“The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.”
– John 10:10, emphasis mine
One of my very real fears for our South Africa/Zimbabwe trip would be that I would get sick. I haven’t shared publicly how my health deteriorated over the past year. It happened suddenly and rapidly last March and continued throughout 2016. I was, I now believe, having physical reactions to emotional distress and an intensely stressful trigger event. After three years of living in a constant state of stress from our adoption process and then subsequent trauma and attachment issues, the weight of a life lived in extreme stress finally took a toll on me physically.
Symptoms would appear suddenly and violently. They were seemingly unrelated, the tests and MRI’s and CT scans and panels and panels of bloodwork couldn’t point to a single cause. The panic attacks started a few months in. Dave would sit with me at 2 am, helping me to breathe slowly and deeply. We would have midnight dates of board games and worship music when the fear settled in too intensely for any hope of sleep.
I found freedom at 3 am in a small medical clinic in Marondera, Zimbabwe.
My fear for our trip – that I would get sick – happened. I got sick. In Zimbabwe. Looking back, I absolutely believe God’s hand was in that illness. I didn’t get sick in developed South Africa – where I had researched medical facilities in the vicinity of where we would be staying – I got sick in a small town in a developing country. God used this to remind me that He is never going to leave or forsake me. Never, ever.
You see, one of the top physicians in the country just so happened to be a Musha WeVana board member. Pastor John ushered me to the small clinic in the middle of the night and the doctor met us there. He was calm, efficient and caring. He drove to the hospital to find the appropriate medicine, administered a shot of something glorious that immediately took effect and then he prayed over me before I left the tiny room. Peace descended.
Since that moment, I haven’t had a single panic attack. My crazy seemingly-unrelated symptoms have all but disappeared. My health is restored, I am finally able to exercise again and go on adventures with my kids without fear of paralysis or an inability to swallow or severe vertigo.
I recently read about about something called Conversion Disorder. Essentially, Conversion Disorder is a condition in which you show psychological stress in physical ways. The symptoms have no underlying physical cause and you can’t control them.
I don’t know officially if this is what happened to me, but I’m leaning into it. I’m recognizing the PTSD from our adoption and our time in country visiting our daughter years ago, I’m acknowledging the intensity of the stress our family has undergone as we have settled into our new normal as a family of six, and I’m no longer burying the hurt caused by attachment issues and trauma aftermath.
Thank you, Jesus, for freedom. Thank you that you came to give abundant life. Not a life of suffering and fear. But a life of laughter and joy and thrilling adventures by your side. You give rest. You insist that I lie down in peaceful valleys, next to serene streams. Your love doesn’t give up on me no matter how fast I run or how far I fall. You truly never leave me or forsake me. You are with me on mountaintops, in airplanes, in my home, and in stale hospital rooms. You meet me in my favorite chair, by the window with the birds outside singing their beautiful melody, and speak to me through your Word. You are so good to me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.