Thorns

The soldiers also twisted together a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and threw a purple robe around Him. John 19:2

So, I guess the only place to start is at the beginning. I hope this blesses and encourages you to keep pushing, even when you get to your breaking point like I did. The last few weeks have been beyond hectic, and the last year has been beyond difficult. All of the frustrations and heartaches for me came to a head the weekend before last. It started with my oversleeping and missing the ride to Atlanta with my church, but I was okay, because I was able to get a bike (score for me…sorta…I later found out I could have gotten the same bike brand new for the price it cost me to get the bike and get a tune up…but oh well.) Then…I needed to get a trim…initially I decided against it. But I knew I was going to get a sew-in this past Saturday and needed a trim before I got it done. (I’m not sure if its showing up, but trim is bolded, lol, pay attention.) So, it bugged me, and to make sure my hair stays healthy while in these protective styles and since I was trying to let it grow out, I went ahead to get a trim. Sigh. Let’s just say my precious hair is 2-3 inches shorter and cut even when that was not my request. I prefer layers, not even hair (*insert angry scowl here*). I was devastated. I got depressed immediately and I am just recovering from the test of my faith that ensued.

Most of you may think I’m crazy, and maybe I am. Sue me. But it was in the midst of that situation that I had several epiphanies that were not so comfortable. I felt like, with valid reason, that every time I got back on my feet and was moving forward, an obstacle would come or some attack would knock me down. And especially with my hair. My journey with growing my hair out has been my tangible example of my faith walk. So I was very down…very low. Over the course of last week, I told God I don’t care, and that I’m not the person for this and that I was angry about all the things I have had to go through with no breaks. I still am not sure whether I am. I asked Him flat out why am I still here if all I do is fight and struggle and be strong for others and suffer and wait. No answer came to me at all that day. I didn’t flat out stop praying, I vowed to pray for others and ignore what I wanted because it seemed like I would never get it. Yet, somehow I knew when I prayed for others it would work. Strange thinking…no stinking thinking. LOL. I had several conversations last week where people attempted to encourage me. I tried listening to a sermon, I tried reading the Bible, and I tried reading devotions but I just wasn’t in the right state of mind.

So last Friday, I woke up early so I could try to get out of New Orleans on time to leave for Atlanta. I prayed the night before and I finally accepted that the hair was gone. (Side note, I went through the stages of grief smh; trims are traumatic for me unless I go to Tamara. From now on until I die, I will suck it up and make that ride to Atlanta from wherever I am…never again will anyone else trim my hair). By the time I got in the car to go to work, I had a text message from one of my linesisters, letting me know that her sister was diagnosed with Lupus.

See many of you don’t know that technically, I was diagnosed with Lupus back in 2006 when my kidney problems were discovered. I went into a deep depression; I was angry with God then too. During junior year, I started having some strange symptoms which led to me having to have a biopsy. Well right there was God’s hand on my life. Because instead of prepping me for the biopsy, the doctor ordered additional labs that morning, which was not the norm, and I waited. I later was admitted to the hospital where I stayed for two weeks during the middle of the second semester of school because had they done the biopsy that day, I would have bled to death. I was poked and prodded like a cow, isolated, depressed, and everything imaginable while I was in there. They could not find out what was wrong with me. I read the bible and I prayed to God that it would not be Lupus. I prayed and I prayed. Some friends, including my college roommate and two of my spiritual sisters, came and prayed for me. My boyfriend’s (at the time) mom and aunt and sister came and prayed for me. Friends came and visited me. At some point during the hospitalization, I tested positive for some of the markers for Lupus. Then, after being treated with all sorts of medicines to get my platelet count up, I had the kidney biopsy. I had been being tested since I was 16 and every time after being in the hospital, the tests were negative.

I had the moon pie face and I hated taking pictures. I refused to be in the front of a picture. And then I got bigger than this!

You can see here that I was just getting the stria on my arms (they were still red so my skin was still ripping from the weight gain)

When I got out of the hospital, my life changed completely. I went from eating and drinking whatever I wanted to a strict diet and a new additive: prednisone. I gained about 30 lbs in less than 2 months. People asked me what was wrong; it hurt to walk and I was easily fatigued. Some people asked if I had a baby… So last Friday morning when I got her message, I suddenly understood why I was still here as those memories rushed back.

I had a vision after reading the message from my linesister. I saw an image of Jesus with the crown of thorns around His head. I saw the scratches they caused and the blood that dripped from them and I thought of the pain, His shed blood for our lives. Then I thought of Paul and the thorn in his flesh. Both had thorns, but it was how they looked at them that was different. So I now have a new understanding of 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Paul was tormented by a messenger of satan. This thorn he had, much like my thorn, can be equated to those negative thoughts. That messenger of satan will torment you and cause you to get depressed and discouraged, either by haunting you with thoughts of your current suffering and the things you have faced in life. It was in realizing God’s grace, God’s love, God’s gift to him–Jesus’ life, death and resurrection–that Paul was able to rejoice because God used those situations in Paul’s life to bring victory, to save souls and to spread the Good News to the world. It was in looking at the thorn in his side as Jesus did, necessary to bring about God’s intended purpose, that Paul was able to walk in God’s grace through it.

And now I can do the same. I had thought of thorns in my mind, how instead of victories, the things that I had gone through were like the notches in a tree that was being chopped down. They were thorns, embedded in my mind and heart, serving as a constant reminder of what happened and I was allowing them to still cause me pain. I have the physical reminders of what I went through, the stretch marks, the transplant scar, the biopsy scars (I had a bone marrow biopsy and a kidney biopsy before I was diagnosed, and a thyroid biopsy after my surgery). I have the little stubborn pooch that seems like it will never go away (ugh lol) from my daily prednisone. These thorns have been areas of torment for me instead of access points for the victory. I was reminded of the thorns because these thorns, these uncomfortable situations, are preparing me for my eternal crown. Because for every thorn I have, God has a way in the making for me to rejoice in spite of that thing. And while encounters with thorns sometimes leave scars, those scars fade. I went through what I went through so that I could testify of what faith can do. God healed me. Even though I had to have a transplant, I am healed. Even though I take medicines, I am healed. I live and come and go as I please. I remember that He died and rose. He bore the thorns so that I can wear a crown.

I’m a living testimony of the power of faith. I have had several other diagnoses that I no longer have. The things that happened to me this last year, for a moment were like a prison. I was imprisoned by the burdens, by those thorns in my mind. And even though my diagnosis still says Lupus, the tests they have given me since then say that I’m negative. Why? Because I chose to look at that ‘thorn’ through the eyes of faith and I chose to focus on God’s truth and His grace He extended to me. So I encourage you, that in whatever situation you may be in today, to have faith and get back up. Rise again. Shake off the depression and discouragement; look at your thorns the way that Jesus did. Look at those situations as preparation for the crown of glory God will give you. Don’t focus on the pain, focus on the purpose. Remember in spite of what you’ve gone through and may be going through, God loves you and His grace is sufficient. Remember His power is greater than anything you may ever face and that your crown awaits!

This is two weeks ago, the week of that dang trim! Ugh! lol! Argghhhh lol.

He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; you have been healed by His wounds. 1 Peter 2:24

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