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Tag Archives: My Abba

“I’ll help you be popular! You’ll hang with the right cohorts You’ll be good at sports Know the slang you’ve got to know so let’s start ’cause you’ve got an awfully long way to go…”

*She tiptoes in and looks around. Hello?, she asks, and hears the echo bouncing off the blog walls…*

I have reasons why I haven’t written. The beginning of school is always a difficult transition (true), I am working on managing my daily pain and trying to balance how to expend my energy (true), I have had writer’s block (true), I have been discouraged and overwhelmed by world events (true), Gilmore Girls came on Netflix (true. So true). I spent some extended time away this past weekend and realized that while all those reasons are true, the REAL reason comes down to the fact that my favorite color is gray.

I know. It’s weird. Stay with me please, I hope it will make sense in the end. First off, I need to defend my choice- I know gray isn’t the most logical choice for a favorite color. If you’ve ever been shopping with me, you’ve probably heard my theory that you could take any item of clothing and if you made it gray, it would automatically become 87% more comfortable. You can’t argue with science. There’s just something about the soft mix of black and white that seems cozy, comforting. A gray sky means snuggling on the couch with movies and a warm blanket. A gray sweatshirt swallows me in warmth and takes me back to walking through crunchy leaves on a college campus.

I like some gray in my thinking too. In my 20’s, I gravitated to the black and white, the right and wrong. Gray was scary, gray was disobedient, gray was BACKSLIDING. But the funny thing is, as I’ve gotten older I have become more convinced of what I believe to be true, and more convinced that my ways are not His ways. My gray now isn’t theology, it’s just the recognition that He is so much bigger than I ever thought He was. My gray now is more compassionate, slower to speak and quicker to listen. It’s the respectful recognition that His plans are bigger and better than mine, and they don’t always look like the Christian plan I have in my head.

So back to writing. Or, lack of writing.

Once you start blogging, it doesn’t take long before you discover the cool table. Some people are at the cool table simply because they sincerely and without guise are cool. They didn’t do anything except be who they are. Others are there by pushing other people around and striving to be at the top. Sometimes it’s really hard to tell these people apart (here’s a tip- watch what happens to them when someone disagrees with them on social media. It’s pretty easy to figure it out). Not only do you discover the cool table, you discover that you are supposed to want to BE at the cool table. On the walk to the cool table are words like branding, followers, conferences, stats, hustle, etc. None of these words are bad in of themselves but unfortunately as you navigate around those words, you can trip over arrogance, fear, harshness, rudeness. If I’m honest, I want to skip the entire room and hole up in my bed with my gray blanket and laptop. I don’t want the black and white of making a plan and goals and a chapter a day. I don’t want to hear about publishing or book proposals or speaker fees or amazon or make.it.stop.

Now, it is tempting for me to just turn to a different kind of arrogance and claim to be above all that popularity nonsense. I don’t want that kind of foolishness either. So I realized this weekend that part of why I like gray is because gray is safe. Gray doesn’t require choices. Gray with it’s laissez faire lures me in with a lack of pressure and worry about publishing and success. And there’s no risk of failure. 

So here’s the deal. I don’t know what He has for me in this writing gig. I don’t know if I will ever be at the cool table. I don’t know if I am supposed to want to be there either. I don’t know if I will write a book or be published. But I am so glad that He knows. I am so thankful that my only job is to be faithful.

Friends, would you pray for me? Would you pray that I will not embrace fear, and instead step out, knowing that He know exactly what is going to happen? Would you pray that I will be faithful to what He’s asked me and gifted me to do, and not get caught up in what I think I am supposed to care about? Would you pray that I will only choose His way, and I won’t be attracted to the world’s definition of success?  Will you pray that I will chase the butterflies, and not just wait for them to come land on me?

