Monday, July 11, 2011

Crazy Faith: A Surprising Journey Part 4

So, when we left off, I'd gotten to the part where finally, FINALLY, God answered the first part of my prayer. I asked Him where I should go, and He finally told me: go North, to the temperate rainforest of Seattle, Washington.

Yes Sir!! Thank You, Sir! Seattle - home of the Science Fiction Museum, plenty of salmon, beautiful rainy days, trees everywhere, and Camp Jitterbug, not to mention the location of several friends and in close proximity to many others. I spent a few days in awe during my prayer time. Yeah? I get to live there? Sweet!!

But then I had the second half of my ... demand ... to think about: "...and how to get there." That was going to be a problem.

As I mentioned earlier, my lucrative job as a therapist got less and less lucrative with pay cuts due to the recession, as well as pay cuts for me because of my injuries, until I was just barely hanging on. As you might expect, "barely hanging on" isn't exactly a strong position from which to launch a move over two state lines.

So, back on my knees I went, praying simply but fervently, "I have no idea how You're going to manage this, but if this is where You want me, then I'm going to need help."

Two things happened then. The first was that a medical issue that I thought had been taken care of two years before resurfaced (aside from the work injury). It was a terrifying experience, but the reaction I had to it was the most interesting part.

I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this was insurance.

God knows me. He knows that without something to drive me, I do have the capacity to get complacent...or discouraged. He needed my full commitment, and my total trust. And in order to get that, He needed to convince me that staying in California would be the Worst Idea Ever In The History of Bad Ideas. It worked. Something inside me felt strongly and intuitively that if I stayed in California, I would die. If not with a GMC truck killing me instantly, then with the slow deterioration of my body; and I was not ok with that.

I was strong. I'd always been tough, but beginning with that first injury, my body had gotten weaker. When I was first injured, I drove away from the child's home, tears of fury burning my eyes. I'm tougher than this, I kept thinking. I'm stronger than this. I'd survived graver injuries than this. But I kept taking hit after hit, and this was the final one: a tumor. A benign tumor in my uterus, a place that was designed to harbor life, had returned from two years ago, when I'd had surgery to remove it. My doctor discussed options with me, one of which was a hysterectomy. WHAT? No. Freaking. Way. Just because I don't have children yet doesn't mean I don't want them. And it doesn't mean I want to be cut open and have parts of me removed, like bad plumbing. We settled on another surgery. And I knew I had to get out of there.

(God, in His infinite brilliance, knew I would not miss the glaring symbolism in this latest development - that this place would destroy me from the inside out, from my very core, and destroy the possibility I had to create newness, wonder, and joy. How long had He been trying to tell me this, and I just couldn't hear Him? I swear, if I get any more dense, an anvil will have to fall from the sky just like this dude.)

(Hey God? J/ No anvil pretty please.)

The second thing that happened was a piece of mail, a very interesting piece of mail that scolded me for missing a court hearing about my worker's compensation case. Huh? This was the first I'd heard about it. I placed a few phone calls and finally discovered that the worker's comp judge was supposed to close the case, but he found a discrepancy and re-opened it. I have never heard of this happening. So, I rescheduled the hearing, got the time off, and went in July.

The judge said this: if I could no longer work as a therapist with children, then I certainly had more than a 0% disability rating. And if that was the case, he said, then I deserved compensation. Counsel for the insurance company nodded in agreement. The judge very strongly suggested to me that I get an attorney. Mr Opposing Counsel helped me find one, right then and there in the courthouse.

Now, my attitude at the time was that anything I got from this would be a bonus. Anything at all would be good. I would be called to remember that as the months went by.

At that point, the ball was definitely rolling. I did research regarding this tumor I had, and discovered that eating food tainted with toxic chemicals like pesticides and herbicides strongly contributed to the problem. While I'd always known that eating organic food was good for me, I didn't realize quite how much or exactly why. I educated myself on the growing food revolution, and radically changed my diet to include fewer grains, a lot of organic, locally grown vegetables, and humanely raised meat. My dog's diet changed right with mine. I'd been making her food for quite some time, but I couldn't bear the thought of losing her to a disease I could have prevented.

