Raw Thoughts

My heart feels sunburned today, as if it’s peeling and a bit dry. For 8 years, I have advocated for my daughter in her health struggles. I was largely dismissed, and diagnostic tests were not done despite multiple annual requests. We switched health care physician’s groups, and within months a scope was done. The scope confirms our hunches; that parts of her body are not communicating properly with each other. 

My emotions slosh back and forth like waves in a bathtub. I am angry, indignant, rage-filled, and overwhelmed with grief at the years she has lost. I am so angry about the injustice of our needing to be compliant with the health care protocols, so I dutifully took her to counseling to address the psychological aspect of her healing; while the physicians blindly prescribed the same medicine every visit; the medicine that probably contributed to this health issue! They failed to see her as a patient with emergent symptoms and instead blindly did what they always do, prescribe the medicine; get the kickbacks, keep her diagnostic costs down…while her health has faded. 

The worst part is the utter feeling of betrayal, knowing that I have spent countless hours and gas money to initiate change within the same health care provider; volunteering my time to ensure a smoother process for the next patients to enter the system behind me. 

As I held her yesterday and she sobbed, I thought back on the countless messes I have cleaned up for her; of the years of agonizing tears and questions of why she has to be the one to wrestle with this. 

Bitterness and rage would be so easy to embrace…but Christ stands in the way. 

I see Him.

I see His scars, the ones meant for me. 

I hear His agony when He asked why God had forsaken Him…and realize that God forsook Him for me. 

I sinned, I hated, I raged, I manipulated, I coveted, I wanted what I wanted…with no thought at all about anyone but myself. 

My mistakes and deliberate choices to serve myself have all nailed Christ to the cross…before I even was alive; before I sinned. 

I have been loved so deeply, so undeserved; how could I not  love others with the same depth of grace that has been lavished on me? 

I forgive them…every single Dr., Nurse, and Physician Assistant, all the bureaucrats that passed regulatory guidelines pressuring the medical providers to care more about seeing cost reduction and less about seeing the symptoms of their patients. I forgive myself for feeling trapped and tired, and failing to fight harder. 

The presence of forgiveness and grace doesn’t mean lack of accountability, however. I am more determined than ever to make things right for my daughter, who has lost 8 years of her life to an embarassing medical condition. I am tenacious in my dedication to be vocal on behalf of the voiceless. I refuse to sit idly by and allow other children to suffer through thinking that their Dr. has the only say in their health. Second opinions are an important part of discovery, and diagnostic tools are valuable tools to be utilized for the benefit of the PATIENT, not to be avoided for the benefit of the bottom line! 

I will be present and vocal at meetings, I will ask the toughest of questions, and I will not be bought. I will represent the voices of the poorest, the ones who don’t even realize that advocacy is their right. I will respectfully debate and persuade and hold accountable those in leadership. I will embrace the forgiveness of the one who forgave me, while still lovingly revealing areas where change is needed. 

My daughter deserves a legacy. Hers will be one that delicately embraces the passion of admitting the wrongs that were committed while gracefully offering forgiveness. It will be the most demanding and beautifully painful dance of my life. As I embrace my Father God, I trust that He will tenderly lead my steps to the music He sings over us. 

He is big enough and omnipresent enough to dance with you through your journey as well. Pour out your heart to Him, yell if necessary. Be breathless as He tenderly and strongly leads you into wholeness. Do you hear the music? I do. His song is your invitation. 

May our hearts have courage, may we leave our fears behind, may we boldly join Him on the dancefloor of life, and may we forgive as we have been forgiven.

“The Precipice of Faith”

The precipice of faith (c)Gracie K Harold 2014

The precipice of faith (c)Gracie K Harold 2014

Trigger Word Warning: painkillers, rape, blackouts, miscarriage, grief.

I think my toes are curled over the edge of life right now.  I know that going back is not an option, I believe that we are on the verge of launching forward into an incredible new reality; and yet I feel my stomach flip flop as I inhale slowly.

When on earth will I stop being “afraid of good”?  I think I am more excited than afraid, and yet I still feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins.  For over 14 years I have dreamt of my story being told; of being able to share how the hideously painful and broken pieces have been somehow miraculously transformed into a beautiful reality that still leaves me speechless.

My journey through pain began in Chicago.  It was Fall Break of my senior year in college; and my good friend and I had decided to leave our campus in the Midwest cornfields for the lure of the “Big City”.  We had freshly emerged from a popular dessert spot and my left arm was jauntily swinging my bag which held all of my chocolate delicacies.   I was aware of the staccato that my platform heels made on the sidewalk as we made our way over towards the lakeshore.

Unexpectedly, I lurched through the air as my left heel caught in a 6 inch hole where the sidewalk was missing.  When I opened my eyes, I saw an extreme close up of the concrete and tasted the grit of the city on my lips.  The rest of the weekend is a blur of flashing snippets.  I vaguely remember being driven to the emergency room once we were back on campus; I recall being told that my collarbone was dislocated.  I started taking painkillers that night.  The next two months appear in my memories like a party with a strobe light flashing.

I was on the couch in my apartment with a guy friend.  Everything went dark, and I awoke on the floor with him on top of me.  I screamed, “No! Stop!” and he covered my face with a pillow as he pinned me to the floor.  I felt excruciating pain; and blacked out again.  I awoke to find myself in blood on the floor.  However, I had no recollection of this whatsoever until the following spring, when I started suffering from flashbacks.  Six days after the first flashback began, I miscarried my daughter.  I hadn’t even known that I was pregnant.

I had been in counseling to help me cope with my parents’ divorce; and I brought up the flashbacks and the miscarriage to my counselor.  She asked if I remembered having sex.  “No, I just remember everything going black, and then waking up”, I told her.  “Well, if you don’t remember actually having sex, then nothing happened.  You couldn’t possibly have been pregnant.”

I spun into a desperate state of denial, keeping as busy as possible to avoid thinking about the miscarriage.  During summer vacation, however, I was in a doctor’s office filling out paperwork for my appointment.  They asked how many pregnancies and miscarriages I had experienced.  I ran to the bathroom sobbing as my walls of denial crumbled around me.  I began my war with grief.

I call it a war, because my losses scarred me and altered me in ways that can never be reversed.  However, as wars often create warriors who emerge stronger than they ever imagined; I too have learned that my scars give testament to the fact that I have survived.  My purpose in life has become unwavering, because I have been through the hell of death and the loss of a child.  I have mourned the death of my innocence, and grieved all that was stolen from me.   I have been unexpectedly wracked with sobs in the most inconvenient of times, and I have survived.

I have learned to be authentic and vulnerable with my wrestlings.  I have faced God unflinchingly and spewed my truest, darkest doubts.  I have expressed my anger and cussed in the midst of my prayers.  I have discovered that God is big enough to take it.  I have been surprised by the nearness it has resulted in.  It makes no sense whatsoever, and yet I can honestly tell you that His tender compassion is why I have survived.  My wrestling is far from over.  Even now, sixteen years later, my grief still battles within me.

In hindsight, I think my willingness to be honest and raw with God was a demonstration of faith.  I trusted that if I jumped off that precipice into the unknown chasm of my grief and emotions; somehow I’d eventually find a way through my grief and pain.  My prayer is that as I share my journey in a raw, unedited and gritty way; the reality of my grief will somehow encourage you in your journey…whatever it may look like.