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)

Beyond Breaking Point

Stress; it’s a word that we are all only too familiar with. We associate it with work, with certain people, with responsibility, with busyness. But I’m beginning to believe it’s much more than just the extreme emotions we identify as “stress”. What if it’s even more acute than that? What if, rather than reaching the heightened level we call ‘stress’, it is, in fact, anything other than living in the restful state we were created for?

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

Psalm 62:1-2

In physics, stress is a quantity that describes the distribution of internal forces within a body or object in response to an external force.

Imagine you are a student in my class at school. You’ve been sitting with your hand in the air for a few minutes, trying to attract my attention, but I’m busy working with another student and haven’t yet noticed your request for help. You decide it could be a few minutes more before I turn towards you so you begin to fiddle with your plastic ruler. You tap it on the desk, you spin it between your fingers, then you hold it with a hand on either end and begin to flex it in the middle; first, extending your elbows wide, bending the ends upwards toward one another to create a satisfying ‘U’ shape, then, pulling your elbows tightly to your sides, doing the same in a downwards direction.

“This is fun,” you think, with a smirk. So you do it again, this time a little farther, just to see how far it will bend… SNAP! Your hands drop to the desk, a shattered half in either hand, grimacing weakly at your peers who have turned to identify the source of the sudden noise.

Maybe this is not an example you can immediately identify with, but I see this scenario all the time at school. So stay with me…

In your boredom and impatience, you had put the ruler under stress. The external forces that you applied with your hands to bend it – first, small forces, slowly increasing as you sought to find the (literal) breaking point – caused unseen, internal stress forces as the ruler sought to counteract the external forces being applied and to remain in a state of equilibrium. As you bent the ends of the ruler upwards, compressive (negative) stress forces were acting on the topside of the ruler, while tensile (positive) stress forces were acting on the stretched underside of the ruler. When you bent the ends of the ruler downwards, the object experienced the opposite stress forces. At first, switching these forces around a couple of times had no lasting effect on your ruler: when you stopped applying external forces, the ruler bounced back to it’s original, straight state of rest. This flexibility – when stress and strain occurs in an object but can return easily to its original state when the force is removed – is called the ‘elastic region’. In the elastic region, any damage done can be rectified when the external force is removed.

“Cool!” you thought. “I can push and pull and bend and twist this ruler and nothing bad happens!” So you pushed a little harder next time, applying a greater force – so far there had been no lasting consequences, maybe a little more force would do no harm either… Wrong. The greater applied force caused greater stress and strain forces, and resulted in deformation of your ruler. Once stress and strain experienced by the object exceeds the elastic region, deformation occurs and this cannot be reversed, even if the forces acting on the object are removed.

Now ruler companies know that children (and sometimes teachers, too) like to test the flexibility of a ruler once in a while, therefore they employ people to calculate the stress of the various manufacturing materials to predict when the ruler will fail; physics tells us that failure occurs when the stress within the object is greater than the strength of the material.

So why am I giving you a physics lesson about a plastic ruler? Well, because I’ve been acting like that student of late. Except I’ve not been simply playing with a ruler, but pushing and pulling and bending and twisting myself, my health, me. I’ve been doing so for a long time without any lasting consequences – I’ve always bounced back – so why should it be any different now? But recently, without realising it, I pushed too far.

“Failure occurs when the stress within is greater than the strength of the material…”

At the beginning of the year I visited the doctor for a routine check-up and was quickly informed that my blood pressure was too high. We talked about some of the causes and implications of that and I proceeded to make some diet changes to help lower that number. By my follow-up appointment a few weeks later, however, my blood pressure reading was even higher than the first, and I was immediately put on medication to bring it back down.

In the weeks that followed, I paid even closer attention to my diet, stringently weighing up every choice I made; I underwent multiple blood tests in a specialist clinic to help identify the root cause of my high blood pressure, I even wore a large and awkward device for 24 hours to track my blood pressure at 15 minute intervals to see if a pattern related to my daily routine emerged.

But as I waited for the results of each of these tests, I suddenly and unexpectedly got sick and was out of work for more than two weeks. My energy levels were very low, I was sleeping for 12-14 hours each night, and my pulse was racing even when I was (physically) resting. For the first week, I didn’t have the emotional capacity to even look at my phone or talk to anyone; it all felt too much. I couldn’t make decisions, I couldn’t leave a short audio message for a friend without feeling breathless. What was going on? I returned to the doctor and underwent further tests.

