Facing your demons

It is the eve of the heart procedure that I’ve been dreading. The doctor had to reschedule it and I’ve had to wait an extra 12 days. I am terrified. Not so much of the procedure itself, it’s just a basic heart cath. It’s the results that I’m scared of.

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After a really rough and difficult heart surgery just over 2 years ago, I have some real demons. P.T.S.D. It is a real and terrible thing. It took me an entire year to get to a point where I could sleep a full night without nightmares of how I woke up 5 days later after having to be in a coma unexpectedly. I woke up in the middle of the night alone and in the dark, not knowing where I was or where my family was. As far as I knew, I should’ve woken up on Friday around dinner time. But it was around 1 AM Thursday, almost an entire week after I was supposed to wake up.

I woke up from the most terrifying nightmare that I had ever had, but the effects of it lasted for days. I was unable to sleep again until I got home Monday night. And after being able to sleep again, the nightmare that I had feared those days without any sleep came back. Each and every time that I closed my eyes.

And then the “flashbacks” began. Just random memories of everything popping into my head without warning or provocation. I would begin to have trouble breathing, be on the verge of tears, shake uncontrollably and feel desperately lost. My brain would go into a fog and everything seemed to almost be a dream (I’m talking about real life, not the memories) for a while.

Then the random crying fits and feeling like I was absolutely crushed and broken and would never feel right again. My memory slipped, my ability to pay attention to anything was nonexistent. I felt empty. I felt broken. I felt so much pain. I began to wonder why I had survived everything just to feel like this.

And the nightmares continued. Each and every night. Each and every nap. Each and every time I began to doze off at my desk from not having a decent night’s rest in months.

My wife convinced me to speak to a counselor. It was about 7 months of absolute emotional hell before I sought help. And I’m so glad that I did. My counselor was able to help walk me through how to face my demons. I had to face the fear of death that I never even knew I had. I had to face the fear of death without salvation in Jesus Christ, which was something that I thought wouldn’t be an issue since I had tried to be a good person throughout my life.

It took some work. It took some tears. It took some pain. And it took some time. But one day, I was finally able to work through whatever it was that I needed to and the flashbacks, crying and nightmares stopped, at least for the most part. They’d hit me every so often, but it wasn’t nearly as overwhelming as it had been.

And now I feel it all over again.

My brain has a way of looking at every possible scenario for any situation. I can see all of the good and all of the bad (although I’m not omnipotent, so I’m sure that there are things I don’t even think of). Even though I can see good outcomes, my brain tends to focus on the worst case scenario stuff. And I tell myself that I’d rather be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. But really, I’m just torturing myself by focusing on the worst outcomes.

I know that Jesus is with me and that brings me some level of peace, but man it’s hard to be at peace when you’re waiting to see if you need some major surgery or if losing some weight and not being so lazy will help. I know in my heart that I will not be alone in that room. I am fortunate enough to have lots of people praying for me. I am fortunate enough to have people who love me and will be expecting us to check in with them.

But it still feels lonely and I know that that is just the enemy using the weakness of my emotions and recent trauma against me. And I fight on, remembering that each day is a battle against the enemy and darkness, not just the days that I’m struggling with something. He sneaks in on the good days to plant the seeds of his next attack on you.

After my last post, my wife shared some scripture with me in a translation that I hadn’t seen before and it was PERFECT for that post. I had wished that I could have added it in there, but it was a day or 2 later and I figured I’d leave it alone. But here it is:

“We often suffer, but we are never crushed. Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up. In times of trouble, God is with us and when we are knocked down, we get up again.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 CEV

I’ve been reflecting on that verse ever since and it’s helped remind me that I can get my butt kicked and still get back up time and time again.

Then today, our pastor kept repeating the phrase “God is still working” throughout his sermon. Even when you are lost, God is still working. Even when you have nothing left, God is still working. Even when you are crushed and broken, beat down and defeated, hopelessly lost, God is still working. When you can’t see any positive change coming your way, God is still working. When you aren’t sure how to pay your bills, when you aren’t sure how to feed your family, when you aren’t sure if you really believe, God is still working.

No matter what, God is on your side. You may not get the answer to your prayers that you thought were best, but God is working to do great things for you and in you. He sees everything and knows what truly is best for each and every person. Sometimes we have to suffer, because that suffering is what brings us to the place we need to be for God to use us. Sometimes we are meant to have a difficult season because without trying times, it’s difficult to appreciate just how blessed we really are.

Right now, I’m facing my demons even though I may not want to. I know that God is still working. I trust that Jesus is walking right by my side, ready to go with me through anything life tosses my way. I am trying to remind myself that I have a wonderful friend and King in Jesus and that He wants me to grow stronger in my faith and closer with Him.

Looking back, I think all of the struggles that I went through were to strengthen me and my faith and get me to a point where I could reach out and minister to someone. I could share my faith and my story and let people know that there is still hope. That Jesus will help us face our demons and come out stronger on the other side. We may suffer in the moment, but as Paul says “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18.

I pray that the struggles that I am facing now will help to strengthen my heart and my faith and allow me to be a blessing to someone else. I pray that I come out of this more on fire for Jesus and can help others come to Him in a deeper and more meaningful way. I pray that you can have peace while you face your demons, know that Jesus is with you and God is still working…..

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