Will you still love me tomorrow?

The question we simply don’t need to ask.

The question that I simply don’t need to ask again, yet have wasted too many moments wondering, is the one posed in this song by the Shirelles.  Oh and Dionne Warwick.  And maybe Amy Winehouse too.  Such a classic song!

Each time I wind up in the Emergency Room, I wonder if my beloved will still love me the next day.  This morning he referred to yesterday evening as “another date night!”  Unbelievable.  All this love continues after about 16 trips to the ER in the past 7 years.  I am humbled and blessed beyond measure.

This blessing is hard to see sometimes when my body is breaking down in a new way once again.  Looks like an ulcer in the lower part of my stomach is the reason for a month of abdominal pain.  Over-the-counter and walk-in clinic medications did not solve the problem.  So after a CT scan under the influence of anti-allergy drugs and some more potent medication, I am in less pain . . . but oh so worn out.  I’ll see a gastroenterologist this coming week with an endoscopy likely to follow.  Going to try to keep my stress level low in the meantime.  I mean I don’t have any other of the risk factors that contribute to an ulcer (e.g. spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol) unless of course there’s a hidden H. pylori infection.  So more testing is needed to figure this one out.

The other “love” that could be easy to question is that of my Heavenly Father.  But I don’t.  I look around and see tremendous blessings in my life in that I have a warm home in which to convalesce, enough food and clothing, and finances for the important stuff.  My beloved is faithful and loving like “Jesus with skin on.”  What I don’t understand is how these illnesses isolate me from friends and family outside of our home and most notably, my husband’s adult children. 

My extreme sensitivities continue and are triggered by the fragrant products they (and many folks) tend to use.  We are just not sure how to manage this reactivity with our Christmas gatherings rapidly approaching.  We already had to decline having both daughters stay with us (which was a delight to host them in years gone by).  A trial of having his oldest stay with us for about a week 2 months ago, despite extreme precautions, triggered a violent relapse in the convulsive episodes.  I am now sensitized to even trace amounts of fragrance on her coat that was kept in a suitcase in our garage in between scheduled visits.  Then I had a seizure spike 2 days ago when she returned from some travels to pick up her suitcase . . .

My heart is breaking from more than the loss of acquaintances and friendships:  my relationships with my husband’s children never really got going.  Steve and I have been married for 11 years and I got sick just 4 years into our marriage.  I have been battling a serious illness for most of our marriage!  You could say that my limited visits with his adult children gave them more time to adjust to the fact that their father is remarried.  Well, o.k. maybe that’s it.  I already sensed that I needed to lie low during their visits in the beginning anyways, focusing on serving them good food and comforts and not speaking up too much nor complaining when their Dad jumped to see them, rescue them when the trials of young adulthood came along.  No problem.  Fix the car?  Pick them up at the bus stop?  Join them at church?  I just had to stay home due to illness factors and couldn’t go with their Dad to help them, that’s all.

They don’t really know me either though.  We profess the courteous “love” greetings yet would I ever really see them again if something happened to their Dad?  Oh dear, I should not even go there.  I now realize that this barrier between us is completely out of my hands.  Remember when I sent along baked goods with Steve for when he visited his family in Arkansas without me 2 weeks ago?  Yes, I need to rest in the hope that what I could do has been done as unto the Lord.   My Jesus and my beloved know my heart.  They hold together the parts in me that are breaking and the inner tears.  And the Lord also holds me in tender moments like these right now.

I need to know that your love.  Is a love I can be sure of.  So tell me know so I won’t ask again.  Will you still love me tomorrow?

Yes, for sure.  JJ

Jeremiah, 31:3, everlasting, love, doubting, Christ's, Lord's, faithfulness,what He thinks of me, endurance, love through the trials

In a far-off land the LORD will manifest himself to them. He will say to them, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love. That is why I have continued to be faithful to you.’

The Geographical Cure Uncovered

In a way you could say that the promise of “starting over” has helped me move from:

  • junior high school student to community leader
  • my childhood home to college,
  • Detroit to Chicagoland,
  • employee to team leader,
  • health care professional to graduate student,
  • ACOA and religion to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ
  • a single life to marriage twice,
  • Chicagoland to Fort Wayne, and
  • private journaling to online blogging!

Just wondering:  how many of you, my gentle readers, have experienced this too?  How many of us have initially and privately hoped that the simple move from one lifestyle to another, one geographical location to another, one relationship to another, one worker role to a promotion, or more would somehow be all we needed to change what is wrong or uncomfortable in our lives?  The excitement, the risk to the unknown, the new adventure surely would change everything and bring true happiness!  The lure, the answer to prayer, the next pursuit will be “it.”  After all, once we have moved on, that person who bugs us, the issue we don’t want to face, the pain that we simply can no longer bear, the emptiness in our hearts will go also away, right?  In our minds we might figure that won’t have to deal with him or her, with it anymore.

