Monday, October 30, 2006

Back in Touch

God is really and truly amazing. I think God really wants to help us out, to give us everything we need. In my case, my own pride keeps me from asking - it is not God witholding good things. But I finally reached a breaking point and I had to throw myself on God's mercy and beg for help.

When I went to Planned Parenthood they took my blood pressure and freaked out. They basically told me I was going to have a stroke any minute. A second reading was lower, but I still got quite a lecture (I think the first reading was influenced by waiting 45 mins after my appt time!). And I couldn't take one more thing - I completely broke down. I wailed that I was doing the best I could but I simply do not have another hour in my day for walking nor can I give up caffeine nor can I do without my one glass of red wine with dinner. I was shaking and crying and trying to explain how completely overwhelming the whole world felt. I think I scared her. She laid way off...even told me I could have my wine. But also she told me I could not go off my medication (am about to run out) when I'm under this much stress, and that I simply had to reduce my stress level or I would be heading for serious health risks.

Well, the good news was that I qualified for everything at PP to be free, and walked out with a year's worth of birth control and an appointment for an exam in a couple weeks. Whew.

So I spent the rest of that day and the next worrying about how to get my medicines. Meantime, I was working on 10-page, 1-page, 5-page papers and a presentation, all due Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. The blood pressure was not going down! But we went shopping and picked up lots of healthier food - veggies and oatmeal - since J checked his BP and it was even higher than mine. We both got really shaken up - woken up. Definitely need to make some changes.

Anyway, I tried going to Fuller, but they don't have people who can do prescriptions. I called a few clinics, but they have huge wait times. I had resigned myself to sitting 4 hours for an intake (after which I'd be scheduled for an appt 6-8 weeks away). But then I thought I'd just check with the church people. I mean, shouldn't the people of God be helping out in these situations? Where else should we Christians turn when we are going through a period of poverty?

So I emailed a few people, sending the messages along with prayers. It was at this time, when I really had hit the end of my rope and decided I was just going to let myself have a breakdown and be done with it, that the miracles began happening.

First, I got a call from one of the people I emailed, a psychiatrist I've met and gotten to know through all kinds of common interests (art, Africa, etc.). He called and offered to see me, no charge, and help with my prescriptions if necessary. I mean, wow. I sent out the email with prayers, barely daring to hope, and God gave me exactly what I asked for, what I needed.

Then the next morning I had my discernment committee. I was still under tremendous stress with all the work I had coming due (and I had to be at a service in the afternoon). I could barely answer the questions I was asked, and was having trouble following the conversation. Most of all I was feeling that foggy head that I get when I have the depression. I knew it was the stress getting to me again. All I could think was how much I wished I could get out of one of my responsibilities - just drop something, or everything, and stop having so much to think about.

Well, the committee noticed my trouble and we started working to get to the bottom of it. I told them about all the pressure, all the stuff going on. At first they thought I was just crazy, trying to meet expectations of others, trying too hard to be perfect. Fortunately, one of the members got her degree at Fuller, and she could explain to everyone that I'm not and in fact the school kind of pushes people toward this. She told them how the school keeps us running running running without much in the way of inner spiritual formation (it doesn't help that I'm also working at a church with a high stress level and more emphasis on external ministry than internal formation). (She is a spiritual director and has Fuller students in her office every week falling apart). They determined I am "on a path of self-destruction."

So they suggested we postpone discernment for six months, during which time they would still be my committee and still pray for me, but I wouldn't have to worry about meeting that obligation. And I relaxed so visibly that they saw it. I mean, it really was a miracle. I had been praying for some kind of release, but I didn't want to suggest it because I didn't want to be a flake. I've already dropped one committee. I thought I'd be doing myself in to do it again. But since it was their idea, there shouldn't be negative consequences. And it makes sense: if I'm to be a priest, there's no reason we have to figure that out right this minute! Thankfully they all want to remain committed to me and none of them plans to leave LA anytime soon.

That felt really good. I knew at this point God was working something really wonderful for me. I kept praying, knowing that Monday would be the biggest test - I had a meeting with Fuller financial aid.

The situation is that if you drop below 12 units, you lose scholarship money. And I knew I couldn't handle 12 units. At the moment I'm doing 2 classes and barely keeping up. A week from today, a 2-week intensive was to begin. I knew I was going to have a serious problem with that. Like, fetal position problem. So I threw myself on the mercy of finaid (really on God), asking them to consider my health. And we worked out a solution that pleased me greatly, and I got to drop the intensive class. I even managed to return my books so I didn't lose money on that.

Along with that, I dropped a huge load of stress. I actually feel like I can breathe again. I mean, I noticed that I can feel myself breathing. I can feel my muscles are more relaxed. I smiled and sang most of the day - I haven't smiled in a really long time, not for real. And I prayed - noon and evening prayer and compline. I actually got to pray!

I am so happy. I feel like God has moved incredible barriers to my well-being. And I just had to ask. I told J that I think it's all happened because God misses me, and I miss her too. Fortunately, God was happy to help me get back my peace, my joy, and my time with him.

Now I want to take time to intentionally work on my formation: get a spiritual director, do some retreat time, continue in the daily offices, and I should really journal. Although I guess this blog has been my journal for some time! I am relieved and thrilled to slow down my school progress - I don't want to go back to the real world any time soon. And now I shall have time for the many other things I would actually enjoy - helping with the Anglican group on campus, and the arts group, and taking people to see "Grace", and maybe even singing again. I'll have time to really put in good work on a worship project I've been asked to do - something that is so wonderful for my future and my interests.

Oh, but yawn, I'll have to tell you about that another time. Part of my self-care is going to be sleeping instead of internet-ing! If you have self-care resources (preferably not books to read, though - I have more than enough of those already) that you'd recommend, let me know. Meantime, thank you to those of you who pray for me.

Know that God does in fact come through. Be encouraged.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Thank you so much for sharing this post with us.

I empathize with the high BP situation -- last summer I went to see a doctor because a smal lump on my belly had become very painful very quick (turned out to be an abscess, treatable thank God) and while I was there the doctor freaked out about my BP, and sure enough, it was dangerously high. These days I regard the abscess, unpleasant as it was, as the blessing which got me into the doctor's office; without it I never would have known about the extreme hypertension.

Anyway. I try to say a quick blessing when I take my BP pill first thing in the morning. Something to remind me of the Source from Whom all healing flows, and to nudge me to ask God for help in navigating not only my physical health but also emotional health in the day to come.

Sometimes I suspect that those of us who feel called to ministry tend to be paragons of overcommitment and high stress. Maybe it makes us more human, and therefore more able to empathize with those to whom we minister? (At least, that's my hope.)

Anyway. I'm really glad that this story unfolded for you the way it did. I needed to hear it this week, so thank you for posting it.