This past Sunday I had the privilege of sharing my story during service at Mission Church, a place I call home full of people who feel like family to me. I was asked to share about something I was learning, being challenged by, or growing spiritually in. I knew immediately that I wanted to talk about my new-found healing from Ulcerative Colitis.
Though public speaking literally makes me want to pass out from fear, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. I’ve always known this would be a story I would not only write about, but speak about to others. The last thing I would want is for fear to prevent me from sharing the truths I’ve learned through all of this.
Below is the transcript of what I said.
For those who don’t know my story, or who just need a reminder that God is there even in the worst of times, I hope this can be an encouragement to you.
Not too long ago, about a year and half maybe, I was sick. Really sick.
I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t even keep down water. Shooting pains were running through my arms and legs. My head was pounding. My body was weaker than ever. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t see clearly. And literally all I could do was groan in pain. For 12 years the doctors and I did an okay job of managing my Ulcerative Colitis, an autoimmune disorder that basically attacks your insides, but suddenly my body couldn’t take it anymore. My health was rapidly declining in a matter of months. It got scary serious to the point of hospitalization and ultimately the removal of my entire colon. And I’ve got the scars to prove it.
Those last few months before it all went down was worse than I can describe. It honestly shocks me how I was even able to have a social life back then since fear and pain kept me locked inside my house most days. There’s a lot I could say about that season of my life, but for the sake of time, all I’ll say is that those days were really dark and depressing for me; dark because I was daily battling a mental and emotional struggle that would incessantly beat me down, depressing because I felt isolated and confused as to why God would allow this kind of suffering to happen.
While I may never know why God chose this path for me to walk, I don’t resent Him for it. It didn’t push me further from Him. If anything, it brought me closer.
I don’t know how to describe it, necessarily, but during that 18-day stay in the hospital, I experienced Christ in a way that I don’t think I would have, otherwise. I felt him relating to me in a unique way. It’s almost like he was saying “Yeah, I get it. I’ve been there. And now I’m right here with you. I’m not going anywhere.”
For example, when I cried out to God to divinely heal me, begging Him not to make me go through with the surgery; I thought of Christ in the garden that night, sweating blood, crying out to God to take this cup from him. When I felt completely abandoned and more alone than ever, wondering if God was even there in the hospital room with me, I thought of Christ crying out on the cross, saying “Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?!” When they prepared my body, wheeled me into the surgical room, stretched my arms out wide on the operating table and removed the diseased colon – when I woke up in a new room with a new peace in my entire body – I was reminded of what Christ has done; his body broken, his arms stretched out in love and forgiveness, his willingness to die so that we would have new life.
Forgive me if I’m being overly dramatic, but that’s how impactful the experience was for me: the old, decaying, diseased-filled, Lottie died on that operating table that day, and a new Lottie with life and health and peace began the moment I opened my eyes again. I see all these parallels now between the new-found life I have in health and the new-found life we have through faith in Christ. It’s such a tangible reminder for me and it’s one that has greatly impacted my faith.
I’m convinced now more than ever that he is near to the brokenhearted and is closer to us in our suffering than we realize. I know this because He met me there in that 3rd floor hospital room, right in the midst of my most excruciating, isolating, and vulnerable moments.
If you get anything out of my story, or whatever this is, let it be this: God’s got you and he’s going to see you through. I really suck at believing that sometimes, but just because I fail to believe it at times, doesn’t make it any less true. Through this life-altering experience, and my many years of struggle leading up to it, I really learned what it means to truly need Jesus every single moment of every single day; to stop trying to control things and rely on Him to take care of me. It’s almost impossible to get through life otherwise. Life is so out of control and messy and painful and will take you through some of the darkest days.
And yet somehow, you make it through.
You don’t think you will at the time, but eventually you look back and you see it. You see how God worked in your life. You see how he used you and your story to bring glory to His name. Most importantly, you see how he was there the entire time, working on your behalf, turning into good what Satan meant for harm.
I literally did not think I could do it. Any of it. Not the multiple surgeries. Not the months with a temporary ileostomy on my side. Not the weeks of recuperation. But I eventually realized that I could either mentally rip myself apart by worrying about all the “what ifs” and unforeseen complications that may or may not happen… or I could put it in the hands of a God who actually knows what’s going to happen and personally goes ahead of me to work things out. Here we are a year and a half later, and somehow we did it. I don’t know how, but I see now how it was never in my own strength or willpower. I was a wimp! But He made me strong and carried me through.
Life will often bring me back to those 18 days in the hospital. Fear will cripple me. Outcomes will seem bleak. Sometimes I’ll just stand in utter disbelief, wondering how the heck God’s going to see me through this time; how I’m going to get from point A to point B. I wonder if he hears me. I wonder if he even cares. And then I remember August 2014; how he was there for me, strengthened me, never left me, and brought me through.
2 Corinthians 12:10 says “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Yeah, I kind of get that now.
Though I don’t always understand why, I don’t resent this happening to me. I know it all serves a greater purpose to glorify God. I think there’s a lot of growth that happens when someone humbles themselves before God, lays their struggles at His feet, and says “Your will not mine.”
To God be the glory, no matter what.
Love you guys,