Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Reason for my "WHY"

**Guest Blogger: Kelsy Haugh**

I have known of Jesus my entire life.  I was introduced to the idea of Him at a very young age. I went to church every Sunday growing up, I attended Christian school for much of my life- I knew a lot about this Jesus guy. I knew a lot “about” Him. But I didn’t know Him.

This Sunday at church, my pastor spoke about “the why to your worship”.  Explaining that some people may look at our worship, our relationship with Jesus, and not understand it.  And that’s ok. They may have met Jesus in a different stage of their life, they may have fought through different battles, lived through different heart aches.  So their worship may look different than ours.  He went on to explain that we can fully love, fully serve, fully surrender, fully worship, when we understand the “why” behind our worship.

I have listened to that sermon three times since Sunday morning (and it’s Monday afternoon), each time replaying my life over and over in my mind, trying to establish exactly what the “why” is behind my worship.  And I think I’ve finally figured it out- I have several “why’s”. 

Let’s go back to me at a young, fragile, vulnerable, 21.  I was the mom to a three year old, I was a student finishing up my bachelor’s degree, and I was a brand new fiance to a guy that i was head over heels in love with.  My life was on the fast track to being exactly what I had envisioned that it would be.  I was having success in my personal life, in my love life, and in my mom life.  Life was good.  But shew, life can turn quick, can’t it??

I can vividly remember every single detail of the day that would flip my life completely upside down.
Every. Single. Detail.

I saw an incoming call from Daniel, I sat on the edge of my bed and answered the phone, expecting a “Hey, babe! How’s your day?”.  But the second he said “hello” I immediately knew that this was not a normal phone call.  He told me that he would be leaving at the beginning of the following week for a year long rehab.

Rehab?  Wait.  For what?  A YEAR??  What was happening?  What did this mean for Daniel?  What did this mean for me?  What did this mean for us?

The moments leading up to him actually leaving for rehab are somewhat a blur.  We cried.  We cried so many tears.  We talked about our plan, we talked about our future, we talked I was oblivious.  Clueless.  Naive.  All of it.

Daniel had been abusing prescription pain medicine for a year and I had no clue.
I had no clue the deep emotional hurt that haunted him every day of his life.  I had no clue what a tainted relationship with a parent can do to a person as an adult.  I had no clue what I was in for in that season, or what I was in for in the seasons to come in regards to addiction and mental health.  But what I did know, the only person who was going to help me get through that current season was the Jesus that I knew so much about, but had not yet been personally introduced to.

Daniel went to Teen Challenge for a year.  Over the course of the year we wrote letters on occasion, talked on the phone maybe ten times, and saw each other four times.  FOUR times in a year.  I journaled, I prayed (and prayed and prayed and prayed), I cried, I fasted, but most importantly - I found Jesus.  I found a Comforter, a Provider, an Abba Father.  I finally found the Jesus that I had learned so much about.  When I look back over that year of Daniel being gone, and all of our growth individually, as partners, and as Christians, all I can do is thank Jesus for His perfect peace that transcends all understanding.

So, when I roll down the windows in my van, lift my hands to Heaven, and sing: 
“Hold me, Jesus, I’m shaking like a leaf. You have been King of my glory, won’t you be my Prince of Peace.” 
I can truly sing those lyrics from a heart that understands.  A heart that understands needing a peace that only Jesus can bring.  A heart that understands that in true “rock bottom” moments,  Jesus is all that we have. 

Having lived that year of hell, I truly found a “why” for my worship.  

Fast forward a couple of years.  Dan and I were married.  We had two children at this point.  I had just started nursing school and Dan had become successful at his job.  The days of Teen Challenge and addiction seemed to be far behind us. We were moving on, and moving up.

Or so I thought.

Addiction and mental health may need to be their own post, because, shew! They are heavy topics! 
Addiction & Mental illness are real.  They are real in our community.  They are real in our schools.  They are real in our homes.  And they are real in our churches.  As christians I think we, far too often, shy away from these topics.  But they are real, yall!

And, unfortunately, they were real in my own home.  So much of my story is Daniel’s story, and so much of it is not my story to tell, but thank God he values transparency as much as I do. (Please know that he has read this and agrees to me sharing whatever is written here).

I remember the first time I saw “the other Daniel” come out.  I remember looking at him in the face and his eyes were glazed over.  He was looking at me, but he wasn’t looking at me.  He was not here with me, he was somewhere else.  And I was terrified.  He yelled, he screamed obscenities, he threw things.  He could not be reasoned with.  He could not be talked to. It’s almost like he wasn’t even there.  And then, as quickly as it started, it ended.  He cried.  I cried.  He apologized.  We talked about what had happened.  And we moved on.

Or so I thought.

I’d like to say that his apology was sincere, and that it never happened again.  But that would be a lie.  It actually got worse.  Way worse.  The “crazy”, the tears, the apology- a constant cycle that consumed our lives for several months.  In the midst of what I would consider the peak of Daniel’s battle with an addiction triggered mental illness (I totally made that diagnosis up), I found out that I was pregnant with our third child.

I was devastated. We could NOT bring another child into the world during that season.  I could barely stay afloat with my other responsibilities and struggles.  I had no clue what the future looked like for Daniel and I.  For my family.  We were in NO place to have another child.

So I did the most selfish thing that I could possibly do, that I convinced myself in my mind was the most unselfish thing that I could do.  I pushed down all of my emotions, all of my fears, all of my guilt, and I walked myself into Planned Parenthood with every intention of terminating my pregnancy.  “This is the best option for this child, and for your family”, “you cannot have any more children with this man”- these are the thoughts that I allowed myself to entertain, in hopes of justifying what could have been the worst decision that I have ever made.

