Balancing point 

It has been an age old concept to find the balancing point in life. The balance between work, school, kids, family, friends and health effects everyone on a different level. I personally am more effected by health than any of the other factors in my life. I am happy to say that with my fibro I have managed to work part time successfully… But I am no where near finding my balance point. I am currently trying to find the upper limit to what I can and cannot handle before my body gets too fatigued and no longer heals properly. It is no easy task. It would likely be a much easier task if I was not going through some pretty stressful stuff. The thing is, I am not sure I am ever NOT going through stressful external factors. Life has a way of going in strange directions, and unfortunately they are not a factor I can control. 

I can however control what I can build up to in my day. After a very bad experience with medications really interacting negatively with my system almost two years ago, I was at square -10. Not square one. I was feeling everything my nervous system was sending without being used to it anymore. I was also getting very bad migraines, luckily, now that I am in a different city with a different climate they are much less common. It took 11 months to normalize to the fibro pain enough to be able to do all of my chores at home. Unfortunately, my migraines had prevented me from working. When we moved cities, I was able to start working part time and get a chunk of my chores done. As I have been trying to work more though, I am beginning to notice that I am sacrificing chores instead of being able to build up both together. It bothers me that it is seeming that my balance point is proving to be that I either work more or get chores done. 

I will have a trial run of working full time for the first two weeks of July, and I am praying that God gives me the grace to pull through the whole time with a smile. I have been having a bad flare for the last week, and I am hoping that the biggest factor causing it is reintegrating sugars into my diet. I had been feeling much better when I cut out carbs, fruit and sugar to deal with the insulin resistance. I will be going back to a strict diet tomorrow, as the last week is proof enough that my body is not ready for sugars.

I am disappointed that I cannot do more, but it does feel good that I am getting a more realistic picture of how to live with fibro. When I was younger, before the diagnosis, I would work inspite of my pain and fatigue because everyone said I was normal and healthy. It led to me passing out at night, taking much to long to heal from wounds, and living feeling as though I was a zombie. I look back at the last ten years that I have felt these symptoms and feel that although I never found a balance point, I will. I feel a mix of sorrow and hope. On the one hand I am hopeful to find a balancing point where I can reduce my flare ups but still be productive, on the other hand I am sorrowful that in a variety of ways I will have the need to learn to depend on others in a healthy way. Learning how to accept help is an important lesson, but it is a hard one. Autonomy feels very good, and since I have to come to terms with the fact that it is unreasonable to become autonomous at this point and for the current foreseeable future, it makes me mourn the life I wanted to live. 

Somehow the life I am meant to live with triumph and I will become more realistic with myself. For right now, I will start by accepting that I need to find the balancing point and begin to accept that I am not able to be autonomous. 

Frère André

Saint André Bessette is, in my opinion, a very interesting Saint. He was born in Mont-Saint-Grégoire, Quebec. For those who may not know where this is, it is South-East of Montreal and very close to the American border. From his birth, no one would have guessed that he would live to the ripe old age of 91, as he was a very frail infant. Born August 9, 1845, with the name Alfred; he was the 8th child in a family of 12. Though this family size may seem large, four of his siblings unfortunately died in as infants. He would have therefor grown up beside 7 other siblings.

Though his father was a carpenter, the family stayed poor as very little employment was available. When the family moved in hopes of job prospects, Alfred’s father died in an accident with a falling tree. It is always a sad tale when a child loses a parent so young, he was only 9 years old. Yet, the trials of his life were far from over. After three years, his mother was in ill health and died of Tuberculosis. Alfred was an Orphan at age 12.

It was much later in his life that he had been recommended to join the Congregation of Holy Cross in Montreal. It was likely this influence that the Rev. André Provençal had on Alfred’s life and vocation that led to his own taking on the name André. Unfortunately, Alfred was rejected at first. Why? Because that frail little infant, orphaned at 12, grew into a man suffering from ill health. This did not stop him though. He was later accepted as the Archbishop of Montreal intervened on his behalf.

You are likely reading this, wondering at how amazing a turn of fate his life had taken, entering the novitiate at 26 and taking his vows at 28. Yet, it was not so grandiose a celebration. He was given the responsibility of being the doorman. A post he happily executed for 40 years.

Br. André had a great devotion to St. Joseph. It is possible that he found comfort in the similarity between his own father, a carpenter, and Joseph, a fellow carpenter. Through this devotion, Br. André began to heal the sick and the afflicted. Or rather, he would call on St. Joseph to heal and intercede in his behalf. It is interesting to me that he himself was never healed. He suffered from intestinal problems,  and frail health in general, yet he never once asked St. Joseph to intercede for his own healing. I believe that he did what we are all called to do in our lives: join our suffering with the unity of the cross of Jesus Christ. Like many other saints before him, Br. André suffered selflessly as Jesus did upon the cross. He participated actively in, as St. Paul puts it, that which is lacking in Christ’s sacrifice.

To this day there are many who have found healing through the intercessory prayers of St. André Bessette. He is a source of humble inspiration, a man who accepted the humblest of tasks to dedicate his life to who was given a great Grace from God. He is an example to all of us suffering from any illness or pain on how the unity of our pain to Jesus can truly impact the lives of those we encounter.

You can pray to St. André for any healing need you may have, or pray to him to help you live with your illness and offer up your suffering. Christ loved us so much that he allows us to take part in the redemption of the world.

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Peace through the pain

Every day is a struggle.

That statement is something that anyone can apply to their lives. Whether it is challenges of work, home life, money, friends and family, or health, there is often something difficult in our lives. In a sense, it is those universal hardships that really define who we are becoming in our lives. Do we act out in anger? Do you wallow in self pity? Do you put on a smile and fake it until you make it? Do you stay cool and calm?

