My life is a whirlwind, as usual. I sit down at the computer to write some part of my life to share with the world. A friend recently teased me about my Facebook updates from the hospital. He asked, “Do you really want 423 of your friends to know that you’re having trouble peeing?” All I can say in my defense is that I was still taking the heavy drugs and had been lying in bed covered by a flimsy hospital gown for 4 days. Modesty was not foremost on my mind, obviously. Anyway, this morning I sat down to journal and much to my surprise it ended up being 5 1/2 pages long. That hasn’t happened in years. The words just flowed from my pen. I thought I would post it here. Be warned: It is raw and mostly unedited. I conceal nothing.

“Today I am tempted to cause damage to my already hurting body. Mostly in the form of sugar. I will not leanon my comfortable old habit of using food for comfort. Nor will I go back to an even older addiction- alcohol and Excedrin PM. There were not many men who brought comfort to me physically, but there were a few, and today I’m not choosing that either.  Though, as I said, it is a temptation.

A few weeks ago, right before Easter, a friend challenged me in my love for God. I said, “Wait a minute! Are you saying I don’t love God.” My friend replies, “If I may be so bold. Yeah. Love God with all your strength, mind, and heart. And love your neighbor as you love yourself. And as it is, you regard your neighbor above all. You choose right because you want to please your neighbor.” The next day was Easter. I did not go to church. Why go if I don’t love Him?

I began to seriously consider whether or not I love God. There are millions of good people out there who do more good things than many who profess love for Christ. Jesus turned some followers away even though they performed miracles and prophesied in His name. He says, “I never knew you.” Why? What set them apart from the ones he accepted? There is no explanation. I was imagining what my life would look like if I decided that I really don’t love Him. What would it look like for our family? I wouldn’t continue to pretend to love Him and I wouldn’t go to church anymore. I wouldn’t live as a hypocrite. I needed to figure this out. I hid from most of my friends in some way or another. I was seeking for the answer. I felt guilty and foolish for even grappling with such a thing. I have seen God provide for my family in amazing ways. I have experienced the healing of my ongoing struggle with debilitating migraines. [Ed note: I still have them, but not without reason like too much sugar or not enough sleep. Back then they lasted for a minimum of 3 days every single week without fail.] I have been freed from the anger and bitterness I was so enslaved to. I’ve learned the clarity and sweetness of the gift of forgiveness. Yet, here I stand wondering if I love God. Why wouldn’t I love Him when He has been so good to me. “I never knew you.” Why would I choose to live a certain way, doing the right things, and singing all the right songs when rejection is the reward? I could willingly choose to not love and live my life as I want. I don’t imagine there would be huge immediate changes, but they’d be there. I am a lonely woman, though. Maybe I would start going to a party here or there;  meet a man who flatters me with word praising my beauty and opening doors for me. Then what happens? Why wait for marriage? Shoot, I’m not even divorced. What does it matter if I no longer love God. Oh and should I mention that I don’t know how to accept love so the love I find won’t be real. He would only pretend to love me to get sex because that’s what it boils down to, right? Is that all I’m good for? I learned that lesson when I was six. *sigh* I’d still be lonely but I wouldn’t be alone.

I thought of the consequences and couldn’t see the benefit. Yet, I don’t want to choose to follow Jesus because of the fear of consequences. I’ve done that for far too long. So. I continue to seek. I even get up before dawn for quiet alone time. I read. I pray. I try to smile. I tell no one of my struggle until I sense it’s coming to an end.

Sunday- 2 days before surgery- I go to the Hive [it’s a house church]. The teaching was on 1 Corinthians 13, also known as the Love chapter. I realized that Jesus didn’t know them because they didn’t love Him. They had faith. They believed Him. Without love can you really trust? I mean, totally and completely trust? He first loved us. I do trust people I don’t love, but it’s a trust that is for a specific purpose. I trust the cashier to give me the right amount of change. I trust the gas attendant to not spill gas all over the side of my car. There is not one human I trust completely with every part of me, though.

I looked around the room at the Hive realizing I love a lot of people there, but I don’t have this great swell of emotion for each of them whenever I think of them. Nor do I have that gushy newborn in-love feeling I had for Christopher almost 14 years ago.

Love is: patient, suffers long, kind, does not envy, does not parade itself, not puffed up, does not not behave rudely, does not seek its own, does not boast, is not proud, is not provoked, thinks no evil, keeps no record of wrong, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth, hopes all things, believes all things, bears all things, endures all things, it always protects, it always trusts, it always hopes, always perseveres, love never fails.—–taken from the NIV and the NKJS

Love is a choice or series of choices. It’s doing what I do out of love, not fear. Not fearing the consequences or fearing what others will think of me. I choose because I am loved by Him. The conclusion: I do love God.

