The Bittersweetness of Medical Test Results


Imagine this.

You’ve been sick for months, years even.

You were tested for this and that. Negative results. Positive results. Numbers too high or too low.

“Sometimes those elevated numbers don’t really mean anything,” the doctor says.

You know that’s not true. You know you’re sick and just getting worse day by day. If only someone would listen and then search for answers. The symptoms have to be connected, you realize. You’ve done your research. You’ve tried to “eat a healthy diet, exercise, and sleep.” It’s not working.

The day comes when you finally see a new doctor who listens intently. She asks questions before scribbling on her notepad. She reviews your entire health history. She wants to know your story because there are details there that might provide clues.

So, you open up. You share things you’ve rarely shared before – perhaps only hinted at to closer friends for fear of people thinking you’re crazy.  You begin explaining the fits of rage that plagued you throughout your childhood and into your early 20’s. Sharing how you always felt like you couldn’t control yourself begins to bring a peace to your mind. You can finally get it out there – finally get the help you need.

You tell of the depression, insomnia, and anxiety. The fatigue, bruises that cover your body, hair falling out, and constant chilled feeling. You explain that you can’t think clearly, that you started believing you became dyslexic because reading is now painfully difficult and every time you try to jot a few words on paper the letters end up in the wrong order.

Next, you explain the headaches. The achy body. The limbs that fall asleep at the most inconvenient times. The memory loss that makes you feel stupid when you can’t remember simple conversations.

The symptom list goes on and on.

But, the doctor still listens. She hears you. She knows.

So, she does more tests. In fact, she tests for everything you had on your list of questions. She says that symptoms might be pointing to a multitude of things and she wants to get to the bottom of it.

This doctor places a strong emphasis on finding the root cause, not just treating symptoms.

This gives you a sense of relief because you want answers. You’re reaching, gripping, desperately seeking for those answers.

The day comes when you check your mailbox and it’s there – the test results. You had been waiting for a few weeks, hoping they’d show up soon. You just want to know what’s happening to your body. You already know some of it, but not all. You don’t think it will be a big deal because after all, the point of knowing is to now be able to treat effectively, right?

That’s what you thought, anyway.

But, the truth.

The real truth…

Is that the test results shake you.

You wanted to know. You needed an answer for the pain you had been feeling. And, while it seems like it should be a relief, it’s not.

The pain deepens.

You realize that not only is there something going on with your body that needs treated, but you’re worse off than you ever would have imagined. You’re sick. Really sick. Getting better isn’t going to happen overnight.

That’s when you don’t know what to do.

Should you cry?

Should you rejoice?

In this very circumstance, I did neither and I did both.

At first, I didn’t respond. I looked at the papers as if they weren’t mine. I felt removed from the situation, as if I was watching it happen from afar. Then, I responded to the most shocking and rather humorous piece of information: I have an intolerance to peanuts! And, sadly enough, PB&J sandwiches and Dark Chocolate Reese’s happen to be my favorite foods.

Even with this new sad truth in my life, the results still didn’t hit me right away.

When the results finally sank in, though, I was hurt. I was heartbroken. I was fearful.

I cried – the big, wet tears ran down my cheeks one after the other.

I knew that the life I had formerly known was never going to be the same. So, while the results had provided new knowledge to help treat the chronic illness that had overtaken my body, it was still hard to swallow.

The moment I received these recent medical test results was the most bittersweet moment of my life. I saw hope, but I saw darkness on the way to reach that the promise of better health. I knew that to getting to the light, to the place of healing, was going to be the hardest journey I have yet to travel, and it shook me at my core.

Somehow, though, even though it’s been hard since the results came, God keeps giving me peace about these life changes. I feel like the place I stand is exactly where God wants me to be. He has a plan and He has a purpose. I have no doubt that He’s still good.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

-Romans 8:28

What To Do When You’re Having an Identity Crisis – Part 2

Hope in Christ

In Part 1 of What To Do When You’re Having an Identity Crisis, I described being at my breaking point and feeling insecure as I struggled to figure out who I was.

