Healed After 11 years!

There’s no need to sugar-coat or add glitter to this headline – it speaks for itself! Eleven years after my PCOS diagnosis in 2011, I am HEALED! But first, let me give you a little bit of background…

PCOS is a condition that affects approximately 1 in 10 women. You can read more about the condition here, if you wish, but the short version is that it is a condition that causes an imbalance of hormones in women and has cascading effects to varying degrees within their bodies. Challenges include insulin resistance leading to diabetes, obesity, infertility and more.

Despite the sheer number of women with the condition, however, there is a significant lack of support to manage the symptoms. Today, there are multiple blogs, social media accounts and dietary programs that seek to support sufferers but back when I was first diagnosed I was simply put on birth-control pills to manage some of the more dangerous symptoms. This, of course, only added to the chaos of hormones in my body at the time and resulted in a 20lb-gain in under a year.

Over the years, I have done significant research into the condition and sought to support my body as best I could, including reducing my exposure to toxins, cutting out all milk products, gluten, caffeine, and soya, and significantly reducing carbs and sugar from my diet. I switched up my workouts and had to carefully manage my stress levels to reduce the risk of my cortisol levels spiking. The hormone imbalances affected my mood, my sleep, and my appetite. All in all, every day was a tedious and exhausting balancing act. And despite all my efforts, I experienced very little relief in my symptoms.

Anyway, you get the picture. Now let me share the HOPE amidst the hopelessness.

Earlier in the month I visited the UK for a couple of weeks, to spend time with family and friends. I spent 10 days in Scotland followed by a weekend in London, enjoying the wider range of everything-free food products available in the UK compared to Germany. On my train ride south, however, I was (painfully) reminded once again how important it was to be stringent in my analysis of what I put in my body, having selected a wheat-free (but evidently not gluten-free) sandwich for lunch, only to endure severe bloating and cramps during the remainder of the four hour journey. Just another frustration of living with PCOS.

While I was in London I stayed with one of my dearest friends and her family, and had an interesting – albeit stretching – conversation with her husband about healing. You have to understand, I come from a conservative church background and, though I’ve grown considerably in my faith over the years and even experienced firsthand testimonies of healing, I still wrestle with a lot of doubt and questions (or, perhaps, just my own misunderstandings).

Though I did not necessarily agree with everything we talked about in our conversation, I took what he had said and prayed it through with God shortly afterwards. I journaled my reflections and made a decision to begin to pursue healing for my PCOS. Despite my remaining uncertainty, I chose to engage a little more faith, a little less doubt. It is not that I have never prayed for healing before, but somehow, in my mind, I always felt like PCOS was too small an issue to ask for God’s intervention. He was, after all, preoccupied with more significant, life-threatening illnesses like cancer, was He not?

The following day I visited HTB church‘s 17:00 service with a heart full of expectation. I sensed a miracle in the offing, though admittedly the miracle I was hoping for had nothing to do with my physical health. Nonetheless, I engaged in worship with anticipation in my spirit; raising my hands in worship, whispered prayers on my lips.

As the sermon drew to a close, I mouthed, “God, I believe You have a miracle for me, tonight,” and moments later an invitation for prayer was made to all present who needed healing.

“Oh, that’s me!”

Remember, I have sat through countless alter calls for healing in my lifetime of attending church services, but I had always believed the lie that my ailment was not important enough to bother God with. On this occasion, however, I was ready. God had already laid the foundation; He’d been preparing my heart all weekend! I was not going to miss my opportunity.

I walked to the front of the church and permitted an unknown woman to pray for me. I don’t remember what she prayed and, to be honest, I felt no warmth, no tingly sensation within me as she prayed. There was no clear confirmation that God had heard my prayer. I wondered if it was just a vain attempt; a hopeful gesture that would change nothing.

“I receive it. I receive it, Lord. I receive Your healing.”

Over and over, I muttered these words. Hoping. Praying. Mustering up as much belief as I could. “By His wounds we are healed,” I recalled (Isaiah 53:5). By His wounds I am healed. Jesus has already won the victory on my behalf. Death, sin, sickness is defeated. It is done. It is finished.

“I receive it. I receive it, Lord. I receive Your healing.”

Later that evening, I shared with my friend what I had been considering and praying about and choosing to believe for since I had had that conversation with her husband not 24 hours earlier. She encouraged me and believed with me, and showed me a video testimony of healing that only increased my faith more. There and then, I chose to believe I had been healed; I chose to walk in healing.

As our conversation ended and I prepared for bed, I caught the first glimpse of healing; after 3 months of nothing, my period came.

Returning to Frankfurt the next day, I went grocery shopping and chose to continue to walk in healing. I, therefore, bought real cheese and real milk – I hadn’t eaten cheese or drunk cows milk since 2015. That week I consumed various milk products on multiple occasions and experienced no side effects whatsoever. My faith continued to swell.

The real test, however, would be gluten. Gluten was what caused the quickest and greatest discomfort and pain to me when I ate it, with some effects lasting hours or even days (I had been reminded of that on my train ride to London just days earlier). However, I was choosing to walk in healing and to believe that by His wounds I am healed.

Therefore, on Monday (my day-off, therefore providing me with respite should the worse happen) I intentionally made pancakes with plain white flour (the only gluten product I had in my apartment) and tentatively ate a mouthful. Chewing slowly, I paid attention for any flutter or pang in my abdomen. Nothing. I took another mouthful. And another. Soon one pancake was gone. At any sign of the remotest discomfort in my belly, I rebuked it in Jesus’ name and kept eating. Before long, I had demolished three gluten-filled pancakes and relished them.

