If I Leave? Why I’m Going Away
I’m sitting here in bed with a blinking cursor pushing me to keep adding words to this sentence, this paragraph and this post. I have six windows open on my laptop. My email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and WordPress are all places I share community. They are good. The relationships I’ve made and sustained on the web keep me from feeling isolated in my mostly home bound life. I connect with beautiful TRUTH here. I learn your stories. I watch your lives unfold for the glory of God. I share in your pain and struggles, and I pray for you. I celebrate your victories and accomplishments. I also channel my online life into real life with paper to pen, care packages and, if you live close enough, by inviting you to rest awhile on my yellow sofa to know and be known by me. I schedule phone dates with far away friends and even strangers who need pieces of my story to take the next step in their own. When I am not doing these things I am managing my own health care, wrestling with insurance and debt collectors and getting treatment. These things fill my days until my children and husband come home. I try to pour into them what I have left which is often the least of me. Every night I swallow five crazy pills supposed to slow down my brain and my body enough to rest, but I fall into bed with a racing mind and bursting heart. I make lists in my head or on scratch paper on my nightstand in the dark. I am overwhelmed by all the people I need to pray for. I am wanting to remember your birthday or send you a note of encouragement, because it might be the only real mail you get in your hard this week. My life is full because of this screen. I am grateful for it. I also know it is time to step away.
Something bred out of this culture of continuous sharing is the absolute inability to believe the world can and will go on without our input. We don’t know how to do real retreat. We don’t know how to stop the whispering or the shouting long enough to decide who and what we really are without it. I see this as blatantly in the Christian community as I do in secular media. Those of us who write are particularly prone to feeling we must keep our words out here. Isn’t that why God gave us the gift? I have been blogging since 2008, and it has been one of the most beautiful and challenging things I’ve done in my life. I’ve told truth here I would have never been brave enough to bare in any other place. This has wrecked me and healed me. The hundreds of people from around the globe who joined our Team Danica journey encouraged me to know people are hungry for community, and we are all more the same than we are different. My blog and social media gathered an army of prayer warriors for us. It became a place we humbly made our great need known and where God chose to meet much of it. I am grateful for it. I also know it is time to step away.
My heart aches to have been writing and submitting a book for publication before all this. I wish I could tell my story, birth it and give it away. No build up. No platform. No marketing plan or commerce. Just a year and a half of heart work poured onto pages. God, do with them what you will. Take my name off. He is the author. I am merely a character in this narrative of redemption. I’ve been told I am naive. I’ve been asked if this desire is driven by fear of failure. I’ve been asked if I want to be a writer or if I just have this one amazing miraculous tale to tell. Publishers don’t just want one good book. They want to know if you have another and are worth the investment they make in you. I wrestle with the deep threads of faith in my book making it a book only Christians will buy. Do I really want to shine my light into an already lit room. If not, do I pull a few golden stitches out and hope the Jesus shines through the strength of the story itself? I’m asked to focus on my target audience. Is it people who have suffered and are suffering? Is it my ever growing community of EDS and Chiari people who hurt exactly like I do? Or is this a story about finding gifts no matter what your gauntlet making it a book for almost anyone, because none of us are immune to the struggle?
If you’ve been reading here you know I had my twentieth surgery and seventh neurosurgery on June 24th. I never wanted this “new” blog to be focused on my continued pain, treatment or disability and especially not about our ever growing need for support. This is why I’ve been very quiet. Here’s the rub. This is my life. I spent the first eight weeks of my recovery without words. It scared me. I cried more than I have ever cried in my life, sometimes hours at a time. The loss of range of motion in my neck and the new normal I was facing terrified me. The pain from having skin and muscle and nerve cut down my head and spine for the third time in the same place was driving me into despair. I wanted to quit, and I felt the story I’ve labored over was a farce, because I couldn’t see a gift anywhere. At the bottom of the valley I had my finger on “delete.” God stopped me.
I cannot answer many of the questions I’ve asked above. I do know God is asking me to be quiet, pull away from ALL this here and focus completely on what I know for sure He called me to do. This means saying no to people in all kinds of ways. This means my children and husband will lose even more of me as I set my jaw like flint to finish this work. This means I have to believe my presence in your life on this screen is not necessary for a period of time and trust God to bring you other encouragement. This means I’m asking you to respect the absence but promise me you will be here when I return, because I will miss you all, and I need you too.
I remember a poem written by L.L. Barkat in her precious book “God in the Yard.” I found it quickly tonight as I pulled my well worn copy from the shelf. I had forgotten she wrote it for Ann Voskamp. I wondered if Ann was feeling these same struggles as she poured herself into her first book. I will leave you with it tonight.
