Thursday, November 3, 2011

Not for the faint of heart or easily offended: thorn in my flesh

November 2, 2011

I felt the Lord pressing upon my heart to share my morning with you. It's now a day later and I've finally given in to that leading. I've put it off as it's not a pretty picture and it's well, humbling. I'm writing the following as I feel that there are women out there who may suffer with the same kind of extreme emotions that I have, and if there are, and if they are Christians, they may question why this extreme emotion is happening to them and why it's not, at times, controllable. I also believe there are family members/friends out there who know someone who has extreme emotions and is not sure what is causing it or why it's happening. In this case, when I say “extreme emotions” I'm talking about mental illnesses due to whatever reason, including hormonal imbalances.

So, here we go. We are diving into some REALLY thick stuff here people. This morning I lost it with everyone. You see, I had held it together for a whole week. Randy rearranged the stuff in the cabinets last week in order to have a place for my new juicer. Nice thought honey. However, what he didn't know, and I didn't realize at the time, is that this set my OCD/anxiety on high alert. Every time I went into the kitchen I found myself getting really pissed (and no i'm not going to use nice/appropriate words to cover up what was going on my head head because, for some reason, there is someone out there who needs me to be TOTALLY honest with what goes on in my head). I would notice my change in emotion and I have learned that emotions are NOT truth. So, I went right into “prevention mode”, which, for me, is singing a praise song to the Lord or quoting scripture so that I'm telling myself truth rather than riding on pure emotion.

I would experience this, easily, about 10 times a day (I'm in the kitchen a lot, and this is besides the other things that would set me off into anxiety mode during the day). This morning, I could no longer hold it in. My parents had come over for dinner last night and had brought some snacks for the boys. I ALWAYS put the bag of snacks in front of the food closet and then put them away the next morning (as we are usually heading out the door for youth group when my parents arrive). This morning, however, when I went to put those things away and pack the boys lunch boxes the bag was not there. I immediately went into rage mode. There was no time for me to catch myself and respond with a song, lashing words came out at my husband. I finally found the “stupid fish bread and the f###ing oranges” and my mind just went off with obscenity after obscenity (I did have enough strength to not do so out loud as my children were around). Then Randy finally got the children out of the house to go to the bus and I slammed the door shut and cursed up a storm letting this rage out that had boiled to the brim. I took a shower, pounded on the walls, screamed at God “Why are You allowing me to struggle with this f###ing illness called OCD and anxiety disorder? Why is this STILL overpowering me! I am in Your word! I am spending time before You daily! What the hell else do you want from me Lord!?!?!?!”

I was reminded of Paul and the thorn in his flesh. There are guesses as to what that thorn in the flesh was, but sometimes I wonder if it wasn't something like a mental illness. Something that, most people around him, couldn't understand, in fact, he couldn't understand it himself. Do you know how lonely that is? It would make sense if that was what it was since he begged God to remove it, something I've done often.

Thankfully I have a loving husband who does not take my “episodes”, for lack of a better word, personally, nor does he tell me I need to just “get over it”, “pull myself up by the boot straps”, or “There are people out there in a lot worse condition than you are. You should be thankful and joyful that you're not one of the people starving to death. Get a hold of your emotions”. (Please don't ever say that to someone in this condition.) So why, if my sure foundation is Jesus Christ, and if I'm looking to Him to be my strength every day, am I still failing and being over taken by this illness? (and no I don't mean “giving into this illness”, I mean “overtaken”.)

I think it's simply because, though I'm free in Christ, I'm still bound by sin in this world. My spirit is connected to Christ but it is still in a fleshly body that is dying, decaying, and failing every moment. So what to do. Do I beat myself up because I've failed yet again (and I'm ON medication)? Do I listen to the people in my life who say, “You must have a sin in your life that you're not giving over to the Lord?” Do I give up and run away from my family because I truly believe they would be better off without me? Just a second. I need to go get a tissue, I can't see through my tears.....

No. I will try my best to not do those things above. I will fall on my knees at the throne of Christ, who doesn't care how rageful or angry I am. Who can handle me throwing every curse word I know at Him, and who, with mercy and grace, reaches down, picks me up, and whispers to me, “It's ok, Megan. I love you. I loved you yesterday, I loved you when I was hanging on the cross, and no emotion of yours, no angry words of yours, is going to stop me from loving you right now.”

There will be many people who can't understand mental illness (I don't and I have it) and will say or do hurtful things, even sometimes in the name of Christ. I (and you others who struggle too) need to not worry about that, and know that our safe haven, if you know Christ, is at the foot of the cross. We need to remind ourselves, that some day, we will have a new body and new mind. Thank you Jesus.

