Fighting for Joy: It Continues (Update Part 1)

I’ve been pondering this post for a while, and honestly, I’m embarrassed for my 5-month writing hiatus. I’ve been learning a lot this summer, and I know it’s time for me to get back in the swing of things and start sharing my heart with you again.

So, what’s happened throughout these past few months? I last talked with you in March about my battle to see God’s goodness in the midst of my circumstances and how that fits into the greater battle of fighting for joy. I wish I could say that I’m done with this fight because I’ve mastered the art of finding joy. But that wouldn’t be true. The fight hasn’t necessarily been easier, but it has been different.

If you remember from my previous post about God’s goodness, I was struggling to see that God was not only sovereign and in control of my life, but also that He’s good at the same time. We tend to separate these two attributes of God, when instead they both make up who He is. For a long time, I’ve teetered on the side of God being in control, but with the idea that He’s just an angry disciplinarian. When I realized that, I started to pray that God would correct my view of Him, and that I would see His goodness.

In fact, I took my prayer from Psalm 27:13-14, which says, “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

And the Lord really has been faithful in showing me that this summer. Honestly, I was surprised that He answered this prayer, but that’s just another sign of my incorrect view of who He is.

For the past few months, I’ve seen God’s provision in a multitude of ways, but these two are pretty significant (and they’re related).

First, my health.

For more than two years, I struggled with persistent exhaustion and a number of other symptoms, but every doctor I saw passed me off like nothing was wrong. Finally, in September of last year, I found a doctor who listened and was able to get to the root of the issue. He found lead and mercury toxicity. In January, I began my road to recovery by making drastic dietary changes and by adding over a dozen medicines, detoxifiers, and supplements into my daily routine. And by God’s grace, my body started to detox the metals, energy began to come back, I started to sleep well, and I was even able to start exercising again.

I can’t tell you how significant these seemingly small things are to me. Take exercising, for example. Prior to this treatment, when I exercised, I felt completely drained of energy afterward, I had a terrible time breathing, and I even had a metallic taste in my mouth. Before, running was completely out of the question. But now, in two weeks, I’ll be running my first 5K!

In June, I was able to start adding foods into my diet (chicken, chickpeas, peas, corn, bananas, strawberries, lemons, limes, coconut and onions), which allows me to eat out occasionally now! It feels good to be somewhat normal again!! Just look at how happy I am…

Panera Chipotle

 

 

 

 

 

 

And in July, I saw a holistic dentist who specializes in mercury removal. I had five old fillings that had been depositing mercury into my system for about 15 years. The process of removal was really a surreal experience. I was hooked up to oxygen, I wore a hairnet and goggles, and there was a contraption in my mouth blocking the mercury from going into my body. Not to mention I had to drink a mixture of charcoal and water as a preventative measure. And the dentist and her assistant both wore full body suits (like haz-mat suits) and large gas masks to prevent them from breathing in the mercury vapor. I also had three vacuums placed around my mouth. This is how toxic those fillings are. No wonder I was sick! So, in two long, intense sessions, taking about five hours total, the mercury was finally removed. I got a pin to prove it!

No Hg

Though this strict diet is still ongoing, this whole experience with my health and diet has really taught me to appreciate the goodness of natural, non-processed foods and also taught me about how the body works. I’m so thankful for that. Now, I’m just waiting for the day when I can add cocoa, coffee, and spices back in. It’s amazing how much I’ve taken these simple flavors for granted!

One more thing, I celebrated my final round of extensive bloodwork on Thursday! And by extensive, I mean about 20 vials taken. I’ll have my results and follow-up with Dr. Waldo in 10 days.

(For the full-length explanation of my health issues and my treatment plan, check out these previous posts: Fighting for Joy: Discouragement and Fighting for Joy: Attitude)

This leads me into the other significant way I’ve seen God’s provision: Spending a year sharing the Gospel overseas. But I’ll share more about that in the next few days.

Fighting for Joy: Attitude

Sorry I’ve left you with some unanswered health questions after the last post about discouragement. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget.