Stayed: for Ann Voskamp
Why do we not
Is it really for fear
of what lies
beyond, or rather
for fear that the
roof will abscond
with the doors
and the shutters
we’ve always known.
And who would they
blame if it happened
just so, if the whole
curtained place simply
picked up its stakes,
disappeared on the wind
in our absence. What
are we really afraid
of, why do we not
I will be gone literally as much as figuratively over the next two months. I leave a week from today for a trip to Maryland for a scan and fusion check up with my neurosurgeon. I plan to head further south to the Virginia valley I love between the Blue Ridge to see my Angie after this. God has provided for me to take an overnight trip with dear girlfriends, a very long weekend at the beach with one of my most faithful five and an entire week of writing on Lake Michigan as I finish out my thirty-ninth year of life. Will you please pray for me physically as I continue to heal and learn how to live once again with new challenges? Will you please pray for the decisions I have to make about further PANDAS/AE treatment? I have decided not to continue chemo or add long term steroids, the next suggested steps from my physician, until my symptoms become unbearable and dangerous again. Will you please pray for God to provide for our family as He always has and for us to live this manna life with great joy. Will you pray over the words I am committing to write as I finish “Gauntlet with a Gift” and for God to make clear the path where it should land for His glory? I humbly thank you for taking these things to our God who already knows what we need and still beautifully invites us to enter in by asking.
(I will continue to publish Thursday’s Gauntlet Story Feast here, because your stories are important and are one of the main reasons the book was conceived. I have made commitments to several author friends to help launch and promote their own soul work, and I will be showing up, because their books are changing me, and I want you to read them and be changed too. Besides these things I will be quiet. If you truly need me I will check email and messenger daily.)
Jolene Underwood (@Faith_Eyes)September 8, 2015 at 11:10 am (8 years ago)
To the extent I am able, my heart goes with you in care & sentiment. My prayers are to lift you up no matter how many times its needed and as often as God asks. You are a treasure Monica. It hurts to know you are in so much pain and so often. But that’s the blessing too. This ability to feel compassion for others and remember we’re all broken on our way home. Thank you for your faithfulness to Him. I hate that you go through what you do, but I love how God speaks mightily through your testimony. So, here I am, cheering you on in your journey with whatever you face & however the Lord leads you through it. Your sister in Christ, Jolene
Caryn ChristensenSeptember 8, 2015 at 12:17 pm (8 years ago)
Interestingly, I was just thinking this morning about words and “talking” and how social media provides a way for us to just.keep.talking. Without resting. Without pause for reflection. And honestly? I’ve gotten caught up in the fray at times too. Worried that I will be “forgotten” if I don’t “keep up”. And in reality, that is not the same as connection. True connection gives space, doesn’t suffocate or bleed someone dry.
I will continue to pray for you Monica. For your health, your family, for wisdom in discerning what is the best course of medical action for you…and…knowing how much you love words, I’ll be praying He gives you peace, freedom, and release from those things that are weighing at the very epicenter of your heart. I believe that the Lord has already made the mountains low and the crooked path straight for Gauntlet With A Gift, and that He will place it in the hands of someone He’s preparing to receive it, publish it and carry it forward. Because His word will not return to him void, but will accomplish that which HE sent it to do. His story/your story. There’s a place, a home for your story.
I love you dear friend. And though your words will be missed on the page (or computer screen) I will carry YOU in my heart.
MonicaSeptember 8, 2015 at 10:56 pm (8 years ago)
Oh Caryn, You have me in a puddle of tears over here. I know your heart, because I carry it too. Thank you for your sincere prayer offerings. I have you and your family circled wide in my own intercession. He is for us! He has written all our days. What peace and rest we find in these truths. I love you dearly.
PamelaSeptember 10, 2015 at 7:52 pm (8 years ago)
Oh my dear, my heart cried listening to your post. So many whys in our lives, but what others don’t know is that the whys of continual pain and side effects from medicines supposed to help are often unbearable. I’ll be praying as you make your journeys.
Jen FergusonSeptember 11, 2015 at 3:23 pm (8 years ago)
I am praying for an abundance of the Lord’s provision in the appointments, in the friendship, and in the writing. May you feel Him deeply and know His incredible gifts.
the proof-reading.services high school and university writing scholarshipsJune 9, 2017 at 10:22 am (6 years ago)
God has provided for me to take an overnight trip with dear girlfriends, a very long weekend at the beach with one of my most faithful five and an entire week of writing on Lake Michigan as I finish out my thirty-ninth year of life.