05.10.2018

A new song in my heart

It’s been a few months since my last post. I have honestly not had much motivation to write, but I think its time I see what I can come up with (because there is always something!) 

Lets go back to my hospital stay. That was hard, and even with the amount of support I had, the recovery after was unexpected. 

Have you ever wondered about the blind man that Jesus heals or the little girl he raises from the dead? What about the woman who reaches out to Jesus seeking healing with faith from the depths of her heart? 

He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

~Mark 5:35 

What happens in her life after she is healed initially? How do these people recover after their story goes on, past the pages we can read. What does their life look like between the lines written, as they heal mentally, physically, and emotionally? 

I wondered this myself as I woke up day after day feeling the bone tired feeling that penetrated my body from the strong antibiotics. I wondered who helped those people in the bible? How did they go back to living after they received some healing from Jesus’s helping hand? 

I needed considerable help from family members to drive me to follow up appointments, help me keep up with daily chores, and encourage me that things WILL change. I waited and waited for my energy to come back, but the sun would come up and the relief never came too. 

There were weeks I had motivation and tried my best to push through, but eventually my adrenals couldn’t take the stress and I ended up flat on my back for days. It was a never ending cycle, and I didn’t know how to get out. I had a feeling my autonomic nervous system had started to flare up after all the stress of infections. The POTS symptoms were worse than ever and I would go days with feeling lightheaded. 

Eventually I got in touch with my Mayo Clinic neurologist and diligently requested a new neurologist who was willing to treat my POTS and help me rehabilitate (instead of the current situation where my neurologist said there is nothing that can be done if my insurance has denied IVIG). That answer didn’t set well with me, so I had hope and persevered for more. 

It was a waiting game and not much progress in my strength was possible. I used to run triathlons but somehow I couldn’t get over almost passing out every time I walked around my neighborhood. So I waited and waited alittle longer. One day I got a call and I was scheduled to see the top POTS neurologist at Mayo clinic for March! Praise God. 

But it was only January and I had to seriously reach down deep inside and find the courage to simply wait. I took it as a signal to prepare like the saints did in times of weakness. I wanted God to truly direct my will to match His. I wanted my heart to truly transform and an space open for what God places next in my life. 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

~2 Corinthians 12:9 

The winter was a symbol of the state of my body. I felt frozen. Frozen in fear of the next infection. Frozen because I didn’t know what to do next to recover and rehabilitate. My laughter started to become quiet and my eyes became weary from pain that would not leave. I know antibiotics can wreck havoc for weeks and months after treatment and I knew this was partly the case. I had been on antibiotics on and off for various infections since September (5 months). 

I wanted to not only hope with my heart, but see a glimmer of hope with my own eyes. It would have been nice to have seen a steady increase after the hospital, but that was not the case. I didn’t get worse either, so the daily rest and recovery was keeping me stable. Too much activity or stress (even good kinds) would set my body backwards. On those days of overdoing it, my body temp would drop, my digestive system revolt and my thinking become clouded with a migraine. There were days I felt half alive. There were many days I felt like I was going nowhere. 

But you know what, I still had the choice placed in front of me daily to hope. I wasn’t going to let my innermost being be quenched by despair. I had feelings like “this will last forever” “I’ll never get back to my normal self”. At times like this, I ran to Jesus. I knew He could restore the fire in my heart and the strength in my soul. I spoke to friends and family and together we exchanged struggles and helped each other. I never kept it inside for feelings to fester, but instead let the light of God win me over, time and time again. Speaking light on anything we struggle with inside can immediately change our perspective and attitude. Opening up and sharing, lets God into our life, for the healing to begin. 

“I was full of fear and prone to wander,

Lost & lonely till the day you won me over,

I was halfway gone and going nowhere,

Half alive until the day you won me over,

You won me over.”

~Audrey Assad “Won Me Over” 

In February we lost our priest who had always been there as long as I remember. He was full of a contagious energy the endured both pain and joy to the fullest. He had died of cancer, but his spirit still was living and his presence in the church was a comfort to my soul. My soul because restless not knowing my “mission” in life. Though, this priest had mentioned to always offer up my pain and suffering for souls in purgatory. So this is what I did and accepted this as my “mission” in life. This gave me great joy to take on this mission to pray for souls. I had daily pain, and it never went to waste, but instead offered up. 

Around the same time, my niece was born early and as much as I wanted to visit her and my sister a.s.a.p., I had to wait until my strength came back to travel far. I was waiting patiently until the baptism day, so I could celebrate with her in the spring and be healthy enough for the baby’s special day. (This picture below is the day I got to meet my niece in April).