Not!  The only problem with this mentality I have found, is that I take myself with me to the new destination!  What I mean is that if I have not prepared my heart to let go of the past, deal with the past, and found new ways of coping with the past, I will somehow recreate the problem in the new location.  Not true, you say?  You are different?  Are you sure?

May I share my most graphic example?  I grew up in a modest blue collar home tainted by alcoholism, financial strife, divorce, abuse, and my maladaptive coping style of workaholism.  Sure I had lots of friends, school and community service activities, and spending money from working but my inner life was chaotic even sad.  If anyone could read my thoughts at that time I would surely be in trouble with someone, somewhere!  Out of sheer determination to improve my life as a young adult and get away from my domineering mother, I set my sights on college.  Within 3 months after graduation, I moved out-of-State alone to the Chicago area for my first job when I could not find one locally.  I had to get away anyways.  Finally I would be free from my past and able to live my life as I wanted.

It took about a year for me to realize that my problems had moved with me!  My “stinking thinking,” the unhealthy people with whom I ended up associating, the social habits I once despised, and the compulsive work ethic to succeed at all costs mimicked the dysfunction of my childhood home.  I walked further and further from my Catholic upbringing.  I set my sights on more career achievements and prepared to enter graduate school.  When my double-life and underlying feelings couldn’t catch up with my ambitions, I sought counseling to fix it.  Turns out it would take a long time, a lot of money, many different avenues of recovery leading to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ to find freedom.  The geographical move away from “home” did not do anything to fix anything!

There’s a simple phrase I’ve come across over the years that goes, “wherever you go, there you are.”  It’s so silly yet it’s very profound.  We take ourselves with us just as we are wherever we go.  If we don’t change, the change in circumstances won’t change much of anything either.

Flash forward 25 years and I hope that you will find that my life today is very different then back then.  The trials and tragedies during the interim years have been almost unbelievable at times.   During 2003 to 2005 I was forced to start over as a single woman and completely move five times.  This year I’d say that was a warm up act for the fourteen changes in sleeping locations over seventy-six days during the process of mold remediation at home!  The difference between then and now, between the Detroit to Chicagoland move in 1983, was how the Lord allowed me to handle it.  Only by the grace of God have I ever truly moved forward.  With my life surrendered to Him and with the spiritual leadership of the Holy Spirit and my husband, there was no trauma in relocating this time; the stress was normal.  There was no magical thinking; I didn’t need to win the lottery to be at peace.  If the change turned out well or not, I would be o.k. and the Lord would and has provided for my needs.  The Lord used each move this time to show me His love and plan for my life and the people that came along were His chosen instruments:  pretty cool folks.

I have given pretty graphic examples here in uncovering the illusion of a “geographical cure.”  Some of you will be able to relate to my situation and some will not.  Please get the take home message written best by the God of the Bible:

Romans 8:28

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  (NIV)

Each step of the way can be useful, never wasted if we but seek first His face, His kingdom, and

Romans 12:2

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (NIV)

The first step is to look to the real cure for all that ails us, the One who created us.

Matthew 6:33

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  (NIV)

For those that call Him Lord, He will give us no more that we can handle, the desires of our hearts, a way out when needed, and much goodness; our thoughts and desires both conform and grow in our walk with Him.  The pain, the fear, the adventure of letting go will be worth the journey if we but commit ourselves to Him.  The move to follow Him will bring a spiritual cure of sorts that will exceed any that we might create or imagine on our own in this life and the next!  The cure, the answer to our prayers, may also relate less to our jobs, our families and friends, our places of residence, our ministries, than the condition of our hearts.  Our minds become sanctified; our hearts become free.

A fun outcome for me with the move to Fort Wayne to marry Steve was learning to kayak at age 47.  This would have been emotionally painful if not terrifying just a few years earlier!  And yet few years after relocating and opening my heart to this new love, I became physically stronger than I’d ever been and progressed from a tandem plastic, pedal-driven Hobie Oasis to a solo introductory racing Stellar SR surf ski!  Wow Jesus.  Talk about restoring the years the locusts have eaten!  (Joel 2:25)

Yeah, kayaking in my own vessel may be on hold for awhile while I am recovering from Lyme Disease, but so what.  It will be waiting for me, Lord willing, when the time is right on the most perfect of sunny days.  In the meantime, I’ll paddle just along leisurely in the back of our ocean-style, tandem 24 foot outrigger canoe with a hot kayak racer/husband forging the rough waters in the front!  Woweeee indeed!

So if you’re “starting over,” moving on, beginning a new chapter in your life, I encourage you to double check to see if there is any relational editing or heart check needed in the chapter, in the place that you are in right now.  I gotta tell ya that if you don’t, the past could come back to bite you in the shorts when you least expect it.  I don’t want that for you or for me.  Take a spiritual inventory.  Come to Christ and ask Him to search your heart and lead you into all righteousness, cleansed and free.  (Psalm 139:23-24)  If you do, true joy awaits you.  I’m sure of this.