To my pastor:
Your sermon blessed us in many ways, but truly, it takes courage to be as transparent as you are, willing to be coming before the church with your own questions.
I don't think I have ever followed up with you over a conversation we had a few years back that set me in a direction of restoration. Your sermon reminded me about it all and I wanted to finally thank you and share with you what transpired.
Remember when I was sick? I dealt with a strange illness for nearly 2 years that resulted in a myriad of symptoms - daily fevers, fibromyalgea, adrenaline tremors, anxiety, no energy, depression and on and on. My whole chemical being was disturbed which kept triggering more problems (like the anxiety) and finally it triggered diabetes II. It was around that time, that when you asked me how I was doing I surprised myself even by saying I'd like to go stand in front of a train at times. It wasn't truly what I felt but after 8 months of being sick and then getting diagnosed with diabetes too I was at my lowest.
So, you pulled me into your office and I was half hoping you'd assure me that I'd be fine...that my body would snap out of this slump and that the nightmare would end...but NO, you said, "your real task is to figure out what you are going to do if you never get better". Oh man did that make me frustrated. Not at you...but at the thought that the hope I was living for that the sickness would end was not the right hope to have but I was challenged to replace my direction of hope from "someday I'll get better" to "what will be my attitude of praise be NOW as I am not necessarily assured that this will pass".
I let that thought simmer and boil in my mind and it slowly perculated down to my heart but it didn't really grab ahold of my heart until a year later. I thought about it often and kept challenging myself to let go of the anxiety and fears even in the midst of a scary situation. A good 9 months after you said that to me, I was finally diagnosed. I had Epstein Barr - the same virus that causes mono but in the EBV state is often called Chronic Fatigue Syndrom - and the doc said I'd probably be this way for 5 to 20 years or even for the rest of my life. So the truth of what you said was now a reality.
I was down for no more than a week before God grabbed me and said you can either stop living or you can grab my hand and keep on with as much joy as you can muster. I decided then and there that despite the diagnoses, I was going to start smiling, like Julie does. Maybe I could slowly trick my body into thinking I was happy. It was a first step anyway. I was going to LIVE fully, and praise HIm and not let this EBV be who I was but instead let the fact that I was a child of God, wholly and beautifully made by Him, be who I believed myself to be.
So God began a work to restore me spiritually. And about the time when I was feeling alive in Him again and not defeated by a diagnoses, the diabetes, anxiety, fibromyalgea, adrenal surges, sleepless nights, and fevers disappeared. So, He then healed me physically. Now, I did do things to help my body have a chance as I had no desire to be in this decrepid state for 5 to 20 years - like eat tons of organic veggies and fruit, exercise, etc. - but God did the healing.
I so love that through that one God appointed conversation that we had He was able to bring about Spiritual Restoration to me...and He chose to then bring about Physical Healing too. If he would have healed my body first before restoring my spiritual health, I would never have learned what I needed to learn or been deeply changed and molded by the whole ordeal. It would have been easy to bound around in Joy if he just healed me right away...but He instead insisted that I do what your challenge to me was: let go of the fears, Hang on to Him, keep the faith and the Joy for life in the MIDDLE of it.
It feels so good to feel so great again - but it feels even better to have been given the wisdom that only comes through trials and then Spiritual restoration as He did in me too.
So, since I am not sure I ever thanked you - thank you so much.