’m going to jump right into where the brokenness is. Are you with me? I know that I will grasp at times. I pray that we both remember how to open our arms, take the plunge. I’m scared. Maybe you’re scared too? Let’s just be scared together, okay? Then, let’s look to Christ and allow our fears to melt away, let them go.
Maybe the broken way leads to being as compassionate with yourself as Jesus is with your soul, granting yourself the grace He gives, grace to get it wrong and grace to change again, grace to be broken and broken again, and the grace to grow on, like the broken way of seeds.
This is the hardest part for me, giving myself grace. I long for it with my whole being, yet, I have such a hard time accepting it. I think that if I accept grace, I am admitting that I need it, that I am not perfect. Well, that is the truth. Grace is beautiful. It seeps in through my broken places, refreshing and breathing life back into my cracked and dry soul.
Comfort your fears with more of Him, with touching His own broken heart, by letting Him gently press your wounds into His. With-ness breaks brokenness…”Do not be afraid – I am with you.”
Resting. It is so very hard to do, but there is no one who understands and can give it better than Him. Whenever I reveal my wounds to Him, sometimes screaming or blubbering them out, He meets me. I am reminded that He understands pain. He understood pain to the point of a broken heart long before I did. By His wounds, I am healed.
What grace do you need to show yourself?
What is your story of brokenness?
What is your story of healing?