 

Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies.org

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

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“The only one who could ever reach me was the son of a preacher man The only boy who could ever teach me was the son of a preacher man Yes he was, he was Ooh, yes he was…”

Around seventeen years ago, a young girl barely out of her teens got up early on a Sunday morning and got dressed for church. She could see the steam rising from the street from those rare and quick summer Abilene storms, and it was already hot enough to fry her eggs on the sidewalk so she chose a modest sundress and sandals. She always got to church early because her husband was the music minister. She wandered around the blue carpeted building, dodging the wasps that always made a home inside the sanctuary, like they were searching for redemption for all the kids they had stung. She also dodged that one sweet old lady who insisted on asking questions about how marriage was going *wink wink*.

She went into the bathroom before the service started and while in the stall, a group of women came in. They were all in their seventies and eighties, maybe even older, she didn’t really know because to a barely 20-year-old, 40 seemed ancient. Either way, these were the ladies who knew everything about everyone. And if they didn’t know, they’d ask. And bless your heart if they didn’t approve of your answer. She listened quietly as they talked about how they hoped the piano would be softer this week, and how they understood that we needed to sing that newer music for the “young people”, but how they just knew Jesus REALLY loved the hymns best. Then she heard this bomb.

“Did you see Wes’ wife this morning? No minister worth his salt would let his wife wear open toed shoes to church!”

 

Dear Wesley,

The twenty year old me went home that afternoon, cried, and promptly went out and bought old lady shoes to cover up my offensive and ungodly toes. The thirty-seven year old me wants to give her a hug and tell her to show up that next week with clown shoes on. We spent two years serving at that church, then three years at another, and monday marked ten years serving at Watermark Community Church.

When I went to Hardin-Simmons University back so many years ago, I decided that I was NOT interested in marrying anyone who might want to be a full-time minister. Or a part-time minister. Maybe not even a Baptist. An unfair opinion, but I thought that would be a world of being alone, being judged, having to perfect a fake smile, moving around frequently whenever the deacons decided they didn’t like you, being poor, and having my life slowly dissolve into a world of homeschooling my 17 children while learning to sew the floor length skirts I would be required to wear. But there was another reason I didn’t want to be a pastor’s wife.

I was terrified that I would disappoint.

I was a big faker. I mean, I had the right clothes and the bible with the flowery cloth cover and the full Point of Grace songbook memorized. But by myself in my car, I listened to Pearl Jam. I didn’t feel patient or kind and wanted nothing to do with being involved in college ministries. I didn’t have a “gentle and quiet spirit” and what’s more, I didn’t want one. It wasn’t that being a christian was boring, but serving in churches certainly seemed to be. It seemed like an odd sort of political career, where you show your best face to get elected, hope for good pay and benefits, enjoy some twisted form of celebrity, hope you don’t screw up too badly to get fired, and likely get fired anyway over something dumb.

It breaks my heart to know there are pastor’s wives reading this right now who are nodding their heads in sad recognition because this is their reality.

So it should say a lot about how cute and charming you are that you convinced me to marry you, knowing that you would be serving in churches. And not everything in being in full-time ministry lived up to those awful expectations, but some of it did. I’m glad we can both laugh at our first fight over you wanting me to use a certain book for the children’s choir and me sweetly telling you what you could do with that book. You gently reminded me that technically, you were “my boss” and I, full of grace and meekness, told you to shove it. It was a long time before we chose to work together again. I remember another fight, one that I still cannot laugh at, where you felt the oppressing weight of people’s whispers and expectations that your wife would serve as a teacher of youth, and I would have rather been eaten alive by sharks than teach teenagers. This ended in cruel whispered words in a church hallway, and a loss of trust for years. So I can admit, my love, that when we moved to Dallas, I halfway hoped you might find a new passion for being an accountant or something.

And then you began an internship at Watermark that turned into a full-time job. And we had babies. And our marriage imploded. And I braced myself for the impeachment and the stares. And it never came.

Ten years later, I am so honored to be not only your wife, but a wife of a man on staff at Watermark. There is nothing magical about Dallas or the building, but Jesus has changed you, me, us. And He’s used so many of the men and women on staff to do that. And I am so proud of the work that you do. You love authentically, not politically. And you teach me so much about Christ, by the way you and your leadership have allowed me to be…me. Pearl Jam, open toed shoes and all. I am not expected to be an appendage of you. My gentle and quiet spirit can also be funny and authoritative. And while I completely understand the seduction of image, I wish I could adequately express the relief that comes with the freedom of letting go of the image.

