When I was five, I was hospitalized for pneumonia.
I’m told that this is likely the reason that I’ve suffered from constant respiratory issues my entire life. To compound that issue, I have quite a few allergies. My life has been filled with sinus, respiratory, and ear problems, skin reactions, doctors, tests, allergy shots, eventually asthma, and attempts to manage it all.
Growing up with a patchy history of medical insurance or the money to see doctors cultivated unhealthy habits to navigate through my issues. Looking back, there were even times where I wonder what were we thinking.
I mean, if your child’s entire body swelled up to where they couldn’t walk on their feet or close their hands, you’d go to the ER, right? Well, we didn’t do those types of things.
The thought was that if I was breathing and talking, I would be okay. We still have no idea what caused that reaction when I was in middle school.
In my late 20s, I finally had real medical insurance and my journey of trying to manage in a healthy way began. I was told by a doctor that if I didn’t stop managing my allergies with medicine filled with Ephedra, I would eventually give myself a heart attack. I had also used Afrin throughout every day since I could remember. I had basically shredded the inside of my sinuses.
I had just found a way to function that worked. I hadn’t thought that I was harming myself and I didn’t realize the dangers of Ephedra. I just knew my sinuses and chest stopped struggling when I used it. I could breath and function.
Because I had been on those things for so long, stopping sent me into a miserable three month period of no voice. I could barely talk. I was put on multiple sinus sprays, inhalers, other meds. I was tested for, it seemed, everything under the sun. From Lyme Disease to Swine Flu to Lupus to life-threatening diseases, they tried to figure out my issues. It was a long and scary time of what-ifs.
Through trial and error, I slowly built up my immune system and found healthier ways to deal. Weekly shots became my norm and I FINALLY found myself understanding what feeling healthy actually felt like.
I still struggle with these things on and off, just not to that degree. I still see allergists and struggle with different ways to manage bronchitis that lasts for extended periods, not being able to breathe well, and so on.
The craziest part all of this?
I was made for singing.
Music has always been a major part of my life. My family is what one might call a fine arts family. Family reunions on either side involved instruments and a steady stream of who’s going to harmonize on the next song together. Music was life. It was my normal. And it just happened to also be normal to have to battle how to get through a performance with whatever recent infection or issue that I had.
The battles to be able to sing always felt worth it. I connect to God the best when I can sing my heart out or listen to others who are doing the same. I read my Bible, pray, and participate in christian community, but music, it’s like opening the floodgates. In the hardest places of my life, music keeps me sane.
Singing brings me joy and connection that the other things can’t touch, like I’m doing what I was created to do. And that exact thing has always felt under attack by my health.
To me, it often appears that our major battles are at war with our callings. I happen to believe in spiritual warfare and this makes perfect sense to me. Where would an enemy attack? Where you are the strongest, in the exact place that God has called you. I have had a variety of things that have gotten in the way of me singing over the years, health, anxiety, fear, accusation, judgment, and more.
As soon as I start to feel like God will use me in music again, something comes up without fail. Most recently is almost two months now of allergic bronchitis and breathing issues. I am not sick nor do I have an infection. I have seen a doctor and am referred to yet another allergist.
I kept getting asked to sing. After saying no and fearing that I wouldn’t do a good job, I decided that this could be another long journey with breathing and I’d just see if I could still sing. So, for two Sunday’s I tried.
I tried because I was doing what God has put in me to do, be vulnerable and to sing.
I tried because it wasn’t straining my vocal chords.
I just didn’t know if I had the air to do what I normally do.
You see, God is going to move when you show up.
Even if you can’t do your best. Even if you struggle. Even if you wonder if you can. My thought was, “Ok, God. If I can, I will. If I can’t, I still tried. You do you, God. I’ll just be there when you do it.”
And I don’t know how it appeared to anyone else, but I was definitely stretched in this.
God reminded me that even if I’m frustrated, even if I didn’t end up doing a good job and embarrassed myself, and even if I eventually can’t sing anymore as I go through this health journey, He is still good. And He is still moving and working for our good.
No matter what.
The song I have sung the most at Pulpit Rock is one proclaiming God’s goodness. It calls Him our song. I came to the realization that regardless of what God does with me and music, He is still my song, even if I don’t have one that I can actually sing. And I will sing one as long as I am able. I will keep showing up and allowing God to use whatever is in me to use.
Because without a doubt in my mind, that is what I’m put here to do. And because it’s not about me or what kind of success I have in it. It’s about me using what I have at any given moment to point directly and firmly to God.
Tears stream down my face as I write this because vulnerability is the other thing I am positive that God uses in me. Writing all of this and knowing others will read it is scary. But, I’m showing up.
I was asked to be vulnerable and to share my journey.
So, here I am. I hope it’s helpful to someone.
If you too feel under attack with what you feel God has put in you to do, you are not alone. It is normal to feel burdened by struggle in your strengths. It doesn’t mean you are not doing a good job or trying hard enough. It doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough or unusable with whatever issues or sins you battle. In fact, it probably means you are doing what God called you to.
Just show up. Point your gifts toward God with all you’ve got and take heart, because He is good.
Psalm 119:68 (MSG)
You are good, and the source of good; train me in your goodness.
Nahum 1:7 (NIV)
The Lord is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him
Psalm 106:1 (NLV)
Praise the Lord! O give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His loving-kindness lasts forever.
Written by Kendra Matheny