Over the past two years whilst my body has not been working properly, I have had to learn that what’s inside me, who I am within, is far more important than what is seen on the outside.
On the outside my body is currently broken and debilitated by my spinal fluid leak. But I am increasingly learning that it’s what is on the inside that truly counts.
So even though I am currently struggling to change the limitations of my physical body, I know I can still develop the person on the inside of me, whatever is happening on the outside.
This means focusing on feeding what is inside of me with good thoughts, words, inspiration and ideas. Having the wisdom to know how to cultivate the good parts, then allowing the positives (as well as the stark reality of the difficulties) to break out through my writing and in my communication with others.
That is why words are so precious to me.
That is why writing is a wonderful gift, because it allows me to try to express the inexpressible. It allows something of what is on the inside to break out to speak and connect with others.
Last night, I was trying to describe to my husband Matt how, whilst my body is stuck lying flat nearly all day, it feels like what is deep inside of me keeps intensifying. Even the pain and struggle of this season fuels this ball of passion inside of me, a force that I want to be characterised mostly by love, compassion and grace, and yet still have the rawness and reality that comes with our natural human weakness. And I have certainly become more aware than ever of my weaknesses over the past two years.
I believe suffering brings a whole host of deep feelings inside of us. Some are good; it can develop more humility, more understanding of others pain, more compassion for those hurting, more personal resilience and strength. But on the not so good side; suffering can also draw us inside ourselves, we can easily become self absorbed and left sinking into a pit of self pity and despair that becomes extremely hard to climb out of.
All extremes of feeling and thought come at me daily. Some days and sometimes it takes all my might to redirect the negatives. Sometimes it feels almost impossible to stop them overcoming me. I can have many moments of tears and emotional/ mental exhaustion.
Yet I know I have to fiercely guard my heart and mind and protect what is inside of me. Every day I have to choose carefully what to fill my mind with. Every day I have to be ruthless in taking control of my thoughts. Every day I must make myself see the beauty and wonder that is still always around us.
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” – A Proverb*
I must keep choosing to see outside of myself and look at how I can contribute positively to the world around me. I must stir up the wonder of what is inside of me, until it breaks out in and through my words and actions in the form of love, grace, compassion and fighting with, and for justice for, other people.
For me what is inside is intrinsically linked to my spiritual faith. You cannot separate the two. That is what inspires my many words!
It is through spiritually inspired words, thoughts and ideas that I feed the good parts of what is within. It is only in and through my love for God and other people that I personally can and will find a way to live like this, for as long as I have to. It is God’s Spirit that lives on the inside of me, that is at the heart of the ball of passion and love that inspires and creates the words that I speak and share.
It is God who leads me through this dry and desolate land and helps me to change the way that I think. Through His words, truth and other people’s wisdom, kindness and love, I can cultivate what is on the inside of me so that the good stuff can grow.
Some people must wonder how I can still love and trust in a loving creator God, when I am stuck with this cruel debilitating physical condition. But for me, I just don’t know how to live without him. I have wrestled through many questions and thought through the whys, as I wrote about in Why Me? The Soul Destroying Question. And yet sometimes we have to just let go of the whys and instead focus on what we do know.
I know more than ever that God is alive within me and that he fills me with his peace and love. Even while there is seeming desolation on the outside….
Deep within me there is a whole other world.
I want to discover more of the incredible beauty of that deep potential within me. A place that has been made raw and real by suffering and pain. And yet a place that is made beautiful and tender by unconditional love. So that I can dive even deeper inside me to find what can touch another deeply inside of them as well.
I don’t want to settle for just surface connection with others. Instead, I want to reach out and connect with another’s heart. I want to honestly meet them there, in their deep reality of both joy and pain.
So I need to do all that I can to keep being filled with inspiration. One way I do this is to read various ‘devotions/ inspirations’ on my You Version Bible app each day. Those words of inspiration by various authors, when added to the truth and beauty of Biblical words, feed my spirit and soul and re-balance my thoughts and emotions.
Some days when I open my Bible app to read God’s words, I am like someone who has not eaten for a while, desperate for some sustenance, craving more deep satisfaction.
I can often wake up in the morning and suddenly remember the reality of my current life and discouragement and despair can begin to try and seep into my mind and heart. It’s then more than ever that I know I need some deep inspiration from God to hang my perspective on again, as I start my day.
“But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!” – Jeremiah 20:9, The Bible
When I take the time to invest in filling myself with good words, they increasingly burn within me. They are like fuel that keeps the inside aglow. It’s only if I put the right inspiration within me that the right inspiration will come out of me.
I really do love and value words so much.
- Because words are what connect us all together.
- Words are what communicate from what is within us.
- Words are what encourage and inspire us in the hard times.
So I have decided that whilst the never ending battles continue on a physical level, I want what is on the inside of me to tell a very different story. An adventure that probably won’t be seen much from the outside. But if you listen carefully you will still hear something about it. As I use words to attempt to describe to you what is truly going on deep within my soul.
“You cannot kindle a fire in any other heart until it is burning within your own.” Eleanor Doan
*Proverbs 4:23 The Bible
To read more about my story of living with a chronic spinal CSF Leak click here.
Here is a brilliant 2 min animation about Spinal CSF leaks.
For more information about spinal CSF leaks please see the UK charity website at www.csfleak.info or the US charity website at www.spinalcsfleak.org.