Tag Archives: faith

Testimony

This is my Testimony that I wrote a number of months ago. It has actually been 3 years and 4 months since my surgery but I wanted to post this because I had not done so before:

Recently, I started thinking that almost 2 years ago I had a life changing surgery. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was actually almost 3 years. I couldn’t believe that time had just slipped by so quickly. So, on March 1st 2016 it will be 3 years since I was released from a living hell of a crippling illness. Everyone knows HOPE is everything, but sometimes no matter how you look at it, HOPE seems to be nowhere. After having lower back surgery, I inexplicably began to have trouble walking. I had a severely dropped foot, constant nerve pain, and a partially paralyzed leg. HOPE began to slip away after exhausting all tests and follow up MRIs, even 2nd opinions, only to be told, “We just don’t understand what is wrong with you. We have never seen something like this before.” Each morning I would awake with hope that a miracle happened and somehow I was getting better. But as soon as the realization came that nothing had changed and I was even worse, an incredible despair and hopelessness would engulf me. There were so many days that I wanted to just give up but I kept saying, “Maybe things will be better tomorrow. If you are thinking of offing yourself, put it off until tomorrow and see.” By employing that tactic, I managed to stay in this world to see a miracle happen. I have no doubt that this miracle was from my persistence and constantly not taking NO for an answer, a doctor who actually sat down to think about my symptoms, and God. I don’t think I would have gotten better if all of these factors were not aligned. By God’s grace one of my doctors ordered another MRI and found the culprit, a benign spinal tumor compressing a portion of my thoracic spine. Faith is a beautiful thing and when life is going well, it is easy to have it. The true test of faith is when life is life—when you feel that all hope is gone and you cannot see your way out. So many people are waiting for a white light and burning bush to prove the existence of God, when He is there all along. I believe my horrendous experience was necessary to bring me to my knees and start believing. I do not think this was an accident and that there are no coincidences in God’s world. God was working in my life for a long time before I noticed it, even meeting Joyce and Bill, who introduced me to their church. If my son had not had the breakdown, I never would’ve met them. I think God was patiently waiting for me, only I needed the experiences I endured to discover Him. I still pray and pray for my boy, and sometimes, when I am in a bad space, I wonder if God is really listening. Then I remember I must have faith, which equals hope, which equals life. I do not know what the future holds, and I must remember that I am not in charge. It is when I turn things over to Him that I achieve that elusive gift of peace and serenity that I am constantly seeking.

Faith

Recently, I started thinking that almost 2 years ago I had a life changing surgery. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was actually almost 3 years. I couldn’t believe that time had just slipped by so quickly. So, on March 1st 2016 it will be 3 years since I was released from a living hell of a crippling illness. Everyone knows HOPE is everything, but sometimes no matter how you look at it, HOPE seems to be nowhere. After having lower back surgery, I inexplicably began to have trouble walking. I had a severely dropped foot, constant nerve pain, and a partially paralyzed leg. HOPE began to slip away after exhausting all tests and follow up MRIs, even 2nd opinions, only to be told, “We just don’t understand what is wrong with you. We have never seen something like this before.” Each morning I would awake with hope that a miracle happened and somehow I was getting better. But as soon as the realization came that nothing had changed and I was even worse, an incredible despair and hopelessness would engulf me. There were so many days that I wanted to just give up but I kept saying, “Maybe things will be better tomorrow. If you are thinking of offing yourself, put it off until tomorrow and see.” By employing that tactic, I managed to stay in this world to see a miracle happen. I have no doubt that this miracle was from my persistence and constantly not taking NO for an answer, a doctor who actually sat down to think about my symptoms, and God. I don’t think I would have gotten better if all of these factors were not aligned. By God’s grace my doctor ordered another MRI and found the culprit, a benign spinal tumor compressing a portion of my thoracic spine. Faith is a beautiful thing and when life is going well, it is easy to have it. The true test of faith is when life is life—when you feel that all hope is gone and you cannot see your way out. So many people are waiting for a white light and burning bush to prove the existence of God, when He is there all along. I believe my horrendous experience was necessary to bring me to my knees and start believing. I do not think this was an accident and that there are no coincidences in God’s world. God was working in my life for a long time before I noticed it, even meeting Joyce and Bill, who introduced me to their church. If my son had not had the breakdown, I never would’ve met them. I think God was patiently waiting for me, only I needed the experiences I endured to discover Him. I still pray and pray for my boy, and sometimes, when I am in a bad space, I wonder if God is really listening. Then I remember I must have faith, which equals hope, which equals life. I do not know what the future holds, and I must remember that I am not in charge. It is when I turn things over to Him that I achieve that elusive gift of peace and serenity that I am constantly seeking.