Ten years ago, I thought that there was a good chance that we would not stay married or I would be forever miserable in a fake happy marriage. Ten years ago, I would have said that I would be happier if you never wanted to work for a church again. And ten years later, we are not in a perfect church or a perfect marriage, but I am so blessed to be called yours and to be a member of this body.

You’re totally worth your salt, babe. Happy 10 years.

Love,

Me

 

Would these have been better, old lady committee? They look sort of Old Testamentish.

Would these have been better, old lady committee? They look sort of Old Testamentish.

Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

 

“Take your make up off, Let your hair down, Take a breath, Look into the mirror at yourself, Don’t you like you? Cause I like you…”

“Put your make up on
Get your nails done
Curl your hair
Run the extra mile
Keep it slim so they like you, do they like you?”
 It’s the tiniest slip, a mere 100 feet from Gymboree to Justice, but it’s another galaxy. Kittens to cheerleading. Tiny bows to sparkly boots. The smallest change in cuts, so that the shoulder is exposed a bit more. You pull it down, I pull it up. This is the year of more no than yes. The year that the one piece versus bikini became reality instead of theory. These baby girls who hate being called babies walk their spindly legs down familiar halls, and the bathrooms suddenly have mirrors. When did they get mirrors? Us moms, we don’t ever forget that first time we see you suck your stomach in. We want to warn you, but we also see the freight train that carries braces, pimples, and cramps barreling down the track, and we are powerless to do anything but catch a ride alongside you. Doesn’t it feel like a race? To catch onto the thing that will make you “it”,  you just can’t be the last to catch on! You ask us when you can start shaving your legs, and we beg for more time. Babies, do you know how loved you are? Do you know how we stay awake, memorizing every dip and curve of your face? Do you know about the moments that we catch a glimpse and can’t speak because of your beauty? Can you hear your mother’s voice as it cracks with tears when she talks about you? Can you see the desperation in her eyes when you tell her that you just wish you were pretty, because she just can’t find enough words to express how beautiful you are?
Babies, did you know your Father feels this way about you?
“Get your sexy on
Don’t be shy, girl
Take it off
This is what you want, to belong, so they like you
Do you like you?”
 A thousand voices compete for your attention, and sometimes the most negative one is your own. You might despise us now. Loves, we mamas need grace. It’s probably easy for you to forget that along with hurting with you, we can be hurt by you too. We remember our own adolescent struggles with dress sizes and acne, with that one boy who spoke cruel words, with that embarrassing moment we were sure no one would ever forget, and then we sigh and remember that you have all these same moments captured on Instagram. When you walk into that high school on that first day, your mama is pleading for you, that you might rise above the fray, but we also know that no destination is worth getting to if you don’t have to swim hard for it. So we step back and continue the gut wrenching process of releasing that which we never owned, and give you a sympathetic smile when you cry over dateless dances. Did you know we would still let you stand on our feet to dance? Do you know that at every turn, we are praying that you won’t fall for the scheme of letting others decide your beauty?
Loves, did you know your Father pursues you this way?
“Get your shopping on, at the mall, max your credit cards
You don’t have to choose, buy it all, so they like you
Do they like you?”
Sisters, aren’t you tired? Do you remember a time when you thought that desire to belong and fit in was simply a childish goal and someday you wouldn’t care? And now we hover in doorways at PTA meetings, we sit alone on park benches, we form a line of quiet loneliness while our kids play soccer. We’ve gotten good at the game, claiming ignorance of the game itself. But we go home and slather on our expensive night cream, and we look in the mirror and sigh. Sure, we proudly own our laboring stretch marks and embrace the gray, but that desire, the one to be known, it is just as strong. Sisters, did you know that He put that in you? And yet we protect and manage, putting our best night creamed face forward, just to come home exhausted because its just.so.much.work.
Beloved Sisters, did you know your Father wants you to rest?
Today is the first day of school. Today, His daughters will venture out into a world that can be incredibly cruel. Today I will pray for myself and for my sisters.

Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com
Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

“Let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore…”

Back in May, our family sat around our dinner table and made a list of individual goals. We divided them up into reading goals, learning goals, activity goals, and just fun goals. Some examples were- reading 10,000 pages, learning to make pizza, learning about civil rights, learning to fish, learning to run, going to a water park, having two days a week with no technology, etc.

I’m happy to report that we met all our goals and we are entering the new school year as well rested, well-rounded people who are quite frankly, much smarter and cooler than the rest of you slackers.

Eh…something like that. Here’s the truth- only Josiah met his reading goal. He surpassed 10,000 pages actually, which is impressive until I tell you that we probably haven’t spoken to him in a few weeks. There’s been no fishing, no deck building, I have learned 0 new songs on the guitar, no water park, and my children have developed a deep abiding relationship with the television this summer, followed closely by becoming besties with the Xbox. I did not learn how to make artisan bread or homemade sushi, but I DID learn that if you offer no alternative, your children will eat peanut butter and jelly for more than one day in a row.

This week has been difficult, for many reasons, but one of the reasons is that I have been struggling with guilt over how our summer has progressed, and the lack of meaningful interactions between me and my kids. Actually, that’s just fancy blog talk for saying I feel like a failure. A big old not running, frozen waffle making, swimming counts as a bath failure. School starts in a week and my house isn’t more organized. I have no meal plans ready. There are no homework stations and at this point, I am not quite sure where Josiah’s toothbrush is.

It’s amazing to me that we do this- we look at summer vacation and forget that it’s only a vacation for the kids. My life and responsibilities haven’t stopped! In fact, they have at least doubled, because now I have three kids home. Home. All the time. All the days and hours. They are home. With me. All the days. They are home with me and that means I have 88% less time to do laundry, cook, clean, organize the house, take care of the dog, do ministry, write, spend time with friends, spend time with the Lord, and be a wife. Not sure if 88% is right, but who has time to do correct math when all the children are here?? So we have less time and less energy, yet we make goals for ourselves as though we have all the free time in the world. It’s crazy and unrealistic. And for me, it has set me up for grouchiness and crying and guilt.

And I’ve decided I’ve had enough. I can’t find any scripture about spanish lessons or running a marathon or reading Shakespeare or learning cursive. But I’ve read plenty about rest and loving others and laughter and being patient and kind. And I think my ancestors would roll their eyes at my fretting, so I am taking my cues from them. I want to encourage you with the following questions-

1. Has your child been eaten by a wooly mammoth or scarred by an attack while gathering water at the watering hole?

2. Has your child lost any fingers or limbs in a combine this summer?

3. Did you child contract Bubonic Plague while gathering wild mushrooms to feed the family?

If you answered “no” to each of these, then congratulations, your summer was a success!

And more questions-

1. Did your child eat this summer?

2. Did water come into contact with your child’s body this summer?

3. Is your child currently breathing?

If you answered “yes”, then you are a rock star summer parent.

 

The truth is, while many parents wrestle with wanting to have a perfect Pinterest summer, I struggled more with wanting some high level spiritual experience for my kids. I wanted us to be sweet and generous and loving and prayerful and creative and singing and Spinterest. Spiritual Pinterest. But I bet I don’t have to tell you that the world of Spinterest does contain an extraordinary amount of “spin”. Our family is just full of human sinners, and three months of constant togetherness has brought out that sin in some unique and loud ways. Some days were louder than others.

Sweet friends, take a deep breath. Channel your inner Elsa and let. it. go. Don’t let your Spinterest hopes distract you from what is right in front of you- a beautiful, restful, joy filled sink of dirty dishes. They’ll be there tomorrow. Maybe even the next day. And no one will die or abandon their faith because of it.

Your babies are watching to see how you feel about those dirty faces and dishes.