Monday- getting ready for my hospital stay. I’m so excited for what the future will hold for me. I will be strong and ready to face the challenges of life coming my way.

Tuesday- Surgery day- Getting stuck in an elevator. Dressing into my hot hospital gown. I rock those things. I should wear them more often, eh? Getting drugged. Waking up in lots and lots of pain and well, having to…well, never mind. TMI. I sleep a lot today.

Wednesday- My mind is more clear than it has been for some time now. Oh, and I eat Mango sorbet and drink water.

Days pass- body is slowly healing. My brain is active. I’m making plans. I’m reading to my kids again. I’m sleeping through the night. I feel almost ready to fly.

Then. It happens. The weekend arrives. I was looking forward to it. I had no idea how this weekend would change EVERYTHING. Again, I would briefly question my love & devotion to this God I serve. I indulged my flesh & found comfort in something other than Him. Why is indulging our flesh so addictive? I mentioned food and Excedrin PM. If I sleep I won’t eat and therefore won’t over-indulge in food that causes my body physical pain. Physical pain distracts from the emotional pain. If I sleep, I can’t really live. [As for eating, i can have juices and soft foods like really rich and creamy ice cream.] Why would one choose to abuse the only body she has been given?

So, I indulge. Twice. I don’t feel any regrets for the first round, but I’m beating the hell out of myself for the second round. Thing is, the first round was incredibly great. It wasn’t a big deal when it was all over. Well, it was and it wasn’t. I was better for it. It was just a taste, right. I enjoyed it. I’ll revel in it, then move on. Problem is that it whet my appetite and revived something in me that remembered the sweet high. It also reminded me of how my various indulgences lessen the constantly dulling pain of loneliness. This loneliness is not new. I remember this same emptiness in me when I was just a small girl. I don’t remember what I did then to ease the pain of a girl feeling unloved and alone in the world. I do remember deciding to not let people hurt me. then I found that I couldn’t stop or control it, so I began to expect and invite it. I’m sorry. I digress.

So, I came back for more. I mean, it was so close. I’m sure it cried out my name more than once. What harm could be done in finishing what I began? I am no quitter, after all. It was bittersweet. I tried to enjoy it. I kept thinking, “Just one more, then never again.” I went away feeling empty. Utterly empty. I should’ve left it well enough alone. [It didn’t matter what it is, whether it was spiced rum or my well-loved creamy dark chocolate…or oooh, those frosted chocolate bismark donuts  from Roth’s with the creamy middle. Now those, are the cream of the crop. Do I just avoid Roth’s altogether? That can’t be the answer. Roth’s has some great sales and the fresh fruits and dairy section are really good. The good news is that the things I love about Roth’s isn’t anywhere near the donuts. I don’t have to wander down that way at all. Ever. That, and taking my kids or anyone else with me will prevent me from donuts.]

When I walked away I wondered if I’ll ever make the right choices that lead to the top of the cliff I’m heading up to? Will I ever be the woman I desire to be, standing tall full of grace and mercy and oh so beautiful? Or will I die on this rugged and filthy trail? Are the obstacles too impossible? I know I can’t do it alone and that there many standing ready to help as soon as I call on them. Yet, I pretend they’re not really there. Why is it so hard to ask for prayer or a helping hand? I won’t hear them when they warn me of what is ahead, then I can’t hear them when they comfort me. I can only hear the screams of self-accusation while picturing the evil man from my little girl dreams sneering and laughing at me.

Monday- That’s today. I spend hours writing. I write with a real pen in my real journal because it makes all of it more real. The pain is real. The loneliness is real. The realness flows out me more readily than at a computer screen. That, and it frees up valuable real estate in my brain.

I have a choice to make now. Do I dive into this nice little cave to my left here or do I resolve to move on? Do I hide or do I seek? Do I choose death? Or do I choose life? Do I crawl up into a ball like those roly-poly bugs or do I armor up & start putting one step in front of the other toward my final destination? “

What’s the name of this blog? Oh that’s right, it’s called: Out of the Cave. I’ve been called out of the cave. It doesn’t matter who I heard calling my name, it was Jesus behind the voice. It doesn’t matter than I screw up and break things like pizza stones, my body, and my relationships because I can get a new pizza stone at Goodwill and Jesus is healing my body and relationships.

I’m done beating myself up. I will not go to bed bearing this burden. I actually feel stronger. I love deeper and more real. I know so much more right now than I did this morning. I am beautiful and I am strong. I will shower and let Jesus wash away the filth.

All Who Are Thirsty

All who are thirsty
All who are weak
Come to the fountain
Dip your heart in the stream of life
Let the pain and the sorrow
Be washed away
In the waves of his mercy
As deep cries out to deep (we sing)

Come Lord Jesus come

Holy Spirit come

As deep cries out to deep