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Renewing My Mind and Moving Forward

 



"I just don't understand why, if God loves me, He would allow me to go through this."


I have heard that sentiment expressed more times than I can count. God has placed me in a unique place where I have been able to minister to those who are chronically ill. The ones whose doctors can't find answers. The ones whose families have stopped talking to them.

Their lives are just too painful.


I will not pretend to have all of the answers to that question in each person's life. I know in my own, I have seen it answered in many different ways. 

One of those ways is that I have learned more about God and His character through this than anything else I've been through.

I have written extensively about the purpose in suffering. You can read more here and here. That's not what I want to write about now. I want to write about what it looks like to move on.

I am on the beginning of that journey. 

As I have shared before, mold does damage to your brain.

So does trauma.

How do you move on from that?


Today I would like to share what that looks like for me. I have spoken to many people one on one about this piece of the recovery. But I want to make it public. For the hurting.

When you get in an illness and trauma loop, your whole life becomes about that one thing. This has certainly been my experience and the experience of everyone I've spoken to with these illnesses. You forget what it's like to think like a "normal person."

Your life becomes about symptoms, difficulties, and fears.

Lots and lots of fears. You have fears that you didn't even know you could have.

Elyse Fitzpatrick in her book, Overcoming Fear, Worry and Anxiety, shares that fear does something amazing to us. The more and more fears we collect, the more our world shrinks.

My world got really small.


As I have shared in the past, I started doing limbic retraining last year.

This is something that my doctor recommends to his mold and mast cell patients because it is a large piece of the recovery. Some patients can't progress at all without it. The brain gets stuck in a fight or flight loop that makes recovery difficult, if not impossible.

What I found so interesting, is that if you really boil these programs down to one key statement, it's this:

What you think is vital.

Now, if you are a Christian, you already know this. The Scriptures tell us that we are to think on what is true, honest, just, praiseworthy. (Phil 4:8)

And these programs are great for laying out a way to do just that... however, in many ways they are severely limited. The one that stands out the most to me is this:

As a non believer- the highest authority you have is yourself. You are having to focus on what is true. You are having to retrain your brain on how to think. And you are having to depend on yourself and other sinful men (and women) to get you through this process.

And so, I rewrote it. What I have rewritten is, at its core, biblical counseling.

It is not for me or anyone else to own. And so I share it freely.

Because, here is the beautiful thing. God has created our brains to have neuroplasticity- meaning, they can rewire. But we have to think on what is true.


First and foremost, we have to face our fears.

In his book, Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest, Edward T. Welch writes:

"Rather than minimize your fears, find more of them. Expose them to the light of day because the more you find, the more blessed you will be when you hear words of peace and comfort."


1. I set out to make a list. I started writing down everything that I could think of that I was afraid of. Right now, my list is a little over a page long. As I think of more fears, I add them to the list. I have added many fears that relate to my health issues and even long standing fears like being buried alive, jumping bugs and closed in places. It is time for them to face the truth.




2. I go in order and deal with 4-5 fears a day. I pick the next one in line and think of it. Then, I immediately open the Scriptures. These thoughts have to be confronted with truth. I am praying through the Psalms. I will open up the next Psalm that I am on and pray in regards to that fear.

I will give you an example. One of my fears is losing the ability to walk again. Right now, I am on Psalm 108. It might look something like this:

Lord, I become so fearful and so consumed with the worries and cares of this life. Help me to think the way that You want me to think. Help me to give thanks to you among the peoples. Let me think on Your steadfast love and your faithfulness. Lord, help me to exalt Your name! Lord, You are the One who has fought on my behalf. I know that if I trust in my own abilities, I will fall short. But with You, I can do all things.


3. I now work on rounds of Scripture based on topics. These topics include faith, belief, food (an issue for me), trusting in the Lord, the blessings I have in Christ Jesus, Jesus interceding for me, and more. I preach these truths to myself. I read them out loud. Like the Psalmist I state what I will do based on these truths:

Psalm 23:4- Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil

Psalm 27:4- One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.

Psalm 40:10- I have not hidden your deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips.


This is just a tiny example in Scripture of how someone is telling themselves (and God) what they will do based on who He is and who they are in light of that. On step 3, I do just that as I read through the verses that I have laid out by topic.


4. Many psalms begin and end with the psalmist stating that he will sing praises to His Lord.


Psalm 47:1- Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!

Psalm 59:16-17 But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my Strength, I will sing praises to You, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.

Psalms 89:1- I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 92:1-3 It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre.  

This is my next step. I have a playlist of songs from Shane and Shane, Sovereign Grace, Keith and Kristyn Getty, and more. Sometimes I just sing Hymns.

5. Past memory. This is something I learned from limbic training. You are looking for past "happy memories" and walking through as much of this as you can with as many details as possible. This was REALLY hard for me at first as my memory was severely affected but it's getting easier. I have been remembering more and more including a little bit of how to read music (I had forgotten) and several notes on the flute (I played for about 10 years). Some day I hope to play again for the glory of God.


6. Go through future dreams and goals in as much detail as possible. For me, most of these include things like hiking, biking, paddleboarding, farming and all things outdoors. I am also slowly training my brain not to see foods as a threat as I had developed a bit of an eating disorder (understatement) from some of the severe reactions that I have had from food. 

This brain training takes me about a hour a day but it's worth it. God is daily teaching me more about Him and His truths.

This is all part of the recovery. I am working on living life more slowly and intentionally.



(my current spot to renew my mind)

I am spending less time on media and more time in the real world. I am working to build community and develop in person relationships.

I am learning, maybe for the first time in my life, to be at rest.

John 14:27- Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.



Share your thoughts :

  1. I’m so happy to read this wonderful blog. It’s honest and full of God’s truth. “Lord continue to strengthen Megan spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. Lead and direct her paths, as she trusts in You. Shower she and her family with mercy, help, grace and peace as she waits and walks with You. Praise You for all You are doing, have done, and will do in Megan’s life, in Jesus’ powerful and lovingkind Name. Amen”

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  2. I’m starting these steps you laid out right now.
    Today I’m filled with worry and anxiety over the things I can’t control, unforeseen vehicle repairs, among other things. I recognize how dwelling on the worry of how will these things all work out, robs me of joy and affects how I interact with my kids. And then the flood of regrets washes over me. But Today, I will choose to deal with all of these things differently (biblically) than my usually methods, which are worthless. Thank you for this post.
    Michelle

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