 

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Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

 

“Father, break my heart for what breaks Yours, give me open hands and open doors, Put Your light in my eyes and let me see that my own little world is not about me…”

I grew up going to See you at the Pole rallies. Does anyone else remember these? It was a day when the kids who attended churches would meet at the flagpole before school and pray together for the other heathens that were probably sleeping off their hangovers.

At least that’s what I assumed.

The scripture that I remember defining this experience was 2 Chronicles 7:14- “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”  I’d listen to the leader talk about how we need to take back our nation and rescue it from the influence of “the world”, how if we weren’t firm and didn’t stand up for Jesus, we were all just gonna go to hell in a hand basket. The leader didn’t actually say “hell in a hand basket”, but we all knew he was thinking it. I never really understood why a hand basket made the idea of hell more threatening. It’s a handbasket- the thing little Red Riding hood carried to bring a picnic lunch to her grandma. Was it lined with spikes? Filled with tracker jackers?  And really, are we shrinking down to tiny people, because hand baskets generally don’t fit typical size people. If they wanted to scare us, they should’ve said we would go to hell in a smart car.

But that’s not the point.

The point is, I don’t know if it was intentional, but the emphasis was always on the “turning from their wicked ways” part. I learned that we needed to help the world turn from their wicked ways and then God would step in and turn this proverbial car around and all would be right and clean and probably Republican. Even after my pole praying days were over, I heard this scripture used to encourage me to vote, to attend prayer rallies, to picket clinics, to even pray for certain weather. And when the world just got worse, sometimes I thought maybe the wicked ways of the world were just too strong and my prayers against it were just too weak.

I want to cover my ears and close my eyes against #Ferguson and the hatred that is bubbling up from long-held beliefs. I’m weary. Not just weary of hearing about another unarmed black teenager killed, but weary of the debate with people I love about if white privilege is a real thing. No one will debate if this is wickedness- surely death and pain and hatred is evil, and we want to be delivered from it. But we have to begin with the actual beginning- the humbling part. We aren’t asked to humble others, we are asked to humble ourselves.

Humble ourselves…and shut up.

Humble ourselves…and listen.

Humble ourselves…and decide that no matter what, we who are white do not understand what it is like to be black in this country.

Humble ourselves…and consider if perhaps the wicked ways belong to us.

Jesus is telling us to humble ourselves, admit that we might be wrong. I’m asking my brothers and sisters to just consider if everything you think you know about race relations might be wrong. Just consider it.

Jesus is telling us to pray. Not just for “them”, but for our own hearts. I love that He knows that our prayers are sweeter and more intimate when we are humble.

Jesus is telling us to seek His face. His face- the One that lovingly crafted every nuance of Michael Brown’s face AND the police officer. The face that I believe cries with me as I try not to see my precious Malachi in that crowd. The face that is recording every tear of a mother who has lost her baby.

Jesus is telling us to turn from OUR wicked ways. Mine. My wickedness- the side of me that still views other people as less important than me, the side of me that is unkind and selfish and lazy and quarrelsome and rude. The side of me that defends the underdog while cursing the oppressor.

Father, forgive me. Forgive me for my complacency and fear of man. Forgive me for avoiding conflict, when I should be standing up for those who could use a defender. Forgive me for my arrogance in thinking that I “get it”. I do not get it. I am so grateful that You do. Help me to shut up and listen. Help me to see the thoughts that I have that are not loving towards Your kids. Help me be a peacemaker. Remind me that healing an infection often requires painful surgery and help me be willing to be cut open. I couldn’t possibly bleed more than You did. 

 

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Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77 

“I got caught up by the chase and you got high on every little game, I wish you were the one that got away, Oh if I could go back in time when you only held me in my mind, just a longing gone without a trace…”

A few days ago, the band The Civil Wars announced that they were no longer Ross and Rachel on a break, they were officially totes for real this time over. They are never ever ever getting back to together. Like, ever.

I had several friends check on me that day, because this is/was my favorite band. If you haven’t heard them, spend some quality time with YouTube and check them out. And although the composing has been on the wall for a while, fans hoped for over a year that they would fix the problem, resolve their differences and keep making beautiful music together. So seeing that they are my favorite band, what I am about to say will sound crazy.

