One and a half week ago I laid in bed for forty eight hours. Doctor ordered bed rest. I had been struggling with back pain for three weeks. Clearly injured my back somehow. It had been getting mostly worse. To the point that I had stopped exercising and began to think through most moves. “ Could I or couldn’t I do this move without pain?” It was becoming chronic and I was becoming frazzled. Undone. Loosing hope of being well. My family pondered if we would be scooting through airports with me in a wheelchair with our rapidly approaching furlough.
The Monday after resting in bed all weekend, I felt much better, but extremely cautious. That day Darron whirled in and out of the house with millions of things on his mind and hundreds of assignments and loose ends to wrap up before his early morning departure on Tuesday. I watched him in disbelief at all he had left to do and recognized that my hinted at (but not posted) “honey do list” was falling beside the wayside. Also I was feeling extremely vulnerable with the thought of him leaving me all alone in mission land with our recent stressors and the delayed return of our dear co workers/neighbors. By evening I was fully wrapped up in my figurative widow grass skirt. Top of my head to the tip of my toes. Very unbecoming. When in reality it is supposed to be worn around one’s waist. My super woman cape was laid tossed in the corner of the room. Out of reach and not even wanted. Usually I “wear” them together and it kind of works. Note: you really don’t want to sleep in a grass skirt wrapped from your head to your toes. It’s very uncomfortable and reminds you of it’s itchy pokey presence all night long. Nor I am sure do you want to sleep with a woman who is wearing one. Ha!
Tuesday morning dawned. I was in no better frame of mind. I grouchily threw my super woman cape over my shoulders, because I knew I wouldn’t survive without it. Surprisingly, I was shocked to see my very intuitive man attack, in thirty minutes of time, his un-posted to-do list. 7:00 a.m. we were out the door to school and airport drop. I muttered a pathetic “good-bye and safe travels”, hating myself for being so miserable. By the time I reached home my mending back was screaming for the heating pad. So under a whirling fan to counter the heat to my back and the tropical simmer I examined my heart and my fears. I allowed the Lord to minister to me in my 3-4 hours of intermittent bed rest. I repented to Him for giving into fear and frustration. And I repented via text to my amazing man who puts up with me and the rest of the world!!! This world lately has not been very gracious and kind to him either. And I slightly wondered if my emotional health was connected to my back health.
Next morning, I awake with back pain, but upon helping at the clinic it is mostly forgotten. I promised Darron I would let the doctor examine my back. When she finished the exam, I began to understand more by what she was NOT saying than what she was, that my pain was probably more related to stress and emotional battle than actual physical problems. Great. Scowl. Had I really carried all we had been through to the point of physical disability? I’ve seen it in other missionaries. We’ve had to send missionaries home because of the physical symptoms they were experiencing with 100% negative exams and tests. Ok for them, but not me. I know better. Haha. Or so I thought I did. But pain and being deceived can be sneaky. We don’t give stress the due credit and due rest and renewal it deserves. So, we suffer. We. I. Took it on.
My doctor is keen to pray with her patients and she didn’t waste that opportunity with her nurse. As we prayed, she asked me if I saw a door of healing ahead. I did. Clearly ahead. Door open. She asked me to ask Jesus what I was supposed to do with that open door. I felt like He told me, in my heart, to walk through it. So in my mind I thought, “When Jesus heals me then I will walk through it.”
That evening I determined that I would begin to walk through that door, without feeling the relief first. I made my way to the runway. The sun was beginning to set and the sky was glorious. I asked Jesus to walk with me and we talked together. I told Him that I wanted two things before I left Papua in one week. One: I wanted to leave strong/well/healed. So that I could return, unafraid. Two: I really wanted to know If I had been accepted into grad school before leaving. As I began to walk on that runway my legs were trembling from an almost 4 week lack of doing minimal activity. I couldn’t believe how weak I was. My back became so tight, clear up into my neck. Then with holy anger I recognized that I was being ruled and that I had Christ given authority to rebuke what was coming over me. I commanded my body to stop hurting. That it was designed by a loving Creator to walk and be strong and not hurt and that I wasn’t going to accept that a five minute walk was causing that much pain. In Jesus name, I told the pain to go away. And. It. Did. I was shocked.
Fifteen minutes later I was home. Different. Still having some pain, but discovering that I had authority over the stress that was trying to wreck havoc on me physically. The next morning I returned to the runway. A bit stronger, the pain tried to return. In Christ’s promised healing to me, I rebuked the pain and again it left. Each evening and most mornings I repeated this exercise. Stretching it longer and just this Monday jogging for fifteen minutes and walking for thirty more. Healed. I had to walk through the door.
I’m grateful for the journey. It has changed my perspective on the connections between stress/ spiritual darkness and physical ailments. Please know that I am still very traditional in my medical thoughts also. Believing in the power of medicines and natural remedies and all the God given knowledge that we have discovered about diseases and germs. But now I will add that I am Strong. Able to return, unafraid, because of my Christ given authority to refuse that suffering.
This morning, twenty minutes before departing to the airport to begin our furlough, I open my email and see that I need to follow a link to my University to see my new application status. I learn, just in perfect God time, that I’ve been accepted to graduate school. I laugh at the timing. The answered prayers. I pause outside our home, while the suitcases are being thrown in the pickup. To get a picture. Beautiful Papua. With my hands raised high in praise and joy. With acknowledgement to my Jesus for answering my two prayer requests. Leaving strong.
Can’t wait to be back in a few months Papua……but for now I will go and rest and renew and soak in some family love. P.S. I have packed a literal true Papua grass skirt and I have FULL intentions of buying a super woman cape. Looking forward to some speaking opportunities with precious women over furlough. See you soon!
P.S. Jacob’s 8th grade graduation. Nathaniel’s 7th grade class “served” them. Note Nathaniel’s traditional Papua grass skirt and headdress.