Wednesday, April 25, 2018

I'm Gladly Suffering and in Pain

I tweeted out two things a little while ago:

I'm suffering. 

I'm in pain. 

Financially, I can't seem to stop hemorrhaging from the pockets. It doesn't matter how many things I cut, new things pop up that require money I can't come up with. It forces me to make decisions about what's truly important and what isn't. I'm being forced to cut out things I believe were essential. For example, my car broke down... again. It's the distributor this time around. It's going to take another $400 to fix the latest thing, and that includes a discount on labor from our mechanic. We literally had to choose between getting the car fix and having enough money to eat until the next paycheck. We chose to eat.

I'm fighting depression. I know it's due to a combination of financial stress, health stress, emotional stress, mental stress, and a bunch of other things going wrong in my life. It's all happened at the same time; I was not expecting any of it. Nothing could've really prepared me for it. I feel like I've been hit from all sides and every single minute of the day is a struggle to stay afloat a bottomless sea.

Every single night I've experienced either insomnia or nightmares... or both. From 11 p.m. last night until noon this morning, I slept in a weird 2-hours away/2-hours asleep pattern. The time I spent sleeping was also spent fighting nightmares. I would wake up with my heart racing or covered in sweat. I've never had this happen to me. I don't like it.

Anxiety has returned and has gotten uncomfortably familiar in my life once again. I'm not surprised considering the amount of stress I'm under. Still, it will wake me up with panic attacks... which feeds into insomnia and the poor sleeping patterns.

I've lost weight. I'm still within normal range for my height but I'm dangerously close to slipping back into being underweight. I can't eat enough because everything upsets my stomach. The acid reflux is also ever-present.

It's been 4 weeks since I've been to Mass... and several days since I've been able to wake up early enough to do any morning prayers. My spiritual life has taken a massive hit in a new way that is somehow worse than some of the spiritual dryness I've ever experienced before.

I cry easily. It's always been my default for when I'm happy, sad, angry... but I can tell the difference between the tears and these are tears I'm not used to.

Despite all of this... I gladly suffer and accept the "pain" this is coming with everything. Why? Because I've never been more sure of doing God's will than I am right now.

My health has forced me to slow down and work from home. I was getting the rest I've never been able to afford. I still can't afford it (financial issues are creating major family problems) but I'm trusting God to provide in ways we've yet to see. I'm confident in that. Other than insomnia (the opposite problem from the fatigue that debilitated me for months) and the weight loss/stomach problems, I'm getting better. It's the silver lining in this mess.

Work has been... slow. Writing pays peanuts. In fact, when I told a friend how much I actually make from my writing gig per month, he was shocked at how little it is. But it's enough for me to help contribute to 75% of our food budget. Food and shelter are covered, what else matters? I know God will provide with either health and/or another job when He can. In the meantime, I'm learning where my true priorities are and am growing in my trust of Him. I have my moments of feeling utterly useless and hopeless because so many things prevent me from going out and looking for a job I can do outside the house. Then I remind myself that there is a reason I'm going through everything and I use that to keep going and keep my confidence in God's divine providence.

I've been so physically weak and/or too dizzy to even walk in a straight line on Sundays (and only on Saturday afternoons through Sunday nights, curiously enough), that I haven't been able to attend to Mass. This past Sunday, I watched it on EWTN. I cried from the homily through the end of Mass because the priests' homily spoke to me in a way that made me open up my heart to God in a way I hadn't in several years. I realized I had a wall up that I wasn't letting anyone, not even God, get through it. I made the decision to bring that wall down. I let go. I let God in. Which brings me to...

I'm going through a sort of vocation crisis that involves having my heartbroken in some ways. Let's just say that it feels like I know what His will is for me but there are obstacles that I can't do anything about. I'm going to have to practice patience in ways I never dreamed I would ever be challenged. I cry frequently because it's such a frustrating time in my life. I thought I was a patient person but I've now seen that I'm quite impatient when I want something badly enough... and this is something I want so very much. It's constantly on my mind and I have to fight that as well. Between the tears and the supplications to God that my vocation is anything "but this path" (which I will admit that I've been actively fighting against it for much longer than I want to admit), there is an amazing serenity and peace that is coming with it. I have to stop fighting it. I have to trust Him. This is the hardest part of everything I'm going through at the moment. Yes, I've fought my vocation discernment for so long because it's the one thing that scared me the most... more than health issues, financial crisis, career decisions, etc.

I've broken down so many times and have asked God why I have to go through all of this. Today, I finally got an indescribable peace in my heart with the words "because it will make me become the woman God wants me to be" popped into my mind. Through all of this, I've been letting go of some of my worst habits. I'm learning to work on some of my weaknesses (e.g. my stubbornness, my impatience, and my temper -- yes, I have one).

Every time I remember how much my soul longs to sit or kneel in front of the Blessed Sacrament for hours (even days) at a time, I'm reminded of why I'm gladly suffering. I want nothing more than to do His will. I want nothing more to let go of the earthly things and only keep my eyes and mind on things that will help get me to heaven. I want nothing more than to love God so much that nothing else matters. If all the suffering, the pain (metaphorical and literal), and the obstacles get me to this place, I wouldn't want to trade it for anything in this world.

At the end of this tunnel, there is a light... the Light of the world. Through my brokenness, my weakness, the lowest of my lows, God is leading me closer to Him. It's that very thing that keeps me fighting... keeps me going... keeps me from completely drowning.

To quote St. Francis de Sales (my career patron): “Let us practice that holy resignation and pure love of our Lord that is never as perfect as it is amid suffering… We must pray for that holy resignation so that God can shape our hearts into a fitting place for him to dwell and reign in eternity… Seek help, but with the resignation that should his divine majesty wish the illness to conquer you, you will accept it, and if he wishes you to be healed, you will bless him.”

Your will be done, God. Not mine but Yours.

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