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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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healthy living

Wednesday Wind Down: Post-Op

Hi, Family!

I hope you had an enriching day. If not, I hope these words give you some solace.

Let me start by saying that today was a hard one. As I claw my way out of depressive waters (thank you Jesus and Therapy) and realign my life, there are days like today that make me wander down a rabbit hole of “why’s” and “what if’s.” I know what you may be thinking… “Why would you wander down a road of why’s? What good does it do?” It’s not a place I wanted to be, but somehow I ended up there today and whew… talk about a headspin. Next thing I know, I was sitting in my car with a pen in my hand trying to write my way out of a dark hole of loneliness. While that’s not the cool thing to say in Christianity, we keep it real around here.

So, what happened next was a beautiful reminder in the form of a whisper. Pen still in hand with about a half-page of spillage, I heard “You’re in post-op.”

It made perfect sense… instantly. In 2019, I told a friend that I felt like I was in spiritual surgery – like God wanted to rearrange some things in my life and all He wanted was my yes. I remember saying “OK, let’s go. Whatever You want to do, I’m in.” I had just transitioned into full-time entrepreneurship and felt like I was already skywalking on faith anyway. So in 2020, when depressive waves crashed into my soul, I remember saying “OK, so isn’t it over? Is the surgery incomplete? Am I still going through it? This is rough.”

*insert radio silence here*

Me and my frustration cried and yelled feeling like a used discarded sweater. Meanwhile, my body felt limp and expended. What in the world was happening? Was this the second phase or something? Whatever it was, I wasn’t a fan and it was lasting too long.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

*insert timelapse here to present day*

I sat in my car, lamenting on paper, then I heard that whisper and I saw it clearly. Me + hospital gown + hospital bed + tubes + monitors + four sterile walls. I knew the scenary all too well. There I was, lying there, eyes closed. I took a deep breath and realized what the Holy Spirit was telling me.

Occasionally in the vision, a nurse came in to check on me. A doctor had already spoken to my family. Limited visitors, one or two persons. I slept mostly. Limited words left my lips because my throat was still sore from anesthesia and/or the surgery itself.

After surgery, I think I should be up and running like a car after a tune-up. I always think that even though I know better. Once a procedure is completed, there’s a place called post-op and there are post-op instructions. Even same-day surgery has a post-op period. Nevertheless, what do I do? A slight tip over too much. *SMH* Why? Because I think it’s over. It’s done. It’s time to move on.

Well, Family, that’s how depression hit me like a freight train last year. I had a series of “it’s time to move on” lies in my head that lasted over a decade. Each compounded over the other. I still had joy. I still had divine anointing over my life. I still used my gifts in church, and yes, I still inspired others. And I did it well. And I meant it. But when I gave God permission to rearrange and extract as needed, I tried to apply the same lie – “OK. It’s over. It’s done. It’s time to move on.” Meanwhile, in the batcaves of reality and against my desire, I’m in post-operation recovery. Some friends have been removed. Some boundaries have been implanted. Some desires were shifted underneath others. Some thought patterns have been rewired. Stitching of redefined faith is in place and my insides are learning to work with them. I don’t feel like talking much because it hurts as it heals. I’m relearning my voice and its abilities. I’m raw, fragile, and strong at the same time.

I’m healing.

I’m healing.

I am healing.

And I can’t rush the post-op. “Change my heart, God!” “I want to be like You!” “Make me over!” Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, if you want it, this transition can not be skipped. There are instructions that must be followed so the healing can continue past the operating room.

Photo by Nguyu1ec5n Thanh Ngu1ecdc on Pexels.com

Tonight, I want to share some grace with you in the form of this reminder – make peace with the post-op period. It’s uncomfortable, I know because you want to jump into the swing of normal, but truthfully, your normal is different after you ask God to change it. After you want to level up inside. After you say yes. When I said “OK, let’s go,” that meant that some people, things, thoughts, and habits could not go with me… and I didn’t get to decipher which ones stayed. I won’t lie to you, Family. It’s been the rawest experience of my life to date but the best decision I’ve ever made. If you’ve been here for a while, you know attention is not my cozy place, but with this experience, I’ve had to speak up more and share my heart past the uncomfortable part of me. Every time I do, someone says “Me too.”