Everyone is different, but I personally tend to get irate and short tempered.  I won’t necessarily get angry,  but I will most definitely lose all of my patience. In my case,  as I deal with the painful signals that erupt throughout my nervous system in response to, well… anything…  I normally lose what little patience I have. Pain flairs would leave me feeling broken and upset. Chemically, my nervous system shuts down my emotions and leaves me overwhelmed.  Yet, here over the last few days I have been in excruciating pain with nothing but a profound sense of peace.

It isn’t easy living with fibromyalgia, and though I have been finding things to improve my condition, my pain never goes away. For a very long time I felt resent for this pain, but now I have come to find peace in uniting my pain with Christ. I know I am not the only one who has health problems or is in chronic pain, I especially know to never compare one person’s struggles to another. I can tell you though that living with constant pain for years (10 years that I can actively remember) you hit rough times emotionally. You want to give up and not face another day.

Yet, my God experienced agonizing torture before being put to death on the cross (a punishment reserved for the worst criminals) for me. He died for an intimate and infinite love with each and every human beyond the constraints of space and time. He stared off into the crowd and saw my smile, He stared and saw yours too. His heart is so large that He would have died for each of us individually. It is a profound thing to really realize that the creator of everything, the creator of heaven and earth, the creator of space and time, life and evolution, would have died a horrible and agonizing death for the likes of me. A broken and unworthy human in the pangs of illness. He died to save me, and to give me the chance at something great and glorious: an eternity in heaven with Him.

I have struggled so much with finding my own worth, with becoming comfortable in my own skin, with growing in myself. I focused on me, and found myself getting more and more lost. What I should have been focusing on was letting God love me in spite of and for all of my faults. Letting God mold me into the ideal me that He created and envisioned.

I have decided to take my illness for what it is: a cross. It does not define me, it is not who I am. Yet, like our Lord taking his cross and accepting his death for the sake of the glory of His resurrection, it is something that has shaped me and continues to work good works in my heart. Because of my pain I am more empathetic, I am more careful with others and try my hardest to relate to everyone around me. I have learned to be strong and resilient,  and have learned that life is not something to be rushed. I have learned that it is ok to make mistakes and that what matters most is your integrity. I have learned that pain can actually bring out your most authentic self if you allow your suffering to be joined in Christ.

I wouldn’t say that my life is any easier with this new sense of interior peace, but I will say that it is much more fulfilling. I would also say that emotionally, giving my pain a purpose (a purpose for pre-existing pain, not a purpose to cause pain) has lifted the burden of questioning my own dignity as a human being. I may not be able to do everything that would be considered normal, I may not be able to get my chores done without pain spiking, but I can offer up my pain that I will endure anyway to help save souls.

For me, it has been my saving grace to know that I can really help others in and through my suffering. My pain is needless and unfortunate, but through God I am able to transform it into a beautiful Grace. I hope that any who reads this may be blessed with experiencing the profound peace that is only found in the heart of Christ, and that we all can allow Christ to take the hardships in our lives so that He may transform them into something amazing.

A writers road block

I have recently come across a roadblock in my journey as a writer that I had not previously thought of. As I began to write the sequel to my first novel, I realised that there is a significant amount of information that I have completely forgotten to write into the first novel. Now, theoretically this may not have been a problem, except for the fact that the second book requires this information as a foundation to make sense.

With this road block in mind,  I have stopped my editing so that I can go back and rewrite the whole book to incorporate this information. It will be a lot more work (considering my novel is already 98K words long), but it will be worth it for the sake of continuing my book series. I have started by doing a mind map of some of the missing information, once I have established everything that needs to be added I will need to comb over the current edition of my work. I will have to figure out where in my story to add in this information and how in the world to incorporate it into the story smoothly.

I have a lot of writing ahead of me. 🙂 It is a very good thing that I love to write.

From fear to faith

Today I will be talking about something very personal in my journey of faith. The transition from fear to faith.

I had for a very long time been terribly afraid of the judgement of my peers. It was as though a hand would tear into and constrict my heart at the very thought of being held unworthy, being told I am worthless, being told I am not loved. This fear came from my own lack of self love. I would constantly affirm in my own heart that I was even worse than unloved, that I could never even deserve to be loved. That no one would or ever could love me. These were the feelings that I allowed to govern my life.

Last night I attended an incredibly powerful talk, where the audience was asked a rhetorical question upon which to reflect: “What is your biggest sin, the sin you hold onto to most?”

Now, I had been puzzling over this for several weeks, in fact, and could not put my finger on it previously. Last night, I realized what it was and was struck with a great sense of clarity and guilt at this truth. My greatest sin that I allow to hold over my life is my fear of the judgement of my fellow humans. I let my fear of judgement in this secular world cloud over my love for God. I have always lived a very private spiritual life, but not for the sake or respect of God. I lived a private life for fear of judgement, isolation and heartbreak. Yet, how incredible is my disrespect to the God I love so dearly! To hold the judgements of men more dearly in my heart than Him.

I have my reasons for this fear, just as each of us has reasons behind every wound and scar we bear. Last night I was able to truly see that this wound needs to heal, and the only route to healing is through love and devotion to God. I want to live as authentically as possible, striving for transparency to my indwelling God. I want to let the peace of Christ consume me so that I can share his glory with all of the world.

I have made a choice to stop hurting my God. To stop inflicting wounds into His blessed heart with each “No” I have said to him. I have made the choice to say “Yes” to God’s love. To say yes to the gifts of Grace that he has bestowed upon me and to give myself wholly to the goal of glorifying Him in everything I do in life.

God calls each of us to Him in our own time, its up to us to say YES!