Here's what happened.
- For some time Martin has felt led to pray that I would be able to attend the conference. I had not been joining him in praying for this as it felt too daunting and emotionally difficult.
- On Saturday October 13 people from church came around to pray for my healing (as part of a special prayer day at church) and to anoint me with oil. I always find such things hard, although this went reasonably well. Some people here clearly had a different theology of healing from I did, although I didn't feel pressured to suddenly get better as I sometimes have. At least one person continued to pray afterwards that I would be able to attend the conference, and I later learned that someone else from church has been particularly praying for my healing in recent months.
- In the week leading up to the Conference, a number of things happened that made us think that God was going to heal me (the only way it would be remotely possible for me to be there) although all week I was doing no better than usual, which did make for an emotional and confusing week!
- on the Tuesday morning I won a free ticket to the conference (in a competition I'd been using for Just Kai advertising and hadn't realised included a ticket). I was immediately an emotional mess. I so wanted to go, but it was so impossible. It felt the responsible thing to do would be to give the ticket away to someone else, but that also felt like rejecting a sign from God. So I kept it, but did also ask the organisers if it would be problematic if someone else turned up with it!
- on the Tuesday I also strongly felt I should do lectio divina using the lectionary reading for that day (I'd done it earlier in the day already, but using the previous day's reading as I'd skipped it on Monday). It was the passage in Ephesians about submitting to one another, which expands out what that means in various relationships. Lectio divina isn't Bible study, where you are analysing a passage to understand what it means and then think about what it means for your life; it's a meditation technique where you slowly read a passage and ask God to speak to you through the words in it. You are particularly looking for words or phrases that God brings to life for you. I felt that God brought to life the phrase about wives submitting to their husbands, and used it to tell me that I should go along with Martin's vision that I attend the conference. Which was in a way good, but also awkward as I didn't see how that could be possible. But it seemed like God was telling me that I would be going.
- I told two people about this and asked them to join us in praying about what we should do.
- Martin ordered a lanyard for me so I could be 'official' manning our stand.
- on the Thursday I was scrolling Facebook and saw an ad for a maternity-cover position with an organisation we support and felt God was saying to me that it was for me. So I bookmarked it and continued to feel hopeful and confused and uncertain and hopeful!
- on the Friday the lectionary reading was this. I felt God using the 'be strong' bit to tell me that's what I was to be/was going to be. The conference was to start on the Friday evening, so I made tentative arrangements for how to get there (Martin was going straight from work and wouldn't have time to fetch me).
- I didn't have a good day on Friday - not atrocious, but worse than average health-wise. Nothing magically happened to change that as the conference start-time came and went, so I stayed home. I was pretty disappointed as I'd got my hopes up and then nothing happened :-(
- on the Saturday morning (the main day of the conference) I felt different when I woke up. I wondered if maybe I could do after all? So I got up and walked around for a few minutes to see how I was doing and seemed to be moving uncommonly well. We quickly threw together a bunch of essentials and I headed in to the conference! I ended up staying all day (being away from home from before 8am till after 8pm), although I did have four naps during conference sessions when our stand was quiet anyway. We were in a really noisy room and I spent a lot of the day yelling so as to be heard, and was basically fine throughout! It was incredible! For context, prior to that since we returned from our Christmas holiday I've left the house three times this year for non-medical excursions (to two activities in our actual street + one wheelchair bike outing) and have twice been away for a week visiting relatives (each time including 1-2 outings). I have no idea when I was last out for a whole day, but presume it wouldn't have been since 2003 when I first got sick. I did have a couple of months of significant improvement in 2005 (followed by partial decline), but I don't think I did something quite that strenuous during that time.
- We went to church on the Sunday to tell everyone what had happened and to give thanks. At that point we still weren't sure whether this was just a one-off so I could attend the conference (something that would have been hard but which I was open to) or a long-term change, but we still wanted to tell everyone and give thanks!
Since then my physical condition has continued to improve. For the first week I was focusing a lot on walking 'properly' rather than lurching etc., but that seems to have come right now (at least during the day time). I've been gradually doing more and more: I've been upstairs three times (I think I'd previously only been upstairs once this year as even the stair lift is hard work, and this was actually walking up the stairs), I've brought in the washing once, cooked dinner once and (most spectacularly) on Friday I visited a friend who lives across the street from us. I'm regularly up 4-5 hours at a stretch, where previously I was up four hours per day total.
I'm greatly enjoying the freedom this has given me. It's fantastic to just be able to go to the toilet or get a hot drink when I want to. It's awesome having so much more time in my day (although please forgive me if I still don't reply to emails very promptly - sitting down jobs aren't the most popular right now!). It's so much easier to get around when I don't have to maneuver a walker through narrow spaces.
I'm also finding it very overwhelming. My whole life has suddenly changed. I don't know how to read my body very well any more as how it feels is so different, so I'm not recognising very well when I'm tired and have had a number of emotional melt-downs as a result. I have lived a very quiet life for a very long time and it's overwhelming to have so much going on and to be seeing so many people etc. When I look at the corner of my bedroom where my walker isn't, sometimes I feel quite frightened about the suddenly very uncertain future. I decided to stay home from church this morning, even though I would have managed it physically, as Friday was such a huge day and I just didn't think I could emotionally cope with another big day so soon after.
We still don't know what the future will be like. I have contacted the organisation I mentioned and, whilst that job I saw has been filled already, they'd been exploring creating a new role and think I might be right for that. I'll be talking and praying about that with one of their people next Saturday.
I continue to improve and I feel like a gluey, heavy feeling in my head has just gone. My movements are all so much easier and I can concentrate for so much longer. I don't know if I'll return to 100% health (and I was never the world's most robust person anyway!), but it does look like this change is here to stay.
Thank you, Lord!