by Joy Milner
In 1998, I got sick, and it changed my life. I had been living a healthy, active lifestyle and now I was dealing with physical symptoms that were unexplainable. I went to several doctors, had multiple tests done, took time off from graduate school, and put being involved in ministry on hold. It was exhausting, overwhelming, and scary because I had no idea what was happening to my body. I was not alone though. I had my faith in God and a mom who loved me, cared for me, listened to me, prayed for me, and researched for me.
God led me to a doctor in Temple Terrace who got my health stabilized but I was never the same. As the years passed, I continued to have faith in God, work full time, and participate in small groups but spent hours and days on the couch or in bed due to pain or debilitating fatigue. I got to the point where I rarely spoke about it, figuring the less people that knew the better. The shame I felt because I was not a wife or a mother was heavy and I thought, “Who would want me?” I felt unlovable. I could barely take care of myself. I was a wild card. I never knew how I would feel or what mood I would be in. A date, a boyfriend or even a husband would never be able to deal with me.
On December 4, 2008, my precious mom, my best friend and the person on this earth who loved me unconditionally, left me to be with Jesus. I was not prepared “to do” life without her. In addition to that loss, two and half months later, my grandmother, my mom’s mom, passed away.
I battled with significant grief and loneliness. The physical pain in my head and the emotional pain in my heart were almost too much to bear. I had moments where I thought about teenagers who “cut” themselves. I could relate. I desperately wanted another source of pain to stop the pain that I could not control and was getting no relief from.
Little by little, step by step, God rescued me from those dark days. I wish I could say healing happened on one particular day. I wish I could speak of one particular event or moment in time. But God had a different plan. He led me on a journey to healing and freedom that would take time and a commitment on my part.
I attended Grace Family Church’s Grief Share class where learning about how people respond differently to loss and grief so powerful for me. I told my dad, sister, and brother in law about the group and they all attended. Because we continued to seek God and his help in the midst of a traumatic loss, God prevented Satan from allowing any major divisive or bitter spirits to attack our relationships.
Throughout 2010 and 2011, I participated in other small groups at Grace and the Women’s Monday night bible study. Little by little I started being set free from Satan’s lies. Little by little healing was occurring. God continued to teach me, encourage me, redeem me, restore me, and set me free.
As I continued to turn to God for spiritual and emotional healing, He opened up the opportunity for me to attend GFC’s Freedom class. At the Freedom Encounter weekend, beautiful ladies spoke truth into my life and prayed for me. The work that the Holy Spirit did in me was life changing. But I had to show up. I had to persevere. I had to seek God’s help and His healing.
Physically, my headaches were continuing to become excruciating and debilitating and other symptoms were beginning to manifest. My doctor wisely decided to run some more tests. I wanted answers to my physical symptoms. The test results concluded that I have Lyme’s Disease. My doctor has a treatment plan and I am believing for healing!
I am walking out the prayers that my friends prayed for me. But I had to ask for them. I had to let someone else beside my mom know I was struggling. And I learned to depend totally on my Heavenly Father for strength and peace.
My prayer for you is to not give up. When those dark days hit and you don’t want to get out of bed, it’s ok to spend some time under the covers but don’t stay there. Reach out. Tell someone. Keep looking. Keep seeking. Our God wants to redeem us, restore us, heal us, rescue us, and comfort us but we have to do our part. Maybe it will happen for you on one particular day or during one particular event or maybe it will be like me…little by little. Be strong. Be courageous.
Joy found community, strength and healing through a Beautiful small group. Now it’s time for you to take the first step. Small groups begin the week of Jan. 30. Check the GFC website for more information.