Hence the entire reason for this blog. I don’t want anyone to be afraid of the process of Jesus’ Love. I don’t anyone to be ashamed to say “I need a therapist.” I don’t want anyone to feel alone in their walk of faith. If no one has told you lately, you are not alone. You have value and you have purpose on this Earth. You also have a right to be the best version of yourself… the version God had in mind when He fashioned you with His hands.

My prayer is that you embrace the discomfort of recuperation knowing that healing is a process and wholeness is on the other side of it.

I love you. Peace & Thanks for listening. Stay well out there and reach out if you need to.

Wednesday Wind Down: A Is For Advocate

Good Afternoon, Family!

I hope you are doing well. If not, it just got better. I missed you last week, but I prayed for you. 🙂 I kept falling asleep trying to post last night, so it was best to share with you today. Trust me, you would have been all kinds of confused looking at that jibberish. lol

Well, let’s get into it. I’m taking you on a journey today.

I’ve been in a strong self-advocacy mode this year. January began with one question –

What will it take to keep Christina healthy?

It was fully-loaded, but I accepted the gravitas.

While my self-care habits are solid, I felt like there were pockets of deficiency that couldn’t matriculate into the next decade. I truly wanted to live my best life and, for me, it all began with that singular question.

Photo by Polina Kovaleva on Pexels.com

What I Did

I looked at it from four angles – physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. In my imagination, this question looked more like a Rubik’s cube than a spreadsheet. There were so many parts that needed to work together in order for me to be the best me. I wasn’t overwhelmed though; I was intrigued. What would it truly take to unlock me?

With meticulous care, I listed items under each category of what it would take for me to be my best self. That meant everything and everyone had to be on the chopping block so I could obtain an aerial view of my needs. It meant that my current plate needed to be clean so I could determine the essential ingredients needed to nourish CJ 2.0. Nothing or no one was “canceled,” but all parties were up for re-election.

So, I started this process with a prayer and a plan. I was going to be a healthier version of myself starting this year – no matter what. I had already resumed therapy to kickstart the mentally column. I asked God to help me not to grow weary quickly and he led me to the physical area next.

Let’s Get Physical

What would it take for my body to be in the best position to do what I am called to do?

I lined up my current medical team like a fresh roster of football players during camp (in my mind, of course). Primary Care, ENT, OB/GYN, Dermatologist… everyone was on trial. Aside from integrity, each practitioner had to make me feel like we were in a partnership. What I needed was well beyond the power of a good gym sweat. I needed to be in solidarity with my doctors and they needed to be in alignment with my CJ 2.0 vision. Everyone had to get in formation and I needed to feel 100% comfortable in their care. I needed medical support beams in my life not benchwarmers giving me prescriptions. That was officially non-negotiable. So, I went down the line and determined which professional needed to be traded so I could get to the healthy championship.

Photo by Fabricio Trujillo on Pexels.com

How It’s Going

So far, so great! The year isn’t over and the journey has just begun, but I’ve already got further than I ever have. Thanks to referrals and research, I have two new doctors who are committed to my vision and do not sugarcoat the data. They don’t talk over me when I’m explaining my experiences. They don’t dismiss my questions. They don’t make condescending comments.

They listen, assess, and deliver information honestly. What a concept.

I felt an ocean of emotions the first time I received an infusion I needed. I kept saying “Lord, thank you for being my advocate.” I flipped the timeline in my mind to the countless doctor visits where I felt diluted and depleted by the lack of empathy. The cold exam rooms. The thin paper gowns. As if it were muscle memory, I would slide off the exam table, gather my things, and attempt to walk out with my head high. Once again, my concerns were unanswered and once again, a medical bill would shortly be in my mailbox.

Photo by Klaus Nielsen on Pexels.com

“Something’s not right. I’m not getting better.”

“I need a copy of my medical file, please.”

“Will you explain the side effects of this prescription?”

“Which lab tests are you running?”

These were on repeat like a Marvin Gaye tune. Before Google was born, I researched as much as I could in books and would write down questions to prepare for medical visits. I was diligent, but after the repetition of disappointment, I was exhausted. Advocating for yourself is a job, you hear me? A full-time job if you’re doing so in the medical arena without insurance, which was where I was during two seasons of my life.

So, when I asked what would it take?, I knew it would require me to squeeze another gallon of self-advocacy out of my spirit. I had to have an “I’m the captain now” attitude. I took the approach of shopping for a car, a house, or even fruit in the grocery store. If I could have standards about my purchases, I could have standards for my medical squad.

