Joyful.

A word I have heard all my life to describe me.

Everyone that knows me or comes in contact with me uses this word to describe me.

However, the past 2 years have not been so joyful in my life.  Not the way it had been.  I feel that my true joy had been stolen from me.  Knocked me out.  And instead of joy, I got shame, fear, and a disease.

2 years ago I was on a mission trip to Uganda with E3 Partners. One of my first with them, but not my last as I’ll be joining them again to Peru in 2 weeks.  Upon return, I went into a routine doctor appointment that lead me down the path of more blood tests, an endocrinologist, and the start of insulin and 2 different pills.  Apparently I had Type 1, no wait, Type 2 Diabetes.  The doctors couldn’t figure it out.  And neither could I.

How could this be?  How could I have this?  The person who grew up looking at labels.  Looking at everything I was eating and making sure I was eating pretty healthy, and even helping others eat healthier.  I wasn’t drastically overweight and I had just had 2 blood tests done that were perfectly normal before I left.  In fact, I had been losing quite a bit of excess weight.  Why was this happening to ME?

As time went by, it felt like I was on a roller coaster.  I’d have a good day, week, or even month, and then BAM, there go my sugars.  Out of control.  And my emotions gone with them.

Then came the lies.

Somewhere in all this mess, I began listening to the enemies lies.

You’re dirty.

You’re broken.

No one will want you.

God doesn’t really want you to be healed.

If they find out the truth about you, they’ll reject you.

Enter in the blanket of shame, rejection, fear, doubt, worthlessness, unwanted, and even unloved.

I began to let these lies and thoughts take me over.  Some of my family knew my disease, but maybe not all.  I let some friends know what was going on.  But I didn’t want to talk about it.  I couldn’t talk about it.  Talking about it made it more real and made me feel even more dirty.  More unwanted.  More broken.  More fear that the ones I loved and cared about would reject me.  Leaving me all by myself.

I felt like talking about it would continue to worry the people I loved and held so dear to me.  I didn’t want to burden them with this.  After all, this was happening to me, not them.  Talking to them about it would only cause them pain, worry, anxiety, and maybe a little fear.  How could I put them through that?  How DARE I put them through that.

So my solution?  Keep everyone at a safe distance.  Let them in only a little bit, but hold them at arms length.  You don’t want to let them get too close.  After all, if they find out what’s going on, what you have, they’ll reject you.  Leave you for good.  They won’t want to be with you anymore.  Love you anymore.  You’ll just hold them back.  So it’s best to keep them at a distance and let them live their life in happiness, without having to worry about you.

Food became a fear and I didn’t want to eat anything.  Yet at the same time I wanted to stuff my face with breads, pastas, and sweets because they were on the “forbidden” list, and spaghetti is one of my favorite meals.  Going out with friends was pretty much out of the question.  I couldn’t have the things I once was able to because they’ll now cause this broken body to become more dirty.  Ever gone to a restaurant to order food that would be “diabetic approved”?  I’ll have the chicken taco without the tortilla please.  THAT was a fun experience!  (By the way, you should totally try it sometime just to see the reaction on the faces.  Classic and utter confusion.)

So again…the arm came up to keep those I loved and held so dear to me at a distance.  After all, I couldn’t eat or drink the things that they’d be enjoying.  I was just going to hold them back.  From having fun.  From living life.

Last September rolled around and it was a downward spiral.  My sugar numbers were out of control and I felt even more shame, fear, despair, and feeling like the truth of what was happening was only going to get me rejected from people’s lives and cause them pain.  Something I could not live with.  I couldn’t bring myself to let the people I loved know what I was going through.  What I was experiencing.  What it felt like.  After all, I was Joyful Jenny.  And I didn’t want to be the person to bring people down.

My dad’s mother had Type 1 and had passed away because of the effects of this disease.  Then someone I hold so near and dear to my heart just had his father pass away from the effects of this disease.  How was I supposed to tell him what was going on with me?  All I was going to do was cause more pain, and ultimately he’d reject me because he wouldn’t want to have to deal with this all over again, right?  So I kept it to myself.  Held in everything.  The continual downward spiral until I hit rock bottom in February, right in the middle of the office with a fellow coworker and friend going through something herself, and I let her in.

We talked about our struggles while crying it out, until some fellow coworkers came and found us blubbering our little eyes out, in which they proceeded to pray for us.  Right there.  No questions asked.

I’d like to say that it was instant turn around from there, but it wasn’t.  But I did make a decision to start doing something about this.  Getting back on healthy and strict diet, working out consistently, and avoiding all the “bad stuff”.  I got my numbers in control and feel really good.  Yet I still felt the lies.  Still felt the weighted steel blanket of shame, fear, rejection, and despair and kept everyone at a safe distance.

Until last week…something changed.

At a church service, the pastor prayed for digestive diseases.  For the first time in 2 years, I felt like that was for me.  That I, Joyful Jenny, could accept for myself this healing from Jesus for me.  That is wasn’t just for everyone else, but that I can receive it for ME.  Then it happened.  The weighted blanket finally came off.  The scales on my eyes and mind fell and I could feel my joy coming back.  And I’ve felt it continually grow.

God has been revealing the truth to me, showing me things from the last 2 years of lies that I believed and the effects of them.  People and relationships it has hurt.  Who I really am and made to be in His eyes.

Joy 2

I know only God can do the miraculous and that He can heal brokenness.  He is our Healer and our Redeemer.  I know I can’t make it happen, but just have to trust that He will take care of broken hearts and relationships.

I feel like the one thing I didn’t want to happen, happened because of all these lies.  Friendships and relationships seem broken and unsteady.  I’ve kept some at a far distance only now longing to get them back, to spend every waking moment with them, catching up on what was lost.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that life is short and you’ve got to dive in with no fear.  Stop listening to the lies of the enemy and talk about everything, even if you feel fearful of it.  (That’s probably the enemy.  He likes to cause division and fear like that.)  God is big enough to take care of anything and everything.  Trust in His timing.  His promises are true.  He doesn’t lie.  Live everyday like it’s your last.  Dance in the rain.  Take chances.  Do those things you “wish” you could do.  Looking back, there are so many things that I wish I would have just done, been a part of, taken that leap.  Looking ahead, no more wishing, a lot more doing.  No reserves.  No retreats.  No regrets.

Have you said everything you wanted to say to your friends and family right now?  What if they were gone tomorrow, later today?  We are not promised tomorrow…so say what you need to say now.  Before it’s too late.

I’ve probably left out so many details, so many “words of wisdom” and God revelations from all this.  But one last thing…if you’re reading this and I’ve caused you pain, caused you to fear or doubt yourself, caused you anxiety, or hurt in any way….I’m SO sorry for this and hope you can forgive me.  I hope that I can bring you nothing but joy.  Because I can promise you one thing….this momma bear has got her claws out and isn’t going to let the enemy steal my joy again.  And if I start listening to those lies and you feel like my arm has come back up and I’m keeping you at a distance…you have my permission to slap me back to God’s reality.

I love you all more than you will ever know and thank God for each of you!  Here’s to being the true Joyful Jenny again. :)

Is there someone you need to let in or something you need to let out?  Let me encourage you to take that step of faith and just do it.  God will be there, I promise.  He was and is for me.  He’ll do the same for you.  And if you need me, I’ll stand right there with you.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Galatians 5:1

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