God worked in my heart to show me that I didn’t need to have all the answers. As a child of God, my identity is rooted in who He is, not in what I do or what I like. Because I follow Christ, the insecurity knocking at my door can be defeated. Even when I’m struggling, God promises that I can cast all my anxiety on Him because he cares for me (1 Peter 5:7).

I talk about following Christ, but what does this actually mean?

To follow Christ means to first recognize our need for a Savior. The first time I realized this, I was 18 years old, and I finally understood that my sin was just as bad as everyone else’s sin (Romans 3:23). Even if we’ve only committed one sin, that sin is causing us to be separated from God because God is perfect and holy (Isaiah 59:2).

So, how do we reconnect with God after we’ve messed up? 

The answer: Jesus Christ. It isn’t about what we can do, but about what God has already done for us. God gave us Jesus as the way to Himself.

In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (NIV)

If we get back to God through Jesus, how do we get to Jesus in the first place? 

The ever-popular verse to quote, John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV)

Then, Jesus goes on to say, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:17 (NIV)

There is beautiful truth in these verses! Because of God’s great love for us, he gave us Jesus. He doesn’t want to condemn, but to save. God’s plan is to bring us back to himself when we’ve gone astray because being with God is the best place we can be. He is the source of life (John 1:1-4). He brings hope (Romans 8:24-25). He brings peace (Philippians 4:7). He is love! (1 John 4:8)

Jesus said that whoever believes in him will have eternal life.

But, what does it mean to believe? 

As a child and younger teenager, I thought believing in Jesus just meant believing that he was real, that he existed. I didn’t realize it meant believing that he was who he said he was. I knew he was God’s Son, which meant that Jesus was God in human form, but didn’t quite understand the significance.

Now, I know that the reason Jesus’ sacrifice of dying on the cross is enough to pay for our sins so we can be back in a relationship with God is because a perfect sacrifice was needed. Jesus, being fully man and fully God, lived a sinless life (2 Corinthians 5:21). Essentially, in order for our sins to be forgiven, God had to sacrifice Himself. He did it all because He loved us.

Believing in Jesus Christ means having faith in His Word. Believing in Christ spurs us on to abandon our old ways and turn toward a new life.

We must first recognize that we have sinned and that our sin is separating us from God. We then repent of our sin. This means we confess our sins to God through prayer, turn away from that sin, and turn toward God. We then can rejoice and thank God for Christ’s completed work on the cross on our behalf. In that, we place our hope not in ourselves but in Jesus Christ. Jesus came to earth for a very specific purpose because God loved each and every one of us. We then receive the Holy Spirit when we believe in Jesus. The Holy Spirit is a deposit that guarantees our inheritance in Heaven (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Each person’s journey toward understanding the truth of what it means to follow Christ is different. Some of my friends understood their need for a savior at four years old, but others were grown adults with kids by the time they met the Lord. Wherever you are at, whether you know the Lord or not, please remember that God loves you and desires a relationship with you.

Jesus says in Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (NIV)

Seek the Lord and He will show up.

Even if you’ve already had a point where you placed your hope in Christ and began to follow Him, remembering the truth of the Gospel and what it means to follow Christ will help you remember that your identity is in Christ. If you are a follower of Christ, you don’t need to look any further for affirmation of who you are. The only affirmation you need, you already have.

My prayer in writing these two posts on identity is that you will remember that even when life gets hard, you can never truly lose yourself when you have Jesus in your life. I have struggled to remember my identity, but even through it all, God was still with me, trying to draw me back to Himself.

I pray that if you are in the midst of your own identity crisis that you will find the answers you need. If you ever need someone to talk with, please contact me. I would love to walk this out with you!

Thank you for reading.

What to Do When You’re Having an Identity Crisis – Part 1

Identity in Christ

I remember the day fairly clearly despite the fact that I had been living in a continual state of fog for months.

“I don’t even know who I am anymore,” I said as I moved a stack of posters and made myself comfortable in the chair across from my coworker’s desk.

I had gone to her office for a quick work-related question, but then lingered. I was standing there chatting before deciding that if I was going to be there awhile, I had better take a seat before my legs gave out. I was at a breaking point and longed for someone to understand what I was going through.

My sweet coworker listened and responded in all the right places as I shared pieces of what had been transpiring in my life in the months prior.