I’m glad they broke up.

The first time I heard them perform was online, and I watched this video-

My first thought was “what an adorable, in love couple”

Pretty soon I realized from comments that they were not married to each other, they were both married to other people. John-Paul also has four children, and Joy had her first child last year. It was an odd love for me, because you’d have to be crazy to say they aren’t musically outstanding…but I always feel a bit uncomfortable listening, like I was participating in something that I wasn’t quite sure was right. It almost felt voyeuristic, and I wondered sometimes if it felt that way to their spouses too. I wondered what it might be like to be John-Paul’s wife, at home with four children while my husband was touring the country, being adored by fans and spending so much time with a gorgeous talented woman in the same business.

I’m not stupid. I know sex sells, and all you have to do is read the YouTube comments for five minutes to understand that John-Paul and Joy’s chemistry onstage and off had contributed to this sense that they were a couple- acknowledged or not. Sexual tension, a sort of will they or won’t they, crept up to not only become an unfortunate byproduct of a woman and man singing together, it became almost part of marketing. Perhaps I am cynical, but I just can’t believe that wasn’t intentional. Watching the above video after finding out that they were married to other people made me feel like I was contributing to something seedy and wrong. Oversensitive? Maybe. But then the break-up happened.

When they announced that they were taking a break, Joy continued to speak publicly while John-Paul disappeared from social media. Of course everyone wanted the story, and the most information I have read came from Joy, where she told the Associated Press- “If you want to know what happened to the band, listen to the new album.” This made me angry, honestly. It made me angry because it is almost impossible to listen to the entire album and not walk away wondering if they had an affair that went sour.

Maybe they didn’t. Maybe it has nothing to do with their relationship. Maybe they just hate each other and can’t work together. Maybe they have legal obligations that keep them from really talking about what happened. Maybe they wanted to not talk about anything and keep the suspense to boost sales. But the point is, they have been polished and marketed as two people with amazing chemistry, both musically and personally, and everything about them screams that they are secretly in love.

And there are five innocent children who are in homes that did not choose this life. 

So I know it’s strange for me to say that I am glad they are no longer a band. I sincerely hope that if they ever choose to create music together again, they will completely reject this notion of blurring the lines to create drama and intrigue into their relationship. The sad thing is, they are almost musically perfect. They didn’t need that junk. I hope that if a second chance ever happens, they will let the music speak for itself, and leave the saliciousness to reality television.

Marriage and parenting are big deals. The choices we make in our marriages and with our children affect the future far longer than the music plays. And it is tempting for all of us, me included, to take a good thing and make it THE good thing. But if John-Paul walked away from this level of success to fully invest in his wife and children, he’s got nothing but respect from me.

I still pray for them both. They ARE my favorite band, after all.

 

Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

“The pathway is broken and the signs are unclear and I don’t know the reasons why you brought me here. But just because you love me the way that You do, I’m gonna walk through the valley if you want me to…”

I was thirteen years old, an 8th grader at Pease Middle School, and it was spring. I remember because it was that time of year that the P.E. teacher started letting us run laps outside and we all tried ways of getting out of it. I was in the girls locker room getting dressed when I was hit by a truck of pain. I sat down, sure I was about to pass out. Elizabeth, a girl who always had perfect bangs and doused herself in Exclamation perfume, looked at me and said “I get cramps too!” It was a bonding moment.

The problem was, these weren’t just cramps. These were my insides being ripped apart by a thousand tiny chainsaws. I limped over to the coach and lied and said I had hurt my ankle. (The teacher was a guy, no way I was telling him nothin’ bout no cramps) He eyed me suspiciously but let me sit out. I think he caught on when I forgot which ankle was supposed to be hurt.

And here I am, 23 years later, and I am still sitting out of gym, trying to deal with the pain and not let my teacher know. Now it has a name- Endometriosis. I was officially diagnosed after a laparoscopy when I was 27 years old. Since then, I have had three other surgeries, hormone treatments, countless medications, and a long list of holistic treatments to try to control the progression of the disease.

Disease.

