What Does “Fully Rely On God” Look Like During Chronic Illness?

I’ve never had a photographic memory.

That said, I have two degrees (one a Master’s), I work for myself, and I’ve been known to give some thoughtful advice.

But lately… yeah, lately I feel that kind of going down the tube as my chronic health issues flare into some kind of psychological snowstorm that leaves me feeling a bit less like this:

sherlock 1.gif

And a bit more like this:

Confusion

This all came out in counseling yesterday, and it was really intense. I went down a path of feeling fear for my decline in health.

Not because I’m tired a lot of the time and on a careful meal plan (which I am and have been for a long time). But because after a lifetime on counting on my brain, my mind, and my intellect…. I kind of feel that going, too.

I still feel pretty “with it.” But it’s little things like not being able to remember what I want to say in conversation, or having a tough time rephrasing what I’ve read recently.

Over the years, I’ve always been able to rely on my brain. No matter what was happening, at some point, some how, I would think of a solution and everything would be okay. The idea that my brain might not be there for me, that I might not be able to think my way out of a problem is uncomfortable.

So once I tried to dig a little deeper into that idea, I realized (of course) that it’s a deeper spiritual problem: my rational mind has always been on my team since the beginning. And the rest of “me” has always failed me.

  • My emotions failed me when they lead me to endure an abusive sexual relationship for 3 years and then into sexual relationships with the men I dated after that.
  • My body failed me 1st when I was overweight as a child, 2nd when I developed autoimmunity, causing me to gain 100+ lbs and struggle with fertility, food intolerances, and chronic fatigue, and 3rd when I panic at the thought of semen entering my body, which, you know, makes it kind of hard to get pregnant.
Throughout everything bad (and as I slowly gave up on true emotional connection and genuine love of my body), my mind has been the saving grace, getting me through these times with humor, learning, and sharing what I’ve learned with others (which, it now seems obvious, is my sublimated way of connecting with others).
And now that my mind is going… I feel betrayed and terrified that the one thing that got me through all those things is going to fail me again.
But are you ready for this? For yet another one of God’s gentle ironies that he waited until I was bawling in a stranger’s counseling office to let me in on? I had to lose my mind (I have to lose my mind) to show me that it wasn’t my mind that got me through those hard things at all.
In each situation, it was never my mind, or “Hannah,” or “me,” that navigated a way to cope with those struggles.
It was God.
It’s always God.
If I didn’t have “my mind,” back then (as so many people might not have the luxury of having), I would still have made it through, just as if I had 45 fewer IQ points (not that I know mine), I would be just as worthwhile, just as loved by God, and just as wanted in this world.
No matter where we are (or what we’re suffering from), we will still be given the grace to overcome the bad things that happen in life if we’ll just stop and ask for it.
And just as importantly, whatever I need now, he’ll give me again. It’s just up to me to stay in touch, to keep listening for my instructions, and to “be still” so that He can fight for me (Exodus 14:14).
It’s on me to embrace my Cross, release the illusion of control “my mind” gives me in my life, and fully rely on God (not my emotions, my body, or even my mind) in a way I didn’t know it was possible to.
And until I understand — and deeply feel — that God will get me through this, I may have a little more learning to do.
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