Once Were Dim Prayers

In 2012 I did a bible study called “Experiencing God.” I began praying for God to reveal himself and his will to me and it changed my life. About a month into the study I began having seizures. I was then diagnosed with depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, which I had for many years prior. My depression got worse and I started contemplating suicide constantly, then I started to give in every time there was an opportunity to act on the suicidal thoughts.

Depression made me believe I was a completely unlovable, burden; and OCD made me believe I was capable of acting on my worst fear of hurting someone. I was appalled that I could even think of such horrific things which led to crippling anxiety and worsening depression.

I was on the church prayer list for over three years. I’ve had people all over the world praying for me.

->People prayed for healing-with a miracle, medication, therapy-whatever means God willed.

->People prayed that I would draw nearer to God

->People prayed that I would hold on to the truths that I believed in

->People prayed that I would feel loved and supported

-> But, most importantly, people prayed for my safety

 

God answered every one of our prayers! Gods will for my life was not for it to end during any of the times I tried to take life into my own hands.

My memories from my time in the hospital are very broken up and foggy. However, I do remember enough to have witnessed unexplainable miracles in my very own life.

There were times where I walked along train tracks for hours and hours, just waiting for a train to come end it all. In those lonely hours very few trains actually came. When a train did come, I was sitting or laying on the tracks…and the next thing I knew I was in the ditch.

Every. Single. Time.

I don’t even try to wrap my mind around that one. It was just God.

I wasn’t fully aware of what was going on around me so when the train tracks crossed streets I walked straight out into traffic. There were some busy streets, but I was never hit. God was protecting me.

Another time, I overdosed. The amount of medication I took should have damaged my liver…but the test results came back completely normal.

I was told that my depression was “treatment resistant,” and our last resort treatment was electroconvulsive therapy. That ended up being exactly what my body needed to reset and begin healing through a specific type of counselling that targets OCD. The therapy is expensive and at first I needed to go every week! But God is so good. He met that need right away with financial support from family, friends, the church, and even some anonymous donations.

Healing didn’t come the way I prayed for and the way I wanted. I wanted complete healing, right away, with no work on my part.

It’s a good thing I’m not God.

 

If he had answered prayer the way I wanted:

->There wouldn’t have been time for all the changes to take place in my heart.

->I would have missed out on time with family, discovering my love for writing, and learning how to be a true friend from my own friends.

-> And I wouldn’t have learned how to depend on God, and fully trust him.

 

Sometimes God answers prayer and fills a need I didn’t even realize I had. My family and I decided I

needed a psychiatric service dog. We looked at some local dogs, but they just didn’t “feel right.” We decided on a chocolate brown Australian labradoodle from BC. She was a huge help in just her first year and a half with me.

We started to notice an odd behavior where she would climb up onto my shoulders. It took a while for us to catch on to her cleverness…but this was her way of letting me know 10 minutes before I had a seizure.

Dogs cannot be taught to sense when a seizure is coming. They either sense it- or they don’t- and you can’t know if the dog will reliably alert until the dog is older. I have had Zoe for 3 and ½ years and she has become my seizure alert dog!

I didn’t know I needed a seizure alert dog or think one was a possibility for me, but she has given me much more independence, prevented many injuries, and even saved my life.

Raising enough money for a service dog was an answer to prayer but God went beyond that when he gave me Zoe. Its as if God was chuckling and said, “Yeah, sure I’ll do that… BUT LOOK AT WHAT ELSE I CAN DO!”

It’s a beautiful reminder of how God is in control of all things seen and unseen, and he is capable of so much more than our small minds can even imagine!

I decided I wanted to go to bible college after high school. I applied and was accepted in 2013, but I wasn’t stable enough. I thought I would never actually get to go…but It was one of my goals that kept me motivated to get better. Anytime a Dr. asked what I wanted to do when I got out of hospital, it was “Bible College,” I want to go to bible college.

