heartstrings.

heartstrings being tugged, both directions.

sometimes the horrors of this work that i do is unimaginable. and i’ve realized that i keep much of it to myself because (a.) I want to protect others’ emotions, and (b.) nobody really understands. for example, how could anyone respond to the following?  – –

i went to visit a family yesterday afternoon at the tail-end of my day at CII. the referral was for a 2 year old who presented with extreme disruptive and ADHD-like behaviors, who currently lived with a relative. this relative was at his wit’s end, trying to make meaning of why this child was so hyperactive and disruptive.

it turns out that when this little blond, blue-eyed boy was 8 months old and living with his parents, he witnessed his dad pull the trigger on his mom. while he was being held by his mom, he watched her getting shot in the head, all of the insides of her brain spilling onto him. i can’t even imagine what his reaction must have been: did he freeze? did he cry?

and though he is in a safe place now, he continues to carry the memory of that incident, and possibly several memories of other incidents, around in his little body. no wonder he can’t sit still, doesn’t know how to use his words, screams and flaps his hands when in distress, throws toys all over the floor, and can’t sleep.

my heart cries out, “God, why?” 

i keep the information in my head, intellectualizing, so that i can explain to the relative how trauma affects very young children. meanwhile, i don’t quite know how to process and what to do with all of this stuff. i think, in a way, walls are necessary as a protective factor. but the sad part is, that many of us are all alone and isolated from sharing stories like this one to our closest friends and family, to our communities.

it’s sobering, but it’s a confirmation. confirmation that this work is necessary and someone  has to be there to walk with these broken families.

but why me?

this morning, while at LLU hospital, I made my routine visit to see one of my patients, a teenage girl with a relapse of osteosarcoma that has since metastasized, who actually placed herself in foster care because she did not feel safe living with her parents. this young girl had decided a few months ago that she would no longer pursue another round of chemotherapy, because previously the cancer had returned more aggressively after some rounds of chemo.

today, she told me and her attending physician that she had decided to give chemo another chance. my heart fluttered. i told her how proud i was of her decision, and she blossomed into a shy and happy smile. i asked her what had changed her mind. she told me that God had told her that morning that He would protect her, watch over her, keep her safe. my heart swelled.

again, confirmation.

this work is exhausting and draining. but these are the moments, good and bad, when i realize this is the work i have been called to. i’m slowly processing the events and experiences of this past week. it hasn’t been easy, but my heart is stirred by something deeper and bigger than myself, telling me it shall all be okay… someday.

in the meantime, those heartstrings… they will continue to be pulled.

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center

lately, I’ve lost sight of it. i’ve been riding on a bumpy road, mostly smooth pavement, but every so often a huge pothole that knocks the wind out of me for a brief moment of time, until i’m able to digest the pain and get back on my feet. the potholes have been in context of interpersonal relationships, and i’ve been questioning the priority of certain relationships in my own life. do they see me as i see them? it’s difficult because i am definitely a people person, but i’m also pretty sensitive. i feel a lot. i analyze, but i relate via feelings and emotions. i enjoy connection and intimacy. i’m introverted, but i love spending time with people, laughing with them, talking to them, getting to know them, connecting with them. doesn’t that sound lovely?

there’s a difficult part in there, though. in growing deeper with another, pain must be an element. conflict happens. and if the conflict can be processed safely and correctly, then the deepening happens. and that’s so hard. during these moments, i’m reminded that i don’t want to grow complacent. i want to be challenged. i want to grow and learn. step out and take risks. but the very risks that challenge me are the ones that cause pain. and often, nobody on the outside sees it, not even my closest friends or my family.

this weekend was a rough one. rough because it’s the first 4th in two years that i have spent locally. rough because i felt so alone. rough because of posts on social media that reminded me i was alone. there was one bright and beautiful spot in the midst of it: my dad watched fireworks outside for the first time in almost 20 years. but over that bright and beautiful spot loomed a shadow of darkness and doubt that spread through my mind and heart like a virus.

a particular community of people i’d once thought some of my closest friends no longer seem safe to me. at least, will not feel safe for awhile. and it hurts. putting up walls is hard. taking a step back feels counter-intuitive to what growing closer is all about. we hunger for relationship because we were created by a God who loves being in relationship to us. so much so that he sacrificed His only son for that very purpose. i just think, this is not the way it’s supposed to be.

but i am convinced that i’m going through a period of restoration, redemption, and renewal. and God is telling me that i need to experience this pain for a little while, in order to make the redemption that much sweeter. so that he’ll get the glory and the honor. He must become greater, I must become less.

and another thing? this evening, during a worship service, He spoke to me distinctly. He said, “You are strong enough to carry this burden.” I almost cried. He has faith in me. I will carry it then. Carry it and keep a quiet heart. He Knows and He Understands.

redemption. it’s coming.

three-sixty

It always strikes me as amazing, the way God brings things full-circle. Almost 20 years ago, when my dad hadn’t been diagnosed with liver cancer yet and I was looking forward to my first year in college with a nervous mixture of excitement, dread, and anticipation, I went to get a routine physical exam and lab tests done for school, and the world changed. Results on my lab tests that doctors could not figure out or explain, other than projections, hypotheses, and assumptions, led me to getting my blood drawn once a month while at Smith, going to different doctors for more tests, an ultra-sound, a bone marrow biopsy. Conjectures that I may have leukemia, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus. Ongoing tests and exams proved inconclusive, and eventually a specialist stated I probably had something called leukopenia and I had a genetic predisposition for lupus, which could flare up at any time.

Here I sit, fifteen years later, after another routine blood test, and again the same pattern emerges. Spiked globulin levels, unequal protein levels, low white and red blood cell counts. Something, maybe my proteins, eating away at my blood cells. My doctor told me he was ‘obligated’ to send me to a hemato-oncologist for a bone marrow biopsy and more tests, to rule out anything concerning. I tried to tell him this had been the same pattern 15 years ago. He apologized.

I broke down to my parents on the telephone several minutes later. I was triggered by past memories of that uncertain, scary, shaky, physically painful period of my life – a period I thought was forever behind me. Another bone marrow biopsy? Drilling into my back to extract the bone marrow – I don’t remember crying, but I remember a tiny smidge of the level of pain. And what if they do find I have some strange rare autoimmune disease? Or what if I don’t? The dark cloud hanging over my head. The high costs for all the services.

I have to be well. I want to be well. God make me well. It’s all I can ask for at this point.