Sometimes, we forget how simultaneously fragile and resilient we are. Yes, we coexist with others in this Big Brother house called Earth, but we are not infinite beings in these bodies. We are not endless supplies of anything. We are fueled by what we’ve been given. Self-advocating in these truths created an anchor for me. Many Christians will have you believe that the less you speak up for your needs, the closer to God you are. The more you grit your teeth and bear it or take whatever is given to you, the more jewels you get in your crown.

That’s a ridiculous lie.

Photo by Chad Witbooi on Pexels.com

I guarantee that if your meal was subpar at an upscale restaurant, you wouldn’t just “live with it.” You would expect to receive not only the advertised product, but the staff’s best service.

Self-advocacy doesn’t require rudeness, but it does demand a certain level of confidence. It may even require firm pressure to the powers that be.

I know it’s exhausting and can feel downright degrading at times, but I encourage you to keep advocating. Keep praying that God leads you to the best match for your needs. Divine navigation is real and I’m a witness of it. Every time I felt a “nope” in my gut, I respectfully declined to continue their services and crossed them off the list. It wasn’t an emotional decision; my life was (and still is) on the docket and I believe God wants me to have the best version of this life possible.

Finally. Photo by me.

My prayer is that you know advocacy is not a sin and self-advocacy is not being selfish. There’s a whole world out here (quick shoutout to Diagnosis on Netflix), so there is an empathetic match for you.

Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 says “I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.” As much as we work, we should be able to enjoy a positive quality of life. Self-advocacy is just as “saved” as reading my Word. It reaffirms the quality of my Craftsmanship. My DNA was created by a divine being and that alone makes it worthy to cherish.

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. – 3 John 1:2

When the Creator placed you on this planet, you were not designed to take whatever you can get. In January 2021, I officially denounced that theory when it came to my health. I pray you do the same from here on out.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Family!

Wednesday Wind Down: The Pain Principle – Part 2

Good Evening/Morning, Family!

We made it to another week, so I celebrate that with you!

I received a few private messages regarding last week’s post – that it helped them breathe a little easier as they walk along their respective journeys. Thank you for letting me know. I write for you. Let’s dive into the second part of my Pain Principle –

Pain should not be muted.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Pain has a voice and we should listen to it every chance we get. It tells us that something is changing or something needs to be changed.

About 17 years ago, God showed me a vision to explain a concept about pain (I love that He knows I’m a visual learner). I saw a vision of a human spine. It was vertically suspended. A hand slid one of the thoracic vertebrae out of place as if it were a wooden block in a game of Jenga; then, it slid it back into alignment. Then I heard the following:

Either way, there’s pain.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

A lightbulb went off in my spirit.

Pain is an indicator that something’s wrong and that something is right. Think about it – whether the vertebra is out of place or returned to its place, pain would be present. It’s a crazy dichotomy, yet our bodies were built to know the difference. At some point during the healing process, the pain would subside. That’s how God made us.

But what do we do? We mute pain through pills, alcohol, vacations, porn… you name it, we’ll use it to prevent us from dipping our toes into a pool of pain. We run away from it thinking that it will suddenly disappear only to find that it has grown roots into areas we thought were off limits. Pain is an indicator that something is changing… for better or for worse. When we listen to it – physically or spiritually – we allow healthy footsteps to lead us into a better version of ourselves. We lay the groundwork for true healing to take place.

So, my motivational questions for you are the following:

What pain are running away from?
Since pain has a voice, what is it saying to you?
Is something out of alignment or is something being aligned?

Photo by Zen Chung on Pexels.com

I pray that you allow the Holy Spirit to speak through the voice of your pain. I know it’s dark down there and you’re not quite sure of its depth, but the more you mute its echo, the more it will grow into other areas of your life. I’m a firm believer that whatever is in you will come out of you. It may look like an emotional blow up or emotional constipation when talking to your parents. Trust me – it’s there.

Ever since that day when I envisioned that spine, I have allowed pain to tell me something so I can adjust accordingly. Like many of you, I’ve grown accustomed to “dealing” with pain, but over time I realized that terminology can send us into a spiral of unhealthy living. I tell my clients that pain on the way to healing is better than pain standing still.

I love all of you and I want us to be well inside and out. If you think that journey will be difficult to begin, I highly recommend finding a mental health therapist to match your needs. After all, God made therapists too.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Family!

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