The End of Me

My parents used some interesting phrases in the 70s and 80s.  They had to.  Mom and Dad were outnumbered two to one, and sometimes those phrases were the only thing that could slow play down.  When things “went to bad,” they threatened to “jerk a knot in our tails,” or “slap us into the middle of next week.”  Of course, they never did those things, but it sure got our attention.  One that was quite perplexing to me was when my mom would say, “You’re gonna be the end of me.”  That one seemed particularly harsh.  Sure, we were kidding around, but hey, we didn’t want anyone to get hurt.  I’m not sure what all she meant with most of those phrases, but I think I’m gaining a new understanding of the “end of me.”  (Probably not the meaning Mom was using, but who knows?)

 

I think there comes a time when you have to truly come to the end of yourself.  We get a glimpse of this when that new baby is placed in our arms in the hospital.  But then it can fade and wane throughout the years as you struggle to regain your identity, and your personhood, through those preschool years.  So you get a renewed resolve to maintain “you,” despite the diapers and carseats, sing-song toys and board books.  And you keep on fighting for that, right through their high school graduation.  At least I did.

 

And then I prayed for God to do something with MY life, to make ME significant.  In a direct answer to that prayer, he took the “Me” right out of me.  He gave me something I could never handle on my own: heart failure.  Then, in an amazing plot twist, He showed me that His love and care were all I needed.  I didn’t need to find me.  I needed to lose me.

 

The late Billy Graham once said, “When you come to the end of yourself, you come to the beginning of God.” That statement has proven true for me. But it wasn’t easy.  We all have a built-in physical survival mode.  It helps us stay alive when the chips are down. But it also tends to make us think we are the most important task on the agenda if we stay in that survival mode too long.  This happened to me just three months into my disease.  From my journal:

 

2/13/16 – Thinking today about being diagnosed and the thought process that goes along with it. It’s obvious to most people that being diagnosed with a serious disease takes certain things away:  your health, certainty, the future, plans.  Not so obvious is that it takes away your NOW. Because everything suddenly becomes about you and every daily thought involves your disease, rather than all the things that used to take up your thoughts and your days.  Whether you have 6 months or 10 years, your old life stops the day you are diagnosed.  You suddenly fall to the lowest level on Maslow’s hierarchy and stay there.  If the day you were diagnosed you were self-actualizing, the day of diagnosis and every day after that is primarily about survival.  And the second it becomes about something else, the preschool child inside you screams, “How can you go about your normal life?  Don’t you know I have this disease?”

 

I felt like I had been robbed of my NOW. But in retrospect, I think I was given a rare opportunity to become fully engrossed in myself and my survival, and then realize that this could never be enough.  Not satisfying enough, not lasting enough, not fulfilling enough.  I had reached the end of me.  And this paved the way for the beginning of something much better. I had come to the beginning of God.

 

A year and a half later, I wrote:

7/1/17 –I have so often written about, and prayed about, not letting all of this that I have experienced go in vain.  “God, do something with this!”  But I have felt paralyzed about what I need to do with it. “ Where do I go from here?”  Today a scripture popped into my head:

 Phil 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

 It was an Aha moment for me.  Funny thing about Aha moments, though.  They are very personal.  If you tell your Aha moment to someone else, it usually isn’t their Aha moment.  But this was truly one for me.

 God started this challenge, and He will finish it. It’s not my business to complete this; it’s God’s.  I don’t even have to know how or when.  (And apparently, from that verse, He can take a really LONG time to complete it!) This entire ordeal isn’t about me.  It’s about God, and I don’t need to be in on all the details and all the travel plans.  If He started it, it was for His reasons, and He will complete it in His time and in His way.

 

This Aha moment turned into an Ahhhhhh moment when I finally exhaled.  And let God’s purpose be my purpose, even when that purpose is known only to Him.  My illness had brought me face to face with my God, but only after bringing me to the end of me.

 

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12 thoughts on “The End of Me”

  • 1
    Joanne Bodner on May 24, 2018 Reply

    Lori. Your blog is so helpful, and I look forward to it. I looked up a blog I started two years ago–you have inspired me to perhaps take it up again. I believe we can learn a lot from other people’s journeys–especially when they are expressed so eloquently as yours. Love the picture–which one is you? Brad?

    • 2
      Lori Ann Wood on May 24, 2018 Reply

      Joanne, I would love for you to do that! I think we could help each other in this process, and you have so much perspective to offer! (I am the little brown-haired girl on the left and Brad is the youngest one, one the right.)

      • 3
        Joanne Bodner on May 25, 2018 Reply

        I was almost sure that was Brad–he really hasn’t changed much 🙂 It’s a precious picture. All our prayers (Drew and mine) are with you and all of our hopes for healing and peace. You probably cannot know the number of people you touch through your words.

        • 4
          Lori Ann Wood on May 25, 2018 Reply

          Brad looks the same in my eyes! Thank you for the sweet words and mostly for the prayers. I continue to pray for you as well.

  • 5
    Martha on May 24, 2018 Reply

    Just awesome. You got this as do God. He will continue tohelp you prevail through this.

    • 6
      Lori Ann Wood on May 24, 2018 Reply

      Love you, Martha! I feel the support of so many and the hand of God working through this. Thank you for being such a caring, constant source of encouragement!

  • 7
    Dedra on May 24, 2018 Reply

    Lori, I keep reading your last line. “My illness brought me face to face with my God, but only after bringing me to the end of me.” I can relate to this after the passing of Blake. It goes along with something I had read and keep close to remind myself. “For God’s people, suffering is an opportunity to glorify God as we find that He is all we need.”
    Thank you for sharing your life with us, and showing us how God works.

    • 8
      Lori Ann Wood on May 24, 2018 Reply

      You are a great example of glorifying God through suffering. Thank you for your kind words and steadfast support.

  • 9
    John on May 24, 2018 Reply

    Lori,
    You always make me think about childhood, and mine in particular in a fonder and funnier way. What does “jerk a knot in our tails,” mean to a little girl, I wonder? I can’t remember the funny things my parents said so it brings me joy to be able to hear some of yours. I love your outlook on life!

    • 10
      Lori Ann Wood on May 24, 2018 Reply

      Thank you for reading along, John. It is very encouraging to me!

  • 11
    Kimyla on May 24, 2018 Reply

    I totally get the aha moment!
    I’ve had ulcerative colitis for 13 years. Over those years, I have pleaded to God, begged, wrestled, promised …..all in the hope that HE would take this disease from me. Six years ago I read this scripture:
    James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produced perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything.”
    I’ve read that scripture a1000 times but never paid attention to the word, whenever! HE didn’t say if, he said when! HE didn’t say you’ll never struggle, hurt, or suffer from disease, etc. That day Instead of my constant why me, I said to myself, why not me? If this is what I need to become mature & complete then I will be as joyful as I possibly can. Granted, I am a constant work in progress & am beyond grateful that HE has not given up on me!! I am blessed by my disease because through it, I also found HIM & HE is so good to us!
    I mean, seriously, one huge blessing is the opportunity to spend my days with Adyson & trust me, she can bring joy to me even when I’m running to the restroom
    I love you & your failing heart!!! I know that may sound harsh, but it’s that ❤️
    of yours that’s touching all of ours

    • 12
      Lori Ann Wood on May 25, 2018 Reply

      I love this, Kim. Thank you so much for sharing it. You are such a jewel and an amazing blessing to me!

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