This past May, four years later, I just started taking online courses through Heritage Bible College! I was probably more excited to start school than some people are to graduate.

Those are just a few of the amazing ways God has kept me safe and answered prayer. Not only am I still alive today…but I am ALIVE AND WELL!!

I have been out of the psychiatric hospital for 2 years and 2 weeks. My physical health is still a struggle and I will likely struggle with minor flares of depression here and there for the rest of my life.

But my OCD is almost manageable, most of the time my depression is nearly non-existent, and I’m easing myself back into a new normal life. I have been blessed with this life and this trial. When I look back, I see a lot of painful moments that God brought me through and used for my good.

alive and hopefull

MM: Sidewalk Prophets-“Keep Making Me”

This Monday, please listen to Sidewalk Prophets’ “Keep Making me” by clicking HERE BEFORE reading how this song has influenced my life. I want to hear what this song means to you! I want to hear what it stirs in your heart and I want to know how I can pray for you. Visit the contact page and send me a message through there or email me at summer@lifewithschyff.com

Keep Making Me~Sidewalk Prophets Lyrics

Make me broken
So I can be healed
‘Cause I’m so calloused
And now I can’t feel
I want to run to You
With heart wide open
Make me broken

Make me empty
So I can be filled
‘Cause I’m still holding
Onto my will
And I’m completed
When you are with me
Make me empty

‘Til You are my one desire
‘Til You are my one true love
‘Til You are my breath, my everything
Lord, please keep making me

Make me lonely
So I can be Yours
‘Til I want no one
More than You, Lord
‘Cause in the darkness
I know You will hold me
Make me lonely

Have you ever prayed a “scary” prayer? One where you were not sure you really wanted to say or mean the words? I can remember a few years ago praying for God to transform me. I found it written in an old journal, “I realize that this might mean going through some hard trials, but all I want is to be fully devoted to you. Change my heart and mind, transform me, Lord.”

I already had the OCD and it was already making me depressed at the time I wrote that. I already believed I was a horrible person full of sinful thoughts (the OCD thoughts of harming people, which I now realize are not sinful).

So there I was thinking maybe God would send me something that would somehow change my thoughts; make me stop thinking horrible things. Instead, He just looked down at me compassionately. “Oh, precious daughter! Who told you these horrible lies? I know the real you and when the time is right I will send you exactly what you need to see the truth about who you are to me and the real meaning behind those thoughts that you have. Everything is planned perfectly for what you need. My timing is precise.”

I didn’t expect that I would start having seizures, my health would deteriorate. And that my mental health would become disabling to the point that I could not function. It would lead me to years in the psychiatric hospital, countless ambulance & ER visits, hundreds of tests that only left us with more questions, and even an ICU stay.

I had expectations of how I thought God should run my life…lets all pause to laugh at how small our little minds are.

A lot has happened since I prayed that prayer, it HURT, but let me tell you, it has all been for His good. I have been a total work in progress at all stages in my life, and of course right now. I feel the Lord ‘keeps making me’ change into something different, something better. He’s breaking me down and tearing away all the things I used to think were important. He is slowly chiseling away all of my brokenness.

He’s striping me of all the ‘securities’ I once thought were actually safe.

The devil wants me to feel alone in my journey of learning to manage and defeat OCD, striving to become better, and becoming who I was made to be. I refuse to feel alone in my journey. I know, without a doubt God is with me and surely someone else out there has felt these same emotions and experienced this same changing process. Lord Keep Making Me…