Race Towards God

I still feel like a fraud going to West Town Community Church, as a Jew. But, I am in transition and it is very difficult to determine if I want to be a Jew for Jesus or actually convert to Christianity. I’m leaning towards the former because I am still Jewish and will always embrace my heritage. I am very confused and envy the devout people who attend that Church who are so very sure of their faith. As usual, things are not so clear for me. One thing I know is that I am slowly but surely heading towards God. Believe it or not, I am actually taking the Pastor’s advice to just at least start reading the bible; something I’ve never done before. I grew up in a very non-religious household, never went to Hebrew school, or studied anything at all about religion. The only exposure I had was on the holidays—Chanukah, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur—where I either got gifts, went to Synagogue, or fasted dutifully, but I never knew any of the background stories behind why I did these things. Consequently, I ended up marrying out of my faith. But, even the men I married were not religious and I again continued my ignorance about God, the Bible, and faith. My journey has been very slow and fledgling but I truly believe that I will eventually arrive at a place where I belong. Just like a road race, my “pace” is my own and I will arrive at my destination in my own time. This is my “race”—just like a PR in running where you strive for a “personal record”—I must not compare my “race time” with anyone else’s or feel that I am less than the other person because I am so slow. I must just keep walking forward, not looking back, and moving towards the light.

Ambiguous Loss

Ambiguous loss can take many forms, and is very different from a physical death.

Last week I attended a funeral of a 23-year-old young woman who was the daughter of a former co-worker. I have always felt that there is no greater tragedy than the loss of a child—hands down! This was a sudden death, due to substance abuse, so nobody was prepared for the loss. My heart ached for her because I felt, “There but for the grace of God, go I.” But as sad as this was, the family is hopefully able to eventually “move on” after the grieving process (which doesn’t completely end). But what happens when your loved one physically disappears such as with a downed airplane, MIA, kidnapping of a child, or any situation where they disappear with no trace?

Ambiguous loss is just what the name implies. There is no official cause of “death” because you don’t know if they are alive or not. There is no body to mourn. The family is left in limbo, knowing nothing, not being about to grieve, wondering each day where they are, or if they should give up or hold out for hope. And, sometimes against all odds, that lost child turns up alive, so they never want to truly give up, but at the same time, how long do you hold out? It is a terrible existence where you cannot truly grieve or move on. But, another type of ambiguous loss, which most people don’t think of, is watching your loved one descend into the black hole of dementia, or mental illness. In every sense of the word, you have LOST them, if not physically, but their essence—that thing that makes them them—is gone. In the case of dementia or mental illness, the loss is gradual, until they become “somebody you used to know.” It is like invasion of the body snatchers, where they sort of look like your loved one, but have been replaced by a stranger. You can’t really “grieve” in the traditional sense because they are physically alive, but they are not the person you loved. In the case of mental illness there is always HOPE that they may return to “normal” with medication, but either way, acceptance and faith plays a huge part in continuing to go on. I do think ambiguous loss is harder, in some ways, because there is never an actual end, so you can never have a new beginning. You are always in a perpetual state of uncertainty, wondering, and never knowing how to feel.

