For about the past year I have been keeping a prayer journal. One day I was shopping around Marshalls, (I LOOOOVE me some Marshalls), and I found the cutest little turquoise prayer journal in the check out line where they always try to get you to grab that last minute stuff you absolutely don’t need but definitely need. So, like a typical pathetic shopper I snatched it up and it turns out I really DID need it! You see, I had been really struggling with prayer. I had started to become a bit bitter and resentful towards God since he hadn’t been answering some major prayers of mine, and some distrust was sneakily creeping into my relationship with Him. So, I figured buying a prayer journal would give me the boost I needed to become more diligent in my daily prayers again, since at least I would be writing in a cute book right?!
So, in the summer of 2017 I started to sit down and write my prayers out to God. Some small, some big, but one, even if the words change a bit, every single day, always remains the same.
Lord, please heal my body. Please forgive me for the damage I have done to it. Please forgive me for idolizing my body and putting my worth and hope in it instead of you. Please restore my body to the beautiful way you designed it. Please bring a doctor into my life and give that doctor discernment as to what is wrong. Please take my swelling away. Please give me the energy to get through this day Lord. If it is in your will Lord, please heal my body Lord, and if it is not, please give me the patience, endurance and hope to get through another day like this Lord. Please teach me what you need to teach me during this time. Please give me your strength Lord as I’m growing weary. I turn to you Lord. Find favor upon me. My help comes from you Lord. My hope is in you Lord. You are my ultimate healer. Fight against Satan as he wages war against my thoughts and my life as I recover. I pray you renew my mind. Help me to see me as you see me Lord. Please Lord, heal my body. In Your Name. Amen
I have prayed this prayer, or one similar to it, every. single. day. for over two years.
As I type this sentence, my body is still swelling and it is still not healed.
But you know what? Last week I went to a knew doctor!
I started working with a new dietician about nine months ago. About four months ago she decided that what was happening with my body was not because of food and exercise, but that there WAS in fact a deeper issue (probably at the cellular/hormonal level) that had happened when I was anorexic, like I had been thinking all along. She searched around and talked to many colleagues and came up with the name of a very prestigious doctor in DC. This doctor is hard to get into and you basically have to apply, state your case, and they decide to take you on. She asked me if I was open to going to this new doctor to look into my swelling.
If I’m being honest, I wanted to go to a new doctor because I want to know whats wrong with me, and at the same time I was also very scared because up to this point, I have had REALLY bad experiences with doctors throughout my recovery. I’ve had doctors tell me I’m lying about what I’m eating because the weight gain didn’t make sense. (ummm no, I don’t lie about what I’m eating.) I’ve had doctors tell me to go on a diet and lose weight. (ummmm no, if I go on a diet I actually GAIN weight…thats the problem, my body is messed up, and also, how dumb can you be, I’m recovering from anorexia….). I’ve had doctors tell me my swelling is a body image issue and not actually real. (ummmm no, it’s real. I swell up daily and it’s painful, I’m NOT crazy.) Honestly, it’s been a real $&% show of invalidation with doctors over the past couple of years, leaving me weary, depressed, with no answers, and not to mention the unbelievable amount it has all cost since 90% of this stuff is not covered by insurance (another blog for another day). So, going to a new doctor made me incredibly anxious.
My dietician decided to speak directly with this doctor and go over my case so that none of these things would happen to me again. (my dietician rocks!) The doctor said what I am going through is right up her ally and she would love to take me on as a patient. After talking it over with my husband and praying about it, I decided to go for it.
Now, before I went to this doctor, I was struggling with hopelessness and anxiety. A lot of people were excited for me! Saying things like, “This is it, I know it!” But I felt oddly pessimistic and angry. I didn’t want to get my hopes up again just to have them crushed by another doctor. I felt bitter about the whole situation and numb. Here I was, about to see a prestigious, very hard to get into Doctor. One in which the doors just flew open for me to get into, and I was not excited or optimistic at all. I knew something needed to change because I needed to feel hopeful again, but somewhere along the way, I had lost it.
What I realized, was that I was putting my hope and trust in the wrong thing. All this time I was going to doctors hoping that they would find what was wrong and fix me, and when they didn’t, I became hopeless. I would put my hope and trust in eating well and exercise, and when again, it didn’t fix the problem, I would become hopeless. I would try all these new things, rest, massage, lymph treatments, medication, etc. and it didn't change my swelling or heal my body, leaving me hopeless time after time, again and again.