image

Make me broken – I’ve been broken for a long time but God gave me a different perspective
on my brokenness
So I can be healed – If I must be made broken, the reward of healing is worth the pain of breaking.
‘Cause I’m so calloused –Somewhere along the way I was wounded and broken but I didn’t realize then the secrets and hiding created callouses.
And now I can’t feel –Callouses ‘protect’ my emotions.
I want to run to You – He’s the only one I could run to. I’d take the pain and the brokenness a million times over if it were the only thing to cause the yearning in my heart to run to Him like it has these past four years.
With heart wide open – This is the hard part. With heart wide open. How do you really open your heart wide when you’ve been hurt and when the process of cleaning your heart out is incredibly painful?
Make me broken – I’ve certainly been broken now – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Make me empty – Empty. There’s no feeling quite like it. I remember feeling absolutely nothing. I wanted to die at the time. Empty is lonely.
So I can be filled – I had to be emptied so I could make room to be filled, but filled only with Him this time around. Empty me so I can be filled with nothing but God.
‘Cause I’m still holding – Holding, indeed. Sometimes even with a death grip.
Onto my will – Yup, my will. My stupid, stupid will. Why would I ever think my plans for my life would be better than the Father’s? I don’t know, but I’m still tempted to hang onto my stupid, stupid will. It’s silly, I know, but I’m learning to surrender.
And I’m completed – Finally completed!
When you are with me –Only when you are with me. Please be with me.
Make me empty – Make me empty, so I can be filled with YOU.

[Chorus:]

Til You are my one desire – Lord, I want You to be my one desire. For all the times, I’ve put other people and things before you, forgive me.
‘Til You are my one true love – True love. There will be no love like Yours, Lord. Teach me to love like You do. And teach me to accept Your love for me.
image
‘Til You are my breath, my everything – To be my breath. Could you be my breath, Lord? Could you be the words I speak, my every move, the breath I take? Be my breath, Lord.
Lord, please keep making me – Whatever it takes, no matter the price, please keep making me.

Make me lonely – Been there. Lonely. The veil was lifted and the dark reality of loneliness was revealed. You made me lonely. I had to experience that loneliness to desire You fully, though. If there was no other, Lord, but I still had You, I would cease to be lonely. If making me lonely was what it took to create a desire for You that burns deep within me, then make me lonely all over again.
So I can be Yours – Yours. I AM Yours. I don’t always show it, but I am trying. I am Yours.
‘Til I want no one – No one else could fill my longing for You. I don’t want any other more than You, Lord – You are the ultimate. You are perfect. There is no one better.
‘Cause in the darkness – Darkness is inevitable. It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ but rather ‘when’ the darkness will come.
I know You will hold me – my whole life, I have spent asking You to hold me. Hold me in Your arms late at night when I felt all alone; for I know there is no place I’d rather be, but in Your arms, in Your loving embrace.
Make me lonely – Make me lonely all over again if that is what it takes.

[Chorus]

‘Til You are my one desire – The ONLY one.
‘Til You are my one true love – No love will be truer than Your love, Lord.
‘Til You are my breath, my everything – My EVERYTHING. I am nothing without You. Be my everything.
Lord, please keep making, – Never stop making me. Don’t give up on me.
I know You’ll keep making – Jesus, I trust in You. I trust You WILL keep making me.
Lord, please keep making me – Thank you for continuing to make me… YOURS.

Lord, if you need to clean my heart out, to scrap it from deep within because it’s the only way for me to truly see You, then let it be. Take the words of this song and scrape them upon my heart until I’m made into the person You want me to be.

Lord please keep making me…

Again, I want to hear what this song stirred in your heart and I want to know how I can pray for you. Visit the contact page and send me a message through there or email me at summer@lifewithschyff.com

Update: Fall 2016 Part 1

At this point in my therapy I am not where I ever expected to be. A year ago I thought I would have been further along and a few months ago I didn’t think I would ever get this far! You often think about the beginning and the end of therapy but then you kind of forget about the middle part of recovery where you have come so far but you also still have a long ways to go.

You forget that you can’t skip over steps to get to the end faster. It doesn’t work like that in mental health recovery. You have to take it slow, however, you can keep reflecting back at how far you have come and how much better you feel than when you were on the last step.

It’s been a while since I posted an update, so I figured it was about time!

