While all this was going on Tim decided to see a counsellor – we needed to find out if the reason he was sick all the time was caused by his thinking, his thought patterns; in other words, to see if perhaps it was “all in his head”, or, was there some other reason, some other thing that could be causing his constant illness. During his counselling experience we purchased a book called ‘I’m Not Crazy, I’m Just A Little Unwell’ by Leigh Hatcher. It is his story about his journey through Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and out the other side.
Tim picked up the book and didn’t put it down; he finished it in one sitting!!! (which ended about 4am the next morning, but hey, he was probably going through an insomniac period around then anyway, so it wouldn’t have made much difference as to when he went to sleep anyway!) This book was the answer to so many of the questions we’d had about his illness and as he read it so many lights came on for him, things finally started to make sense.
Although this book was about Leigh’s journey through the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome illness, it was soooo similar to what Tim was going through, what he had experienced mentally and physically, and he could soooo relate to all that Leigh said, which is kinda sad in a way. Probably what was most frustrating is that it took us so long to find it out, and the answer came to us out of a book, not from a doctor. One thing I can say though, I am sooo glad that Tim hasn’t had some of those strange and obscure tests that Leigh had, some of them sounded absolutely horrendous!
Once Tim finished reading ‘I’m Not Crazy, I’m Just A Little Unwell’, it was my turn, although it took me a few more days to complete it! And like Tim, I found it really eye opening. What Leigh was describing was what we were going through – he described how Tim was feeling mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually, even though he was talking about himself. He even described our financial situation!!! Leigh Hatcher had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome much worse than Tim, but even so, he was describing us and our situation and I could soooo relate.
As of now we’re pretty sure that Tim has had all the tests he needs to have that “diagnose” him as suffering with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and not something else. Diagnose is an interesting word to use when finding out if you have CFS because there are no tests that diagnose this condition. The only way you find out whether or not you have it is by having all the tests and coming up negative in all of them. In the end what it comes down to is if nothing else comes up, then you must have CFS.
Since discovering that Tim has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, one of our biggest struggles has been finding a GP who believes that CFS is a real condition and not just a psychosematic illness, in other words, “it’s all in your head” and will support Tim, monitor him and explore possible treatments.
Anyway, it was a relief getting a “label” for this thing that was slowly but surely tearing us down. Discovering Tim had CFS didn’t make him or me collapse in a sobbing heap, going “oh woe is me, woe is me”, rather it gave us hope and a new sense of life. And now that Tim had a name for what was wrong with him he began researching and finding out lots and lots of stuff. He also joined the ‘Not Crazy’ forum and began connecting with a whole lot of other CFS sufferers (Christian and not) which has been really good for him (and me, although more in a second hand kinda way). They are an amazing bunch of people and life is not easy for any of them.
In some ways Tim is not as “bad” as some of them, and he has me! I support him mentally, emotionally and physically in this as much as I am able to, which in means my workload in every area of our lives has increased substantially. It means that I don’t nag at him to try this and try that; it means that I believe he really is sick and it’s not all just in his head; it means I don’t make a fuss about the fact that we don’t have much money and don’t know where or when the next money will come through and whether it will be enough to pay the car, the rent and food (not to mention other bills, clothes for growing kids etc); it means I do all of the housework most of the time etc, etc.
Occasionally Tim can help out and does a few things (as well as working on the computer from home trying to earn enough money for us to live on) – he often makes the yoghurt and icecream, and sometimes manages some baking – but I am learning that I just can’t rely on him for help, which is sometimes really hard, especially as he’s around; if he wasn’t around then I would have to do it without him anyway, but with him around I often forget and then I ask him to do something and he can’t and then I feel let down. It really is a roller coaster ride and how anyone in their right mind could think that someone would want to live like this is beyond me, but some people think we do!
Okay, that aside, God is walking with us in this time and teaching us so many, many things, and for the lessons that we’ve learnt and how we’ve grown and changed as individuals and a family during this time I wouldn’t change it. For both of us, our relationship with our God has become much more than it ever was before. We walk with God so much closer than we did before and we trust him so much more. We are learning that we are not in control of our lives (and that’s hard) and we trust God on a much deeper level than we ever did before – we have to, there is no-one else and nothing else that we can rely on. So Tim being this sick has been a blessing despite the fact that life has got so much harder.