My birthday came and went without warning and I was soon 24 years old. I never knew that at this year in my life, I would be experiencing the hardships I currently was. Though many saints had their hardest years in their early 20’s so maybe these are special years where God really works on our souls. All I know is that each day, I continually wanted my heart and soul open and waiting for what God has planned. I was grateful for everything in the present and I took the time of recovery serious. I let the rest sink deep in my bones. I was finally learning to accept help (which is hard for someone with a strong will). But most importantly, I was praying God would place a new song in my heart. I trusted He would. 

I am very grateful because God  has blessed me abundantly with blessings. I’m going to be honest though, my life was not what I thought it would be at age 24. I tried to just be happy and ok with everything. But that would not be honest, because I did struggle at times. I felt my knees burning like an 80 year old and my head and heart throbbing for relief. I prayed to God without a breath in between some nights, begging He would hear my prayers.

“And you lost your fire

And your flame’s gone out

And your down on your knees

Cause your life is not what you thought it would be

No, 

Lift up your head

Help is on the way

And it won’t pass you by

You just gotta reach out your hand

Lift up your eyes

Love is on the way

And it won’t pass you by”

~Audrey Assad “Breaking You”

I knew Gods love was enough for me. I really did, but I wanted to believe it and have it become part of who I was, rain or shine. I didn’t want life to pass me by, and I wanted to see beauty again. With support, encouragement and continued perseverance, I finally was able to lift my eyes and understand the great adventure God has laid out for me. God never promised this life to be easy, but its our choice to trust Him with all our heart. Its our choice to find the blessings and beauty. 

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

~Matthew 19:26 

I took time to regroup with myself and decided to focus on the mold God carved out for my life. I was not going to fit anyone else’s mold, so it was time to get to know my own. Comparing ourselves is a destructive thing, when it leads is to doubting ourselves. I didn’t want to doubt that Gods creation of me was a mistake. That was far from the truth and I set out to fill the mold only God intended for me. 

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

~Catherine of Siena

I could feel in my heart, God molding and changing me. He wanted me to feel the peace and freedom in life I so longed for. I trusted Gods promise that He would surely place a new song in my heart. I didnt know when, but my faith was strong and I was willing to wait.

I actively waited and focused my energy on things that needed work in my life. Some were internal realizations and others included mending relationships and friendship that were lost. Digging up things that we stuff down because of past hurt isn’t fun, but it’s important to do it in Gods time. It’s important so we can move forward and forgive sincerely. I sought counsel from  priests, doctors, friends, family and slowly the old pieces surfaced, and could be dealt with. For the first time, my confidence in life was blooming and I was ready to take the next step. I was open to be filled with the new things God would give. 

There was no more running. No more building of walls around my life and heart. Even with weaker health, I was the happiest I have been and peace was taking root from a place that only God can plant. But I continuance asked God, now what’s next for me? Was it discerning if I should be a consecrated nun (I never fully explored this route and I wanted to know fully if this was Gods path). I read about my favorite saints and juggled around ideas “if I were to be a nun… what order would I be?” Deep down I was having a hard time fully grasping this vocation for myself because I truly admire family life and children. That has always been my dream for life. I believe God gives us dreams for a reason too. 

So I ultimately decided it would be a better step to start with 3rd order Carmelites, if God was willing. I did some reading and research and connected to a few people in my life about the process. At the same time (with the help and persistent encouragement from one of my best friends, Mariah, joined back on a catholic dating site (Catholic Match). 

Lent was beginning and I felt God asking me to try something new and get my feet wet in either a consecrated life or dating. So I prayed God would lead me down the right path to pursue. I had equal information and steps taken on each side. I had appointments set with a spiritual director in a few weeks and started a novena the day before I joined the Catholic Match site. 

I woke up on Feb 19 and was inspired that St. Joseph was the saint to pray to, specifically for the men in my life and courage for each of them (father, brother, brother in law, grandparents, priests, and any future man). I started praying this novena and gave God my full faith that He will direct my path in life (whatever that may be). I prayed for a new song to begin in my life. I prayed for Gods will.

“Waiting in the night for you. Burning in the sky for you,

There’s an aching in my body,

This web of bones around my heart is coming undone. 

I need a new, I need a new

I sing a new song

All I have is what I need and this I know.”

~Audrey Assad “New Song”

After talking with my friend and sister, I decided to only get to know people on Catholic match in my area. Though I ended up clicking around and was led to a guy with the Divine Mercy image for his background picture. I love Divine Mercy and St. Faustina has always been my role model. I even started reading her diary a month ago. It was because of St. Faustina that I was beginning to consider the life of a nun, she made it so incredibly beautiful. I found her image of Divine Mercy a sign from heaven that someone can love Jesus and their faith just as much if they are a nun or in a relationship. My heart sank alittle when I noticed more clearly that he was in illinois. I decided to still message this guy because I really did love the Divine Mercy picture and wanted to let him know. Of course I wanted to have the chance of getting to know this guy too, but if nothing more, now he knows I liked Divine Mercy too. 

