I sit outside of Starbucks beneath the warm February sun, and frustration is settling in. I am frustrated because I have this itch to write, but every time I sit down to do so my brain shuts down and my thoughts are scrambled like eggs. Every day I have this longing, this ache to write words, share, reveal my heart because it will explode if I don't. But when I write what's pressing on my heart, it is vulnerable. It is raw. It is my life and heart. And that is scary; it is a risk. My deepest hope is that you find Jesus in your brokenness. In your wandering. In your stillness, your busy, your joy, your pursuit of life.
Because that is where I see Him: every where.
[My hope for Heaven and Jesus is so real to me in a physical way]
I have this chronic pain that clings to my body like a yolk resides in an egg. It exists in me; I cannot rid of it, I cannot escape it, it has decided to choose my body as its particular place permanently. I do my best to ignore it, to go to the office, to meet with people, to exercise..to live life. But recently, it has been literally eating me from the inside, effecting my outside: I cancel appointments, ministry dates, volleyball games, and life.
Being crippled with physical pain can be defeating, if not filtered through life for Christ. My heart longs to meet with people, listen to their stories and their hearts, to remind them who they are and tell them of their worth. I desire to lay hands on people and pray over them.
But as of recent, I am being forced to take it down a notch or three. No more 10-12 hour days outside of our home, spent with beautiful people. The reality that I must find a new normal is hitting me like a stack of bricks toppling onto a squirrel.
[And I don't like it]
I feel lost and uncertain. It feels like a crisis in my identity. For so long I have spent 6 of my 7 days a week working and meeting with others and leading/going to small groups and having people in our home - all the day long. SO going from being out and about working in various ways all week (and being reliable) to suddenly needing to stay home more to rest my body or sit with my heating pad is a huge shift for me. A transition that is difficult to settle, a routine that is hard to be okay with, a new normal that I am still discovering. With new normals and transitions come unsettled brains and sometimes hearts, when not filtered through the idea that life is for Christ.
What has been difficult for me is to believe the very words I share with so many: doing does not define you. Living in His presence, with and by His Spirit, walking in grace and truth, is. His love and sacrifice defines us.
My beloved friend Haley reminded me that I am not having an identity crisis. She said to me very plainly, "Natalie, you know exactly who you are. You know what your calling is." And she is right. I do know where my identity lies and what I am called to.
I have spent all of my time going and going that I have forgotten what it is like to be still and know that He is God. I have forgotten that when my days are forcefully slowing down, when I make and allow more time to be still, that He is still God. And I can know that He is God, I can experience Him. I seek His face and His presence, because without it, I grow lonely and discouraged; I feel worthless.
In my pain, I reach out to Him. I search for His promises of future glory, of healed bodies, of no pain or sorrow or weeping (Rev. 21). I don't ever think to ask Him, "Why?" because I don't believe that His plan is to keep me from suffering. I don't believe that He takes away all of our brokenness. I don't believe that this life on earth is about Natalie Brenner. But what I do believe is that He is there, amidst the brokenness. That He is present during trials and tribulations, that He is beckoning our wandering souls and offering HOPE. The God I serve is present and with me and offering a wholeness that doesn't make sense. He offers a peace and a joy that is unexplainable. Joy amidst the suffering, hope during defeat, and peace among the chaos.
As I write a little more honestly and openly about this journey of chronic pain and finding Jesus, I hope you'll join me. My desire is to not allow the trials of this life to steal the joy that Jesus gives. I hope and I pray that you will join me in FINDING HIM in the midst of whatever your thing is.
There is no better way to live life, than to live it with Christ.