This is another of the Ransomed Heart emails I receive that really spoke to my heart and to Tim’s – it ressonated with us and it described us, where we’ve come from and what we’re going through right now, especially the last paragraph! It describes us and how we became ‘normal’, resigning ourselves to the fact that this is just the way life is; we let go of our dreams and desires, we didn’t fight for them when things got hard and we just settled ourselves into the ‘normal western culture suburban lifestyle’. We’d had the spark, the romance with God, but that had just kinda faded away with all the demands on our time and energy over the years – we were still passionate about God and living the life he wanted us to live, and we endeavored to know him more and more, so we were still searching, still seeking him, seeking his face, seeking his heart, but we’d got caught up in “doing” things “for” God, rather than “knowing” God intimately and walking with him; we’d got ourselves stuck in a rut and were too much caught up in the desires of the world (well I was, anyway), I wanted my own house, I was desperate for it, and I wanted nice things, nice clothes, to be able to go out to nice restaurants, theatre shows, ballets etc, etc. And when we’d stepped into our new life (see Stepping Into A New Life part 1) I kinda just expected that it would all fall into place now and life would be rosey. Hmmmm. Read on, I’ll say more at the end.
“Resignation is not just the sigh that groans with something gone wrong. Such a sigh can be redemptive if it does not let go of the Haunting we have all experienced of something presently lost. Resignation is the acceptance of the loss as final. It is the condition in which we choose to see good as no longer startling in its beauty and boldness, but simply as “nice.” Evil is no longer surprising; it is normal.
It is from this place of heart resignation where many of us, perhaps all of us at one time or another, having suffered under the storm of life’s Arrows, give up on the Sacred Romance. But our heart will not totally forsake the intimacy and adventure we were made for and so we compromise. We both become, and take to ourselves, lovers that are less dangerous in their passion for life and the possible pain that comes with it—in short, lovers that are less wild.
Those of us who have been drawn to understand that God is our Father through conversion in Christ recapture the Romance again—for a while. We find ourselves again in the throes of first love. The Romance we thought we had left behind once more appears out on the road ahead of us as a possible destination. God is in his heaven and all seems right in the universe.
But this side of Eden, even relationship with God brings us to a place where a deeper work in our heart is called for if we are to be able to continue our spiritual journey. It is in this desert experience of the heart, where we are stripped of the protective clothing of the roles we have played in our smaller stories, that the Message of the Arrows reasserts itself. Healing, repentance, and faith are called for in ways we have not known previously. At this place on our journey, we face a wide and deep chasm that refuses us passage through self-effort. And it is God’s intention to use this place to eradicate the final heart walls and obstacles that separate us from him. (The Sacred Romance , 126, 127)
‘…it is God’s intention to use this place to eradicate the final heart walls and obstacles that separate us from him.’ God does this with all of us, to a degree, but I think it all depends on us, on how much we’re willing to let him do this kind of work in our lives. He never forces his way on us, he always waits for us to invite him in. And I believe since my first vision and the conscious act both Tim and I made to step into our new lives, into the abundant lives God had for us, we opened up the door and invited God to do a major work in us so we could be the people God had created us to be and live the lives he had created us to live.
Of course, at the time of this, we had no idea of what we were doing and the effects it would have. And I don’t regret it one little bit, even though at times it has been so incredibly hard, and there are days when it is more hard than others and days when I just want it to be over, I don’t think I can keep on going…and then I hear what other people are going through and think, ‘what the heck am I complaining about?!’ Every day God is working in our hearts, revealing issues we need to deal with, wounds that need healing and a little bit more of his plans and purposes for us.
This happens for everyone. I don’t believe that I am any more special than anyone else, or I have the answers, or somehow I’ve managed to get it together, because I’m not, I don’t and I haven’t! But as I said before, I do believe that it depends on us and just how far we are willing to let God into our lives and to work in our hearts and minds. I don’t think that it’s a necessarily conscious thing, but conscious or not, I believe that there are places in our hearts where we just don’t let God in.
But, if we want to go there, if we truly, really want to seek God with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength then God will make a way for us to open ourselves up to him. Well, that’s what he did with us anyway! Unfortunately, it seems to take some sort of crisis in life before you start going deeper with God. It’s kinda like you just don’t go deeper until something pushes you under! I don’t believe that it is God who pushes you under, but I do believe God uses these crisees to teach you if you are willing.
If you had asked us if we were truly seeking God and his kingdom a few years ago, we would have said, “Yes, of course!” And we were, to the level of our faith, our trust, our belief we were seeking God and serving God. Of course our level of faith and our walk with God was not the level it is now and I am sure that as life continues this will change yet again as we open ourselves up to God more and more. So now, now our relationship with God is on a different, deeper level and our love and passion for God and his Kingdom is so much more alive and vibrant now than it has ever been. Our faith is deeper and stronger – with all that we have been through and are still going through, we have to rely upon and trust God so much more than we have ever had to before.
We have stepped into our new life – it’s not what we envisioned would happen as we stepped into our new life, and sometimes it feels like we’ve gone backwards rather than forwards when we stepped in, but our new life has brought us so much closer to God, to each other and as a family. So we are living our new life and looking forward to what the future holds.