Today, on the last day of The Victory Tour, I am extremely excited (and a little nervous) to share my story with you.
Today is the 7 year anniversary of my first episode.
7 years ago today, I began collapsing and struggling through periods of temporary paralysis. My entire body gets heavy and it takes me a while before I can use my arms, legs, and sit up on my own after an episode. I have a 1 and 1/2 inch thick binder full of medical test results that say I’m fine and a team of puzzled doctors.
I always try to look on the bright side, but to be honest, this has been and is hard. I’ve had people say I’m faking, doctors reject me, some accused of not having enough faith, other people think I must have a demon living in me or that this must be God’s way of punishing me for a secret sin.
For years, I never heard of others struggling with similar episodes and I’ve never had a conversation with someone who does. I’ve battled the weight of all that my body cannot do and the ripple effect this has created in every area of my life. The loneliness, the disappointment, the falling, the broken relationships, the failing, the painful medical testing, the unknown, and the sheer mess of it all. This constant battle each day to remain upright has truthfully taken a heavy toll on my heart.
At one point, I truly believed that my body made me unworthy of love. I truly believed that my body made me unworthy of love.Click To Tweet
I believed that my body made me a burden, that no one would want to love me or that it would be selfish to let someone love me when I was broken in so many ways. I felt like the lives of those around me would be better if I wasn’t there. At the beginning, I struggled with the idea of cutting and drinking because those were things I could control and I didn’t know of a healthy way to cope with my entire world changing. It was hard for me to see how God could use me when I had a body that made every aspect of life difficult.
Some story of victory, right?
I would say that victorious is far from how I felt. I was having to give up everything, struggling to make it to school, was afraid of collapsing as I walked across the stage at graduation, struggled to go to college, and had a hard time finding where I fit in to society as an adult. If I am being honest, I’d say that even now, some days I definitely feel less than a victor.
I wish it was prettier and wrapped up in a nice glittery bow, but it turns out that that is just not how life goes. I think the obvious question here is how do you move from this place of brokenness to a place of victory? How do you walk in victory whenever everything around you is crashing down? What does walking in victory even mean or look like? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Let’s look at the definition of the two words:
A person who defeats an enemy or opponent in a battle, game, or competition.
An act of defeating an enemy or opponent in a battle, game, or competition.
With this in mind, there are a few practical truths rooted in scripture that I think we need to remember:
1. Victory is not dependent on our circumstances1. Victory is not dependent on our circumstances Click To Tweet
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (ESV)
When I was thinking about scriptures that aligned with this point, this verse is the one that kept coming back to me. He doesn’t promise that we will be without pain. In fact, I think this verse pretty much promises just the opposite. But in this verse, we find another promise too; He has overcome the world.
He overcame the world whenever He died for us and rose again. This is the ultimate victory, the one we look too when we are in the middle of the battle. It gives us hope and we press forward not to make our families happy or to please others, but because we get to see Jesus. We will get to rest in the shelter of His presence because God came down and sacrificed all for us.
There is nothing that can conquer Him, nothing and not one person that can outthink Him. He is the master of every living thing and He moves and breathes inside of His children. THIS is victory.
But I want to be clear. Victory doesn’t mean there won’t be pain. Sometimes, there are battle scarsVictory is not the absence of pain. Sometimes, there are battle scars. Click To Tweet
An example of this is Jesus. Jesus paid it all and death could not hold Him. But when the King of all the universe chose to come and commune with man after He rose from the grave, He too had some battle scars. This pain is not invalid simply because there is victory. It is okay to feel pain, to recognize the reality of what you are going through.
2. He fights for us
The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:14 (ESV)
This verse in scripture is possibly one of my favorites and the most difficult for me to swallow. I want to fight, keep pushing, and use my own strength. When I read this verse, here is the scene that unfold in my mind.
You and I are fighting in war. We have on our heavy armor and together, we are hunkered down in a trench somewhere in enemy territory; exhausted, thirsty, and severely outnumbered. We have dirt on our faces, sweat in our eyes, and wounds that need mending. We have no hope of winning and no hope of even surviving.
Then we see Jesus.
Sword drawn. shoulder to shoulder with us. Dirt on His face, sweat on His brow and He says, “I will fight for you. You only need to be silent.” This is the same God we were just talking about; The master of the universe, the one who conquered death, the one from which demons flee and to whom mountains bow. He fights for us and He is victorious.
Later that night, there is a great banquet. Again, we are sitting shoulder to shoulder with Jesus. He has brought us into His presence, cleaned up our wounds and given us a place to rest. Side by side, we sit down at the table He has prepared for us and we take part in the feast made for us by the Lover of our souls. Everything else fades away. The battles we fought, the moments we felt defeat, the pain we endured. It pales in comparison to this eternal moment.
I don’t know what kind of battle you are facing right now. I don’t know what kind of illness you face, brokenness you hide, pain you endure, or financial struggle you feel buried under. But I do know that the picture I described above isn’t just a nice story. It is the destiny of God’s children. He loves us. So much so that He fights for us and invites us to join Him in the celebration.
3. We must choose how we are going to walk
Over the last year, Victory has been a word that God has seared into my heart. I very distinctly remember feeling in my spirit the phrase, “How are you going to walk?”
And I struggled to understand why it was important. But then I realized that when a victor walks, they walk in confidence. Victors walk in security. They walk back into town with bruised eyes, missing armor, and broken bones, but they walk in such a way that you know the battle has been won.
They don’t hide everything they just went through and you can see the visible effects of the battle. Sometimes, there is some shell-shock and it might take some time to be able to take about what they saw and experienced on the battle field. And that is okay.
When people look at me, I want them to be able to see not only impact of this 7 year war that ultimately isn’t about my flesh and blood. I want them to see that Jesus has shown up and conquered this in my life and kindly bound up all my wounds. There are still pains and difficulties each day. I haven’t made it through the battle just yet. But I look up and know that He has already purchased victory for me at a higher cost than I could ever pay and He freely let’s me partake in it.
With tears in my eyes, bruises on my knees, scrapes on my hands, and a body that is still broken, I will choose to get back up again after I fall because I know that victory is mine to walk in…even if my legs are still a little wobbly.
Are you struggling to find victory in your circumstance?
I want to encourage you. It’s a lot closer than you think.
P.S. Do you have a story of victory to share? Let me know in the comments below or use the hashtag #walkinvictory2018.