Let me rewind a little…

Shortly after the breaking point in September with the doctor who said no one could help me, I called what seemed like my last resort, Dr. Waldo, a functional medicine doctor in Indianapolis. (*Insert “Where’s Waldo?” reference.) Within a few weeks, I was in Indianapolis with my parents explaining my symptoms to the doctor. Immediately, he started nodding and chuckling, showing me that this would be an easy case for him. I walked out of the office with an unofficial diagnosis and with a more hopeful heart.

Three months and 20+ vials of bloodwork later, on my 23rd birthday, I had my next appointment with the official diagnosis based on the lab results and the biochemical makeup of my body. (It was amazing to listen to him piece it all together. He sounded like a child who just pieced together a 10,000-piece puzzle.) Without giving you the long scientific explanation, in short, I have lead and mercury toxicity, plus high ammonia levels and not enough good bacteria in my stomach to get the toxins out. These are causing my body to not be able to make melatonin or serotonin. This is also not allowing my body to eliminate toxins normally. It’s a vicious cycle of reabsorbing toxins, which makes all these problems worse. Needless to say, my body is “broken.”

A few weeks later (January 3), I started a strict rotating diet (low in sulfur and without preservatives, pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics) and an intense supplement regime. If you’re friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you may have seen pictures of the foods I’ve been eating or my attempts at cooking unfamiliar foods. Putting together the diet was like a puzzle, but the end result is shown below.

Image

(In the last few weeks, I’ve switched a few things around.)

The first four days were the hardest. My body was detoxing sugar and caffeine, which made me feel like I had the flu. And I was cranky. That’s probably an understatement. My poor parents had to deal with me and my attitude for those few days, but they showed me a lot of grace and kept reminding me that this is for my good and for healing.

It’s been exactly one month and one day since I started the diet, and it hasn’t been easy. I thought I was doing okay for a while, and then the dreams about food started. I would wake up and not remember what food was in my dream, but it caused a lot of discontentment with the food I’m currently eating. The dreams brought out a critical and frustrated attitude that was worse than any attitude I’ve dealt with before. There was even a point when I was in front of bowls filled with chips, pretzels, and desserts, and all I wanted to do was rebel. Not because I was hungry, but because I felt entitled to eat the food in front of me. By the grace of God, I didn’t give in. It was in that moment that I realized that I had been trying to walk through this in my own strength, not in total dependence to Jesus. In that moment, God exposed my heart idols of food, health, entitlement, and control. My attitude toward God was an attitude of entitlement. I want to eat what I want when I want to eat it. I should have good health because I eat better than a lot of other people. I shouldn’t have to spend hours cooking one meal every day. Yes, entitlement at its finest.

It’s this attitude that I have to fight constantly. The “I want what I want and when I want it” attitude. This attitude is sinful and robs me of joy in what God has given me. And it’s only by His grace and power that I can fight it. Not in my strength, but only in His.

John 10:10 says, “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

When we give our lives to Jesus, we belong to Him. We are no longer our own; we have been bought with a price. When we surrender our lives to Jesus, we surrender our rights, our desires, our futures, our plans to Him. But we surrender it to Jesus, the only One worthy of our lives. The only One who can satisfy and give life.

When we surrender, we receive life and life abundantly.

If it’s one thing I’ve noticed in the last few months, it’s that complaining and having a critical attitude or attitude of entitlement really keeps us from experiencing the joy God has for us.

I have life in Jesus, and for that alone, I can be joyful. He has given me so much else that I don’t deserve, but because He loves me, He wants to provide me with good gifts. The doctor He provided is a gift. The food I can eat is a gift. The wonderful group of people surrounding and encouraging me through this; it’s a gift! And this trial is a gift, because the Lord is changing my heart and stripping me of myself so I can be more like Him.

Image

(This is me after a trip to Whole Foods. So thankful for that store!)

And I’ve noticed that as I thank God for what He has provided, I see more joy.

So, I ask you, wherever God has you, how is your attitude? To what rights are you clinging? Have you surrendered fully to Jesus and the life that He brings?

Here’s my challenge to you: Think of five things for which you can thank God. And in moments when you start to have a critical attitude, choose to thank God instead. Watch what happens!