Sunday, August 5, 2012

Willow Creek Church

Last night, I was surprised at how peaceful I felt, and kept thanking God for giving me peace beyond understanding. I think my psychiatrist is right – my anxiety is more prominent than my depression. For those of you who don’t know my story, I faced homelessness and lost all my possessions and friends/family a little over a year ago. It was the cold of winter and I had no heat, no food, and a crazy landlord. At the suggestion of my mother, I stopped all medications cold turkey, which made me vomit nonstop for days, eventually leading to seizures… I was alone, seizing in this hole in the wall, certain death was occurring. I think I seriously was close to a nervous breakdown as I looked in the mirror and saw my face melting off, my hands looked like skin was dripping off my fingers… I felt like I was in the world of Salvador Dali paintings…cold, hungry, alone, praying death would hurry and take me…

But God had other plans. I went to the doctor and discovered the electrolytes in my brain were screwed up from going off meds and lack of nutrition… and the doctor confirmed I was indeed at death’s door. I kept asking if the skin was melting off my body for I saw a skeletal form when I looked at myself and she assured me I wasn’t seeing things clearly, that medication and food would make me better.

I lived by a fire station and every siren freaked me out as I figured the men in white coats were coming to take me to a state hospital. I knew what the definition of ‘crazy’ was and believed I was indeed crazy. I remember singing praise songs throughout the night (I didn’t sleep for days) because I didn’t know what else to do. I remember telling Jesus I only needed Him and I trusted His plan, but please… please, let me come home to heaven. He refused… He still had work for me to complete.

So I somehow (it’s a blur to me) was fed and medications were back in my system after several weeks. My brain chemistry began leveling out again and I slept 3 hours per night, then five, and I no longer looked skeletal. The coldness of winter disappeared after a friend bought me a heater. I took life an hour at a time and just focused on surviving.

Soon, I came home to an eviction notice on my door and when I called former friends and my church, they referred me to the homeless shelter. I asked my brother to let me live with him and he refused. My mother wouldn’t speak to me.

I was about to be homeless. I kept telling myself Jesus was homeless, but I couldn’t find comfort in that. I decided to buy a tent and live in the woods with my cat and dog since shelters wouldn’t take animals. Yes, my life had gotten that low.

Long story short, Rob told me about a great church- Willow Creek. I went and felt the Holy Spirit the very first time I attended. It is Presbyterian and I am not… yet I felt I belonged there and my life has improved ever since. That was a year ago… exactly a year ago.

I now live in the nicest place I’ve ever lived, I have heat, I have food… I am safe. God used Willow Creek to remove a chunk of my pride and get back on medications and talk to people, even make new friends. Thanks to Willow Creek, God has filled my pantry full of food, I no longer feel ‘crazy’, and have a publisher with 8 of 24 books being released in the Spring. I no longer take and take, but I serve… I give back… and I see ways my God-given gifts benefit others. During the week, I freak out, knowing I could easily face homelessness again… I think about how I am an ‘orphan’ without a family, and sometimes, the thoughts paralyze me. But this morning, I went to Willow Creek, and felt like I belonged. I looked at all the familiar faces, how so many individuals had impacted my life over the past year, and I smiled, knowing it was going to be okay. Thank God for Willow Creek. When those bad thoughts enter my mind, I think of the generosity and love I have felt from fellowshipping at that church… and it brings me peace. Peace beyond understanding.

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