As the minutes ticked by, my gratitude only grew. And as minutes turned to hours without any discomfort or pain, I burst into praise and thanksgiving for my healing! I have since eaten a slice of bread, a homemade muffin, a pizza, and two wraps this week and I haven’t experienced any side effects at all. Praise God!

I am walking in healing. I am moving forward, faith increasing with every step, that all my PCOS symptoms are behind me, even if it will take some time for each to prove themselves. But I, who once felt so helpless and hopeless with a diagnosis that simply wore me down, day-in day-out, now experience a freedom I have not known since my teens (or at the very least, never fully appreciated). I marvel at the generous gift that God has given me – so easily, so graciously – and I seek, now, to steward my gift well.

Healing is a gift, and one that can only be given by God, the gift-giver. But gifts can only be received with open hands, and for over a decade I had never thought to unravel my tight fists. I watched others receive gifts but never felt like I needed or wanted the gift. How proud I was to think I should or could manage alone, when – all that time – it was never necessary for me to manage it at all.

Thank you, God, for Your grace and goodness to me.

“Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

Isaiah 53:1-5 (ESV)

Humility: Redefined.

In church, we are currently journeying through the book of Philippians together, considering, last week, Christ’s example of humility (Philippians 2:1-11).

As part of his introduction, the Pastor quoted C.S. Lewis:

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

It was not the first time I had heard or read that quote. It did not bring with it great revelation or conviction. However, as I continued to ponder all that this passage teaches, with this quote reverberating in my mind this week, I made a breakthrough.

It is no secret that God has whispered big vision, big promises into my heart; some of which I share openly, others I keep hidden until the appointed time. But they all share one thing in common: they will become a reality. God speaks to accomplish; no word of His will fail (Isaiah 55:11).

And yet:

For the past several weeks (since – unsurprisingly – a big revelation from God about my future) I have faced a barrage of fear.

Lies. Comparison. Doubt. Insecurities. It has been relentless.

But the enemy is cunning. He knew he couldn’t take me down easily, so he began to twist my understanding of the Word of God for his own purposes. In my pursuit of humility, I was tricked into thinking less of myself. Satan shone spotlights on my own insecurities to back-up his offensive strategies, and fear weighed heavy on my shoulders; fear of what other people thought of me; fear of shame and rejection; fear of not living up to expectations; fear of missing out on what God had for me because of my own weaknesses.

I sought to hide pieces of myself – ideas or suggestions or enthusiasm – hoping not to be an inconvenience to those I was working with. I found myself trying to be who I thought others perhaps wanted me to be, and hiding (or even, at times, resenting) the unique qualities and gifts that make me me. I adopted the heavy responsibility of making God’s promises a reality; an impossibility in my own strength. All this in an attempt to be humble.

But let me be clear: this is not humility. This is sabotage.

In the midst of this spiritual warfare, my heart and spirit remained at peace, but my mind has been full, chaotic, busy, cloudy. The enemy loves to do that to us. If he can’t make us bad, he monopolises our minds to fill them with nonsense so that we cannot find quiet to hear and be reminded of God’s truth.

Our minds will not clear by processing, or thinking it through, or problem-solving; we receive clarity and peace when we fight the lies with truth. Truth we find in God’s Word, in words He speaks over us, in worship, and in recalling promises and affirmations we have received in the past.

It is in truth that we develop humility. Humbling ourselves before God means hearing, receiving, and believing all that He says about us. It is trusting Him to act, even when our circumstances seem out of control. Humility is most evident in us when we submit ourselves to Him and live each day in obedience to Him, no matter how nonsensical or foolish it may look to the world.

So by definition, a humble spirit does not attempt to stifle the talents, blessings, gifts, wisdom, opportunities that God has bestowed. Instead, humility invests these things well and correctly attributes honour and glory to the Giver, not the steward.

In my fight against fear, I realised that I was so focused on how God’s call could/ might/ will affect me, that I had forgotten about the many individuals who will benefit from my acts of obedience. The longer I allow fear to thwart my advances in faith, the more I allow the enemy to steal the work of God in the lives of others.

Well not anymore.

I refer, often, to John 10:10 – my favourite Bible verse – for it promises a full, abundant life; one that I seek to encourage and inspire us all to take hold of; one that only God can imagine, design, orchestrate and gift us with. But the verse begins with these simple, yet deadly, words:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…”

As we reach out to receive the full and abundant life that Jesus promises us, there is a spiritual enemy who is focused on stealing our peace, killing our dreams, and destroying our hope. He will do everything he can to disrupt our lives and tear our eyes away from the One who sustains us through all things.

Do not let him take you down.

He may be tactful, but God is greater. He may be cunning, but God is wiser. He may be determined, but God is already victorious. Do not allow the enemy’s lies to take hold; stand firm on the truth of God’s Word.

Do not be afraid of him; do not be distracted by his advances, or allow him to draw your eyes inwards. Instead, choose to focus on God. Choose to focus on the circle of influence that God has given you. Choose to focus on the hope and life that God offers through Jesus.

I cannot and will not let the enemy steal away all that God has poured into me and blessed me with. God has positioned me and prepared me to be used by Him to share His love for humanity. That is not something to be hidden, but something to be used to bring glory to God.

Today, I choose not to be tricked into thinking less of myself, but to simply think of myself less.