I knew that I wanted a relationship, in which each person would take their role seriously. That is, ultimately leading each other to heaven. I love God and my first priority was that any guy I end up dating, needs to love God first and foremost. I want him to know God and have a connection and faith that is unbreakable. 

You probably know where this story is going, but I‘ll share alittle more on the inside. Deep inside I was struggling because I felt my illness had taken so much of the confidence I once had. I didn’t know if it was even possible to go on a “normal date” (aka dinner, movie, long walks, etc.) without having to eventually admit I had a illness that limits my abilities. My mind swarmed with “what if’s” and I wasn’t sure how ready I felt to share a part of me, I still don’t fully understand. 

Dating someone is a vulnerable task, and can be a nerve wracking thing for people, even if they are healthy of sick. Everyone should get a fair chance and not be afraid what the other person will think. God has created each of us with a beauty that the world needs. Each of us is a blessing to the people around us. God will also not give us more than we can handle and He will bless us beyond measure. 

More than likely, the person on the other side has pieces of their life that are hard to share too. But its the joy you find in eachother and the bond of sharing experiences, that make the little sacrifices worth it. So I knew if I found the right someone, he would surely understand I cannot do everything. I prayed for someone patient and willing to pray with me during the hard times. 

I decided I wasn’t going to miss out on life and a dream I had planted in my heart because I was afraid of fumbling. I was honestly afraid of letting someone cross to my side and see the world through my lense. Would they like what they see? Would it be too hard? Would it be fun? These questions I could not answer myself, but simply had to reach out my hand and live life. 

I was finally willing to let my fear turn into wonder. And this exactly what happened. 

I knew I had joy to share with anyone I met. God gives us each certain gifts that He expects us to share. I wanted that someone to experience how beautiful life is, no matter how deep the valleys seem. There is always someone willing to pull us out and always a God to look to as our Father. I knew God wanted the joy I have for life, to make an appearance, and not turn back. I was going to be ok with what the futures holds, because my hope and faith are in God. And He is a good, kind, loving God. 

On a certain day, I remembered this guy with the Divine Mercy image, pointed out “I’m different “ and that got me thinking. I came to the conclusion that if I never had these health challenges over the many years, I wouldn’t even be close to the person I am today, not even close. It was time to let myself be ok with who I am (sick or healthy) and let the new song inside start to sing, detached of fear. 

Its hard to accept the reality of an illness and at the same time, not let it take control of everything, but instead look at it as an opportunity for growth. Ultimately giving God the credit for all the changes and praying to stay strong and true to yourself through it all, is what’s going to keep the life inside flowing. An illness is humbling and I didn’t want my insecurities and pride to get in the way of Gods plan. 

As I shared my story with this guy and the things I have went through, it actually helped me process and accept these hard things. Amazingly I was seeing life in a whole new way. I could finally pray for someone, be honest and in turn help them become their fullest self too. Giving and receiving is such a gift. I pray each night for us to be transparent so the light can shine through to both sides. Everyone deals with insecurities and battles within. It’s accepting a person for everything God created within them, that helps them shine. Never underestimate the simplicity of acceptance. 

Its easy to write more, but I need to live in the present and experience what God has placed into my life. One thing I will add, is that prayer together, keeps God always in the middle. Its easy to get caught up in distractions and worries, but ultimately, focusing on what God is healing and how He is guiding our hearts. I want this song of life inside to keep on singing. I know from experience, that when God places something in our life, to never just pass it by. Stoping, listening and showing some love can enkindle the song of life in someone else’s heart too. The only way to know, is just try and live life with an open heart. 

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Comments

  1. Audrey Assad has such beautiful songs. Praying for you in this new relationship. I have a sister who has POTS and Lymes and it’s so hard. I had a friend who looked into being a nun here in Australia and spent time with the different orders and then God led her to a man who seems to be really lovely and I’m waiting to hear if she will have a ring anytime soon.

    • Hi Lizzy, yes her songs really speak to me in all seasons of life. I will keep your sister in my prayers, because it takes alot of endurance with those 2 illnesses. What a cool story about your friend and such beautiful outcome!!

  2. Caroline, I think there is such a need for our fellow Catholics with chronic illness to share with the world. I’m thankful you continue to do so! Many prayers!

  3. Hi Caroline, this is my first time reading your blog posts. God bless you for existing. You are inspirational, intelligent, kind, and sister like. I wish I knew you in real life! I hope you are doing better. I deal with ailments myself and am continuously working on healing. Your love for Christ is refreshing and so real. I pray that you continue to persevere. Much love to you.

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