Not Brave for 18 Days (see end of blog post)

I sometimes wonder whether or not I'm stupid.

Now, I don't mean lacking intelligence, because...well, I know it would not be true. 

Nor does it mean I don't have any common sense, because I know I have that. 

And it certainly doesn't mean that I'm not creative and talented, well...because I have a whole family of offspring that inherited that very trait. 

So what do I mean? Well, I'm not trying to toot my own horn here, so let me explain...

Sometimes I hear people say things, and on the outside I know they're full of malarkey, but somehow, I let their words infect me like a virus and wreak havoc with my thoughts.

Take this, for example.

One day someone I look up to in my organization said to me that our organization won't accommodate you if you're sick. How awful, I thought. Oh well, I better not get sick! I better find a way to get rid of whatever is wrong with me.

Then a few years later another person said I should be careful about what I write on the internet because some people will misunderstand. They will interpret my words to mean something else. So when I write a Facebook status that says, "I have a headache today," someone will think I'm always sick. This, I'm told, would be bad for my career. This will affect where I get moved and what kind of jobs I'll be given. This will change the way people will think of me.

(Now, this is not about blaming the people who said such things to me. They were just stating the obvious and I don't hold anything against them. It's my problem.)

So, to their statements I say, "What? Really?" And I am confident that no one would do that. And if they did make a sweeping generalization about me, that's their problem. That's their perception, not the truth.

 And really, think about it...would Godly, holy people in a Christian organization actually do that? Well, apparently they would...according to some. Oh well, that's their problem.

And I believe it -  it's not my problem. I'm not responsible for the thoughts of others. I don't care what they think of me. I shouldn't be working to please them, I should only seek to please God. It's what He thinks of me that really matters. Right?

But then...I start to wonder before I post that Facebook status, who will be reading this? When I go to re-tweet something controversial, I ask myself who is reading and watching? I begin to watch over my shoulder. I begin to hide my pain a little more. When I meet with other leaders I wonder what they say behind closed doors about me. 

I must be strong. I must not let them see I am defeated. I must not be sick. Ever. Hide, don't tell them what's really happening just in case...

Such is the power of words.  Words flowing from the dysfunction of the speaker that wound, manipulate, control. Words in the mind of the listener that wind their way through the psyche, whispering shame, fear and loathing.

Every so often I catch myself and I get angry. "I will not be controlled by words spoken that seek only to manipulate and control," I say to myself that no person, or their words,  have that kind of control over me...only if I let them. Apparently, I was wrong.

So, why am I writing about this today? Well, not to long ago I was stung by someone's words. And no, they were not meant to sting. I know that. But sting they did. Why? Here's what the writer of those words said. 

"I admire you because you always speak up and are not afraid of saying the truth."

"Oh, God...if only they knew the real truth. If only they could see how easily I am tempted to despair. If only they could see this black heart that is so easily stung by the enemy's arrows, arrows provided by the words of alleged allies in the fight against evil. Oh God, what can I say to them? What should I do?" I pray...

And the voice says, "Speak the truth in love."

No, I say. Perhaps I should start another blog - make it anonymous.

No. I won't give in. Here, my friends, is the truth.

I am sick. All the time - it comes and goes. Really. 

I was diagnosed after five years of suffering and pain, with Fibromyalgia in 1991. Now, I'm in even more pain, and have been for some time now. Just this year I found out I have some kind of autoimmune arthritis. And, I've had it for a really long time, likely back when I was a teenager.

But here's the thing...I've never let it define who I am. I have pushed through the pain and kept going. I am not my illness. It is the thorn in my flesh. And God, who loves me as His child, is my strength and HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR ME.

Everything I have accomplished in this life has been through, and by, that wonderful, amazing grace that is Gods love for His world and for me, His child. I am privileged only to have been a part of His story and stand in awe and wonder at what He has accomplished through me (and my wonderful husband) here on this earth.

I must not let that testimony be taken from me by the pretense of perfection.

I am not perfect. Far from it and there's no use pretending!  Here's a few reasons why (and if you know me, you'll laugh as you read them:

  • My inside voice becomes my outside voice far too often. If there's an elephant in the room, you know it won't be long before I'm calling out its name.
  • My words are too blunt sometimes and I hurt people's feelings. Fortunately I've learned how to humbly apologize.
  • I'm have an independent and rebellious spirit - and you and I know that's just not a good thing!
  • I'm vain and worry about looking old. (And no, I don't colour my hair to hide the gray!)
  • I'm a control freak and often rely on my own strength instead of relying on God...and I often  think that's how I got this thorn in my flesh.
  • Sometimes I like people's praise far too much and have to go before the throne of grace and ask forgiveness for my conceit.
  • I am a selfish creature and like getting my own way too much. I think as the youngest and only girl I was indulged a little too much.

There's so much more, but I won't bore you with it. Suffice it to say, I am certainly not perfect.

But I am loved - by God, by my family and friends - in spite of being sick.

So, from now on I'm going to.... No, wait. I'm going to try, and sometimes fail, to speak the truth in love. I want to be honest, but sometimes I'll hide my true feelings. Perhaps that's not such a bad thing. However, I will honestly seek to share the story of God's love and grace with those willing to listen and not hide behind a veil of perfection. I am who I am - who God made me to be. And it's through all the trials and challenges of life that his love and grace refine my character. 

Here's the truth: I, Kathie, I am sick with a disease. And I'm not afraid if you read this and judge me.


PS. Now, the title of this blog will be the amount of time it takes me to actually publish this post. Just so you'll know how brave I'm not!

(October 21st - I'm still having trouble pushing "publish" )


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