I went on to share that I couldn’t figure myself out. No longer was I interested in the things I had liked. While I thought I was extroverted, I was experiencing strange social anxiety to the point where striking up a conversation at a public event where I knew most of the people was too intimidating.

I didn’t want to go anywhere. When I wasn’t at work, I preferred to be at home on my couch. But, I needed – absolutely needed – Jonathan by my side.

This wasn’t like me. I didn’t understand it. Why was I always in pain? Why was I cold and tired all the time? Why did I feel like a zombie? When did I become so clingy? These questions stirred in my mind as I became sadder about my current life situation.

The changes didn’t happen overnight, which is why I initially had a hard time pinpointing the source of the problem. The insecure feelings and personality changes were gradual as the disease I am now fighting was beginning to take over my life one step at time.

Living with undiagnosed Lyme Disease and co-infections felt like everything I had ever known was being ripped to shreds. If this was the way my life would have continued, I’m not so sure I would have chosen to continue my life.

But, there’s hope in the story…so stay with me…

God was working in my heart even when I was having a hard time going to Him in prayer.

One of the next times I spoke with my coworker, I remember sharing how I was still struggling with understanding my preferences and why my feelings often contradicted everything I thought I knew about myself. Only, this time, I was able to recall the truth about who I actually was – and still am today.

Even though I wasn’t as familiar with my preferences and personality quirks, I still knew who I was. The “who” about me is something that is never going to change. That’s because my identity lies not in what I do or what I like, but in who I am.

Who I am is a daughter of God. My identity lies in Christ because he chose me and redeemed me (John 1:12, Ephesians 1:5).

The same is true for every Christ follower.

It’s easy to get discouraged and be confused when the world around us is throwing out ideas about who we should be our could be. Stopping to re-evaluate and remember what it means to find your identity in Christ will not only halt the anxiety surrounding your identity, but it will give you a renewed sense of purpose. Knowing who you are – who you truly are – is a game-changer.

{Continued in Part 2 – We’ll dive into what it means to be a follower of Christ and how placing our hope in Christ will spur us on to be who we were created to be!} 

When Today Just Doesn’t Go Your Way

Lyme Disease

Some days I wake up and I literally cannot get up.

My body won’t let me.

My legs feel heavy with a tingly sensation as if they’ve just fallen asleep after I’ve been seated for a while. My hands are tingly as well, but there’s more pain, like pins and needles.

I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus.

I roll over and want to get up. But, I just can’t. Shooting pain moves up my arms and into my chest.

Frustration builds before I intentionally stop my racing mind.

I’ll be okay, I think. This is just temporary. Let yourself rest. 

Depending on where I’m supposed to be that day, I may shoot off a text to inform those I was supposed to be with that I can no longer keep our plans. I’m canceling again. Guilt may begin to surface, but I quickly remind myself that I’m healing and others will understand…at least I hope. I’m doing everything I can.

Next, I might pray.

This season has left me rather dry. I often have no words. Just a simple, help me! or sometimes a why? is all that may come out in my prayers.

When I’m better rested, the words are there as I pour out my feelings about the inner anguish. God already knows, though. He knows it all. He understands.

God has a bigger plan – I must remind myself.

This is just a glimpse of my life with Lyme Disease.

I’m pretty sick right now and it’s difficult.

Thankfully, since starting treatment, I have seen some progress. My memory has improved. The brain fog is less severe. Headaches have decreased. Anxiety isn’t as big of a problem. Those changes help give me hope. I see the possibility that one day I may feel normal again and the idea of that makes me abundantly happy!

But, still, I struggle.

Each day presents itself with its own set of challenges. That’s normal. We all have challenges in our lives, whether we’re battling chronic illness or not.

Yet, the hurdles I must clear sometimes leave me hitting the post with my back leg and tumbling to the ground, wondering if I’ll ever be able to get back up again. Will I ever run my race in the same way?

I don’t know that I’ll ever be the same again, and in a lot of ways I’m thankful for that. I may regain my health, but the journey I am on will have shaped me into a different version of myself. Right now, my prayer is that the changes I experience will bring out better, truer parts of me.

When my day doesn’t go the way I expect it to go, I have two choices. I can become bitter or I can surrender and allow the day to be rerouted.

