Things I see when I look at the cross: Jesus marred in blood and wounds because he loved too deeply. Because he was God with us; Immanuel was he, and nothing would stop him from accomplishing his purpose. Because turning water into wine at a wedding was not enough. Because making the leper whole was not enough. Causing the lame and paralyzed to walk was not enough. No. He had to go the whole mile.
Then, I close my eyes to see his mother Mary weeping at his feet, and realize that no one who has walked this earth would have known Jesus more intimately than Mary. Jesus, dare I ask that I would be able to walk intimately with you like Mary? Can I be impregnated with you in my spirit like Mary was impregnated with you in her womb? I want to know you and to suffer with you. Do you find me worthy?
Dear God, am I really worthy that you should die in my place on a cold and cruel cross? Naked and covered in my shame on that cross. Flogged and and adorned in a crown of thorns who went, carrying your own cross.
Many a time have I wept in solitude forgetting to invite you into the places of my heart that I am ashamed of. Naked you went to the cross and so naked I stand before you broken and unworthy, and asking for more intimacy.
I am asking you to know you , Jesus of Nazareth, born in a manger, to a humble Jewish Virgin. I am asking to know you Jesus who was raised in a Jewish family, who memorized the Prophets and the Torah, and sought only to be in His Father’s House. I am asking to know you Jesus who raised the dead to life; who turned water into wine at a wedding as a foreshadow of a the greater wine of your blood that would be ”poured out for many.” I want to know you Jesus.
The cross is the instrument through which sin and its power are cancelled. It is on the cross that Christ takes on the the sins of the WHOLE world, and with that the very wrath of God the Father. Close your eyes and walk with Christ to golgotha, and behold ”How deep the father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that he should give his only son to make a wretch his treasure. How great the pain of searing loss, the Father turns His face away, as wounds which mar the chosen one, bring many sons to glory.”
This year has been one for the books; and not in that cheesy, warm feel good way. I mean… this year has gutted me, shredded me to peices and then rebuilt me. The scripture quoted below is evidence that God will shine light into every situaton as we grow in Him, and as we grow in righteousness everything will come to fullness in that light.
“The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter until the full of day.” Proverbs 4:18
“My body constantly aches from head to toe. I am not in any extreme pain, but I feel overcome by those aches you feel when you have the flu. Yeah those, except mine is derived from depression. My body is so overwhelmed by chronic depression that it manifests itself as physical pain, and I find myself swallowing ibuprofen and wondering how much my stomach can actually take before this is bad for me.” Here I quote a description of my depressive symptoms from a post called “A Time to Heal”, which I published earlier in the year. How much ibuprofen constitues an overdoese anyway? I still don’t know.
While this post was actually published December 2, 2020, it describes the exact nature of my symptoms going into 2021; how fragile I was, how easily broken.
I’ll be vulnerable, I was hopeless. I had moved to Colorado from Texas in July 2020 to live with an Aunt who promised to take care of me until I could get on my feet mentally and financially. I brought my cat Samson along for the ride as she had orignally expressed he was welcome. Theoretical feelings and actually feelings wound up contradicting one another, and suprise, suprise he was the first to go. I couldn’t take care of him, and my aunt and her family simply never had the patience to, so we sold him to a young couple who adopted him for $100.
This story gets a littly rocky from here on out, so please brace yourself and remeber that I wouldn’t tell it if I could not somehow see Christ’s glory through it.
Pause for meditation: “He will be the stability of your times, a rich store of salvation and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.” Isaiah 33:6
Fast forward two weeks and my aunt winds up kicking me out of her house in the dead of night because I would not convert to her religion. She is a Jehovah’s witness, and I considered myelf to be an evagelical Christian at the time. I lean a little more Catholic now. That aside, my Nana (my Mom’s stepmom) picked my up outside my aunt’s home, and took me to her place.
I could already tell that my Nana had her hands full. Even before me, she’d been responsible for my two cousins whom she had adopted, plus her younger grand children during the day when she was not at work. She was miffed enough that my aunt allowed the responsibility of me onto her plate, so when I attempted suicide on her property and my cousin found me on the floor barely responsive, this was the last straw. I went to the hospital and was never allowed to return.
Where would I go from here?
This is where God really began to move and prove himself as the “stablity of my times.” I leaned on him every step of the way and never once did I have to sleep on the streets, which had been a paralyzing fear of mine. While that was not the last time I would get kicked out of a home after scaring someone in that manner, it was the beginning of me living in facilities which were actually equipped to deal with my symptoms, and assist me in seeking treatment.
This is where I began to see the faithfulness of God. In early 2021 I was living in a transitional mental health group home where I was first precribed lithium (a mood stablizer which we used to treat my dissociations, having stemmed from PTSD). Prior to lithium, I was dissociating at work and losing touch with reality. This was the first gleam of hope.
Next we tried Cymbalta for my depression in around August 2021. This was a huge leap of faith because previouis physicians had told me that there was nothing left to do for my depression. I had been on two other antidepressants prior to this change, and I’ lol tell you that other physicians never guessed to try Cymbalata; that was my idea. After starting Cymbalta, (mind you I am on the maximum dose), I started to feel like I no longer had to restrict myself to part-time hours in order to take care of my body. After a year of working 20 hours per week at a grocery store, I now work 40 hours per week in a preschool.
Y’all! The very slogan of this blog is that Jesus Heals. Don’t get it wrong, I still believe healing to be an ongoing process full of progress and steps backwards, but what counts is have constant faith that Jesus will heal. David declares in Psalm 23:3 “He restores my soul, He leads me along paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” The Lord has restored my soul (mind, will & emotions). Thank you for everyone who has followed my story here on the blog. We have walked through this journey together!
The reality has been that holding on to my concept of what my life should look like, has never had the power to overrule the sovereign will of God. I know that I can trust him.
What if I am never healed from this debilitating series of mental illnesses? My response to this notion is that healing has never been limited to the removal of an ailment or the eradication of a thorn of flesh. Healing is an intimate walk with Jesus, and is a lifelong process of surrender.
When I lay alone in hospital beds wondering if endless panic attacks will cease, I surrender. When at home in the mix of a daily routine and feeling once and for all totally human, and triggers of PTSD threaten, I surrender. When despair beckons and chronic depression mixed with thoughts of suicide usher me once again into hospital doors, I surrender.
A pope once said: “Healing is the entire content of what Jesus came to do.”
“To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair.” –Isaiah 61:3