The Story behind My Story
Hi, y’all. It’s been a looooong time since I’ve written a post. That fact has brought this perfectionist not a small helping of shame and regret. Also, I haven’t hosted a Heartwork conference since 2014. (Augh!!) I figured it was time to bring you all up to date. Because each and every one of you (maybe 5, maybe 50- who knows, maybe 500?!? ) matter to me. You’re precious to me. Seriously.
So here’s the deal. Since the beginning of 2014, I’ve been battling some health issues. IBS. Food allergies. Adrenal exhaustion. Kidney stress. Weakness and dizzy spells. Just to name a few. It’s always my tendency to downplay my issues, because I am acutely aware that many, many people deal with far worse. “You should be grateful”, my inner voice tells me. And I am. Grateful that my body is slowly regaining strength, grateful for the pauses that my illness has allowed, grateful for the inner healing that is happening, grateful for my inner circle that has rallied around me and fought for me, grateful for my husband who has held my hand and my heart on my darkest of days.
But many days, I just hate it.
Late 2013, I was having a lot of headaches, along with insomnia, constant butterflies, light-headedness, and a general feeling of fatigue. As I prayerfully sought answers, I felt God urging me to quit caffeine.
(What???) I was a self-proclaimed coffee addict. I wrestled with God on this for months, and then I finally acquiesced. I would try it. I bought some dark roast decaf whole bean coffee. I started cutting back to 3/4 caf, then 1/2, then 1/3, … yeah, it took me almost a whole month! But no withdrawal headaches, which was a major win.
Two things happened.
One, my aforementioned symptoms improved. My daily headaches disappeared, and I started sleeping like a rock! Also, the flock of butterflies in my belly subsided to a pair of fluttering wings.
Two, my digestive system slowed to almost a grinding halt. All-Bran became my daily breakfast. Prune juice in the fridge, at all times. I even started making homemade kefir, which has tons of fabulous probiotics and is great for gut health. But each remedy only helped for a short while, and then my gut went back to feeling like cement. At one point I was drinking baking soda water (guh-ross!!!), taking Colace, eating bran, and drinking Magnesium, every day, but to no avail. The cement wouldn’t budge.
You may be thinking, “Why didn’t you just start drinking caffeinated coffee again?” But by that point, I knew that the coffee had been masking this problem for a long time, and going back would only continue the charade.
I’m super blessed to have married into a family that is passionate about whole health, and after a few months of trying everything I could think of, I turned to my mother-in-law and sister-in-law for guidance. They connected me with a functional medicine doctor in the Cities, and I scheduled my first appointment with her.
March 6th, 2014 found me at Lake Pointe Chiropractic and Wellness, urine sample in hand in a brown paper lunch sack. (Cute, I know.) Dr. Carrie Getzmeier greeted me with a smile and a warm handshake. Seated across from her, I shyly handed her the brown sack. Unceremoniously ripping off the top of the sack, she pulled out my pee cup with her gloved hands and got to work. I had no idea there were so many tests a person could do on urine! On top of the typical blood sugar and protein tests, she was able to see my levels of adrenal and kidney function by testing my electrolytes, chlorides, and vitamin C absorption. She also tested my liver function, nitrates, pH levels, magnesium, cellular function, bilirubin…have I lost you yet? Yeah, me too. After she finished all of her testing, she looked at me across the desk and with eyes full of compassion told me, “Sweetie, no wonder you don’t feel good. You’re really sick. Your body’s super stressed right now. Let’s get you better. It’s time for you to take care of you.”
“It’s time for you to take care of you.”
Those were words of life to me. I felt my entire body breathe a collective sigh of relief. Someone was going to take care of me now. I had a doctor’s permission- prescription!- to take care of me! For the last, oh, fifteen years of my life, I had been focused on taking care of everyone else, and I always came in dead last. While I was single, I was able to pull it off for the most part and still get to myself , but after becoming a wife and a pastor’s wife, there never seemed to be any time/energy/resources left for me at the end of the day.
So what I was experiencing- the digestive mess, the exhaustion/dizziness/fatigue, the butterflies and anxiousness- was my body crying out for help.
(Major lesson here- Listen to your body! Pain is your body’s way of telling you something’s wrong. Don’t ignore it or mask it with ibuprofen, coffee, sugar, or an energy drink. Take care of yourself- no one else will!)