Faith and Coincidence

Faith and coincidence can go hand in hand. Many people believe that there ARE no coincidences in God’s world. Sometimes when you look back at how your life has changed for the better, you see a pattern of “coincidences” often extending years back. I suppose that if you look back far enough, you can say everything that you did in your life has lead you to where you are now—even if where you are is not a good place. It’s kind of like a “preexisting condition” in the insurance world; everything is preexisting except for accidents. You don’t just suddenly wake up one day with high cholesterol, or heart disease—no, your body has been secretly sabotaging you for years based on your habits and heredity. It is the same thing in a way with where we are in life. I have recently been exploring religion. Although I am Jewish by birth and heritage, believe in God and pray, I have not really formally practiced anything for years. I had all but lost my faith in God during my nightmarish medical issues and problems with my boy. But, as is often said, “Don’t quit until the miracle happens”, so I did not give up and, continued to have faith and pray, although I had no idea if my prayers were even being heard. Joel Osteen always says that when you are ready, the right person (or circumstances) will appear in your life if you have faith. Yet faith is sometimes hard to have when your life seems like it is a slow slide into the abyss of hopelessness because it is a belief and trust in something intangible. I believe that there were so many events going back to 2002, when I worked in the WTC that has brought me to where I am now. In 2003 I moved to Augusta (where my friend Janet lived)—I do not believe that I would’ve reconnected to faith if I still lived up North. Then, 3 years ago, my son moved in with me, soon after suffering a psychotic break. This sorrow led me to NAMI, where I met Joyce and Bill, who invited me to their Church. Although I did not go back for a long time I just kept praying and praying to God that I would at least find a doctor who could figure out what was wrong with my body. My prayers were answered and to me, it was a miracle. I sometimes wonder if that horrific experience was God’s way of bringing me to faith, for I do not believe that this was a coincidence at all. Although I had no intention of going back to Church, I met Dwayne in Starbucks of all places, who I had seen playing the guitar at the church that one time I went. We struck up a friendship of sorts and he “invited” and challenged me to go back to the church, even bribing me, by offering to buy me a latte if I agreed to go—I could not turn that down. So I have been attending this Church every Sunday, which gives me a sense of peace and tranquility that I almost never feel, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable problems. While there I try to channel my boy, envisioning him sitting beside me, enjoying the music and sermon each week, which is a way for me to feel close to him even if it is not physically possible. I try to believe that God has him in his loving arms and, by having faith I can more easily gain acceptance. At the very least I have begun to enjoy Sundays—something I never did before. I am not saying that my life is perfect, or that I can always practice acceptance, and I am not planning on denying my Jewish heritage, but I feel that through a series of events beginning years ago I have been lead into a belief in God again. Will I take the next step, I do not know yet, but I believe that I am on a good path—that anything that helps me quiet the racing thoughts and worry that engulfs me each day—for ONE day—has to be good.

Coincidences

I don’t believe in coincidences and I do not believe that you meet people by accident. Pastor Joel Osteen always says that when you are ready the right person will come into your life. My day started out annoying, with me trying to convince a medical office staff that I did not owe a co-payment for a surgical follow-up. I was so irritated that when the nurse took my BP, it was abnormally high (I normally have low BP). Then I wasted more energy on calling the insurance company and trying to explain the concept of a Global Surgical allowance to the customer rep. I finally just gave in and told the rep to just forget it, because I figured I wasted enough of my precious time that I would not ever get back. I finally left for my new addiction, Starbucks. I just bought a new laptop, and could not figure out how to connect to the Internet. But, luckily there was a lady who had just come in and sat down next to me. I figured I’d just ask her if she knew how to do it. She figured it out right away, and from there we started talking about everything, including my Blog. I gave her the Blog address, and even logged on to show her the site. She said she would check it out and asked me to write it down, including my phone number. I think 3 things were accomplished: 1 – I got off the Pity Pot that I had been on for a few days, 2 – I met a potential friend, 3 – I promoted my Blog. From all my readings, I know that you don’t achieve a goal overnight; rather, it is through a series of small, incremental steps, done over and over, consistently, that will make it happen. I’ve written about this before, but many times I have been ready to just give up and stop writing this Blog because I am not getting the feedback I want. But, I know that I must not let the “evidence” I see in front of my eyes deter me, because it is deceptive. It comes down to patience, perseverance, and belief in yourself and your abilities. Was it a coincidence that I met this lady, just when I was feeling low? I do not think so.

Go With Your Gut

People always say, “Just go with your gut.” I never quite understood that completely but I recently learned that the “GUT” is considered “the second brain.” There is a distinct connection between the brain and the GI tract (the gut). So many people make “logical decisions” when their basic core is saying otherwise. I’ve been trying to connect more with my gut lately and I’ve been pretty successful, but not always. I sometimes resort to logic alone rather than listening to my “second brain”. My brain kept telling me to “hang in there” and keep working at a profession that I no longer enjoy, let alone dislike. My brain keeps me living in fear; fear of running out of money and being destitute, which comes from a childhood fraught with financial insecurity, brought on by a compulsive gambling dad. Is this a rational way of thinking at my age?–of course not, but I still make so many decisions based on that old fear. Ok, as a responsible human being I cannot totally abandon logical thinking, but sometimes you just have to “go for it.” My MO is to deny, deny, deny, until it becomes apparent that I must make a decision one way or another. A few months ago I took the plunge and gave notice but left the door open for 2 days of work per week, which was still hanging onto my fear. Then a few weeks ago I decided to pack it in completely, in spite of being scared to death. But, being brave is different for each individual and what you may think is no big deal, might be petrifying to someone else. I think it comes down to FAITH–faith in yourself to let go of your base fears and actually listen to your GUT. I think your gut will lead you in the right direction if you let it.