Upon my recovery, I followed up with the doctor to discuss in detail the results of the plethora of tests I had undergone. The conclusion? Stress. Every single test conducted came back clear and showed no underlying issues whatsoever. I was even told to stop taking my new blood pressure medication because the 24-hour test had indicated that, while on the medication, my blood pressure actually dropped dangerously low while I slept. The only culprit that could be identified was stress.

The insights of those first medical appointments were indications that I was allowing myself to be bent and twisted in ways beyond what my body or mind was comfortable with, but the pressures I was feeling at that time were still in the ‘elastic region’; I would experience stress and strain, but my body (and mind) would always bounce back and no permanent damage was done. But as the weeks went by, and the external forces mounted – uncertainty about my health (ironically!), future decisions to be made, adopting a new role and responsibilities in church, relationships that needed some TLC, and so much more – I reached breaking point. All of a sudden, the stress that I had accepted as ‘normal’ had pushed me beyond the ‘elastic region’ and deformation occurred: I broke. The pressure I had allowed in my life had put me under stress and strain, and it had finally reached a point where it could no longer be reversed without inflicting permanent damage.

So why had I not noticed the stress sooner? Well, honestly? Because it didn’t overwhelm me. I had accepted that it was OK to live in the ‘elastic region’ and had allowed it to become my ‘normal’. On reflection now, I am ashamed to say that I don’t think I’ve come close to equilibrium – true rest – in a long, long time.

I have had to take a serious look at my responsibilities, my boundaries, my priorities in recent weeks. This experience – though (sadly) not entirely a new one – has, for the first time, been supported with substantial medical evidence and I can ignore it no longer. It has been a wake-up call of gargantuan proportions. Stress is no joke; it is no small thing that is part of a ‘normal’ life (at least, it shouldn’t be!) It is not something that we just have to suffer through. There is, believe it or not, another way.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will give rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

The Bible talks extensively about rest, yet we, as Christians, rarely do. And I don’t just mean don’t-go-to-work-but-spend-all-day-doing-chores-instead kinda rest, which is what I have, until very recently, understood Sabbath rest to be. Instead, Sabbath rest is to be dedicated to God (Exodus 20:10). It is time that we can set aside all of our burdens, our worries, our responsibilities; a day that we can turn off our phones, close our full inbox, and ignore our to-do list. Instead, it is a day to be enjoyed with the Lord; a day to physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually rest; a day to invest in relationships and to be filled up and recharged, ready for the week ahead.

The world does not sit on our shoulders – as I have so unwittingly yet arrogantly believed of late – and Sabbath rest (when we do it right) reminds us of this. At rest, we surrender our power, our strength, our control, and trust God to carry all of our concerns for us. Why on earth would we seek to carry the weight of the world ourselves? Because we get caught up in the swirl of activity happening around us and inevitably get sucked in if we are not alert to it. But Psalm 127 reminds us that all of our activity is in vain, if not in partnership and agreement with the Lord.

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved.

Psalm 127:1-2

I used to think that stress and rest were dependent on circumstances, but I have learned afresh this year that they are, in fact, dependent on our faith. Do we trust God to carry our worries for us? Do we trust that He holds all things in place? Do we trust His timing and that no good thing will pass us by, even if we stop for a day and rest? Do we depend on His strength and not our own?

Since those weeks of sickness last month, I have worked hard at identifying stressors and then at setting new boundaries to relieve some of the pressure. I have sought to reassess priorities, and to cut out unnecessary strain in my week. But have I reached the root of the problem yet? No, not really. These are good changes – and necessary – but the stress is still present. At least it was, until I eventually stopped all ‘activity’ this week and finally started surrendering.


God, forgive me for thinking that everything depends on me. You are God, not I. You are in control, not I. If you chose to rest after you created the world, how much more should I choose it too. Forgive me for allowing busyness and responsibility – even ministry – to come between us. Thank you that you love me for me, and not for what I do for you. I surrender all my worries to you again today, God, knowing that you do not ask or expect me to carry them alone. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.