I posted the last Music Monday a little over 2 months ago. The day it was posted I fell down the stairs and was unconscious for about 10 minutes. My mom called 911 and the paramedics put me in a neck brace and on a backboard then took me to the hospital. I was fortunate to (unsteadily) walk away from the hospital later with ‘only’ a concussion and a bucket load of bruises. My recovery from the concussion has been quicker than expected! The physical symptoms are mostly gone now but I am still struggling with the cognitive effects – memory, confusion, concentration, brain fog…things that were already issues but a little magnified right now, nothing too major.

Mentally, I did have a hard time switching back into “recovery mode” after the fall. I had two weeks where I didn’t do any OCD homework exposures at all. This wasn’t only because of the head injury. Part of me just got stuck in a negative “rut.” I kept telling myself that I could’t do the homework well enough so I might as well not do it at all. I wasn’t being lazy, I was just overwhelmed with fears and hopelessness.

I also had a couple really stressful events during this time. All that additional stress while recovering from a brain injury PLUS all the usual OCD stress, anxiety, and exhaustion. Then came the appointment where I was supposed to discuss the homework from the two weeks that I didn’t do it.

If you have a great therapist, they should understand how hard the work they are asking you to do actually is. They should understand and even expect that you are going to have setbacks and that normal life problems may appear a little amplified to an anxiety sufferer.

My therapist is fantastic, so she did not look at it as a bad thing or even think it was a setback. In her sweet accent, she just said, “I bet you needed that break from the work. Lets see how we can make things more manageable for this coming week.” That felt so validating to the work I was doing, but also offered a gentle hint of encouragmentand.

We did figure out how to make things go much better. The day after I saw her I picked up my homework and said to myself, “even if it doesn’t work today-you might be setting it up to make it work tomorrow. Just do it anyways Summer.”

Now, for the first time since I started this round of ERP (Exposure and Response Prevention) in May, I feel like I am making progress that I can actually see. I have made progress like what is ‘typical’ for an exposure.

I have done things that I didn’t think I could do. I wasn’t even sure I would ever be able to do them!

But I did…and I can’t even explain how incredible it feels. I feel successful. I feel strong. I feel fearless(ish). And I feel proud.

It all started with picking up the homework and believing in myself. (And prayer.)

OCD: 14 (for the 2 weeks I didn’t do homework)

Summer: 31! (For the one month I have been totally beating OCD!!)

image

Before I fell I had been planning on going to surprise a good friend, who moved 3 hours away, with a visit! My incredible Grandparents said they would take me (thanks again guys!). It was a much needed catch up day filled with smiles, laughs, and encouragement. I was able to surprise a friend, see her (very new) house, see her town, have lunch with her, visit by the lake, let my dog run in her backyard, and even show her how lovely it is to colour in an adult colouring book!

image
My beautiful friend and I! Thank you Lord, for times like this.

If I think back to last year, there is no possible way that I could have managed a trip like this. Depression, self harm, and dissociations in addition to OCD were too frequent and I hadn’t quite figured out which coping strategies helped me the most. This means I was still having crisis situations very often and I wasn’t good at coping yet.

FLASH FORWARD to Now:

The fun and excitement from this visit outweighed the negative that the OCD thoughts and fears bring into everything.

…Wait…did I actually just say that!? Yes, it’s true!

Do you know how long it’s been since I did something that is supposed to be fun and actually could focus on anything except doing compulsions to keep everyone around me safe? TOO LONG. I don’t remember the last time, but I will remember this success.

OCD: 14
Summer: 31+6 (=37)

(1 for travel/sitting with uncertainty about what we were going to do, 2 for stopping in service stations, 2 for walking near a busy road while having thoughts, 1 for eating lunch at a busier restaurant)

Everything I do does come with challenges. Satan really knows how to use OCD against me. He knows that is how he can make me weak – so he can make me feel completely worthless, disgusting, unforgivable, and even invaluable in Gods eye’s…ALL of which is completely untrue no matter how often these horrible, awful, nasty thoughts come into my mind. So, to get back at satan, I’ve been trying to fight satan and the OCD with all I have and all the strength God is providing.