So, to you who struggle with extreme emotion or mental illness, know that you are not by yourselves, and that even I, an assistant pastor's wife (many people see people in those spiritual positions and think they don't struggle with a sinful nature/imperfect body with imperfect emotions) struggle intensely with this along side of you.

To those of you who know someone and/or are close to someone who struggles with something like this, I know that it is very difficult to understand someone who struggles with mental illness or hormonal imbalance. You can't see a physical defect, and often times it seems like their emotions are a choice. Please know that not one of us (with these issues) CHOOSES to be miserable or hard to live with, or make others feel miserable around us at times. It's just like if someone is crippled in the legs and physically isn't able to control what they look like when they walk, and quite honestly, you wouldn't expect them to try to. Simply pray for the Lord to continue to be their strength and their song. And pray that He shows you how to love them and be an encouragement to them.

I hope, that in some way, this has encouraged someone. I don't believe that the Lord would have allowed me to share something so private and NOT have it affect someone positively. If you are someone who struggles like I do feel free to e-mail me. If you are someone who lives with someone/is close to someone who struggles, feel free to e-mail my husband. We want to use this thorn in our flesh to encourage others and sit in the mud with those who feel alone. You can reach us at

Humbly yours,



  1. Shandra Yoder StonerNovember 3, 2011 at 5:52 AM

    I love you, Megan!!!! Thank you for your candor and honesty about something so "ugly" and "human"! I wish I could hug you and tell you in person that I heard you and affirm you! I can only imagine your pain in this. I have a dear friend who sounds/acts just like what you've written above...yet no one ever talks about it! This has helped me see a little window into her thought processes during her times of "rage". Much love to you and your family today as you let Christ be your strength and he extends his grace to you.

  2. I've been struggling lately with why my anxiety has raged its head again when I have been spending time in the word and seeking him moment to moment. So thank you for this. (I also feel like mine is due to Satan trying to attack me and disbar the ministries I lead) Also, I have someone else I know that deals with "extreme emotion" and I feel like I needed to hear this in order to have grace for them as well.
    Thank you so much for being so honest. I feel like I try to be honest and open with people on who I really am.... but I'm not sure I'm whole heartedly open due to people saying stuff like the "stuff not to say" you posted. - Kristy

  3. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
    2 Cor 12:8-9

    If anybody had a reason to give in to despair, it was Paul the prison, flogged severely, exposed to death again and again, received 39 lashes five different times, beaten with rods three times, pelted with stones, shipwrecked three times, spent night and a day in the open sea, constantly on the move, in danger from rivers, bandits, fellow Jews and Gentiles; in danger in the city, country and at sea; toiling often without sleep; without food, water and clothing. And Besides everything else, faced the daily pressure of concern for all the churches. [paraphrased from 2 Cor. 11:23-29]

    Note in 11:23, Paul even says: "I am out of my mind to talk like this"!

    Why didn't God take away Paul's thorn? It was an easy thing for God to do. Hadn't Paul suffered enough? Wasn't he completely faithful? Didn't he deserve a break?

    It wasn't about Paul, though. It was about how Paul's life could best glorify God.

    Yes, God is able to heal, and chooses sometimes to do so. But, many times, as he did with Paul, he says to us: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

    God's power is made perfect in your weakness, Megan, and as hard as that is for any of us to understand, He is the potter, we are the clay. He will bring glory to Himself through His perfectly imperfect vessels... us ... the plain clay pots!


  4. Hi Meg - LOVE YOU and wanted to say that first!!!! I am sitting here thinking that there is a connection here with what I call "stubborn sin" and mental illness - that being washed with His grace over and over is not a copout or excuse to continue in sin, but our only hope. HE is our only hope. Taking a long bath in His blood, today and every day. - love, nancy

  5. I really needed to hear this! Thank God for you and being willing to write this, a lot of times I feel so alone in this same struggle...God is so good! Love you

  6. I love you!
    Thank you for helping me see better. We desperately need to see better. Keep helping us, Meg. Keep helping us see!

  7. Wanting to clarify my blog response (anonymous, above)! Now re-reading it I can see how it might have been mis-read, it was meant between meg and me relating her struggles with my struggle with a "stubborn sin" and being unable to overcome it. That is the similarity I was drawing, nothing more. Some would say that I use "grace" as a copout or excuse to keep on sinning, but rather it is the bath I take daily which frees me to go on in spite of myself! Anyway, I hope that clarifies what I meant!
    - nancy

  8. this was well written Meg, in every sense of the word. I can identify with you in this, as you know, and i am proud of you that you wrote it out for others to read at the Lord's insistence. Obedience does have it's amazing rewards, regardless of the pain it takes to follow it through.
    with love, jocelyn