I left Dr. Carrie’s office that day with a bag full of supplements to support and promote my body’s healing, and strict instructions to be nice to myself and rid my life of all undue stress. She made it clear that my illness was a result of the constant stress response of my body trying to meet the demands of the high-stress lifestyle I was living. My body’s normal functions, like detoxing and healing itself and digestion, were breaking down because it was pooling all of its resources to fight the stress. I was living in perpetual flight-or-flight, and my body couldn’t take it anymore. It was time for an intervention of mind, body, and spirit. It was time for Scotia to give herself some grace.
This was the beginning of a revelation for me. That day in 2014 led to a slow realization that this whole perfectionism/anxiety/striving thing went a lot deeper than just managing my OCD tendencies of keeping my outer world perfect. It was my inner perfectionist that was literally killing me. That harsh inner critic always letting me know I wasn’t making the cut. My constant striving to earn love, acceptance, approval, grace…
As I said, that day was just the beginning. I honestly left feeling like all I needed to do was take those few supplements and rest more, and I would soon be in tip-top shape!
Um, no. In fact, things got worse before they got better. I had thought that I had hit rock-bottom, but I was still free-falling. It’s just not that easy to change a lifetime of bad habits and false beliefs. Now I was confronting those lies and toppling those carefully constructed paradigms, and everything inside of me rebelled. (Not to mention I was off sugar, dairy, and grains…what???)
Fast-forward to 2016. I’m still very much in the middle of all of this. I don’t always have the willpower to say no to Hershey bars and vanilla iced coffees, and I don’t always tell my inner perfectionist to take a hike. I still find myself striving and trying to earn things that Jesus already purchased for me on the Cross. I still allow stress and anxiety to have the upper hand some days. I don’t have it figured out yet. I’m just trying to keep my ears, my heart and my hands open to the Way, the Truth, and the Life- the only One who can lead me through this mess and into the abundant Life He purchased with His own Blood.
Not that I haven’t made progress! Thanks to God and the amazing people He’s placed around me (my husband, family, Dr. Carrie, and many others), I’ve made great strides in this journey. But as one of my favorite authors, Nancy Rue, says, “You’re not done ’til you’re dead.”
So I’m going to keep moving forward. Keep replacing the lies with Truth. Keep reminding myself that I don’t have to fix everything, do everything, be everything. Keep telling my soul that His grace is perfect for me, and that His strength is made perfect in my weakness. That I’m just dust- a clay pot. He’s the Big Daddy, and He’s got the whole world in His hands. I can rest there.
I share this small piece of my story with you all for a few reasons.
One, I think you probably need to hear that others struggle with messes, too. That you’re not alone. You may need to hear someone say, “Me, too, girl!”
Two, I’ve had several of you ask me when I’m going to host another Heartwork Conference. But in my journey back towards whole health, I’ve had to say “no” a lot more than I’m used to. “I can do everything” was my mantra pre-2013. My new, humbler self says, “God, what do You want me to do?” And His answer more than not has been this one word: “Rest.“ So I haven’t spearheaded any new and exciting endeavors, I haven’t hosted any awesome ladies events, I haven’t even taught many Bible studies. In many ways, I feel like I’m starting from scratch. For 30 years, I’ve done things my way, pushing the limits and always striving to do more. Now I’m ready to do things God’s way. And I’m finding out that He doesn’t really care about what I do, as much as who I am- and that’s birthed by just being in His presence. By being a Mary in a Martha world. Reminding myself that I am a human being, not a human doing! So for now, no Heartwork Conferences.
Three, I’m learning that we need each other, and we can’t do this thing on our own. I’m sick of putting my mask on every morning, showing everyone the perfected, plastic version of me. Why do we do that?? I’m done with that. Authenticity, transparency, and vulnerability- these are the tenets of true connection, deep joy, and abundant life. And that’s what I’m after!
I love you. Each of you. I love your hearts, your longing for more. I get it. I see you. I see the beauty and the scars, and my prayer is that through my story you hear this message:
You’re enough, you’re beautiful, and God loves you, right now. You don’t have to be perfect- in fact, Perfection kills Beauty and Life. Just be you- beautiful, imperfect, messy you.
With all my love,