I sat in that cold, dark place all by myself.
I cried.
I prayed.
I reasoned with Jesus as He softly and gently put Bible verses in my heart.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mothers womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  
Psalm 139: 13-14  

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 
 2 Corinthians 12:8

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future.”  
Jeremiah 29:11

The days following that day were dark, and lonely, and cold. And filled with so many details that I am not fully ready to disclose in this blog.
BUT my Jesus is so faithful.  He was faithful in my pregnancy - My sweet Carrigan Juliet was born 8 months later.  She was the most beautiful baby that my eyes had ever seen (tied with her older sister and brother of course).

And he was faithful in my marriage.  We are so far from perfect, still.  But I have learned so much about mental illness, and the role that I play in it.  And Dan has worked so hard on himself.  Therapy, medicine, and a whole lot of prayer - sometimes I think I am married to a totally different man.

As I sit at my kitchen table, writing out a season of my life that is still SO raw to me, I can truly say that I have experienced the faithfulness of Jesus.  I know it.  I understand it.  I get it.  I have lived it.  And because of that, as the lyrics, “There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain” come blaring from my Pandora, I can authentically worship.  Hands raised, tears streaming, worship.

Having lived that season of despair, I found another “why” for my worship.

Everyone has their “person”.  Someone they jive with immediately.  A relationship that takes zero effort.  No awkward silences.  No weird phases.  Just easy, natural, immediate bonding.

My person was Tiffany.
She was my confidant.  She was my protector.  She was my favorite friend.
She was my person. 

Earlier this year Tiffany died.
Out of nowhere.
She wasn’t dying.  She wasn’t sick.  She wasn’t supposed to die.
She went to the emergency room in the morning and was dead by that night.
My earth shook.  My world stopped spinning.  Heartbroken really doesn’t even touch it.  I spent countless hours in tears.
Why?  Why her?  Why now?
She has young kids.  She has a husband.  She has an entire life ahead of her.
This isn’t fair!

A few months after Tiffany’s death my mom was diagnosed with cancer.
Really, God?  Are we doing this right now?  This is cute.  I’m still spending half of my day crying and praying over my lost friend, and now is when you want to throw this cancer diagnosis at me?  Great.  Thanks.  Appreciate it.

The next couple months were filled with tests, scans, further diagnoses, hospitalizations, complications, treatments, and a whole lot of prayers.

And where was I during all of this?  Well, I was there with my mom - partly.  But partly I was sulking in a corner feeling bad for myself.  2016 was not shaping up to be a good year for me, and I wanted Jesus to know exactly how I felt about it.  I enjoyed a couple weeks of self-pity, thinking that I truly had it harder than anyone else around me.  Convincing myself that I was on a direct path to a huge blessing - because surely I deserved it after the year I’d had!

I remember driving around Salisbury, crying out to Jesus to show Himself to me, when this song came on the radio,

“I tried to fit you in the walls inside my mind
I try to keep you safely in between the lines
I try to put you in the box that i’ve designed
I try to pull you down so we are eye to eye
When did I forget that you’ve always been the King of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the King of the world
How could I make you so small
When you’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you’ve always been the King of the world?”

And as I belted out these lyrics, truly believing them, and truly trusting Jesus to continue to be the King of my world, I realized that is exactly what genuine worship is.

Having lived through those moments of grief, I found another “why” for my worship.  

This whole post may seem kind of terrible, and dark, and sad. But yall, I have lived through SO many blessings.  I have experienced so much joy, so much triumph, so much happiness.  I step back and look at my life and think, “Thank you, Jesus!” - more times than I can count. 
Jesus has been SO good to me, and I am SO grateful.

I have a husband who loves me. He supports me in every decision that I make and truly is my biggest fan.  He is dedicated to our family, and continues to prove daily that he is willing to do whatever he has to do to be healthy for us.  I have three beautiful children.  And while they are all beautiful on the outside, too (I may be a tad biased, though), they are beautiful on the inside.  They are caring, they are compassionate, and they love Jesus.  And I am SO thankful that they are mine.  I have a family who means everything to me.  I have such a beautiful tribe.  Friends that support me in my victories, and encourage me in my weak moments.  Friends that lift me up, but are willing to call me out on my crap.  Jesus hand-picked them for me, and they are the best!  I have a career that I genuinely enjoy, with people that are like my family.

I could go on for days on the ways that Jesus has blessed my life.  But when I step back and truly look at these past twenty-eight years, the thing that I am most grateful for is that I have personally met Jesus.  I know Him intimately and personally.  I have a day-in and day-out relationship with Him.  I no longer just know about Him.  I know Him.  I know that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  I know that He was the same Jesus when my life was crumbling, as He is when my life is sailing.  He is near in my dark moments, and He is near in my greatest joys.  He is fighting for me.  He is loving me.  He is delighting in me.  Always.

So, as I sit here reflecting on my life; my year of hell, my season of despair, my moments of grief, and my times of pure joy, I can sing these lyrics and mean them.

“What a beautiful name it is
What a beautiful name it is
The name of Jesus Christ my King
What a beautiful name it is
Nothing compares to this
What a beautiful name it is
The name of Jesus”  

Having lived a life full of so much joy, I have personally found yet another “why” to my worship.  

I don’t know what your life looks like.  I don’t know your story.  Your ups, your downs, your highs, your lows.  But what I do know is that when life is rough, and times are hard, and you meet Jesus in a real way - then, and only then, will you find the “why” behind your worship.

And your life will be forever changed.

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