One thing I have realized in the last year is that part of what happens with chronic conditions is that you don’t feel like you have a disease, you feel diseased. And those are completely different.

On average, it takes a woman 5-10 years to be diagnosed with endometriosis. This is due to many reasons, but one of the main reasons I’ve personally encountered is a lack of education on what endometriosis actually is, and dismissal of women’s reporting of their symptoms. One doctor figuratively patted me on the head when I was 21 and told me that I was way too young to have anything seriously wrong with me, and that all women have cramps.

“All women have cramps”- this is the sentence that smacks the hand over our mouths and tells us to buck up and quit complaining.

In high school, I missed days of school because of pain and bleeding. I remember wanting to try out for a play so badly, but I knew that the pain could happen at any time, and I couldn’t take the chance that it would happen during an audition or rehearsals. I remember classes where I would watch the clock, just waiting and praying for time to move faster so I could just go home. I auditioned for All State Choir my senior year, and almost had to stop in the middle of my audition because I was sure I would pass out from pain. I thought it was normal. I wasn’t TRYING to be stoic or stubborn. I just…thought it was normal.

I was introduced to shame at seventeen, when I visited a gynecologist for the first time and he prescribed birth control pills for the pain I described. He asked me if I had a boyfriend and I said yes. He said “well, these will help with that situation too!” I was mortified and told him that I was not having sex. He rolled his eyes. I didn’t fill the script. It was the first time I felt embarrassed to be in pain, like I had done something wrong, like it was my fault.

So why do I write about it now? Well, it’s not because I have magically gotten over any embarrassment or shame or the feeling of being diseased. I write about it for a few reasons.

It comes back. This is a chronic condition that is managed, not cured. I had a complete hysterectomy three years ago, and was hoping for a long reprieve. It lasted two years. For the last year, I have been trying to treat the low-level back pain that occasionally flares into serious pain. In the last few months, I have been getting recurrences of abdominal pain as well. I can read the writing on the wall. I visited several back doctors, thinking maybe there was another cause to the pain. One doctor was a nut job who told me to crush up muscle relaxers and eat the powder throughout the day. The other doctor sent me to physical therapy and told me he wanted me to take medication continuously to let my body rest and heal. After a few months, the physical therapist told me that she didn’t think I needed PT and that she didn’t think my problem was muscular or spinal. I consulted the doctor and told him that I was frustrated that he was prescribing this medicine, even when I didn’t need it and that he still couldn’t tell me if anything was wrong with my back. He snapped at me that if I was his patient, I was required to fill all medicines and take them according to his instructions or he wouldn’t see me. He told that eventually, I would have to have surgery on my back. Obviously, I didn’t return to his clinic. After that I just tried some diet changes, added some yoga and stretching, and…managed. But this month has been rough, and I gave in and saw my Obgyn again. It’s interfered with life- planning my days, how much I am able to accomplish, physical stamina…and writing. Endometriosis can mess with your immune system and cause fatigue as well, and I definitely have felt that. There is a weariness that I push through most days, and some days I give into.

I write about it because I still have to convince myself that having endometriosis is not a character flaw. It has forced me to confront my people pleasing habits- I hate feeling misunderstood, and there is a lot of misunderstanding in this disease. It is hard for me to accept that I might go to an ER someday and be seen as a hysterical female, or worse, a suburbanite drug dealer. It is hard for me to accept that I can’t control that. I have been forced to let go of the fact that there will be family, friends, and doctors who dismiss me. It has forced me to confront my theology of suffering.

But the main reason I write about it, the reason I chose to be open about something so personal, is this- it’s because when I finally read stories of women who can’t wear jeans for an entire day because the pressure on their stomach cause nausea, I cried.

I’m not the only one. 

Because I read about women who search for years for answers and help and who are dismissed and patronized.

I’m not the only one.

Because I read about making the hard choices about pain medicine, hormone treatment and surgeries.

I’m not the only one. 

This is precious to me. This is comfort from Him and I am thankful. And I write so that someone will know they are not the only one.

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http://endometriosis.org

Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

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