I honestly can't even imagine coping without my faith. I know that there are many of you out there who don't share my faith in Jesus Christ and who have been hurt, judged or let down by Christians. I also know that there are others of you who don't feel you measure up because you have encountered a legalistic Christianity. So before I go any further, let me begin by saying that I hold each of you, regardless of your personal faith, in high esteem. I believe God has called me to love you and not to judge you. After all, most of use are just trying our best to manage what life has for us!
My faith is not a religion or a denomination, but a relationship that I have with a gracious and loving God. I believe, in accordance with what Scripture says, that God loves us with an unconditional love and that the church wasn't created for the saint, but for the sinner. I don't write this as a holier than thou, judgmental, stone-casting person.
I know who I am. As Brennan Manning would say, I am a ragamuffin. I am not the reflection of Christ that I would like to be, for I am frequently impatient, strong willed, jealous, despairing, selfish, unloving, insecure and judgmental. My God is none of those things! So I hope that as you read this, you won't judge Him by what you see in me but in what I want to become as I seek to take on His character.
Being sick and homebound is lonely, but I know that my God is always with me. When everyone else turns away or is preoccupied, He is always there. I can cry out to Him and share my fears, my pain, my anger, and my longings without any fear of retribution. He says in His word that He cherishes me like a bridegroom does a bride. The thought of that is really too awesome to fully take in, but it makes me feel loved, treasured, protected and never alone.
Being in pain can easily lead me into feeling hopeless and anxious. I look and look for some reason to hope based on current medical treatments, and right now there just aren't any. But my heavenly Father offers me constant reasons for hope. His word is full of promises that I know He won't break. He promises to give me hope and a future; He promises to always be with me; He promises me that I can do all things through Him. He promises to be my shield and my protector. He says He will deliver me and honor me. He says that He will be with me in trouble. He says that He began a good work in me and will carry it to completion.
So I dwell on His promises. I practice the encouragement of Philippians 4:8 that says "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think on these things." By no means, do I do this perfectly or even close to perfectly. However, one thing that I am convinced of is that if I put my mind on His promises and those things which are excellent and praiseworthy that it changes me. (It affects me the same way that dwelling on pain, loneliness and lost dreams does. How I think perpetuates itself; it becomes a vicious cycle. It takes root and grows its own kind.) Thinking about God's love and His promises change how I feel about this path I am currently on. It chases away the darkness of fear and anxiety. It chases away hopelessness and loneliness. It even chases away my feelings of inadequacy and anger. Remarkably, His love even accompanies me into the dark places of fear, anxiety, hopelessness, loneliness, inadequacy and anger! He is not repulsed, disapproving and turned off by my humanity.
I have hope because I believe in the mercy and grace of Christ. It's as simple as that. I cope because the great Hope of the World accompanies me on my journey. I cope through prayer, through spiritual songs, through reading Scripture, and through the fellowship and encouragement of other believers. I cope and I hope because I see Him at work in this world. I see Him in every kindness, every smile, every laugh, every one of my precious friends and family members, every flower, every sunrise, every rainbow. And because of that, life (just like it is) is truly worth living.
June 2013, Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders. The 2013 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is a project of FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.