In this season, I must do my best with the circumstances at hand. I have learned that becoming angry doesn’t change anything and that surrendering doesn’t mean I’m failing or that I’m lazy. It just means that sometimes what I thought was best really wasn’t what I needed at the time.

I am reminded of how easy it is for us as humans to think we have everything figured out. We put so much stock into our actions and desires, but those things fail. We will make mistakes. We will not be good enough. Only God can meet our needs and fulfill us in the way we are so desperately longing for.

My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

-Psalm 73:26

I am remembering this Psalm tonight as, once again, my plans were thwarted. But you know, I think right here writing this post is exactly where God wanted me to be.

When You’re Not Okay…

When you're not okay

I am convinced that we as a society put too much pressure on ourselves and each other. There are unspoken rules surrounding expectations, with hidden pressures waiting to pounce as soon as your guard is lowered. Sometimes those expectations come from others, but more often I have found that the expectations I place on myself are the ones leaving me discouraged.

I want to have it all together. I want to do well at work and have meaningful relationships with friends and family. Being active in church, exercising, eating well and sleeping enough are also high on my priority list. I want to have a daily quiet time with God, where I get to meet Him and pour out my heart, while listening for His voice. Sometime, I want to get better at this writing thing and actually blog regularly. There’s also a book I’ve been writing, but haven’t made progress in weeks, maybe months.

Striving is where you often find me. Pushing. Tackling. Aiming. Working. Wanting. and. Struggling. With the strive is the struggle. And, honestly, I hate it.

I can’t stand the way I constantly try to fix things – to fix myself. To fix the people I love because I think I’ll be happier that way. It’s pretty selfish, I know.

The past couple of months, maybe longer (I’m really not sure how long) I have been dealing with some health issues that I didn’t realize were present until recently. I kept thinking there was just something wrong with me that was my fault, like I had failed to eat healthy enough or get enough sleep. I kept trying to control the emotions the health issues caused and was constantly angry with myself for not being able to keep it together.

I’ve realized that I put too much unnecessary pressure on myself and I cannot live that way anymore.

I am currently in a place where I’m not okay… but it’s fine. It’s actually an okay thing to not be okay right now.

There’s a big part of me that wants to research and make lists and “get my life in order.” However, there’s another part that knows I just need to rest. Right now, I am a little weaker than normal. I could benefit from ceasing the striving and letting myself live – walking step by step, trusting that God is good and all will be well.

It is well with my soul

The other day, I was panicking a little to keep up with everything on my plate because I was at a place of sheer exhaustion. I had some work-related meetings that made me nervous because I was afraid I wasn’t going to be “on.” My boyfriend Jonathan so lovingly pulled me back to reality when he asked, “Who do you need to impress?” That question stopped me in my tracks. The answer was nobody. Yes, I want to do well at work, but I didn’t have anything I needed to prove in this particular circumstance.

I think I need to remember that question as I keep walking through life.

There are times when performance matters. The outcome of one’s work determines the next job they may be offered or the way they’ll be able to live in the future. It’s a good testimony to work hard, but our actions and doing – the striving – should not be what defines us.

I can get caught up in feeling like what I do is a value of my worth. It’s not.

I’m remembering Psalm 139:13-14 right now…

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

God created me and not only that, but He loves me. [& in case you didn’t know this: The same is true for you.] He created me with purpose, knowing the mistakes I would make, knowing that ways I would disappoint, knowing that I’d have this problem with striving… but He loves me and calls me His daughter even in spite of my personal failings.

What I love about the Gospel is that God offers hope in the form of His Son Jesus. He offers Jesus to us as a sacrifice for our sins not because of what we have done to prove ourselves but because of who He is. God is love. Out of that love, he forgives our sins. We place our trust in Christ and we are washed clean. We are redeemed when we take hold of the love that God poured out to us through Jesus. And it’s not because of anything we could ever do to earn that redemption! How amazing!

1 John 4:9-10 ~ This is who God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

So, I sit here today remembering that I don’t need to strive. While I am not personally okay right now, things will be okay because my hope is in something far greater than this world. I can rest in and walk in truth that, (in the words of Pastor Wood), “God loves me, and it’s going to be okay.”