Broken and beautiful, that's my state of being. That's my reality. That's my testimony. I am beautifully broken because my God was broken for a beautiful cause. I'm beautifully broken because my God promises to bring beauty from ashes.
Jesus promises to work all things for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
These words do not mean that we are promised an easy life, free from suffering, but these words promise that our suffering will not be wasted. Our Savior shows us that suffering has a purpose – through His death and resurrection, living a life to suffer, die and rise again, reminds us of this.
God does not promise us all physical healing in this life, but He promises us eternal healing through his death and resurrection. He promises that anyone who wants their heart to be healed from sin, pain and brokenness can receive healing internally and be healed externally in eternity with him. Three years ago, I contracted a rare form of Lyme disease, but I didn't know it until three years later. There was no evidence of a tick bite on my body or the classic rash that people can sometimes get when they're first bitten by a tick.
There was clearly something wrong with my body, but no doctor knew what it was. So they told me I was stressed, that my body was expressing anxiety externally and that I had a mental illness. I was told I had conversion disorder, also known as a functional neurological disorder, which is classified in the diagnostic statistical manual for mental illnesses in the US.
As a mental health advocate, I want to be clear that I support people with mental health struggles, and there is no shame in receiving a mental health diagnosis, but there is a high price to pay when a person like me is misdiagnosed with a mental health diagnosis instead of a physical diagnosis.
I went to counsellors, occupational therapists, physical therapists and I received additional physical treatments. I improved, but then I relapsed. I knew something was wrong. I had done everything doctors had asked me to do regarding my diagnosis. I had followed every treatment protocol and gone to multiple counsellors to talk about my feelings, often to leave judged, shamed and ridiculed by some simply because they did not understand or agree to look through another lens. For months, I was on medication for severe muscle spasms only to be told that it wouldn't treat the actual issue.
Many days I was angry with God. I asked him, “Why me? Why this? Why now? Why ever?”
My physical symptoms interfered with my ability to read my Bible and pray – this infuriated me. If God loved me, wouldn't He want me to be in fellowship with Him? I was trying to honour and serve Him, yet I could barely talk to Him. Eventually, I realized that I didn’t need to. Prayer is a large part of our relationship with Jesus and the Christian life, but in my specific circumstances, I didn't have a reason to feel abandoned by God because He never stops talking to me. The Holy Spirit never left me because He's in me, and He is always working, even when I can't see it.
This is the thing about being broken and beautiful – this is why you can be broken and beautiful; open your eyes and your ears and pay attention to this one fact that can change your life. As a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit inside of you. As a Christian, you are an eternal being. These factors do not change because of your experiences. No matter how tired, angry, frustrated or confused you become, once you are a child of God, you are always His. You are forever saved and have access to an inheritance bigger and more beautiful than anything you can ever imagine.
The most important thing I've learned from this experience is that you don't need to be strong for God to strengthen you. The answer to your sadness, brokenness, frustration and loneliness is not found by exercise or simply pushing through. Solely becoming mentally stronger or buying an extra cup of coffee is not enough to truly experience life.
Real life and strength is found when we come before Jesus and tell Him that we're not strong and asking Him to strengthen us.
We can be healthy on the outside, caffeinated and energized. We can be driven and motivated. We can wear cute leggings and sneakers. We think we can conquer the world through these tangible things, but these things do not give us real, lasting strength when our world comes crashing down. These things aren't bad within themselves, but if we rely on these things instead of our Saviour, we will never find the true peace and true strength that He offers.
Friend, I'm not speaking these words from a mountain top but from the valley. I share these words as I sit on a couch in a physically broken body that has been tried repeatedly, but I know that He is faithful in the waiting, and He offers the same faithfulness as you wait, too.
Never Give Up
Women of Reverence welcomes Sondra as a guest blogger.
Hi! I'm Sondra, creator of Shaped by the Struggle. I'm 23 years old, and I live outside of Philadelphia, Pa. I'm a blogger, psychology student, dressage rider, horse mom, sister and friend. I love learning, teaching and enjoying a cup of tea!
I'm a Lyme disease and mental health advocate. My blog, Shaped by the Struggle, is for women going through, coming out of, or going into a crazy season of life. Writing about struggle inspires me because of my own experiences and the struggle. SBS focuses on different facets of struggle and what struggle teaches us about our relationship with God, our faith and our purpose in life.
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