These past few weeks there has been a big change in the anxiety during exposures.

So… PRAISE THE LORD! Thank you, God, for bringing me to a therapist who is working hard to figure out which techniques will target my OCD best. Thank you for the strength and courage to do the crazy hard work that I would have labeled “too dangerous” in the past. Thank you.

I’m not noticing much change in regular everyday life yet, I’m sure that will be coming soon.

Any time that I have with low anxiety from the intrusive thoughts is precious! These past month where I have exposed myself to things that terrify me then just sat with it and slowly noticed the anxiety go down low…were just ~ WOW ~ wonderful!

Of course I still have a lot of difficult moments and days so your continued prayers are still SO appreciated!

Please pray that the OCD continues to improve. Pray that the ERP therapy gets easier. At the beginnings or before, I still am usually close to tears because I am so fearful of the thoughts. Pray for continued brain healing and answers to the other physical health symptoms that are messing up my system. Pray that I keep my eyes focused on the Lord and lean on Him for my strength.

*Part 2 to come soon*

For This Season

I’ve been so embarrassed to ask for prayer lately because sometimes it feels like my life is just a never-ending drama. With all the seizures, OCD, depression, PTSD, new symptoms, other health illnesses we’re still trying to diagnose, and then the most recent OCD worsening, a new stomach issue, and over a week long lingering migraine thats the result of a head injury: it just feels like it should be the end of the ‘hard stuff.’ That there shouldn’t be more and if there is, it’s somehow my fault.

I have this little voice inside of me that tells me I’ve used up my entire allotment of sympathy and prayers; that life should be easy and painless and perfectly put together now because I’ve maxed out my quota for pain and people are tired of hearing about it already.

(Never mind that I am tired of living it already!!)

Against all the blaring sirens in my heart and soul telling me I am “too much” and “out of turns to ask for help” and I just need to “be quiet, suck it up and handle it on my own”…

I’m saying:

I need prayers in this season because my heart is breaking in a new kind of way that I didn’t know was possible. Who knew there were more ways for it to break? And I cringe asking for prayers, because I wish more than anyone that it was all put together already and I didn’t need them. But I do. So can you please pray for me? Again?

As I wrote in my journal God so tenderly seemed to respond in my soul, “Who put a limit on mercy, Summer? Was it me? Did I say you were out of turns for compassion, grace and love? Who told you that you were a burden and that people were weary of walking alongside you?

Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times should I forgive this brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus looks Peter in the eye and blows his mind. “I tell you not just seven, but seventy times seven.”

Jesus looked me in the eye and whispered the same thing over my heart this week.

Who am I to limit how many times I can be on the receiving end imageof mercy and grace and forgiveness and prayers? Should I receive the tenderj and fierce prayers of my community only seven times? Or seventy times seven?

God himself is reminding me: if forgiveness is not limited, neither is mercy.

Or prayers. Or grace. Or love. Or compassion.

Do I deserve it? Have I earned it? Do I need to re-pay it? Will I have to ask again? Am I a burden? This week I am practicing the art of silencing all these questions and leaning into the grace of friends who have not once shamed me and told me to “just be well already.” Friends who have stood beside me and not grown weary in their love and prayers.

And I am standing in awe of a God who keeps whispering “seventy times seven” over me.

Maybe you need to be reminded today that seventy times seven is for you too.

Maybe you need to offer more than seven shots at grace to someone in your life.

Maybe God needs to step into your shame and fear and “people are SO tired of hearing this story from me” thoughts and remind you that this whole Gospel thing? It’s about mercy…

and mercy and mercy and mercy and mercy… the unlimited, never-runs-dry, seventy times seven kind.image.jpg

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