Chronic illness is a prison, and if you are behind bars for too long, it's easy to forget how to fly. When the illness lasts years, out of necessity, you grow comfortable with being in hell. You have to, in order to survive the isolation and hardship it brings.
So when God recently told me through a prophet to start taking down the decorations in my cell because He was opening the door and setting me free, I was bewildered. He also told me that He wanted me to start living again, and I thought, "What does that mean? Am I not living?"
And then I realized that I have been surviving the past decade, more than I have been living it. I have been spending my days as an orphan, being passed from house to house, begging bread crumbs, begging for healing, and not trusting in my Daddy to provide for me. At least, not as much as I could.
As I get to know my Daddy better, I am living more as the daughter of a King, as He intends, but the prophecy reminded me of how much I yet cling to a jailed orphan mentality. I guess it just feels safe. I'm used to the isolation. I'm used to spending most of my waking hours on survival activities- that is, work and treatments. And isn't that just what you have to do when you're disabled by disease?
If you live from a worldly mindset, yes. When you feel like hell warmed over and your medical costs are higher than your rent and groceries combined, you don't have a choice. You have to buckle down, get smart, and find creative ways to survive and get well...or else.
The problem is that for years, I have halfway adopted this worldly mindset, labeling my fear-based living as the "responsible" thing to do. And the worst part of it hasn't even been that I work too hard when my body screams for rest, or that I skip too many Saturday night engagements with friends in favor of "survival activities." No, the worst part has been the fear that impels me to these things.
The fear-based mentality goes like this: If I don't work on the weekend to make up for what I couldn't do during the work week due to an incapacitating detoxification reaction, I won't be able to pay my bills. If I can't start my work day until noon because I have to sleep late every morning, then I sure as heck had better work until bedtime, or God won't be able to provide for me financially. If I skip treatments in favor of needing to feel well in order to work...well then, He can't bless my healing process.
But if I am the daughter of a King, I don't need to think this way, because there is room to be human in His kingdom. There is room to make mistakes. Anyway, He wants me to trust Him more than He wants me to "get it all right." And in His kingdom, He provides for me when I cannot. Which is always.
Ironically, this month, I felt God leading me to start five new projects. Not one, but five, at the same time that He was telling me to rest and get a life. Really? Well, I would if I could, God...but my body doesn't agree that this is possible.
"When you start living again, healing will overtake you," God had said to me in a prophecy that followed the previous one. "You don't need to do another thing to be well...Just start living again."
But when you've been in a cage, it's sometimes difficult to recognize when God is handing you your freedom. It doesn't look like fun. In fact, it feels like more striving.
The odd thing is that the new projects which He is leading me to do are projects that only a healthy person could undertake. Speaking engagements? Really, God? Yet if I stand on the promise that He is setting me free, stepping out shouldn't tax me. It should eventually lead me into a place of greater health, even if at first, it seems impossible.
At the very least, the new projects will get me out of the cage. Whether I then fly depends upon how much I choose to lean upon Him and trust Him to show me how to use my wings.
I don't think God is advocating that I push my body to do what it can't do. People who suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lyme disease, and other related chronic illnesses, know that the worst thing you can do to your body is push it when you feel bad. One day of skiing a mountain can land a person with CFS in bed for a week and over time, a fast-paced life of too much activity compromises recovery.
No, my Daddy is simply trying to pull me out of my jailbird mentality. My hell has become too comfy-cozy. I may be a miserable little bird at times, but this world of striving and isolation is the one I have, for too long, understood. Apparently.
So this week I decided to obey Him, and accepted a new job interviewing doctors. I also set up two speaking engagements. In the meantime, I maintain my two blogs, and continue to write a new book. I also stepped into a role as a healing minister at my church, and began a different kind of healing ministry with those who know me in the Lyme disease community. I also keep telling people about my medical books...at the same time that I tell them that the best healing isn't through medicine, but God.
Now I must choose to believe that He will enable me to do all this out of a spirit of rest, rather than survival, and that my body can do what He is calling me to do. I must simply share with others what I have learned over the past decade, and know that He will provide for me in ways that He deems best. I can kill the self-imposed deadlines, allow myself to have some bad days, and choose to have fun with loved ones, instead of scavenging bread crumbs like an orphan on my Saturday nights. I can even stop all the medical treatments, because it's probably time.
I don't yet fully understand what freedom looks like. It may also mean traveling the world again, dating and getting married, and doing all of the things people my age do but which I haven't done much of because of infirmity. More than that, though, I think freedom is a mindset. Of knowing that wherever I am, whatever I have, and no matter my situation, I am the daughter of a King. I am royalty. I belong to my Daddy, who will never leave me nor forsake me, so I don't have to worry about provision, my health or other areas of life.
And as I take tentative steps out of my cell, I grasp His hand and choose to trust Him to lead me into the life of freedom that my soul has quietly been starving for. Even if at times, the steps towards that life feel counter-intuitive.