This time, I decided it would be different. I was going to put my hope and trust in God and nothing else. The problem was, I was already a bit bitter with him for not healing me so how do I put my hope and trust in God when I feel distant from him and don't FEEL like I trust him or have hope? Well, I started to really read scripture and sink myself deeply into prayer. And there he was, waiting, like he never left, ready to pick me up out of my hopelessness, and stand me back up on my feet with renewed faith, hope and trust. I prayed every day for God to renew my hope in him. I read scripture about having hope and where my hope comes from. What’s crazy is in my bible study in Romans we started literally studying about hope. God’s timing is amazing. I very quickly realized that I was now looking forward to my doctors appointment because I was so sure of who God is in my life. He IS my healer. His plan for me IS good. I still prayed for him to give the doctor discernment with my case, but it came from a place of hope and faith that he CAN and WILL do it, and if he doesn’t, there is a dang good reason why. I felt less pessimistic because I realized my life isn’t in the hands of this new doctor, it is in the hands of my creator and he has able to do FAR more then what any doctor can do. It released me from the anxiety that this doctor wouldn’t have the answers, because I trusted that if God wants this doctor to have the answers, then she will.
I walked into my new doctors office with a hope and peace that I hadn’t had in a REALLY long time. I was confident that no matter how my appointment went, this doctor doesn’t have the final say, God does.
You know whats crazy, God answered my prayers! I’m serous!!!! No, I’m not healed yet. I’m still swelling and in pain, but that doctor I went to, she sat with me for almost THREE HOURS. She listened and asked questions. She went over all my lab work and medical history and in the end she looked me straight in the eyes and said the words I have been waiting two long years to hear, “I think I know whats wrong.” She went on to explain her theory of what she thinks is happening inside my body and how it happened. (I’ll save this for another blog as it continues to play out and I understand it more.) It actually made perfect sense. She ordered about a bajillion tests so that we can make sure and proceed correctly. I tried my best during those three hours to not be emotional and stay strong, but when she looked at me and said she was excited about my case and thinks that we can get my body back to where it needs to be I sat there with tears in my eyes and streaming down my cheeks, full of gratitude to God for giving me this doctor. PRAISE GOD!
I’ve spent the last week and a half doing tests at home and getting blood work done and in a couple of weeks I go back to go over all of the results and come up with the plan to move forward. I am SO hopeful and excited! I also, not going to lie, realized I was feeling a bit angry. Why had this taken two years? Why did all of those other doctors ignore me? If I had found this doctor a year ago maybe I would have saved myself from gaining all this weight! I started to question why it happened this way, and that is EXACTLY how satan works my friends. God does something amazing and satan slithers in and tries to smack it down in the devious way he knows how. Well, get behind me satan, you messed with the wrong woman, because after ten minutes of going down that nasty line of thinking I realized NO WAY, God doesn't hate me. He didn't forget me. I needed those two years.
Romans 5:3-4 says, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope.”
The past two and a half years have been a time of suffering for me. But let me tell you, that time definitely produced endurance in me, which definitely produced character and as we can see these past few weeks it definitely produced renewed hope in me. Over the past two years I have learned a lot. I needed that time to recover and grow. If God would have brought this doctor into my life one year earlier I wouldn’t have learned and grown in the ways he wanted me to and I needed to. Even my dietician said that if my body went back to normal a year ago, she thinks I wouldn't’ have accepted it and the likelihood of relapse would have been strong. God needed to bring me all the way to the other side and crush down all my walls in order to rebuild me into what I am supposed to be. I needed those two years to find my worth, to stop fearing food, to understand compassion, to learn how to communicate again, to be kind to my body, to love myself again, to root myself in new values, to find my voice, to practice and master new coping skills, and to renew my relationship, faith and hope in my God, one in which anorexia had slowly deteriorated. These two years were not wasted. They were necessary. They were needed. I can sit here and shake my fist at God and ask why he didn’t answer my prayer earlier, but the truth is, Gods timing is perfect, and sometimes it takes a little hind site to see it.
I don’t know how all this is going to turn out. Maybe my test results will come back and what the doctor thought will be WAY off from what the tests say, but I do know this. When I grow hopeless, tired and weary, I will grab my cute turquoise prayer journal and lift my prayers up to Him because in Him I have a renewed hope. I am confident that HE is my ultimate healer, and if my healing takes another year, there is a reason. I can trust that God is who he says he is and his timing is perfect.