Mind you, there was quite an undercurrent of anger and frustration with all this. I was livid...which was the alter ego of actually being terrified. Learning more about the viability of our food supply did nothing to alleviate the fear, either. But it all demanded that I get out of California and FAST.

Two months after I got my marching orders, I had an interview in Seattle (Redmond, actually). It went swimmingly, until the part where they gave the position to someone else. I had some other promising leads, but the process was slow-going. I started feeling an urgency that bordered on panic.

An old friend from high school - a woman I dearly love - and her husband lived just south of Portland, Oregon, and they offered me a place to land if I needed to flee before I had a job. I jumped at the chance.

On September 30, 2010, I left my hellish job, said goodbye to a few coworkers I really cared about, and never looked back. Two days later, I left San Mateo, California, dog in my lap, with the vision of my beloved housemate Elizabeth standing in the driveway. Within 30 minutes, she sent me an email, telling me that a thousand crows flew over the house just after I left. She also said the raccoons must have been watching Greta leave with me, because they invaded the yard that evening. The email made me smile until I got to the end. "I will miss you more than you know," she said. I arrived in Santa Cruz sobbing.

My friends in Santa Cruz helped me celebrate my time in the Bay Area, and celebrate the beginning of my new life. The next day, one of those friends set out with me, to navigate and keep Greta comfortable (Justin's official job was "dog furniture") while I drove the Uhaul (towing my car) to Vancouver, Washington.

The next four months were spent learning how to just breathe again. I was among friends. Family, really. They harbored me, while I learned how to be human, and while I waited for the results of my settlement. I reacquainted myself with restful sleep. In exchange for the safe haven, I walked all the dogs, and made their food. I loved my friends and their sweet family. The four months I spent there saw two holidays, a wedding, and atrip back to the South, to visit my family.

Some compensation began to arrive in late November. It made me a little bit afraid, to have this money in the bank. I hadn't had a real cushion in the entire time I lived in California, and I almost didn't trust it. My attorney was also working on a buyout that would give me more compensation in lieu of medical treatment. The treatment they said I might need had a 50% failure rate (as in, the condition got worse), and I would have nothing to do with it. My buddy Matthew Howe, D.C., one of the ones who convinced me to come to Seattle, said it was unnecessary, and the work he did had a much better chance of healing me for a fraction of the cost. I went with that.

Just after Christmas last year, I discovered my friends in Newberg, OR (the friends who were harboring me) were moving to Idaho. Cross got a job (Intel laid him off a year prior), and they were leaving by the end of January.

God knows me so well. Again, I could have gotten comfy and just stayed in Oregon. It would have been easy. It was pretty close to Seattle, right? Ha! So He pulled the rug out from under me. Pure genius! It was a clear message: it was time. (And I'm so glad part of the message involved Cross getting a sweet job!)

Ever since I'd started thinking about moving to Seattle, I repeatedly saw an ad on Craigslist for a room for rent in a beautiful cabin. It seemed a bit far away from Seattle, but it was gorgeous. The ad would disappear for a while, then reappear. And when I finally was ready to move to the area, the ad popped up again.

I drove to Woodinville, Washington (about 40 minutes from downtown Seattle - close by Bay Area standards) to meet Stephanie, the owner of the place. I got solidly lost along the way, but it was well worth it. As soon as I saw the place, I was hooked. It was a dream come true: a log cabin on 5 acres of partially wooded land. Stephanie and I shared a number of passions: feeding dogs healthy food, learning beekeeping, rescuing dogs, saving the planet, helping the food revolution along. We talked for hours on our first visit.

On my next visit, I brought Greta, and her three large dogs loved her (the biggest of them - about 85 pounds - followed her around adoringly). It was settled. Woodinville would be my new home.

I arrived here on February 1, 2011. Within a month, we had a winter storm that snowed us in for a couple of days. I took Greta out every morning, beholding the land under a blanket of snow. The air was cold and still and perfect. Glorious!! I could have wept with the loveliness of it.

I will only drag you through one more part, but not now. Now I leave you with a snow-covered cabin among tall evergreens, a little brown dog leaping through the snow, and my complete awe at the humbling place to which God led me, both within my heart, and here in the world.

Who knew? Who knew that I could trust God enough to experience this?

Yeah, well, besides Him....

Next time, it gets better...and at times, worse.