Friday, February 24, 2012

My Week in the ICU

I want to tell you a little about C, a friend I met while she was a resident at the group home. She 'aged out' of foster care a year ago and has been working, living independently and transitioning fairly well into adulthood without ANY family presence or support.

Beautiful inside and out, strong, smart and hard working, C never used her very difficult background as an excuse--she simply pushed forward towards a brighter future. She's made a few choices that were less than God's best, but she was sincerely reaching out to a few Christian women and we were offering loving guidance through the choppy waters of young adulthood. She had overcome so much baggage from her childhood. We thought she was going to break the cycle of her biological family.

After her dramatic ER admission Tuesday she was placed in the ICU. Because of the rigid ICU visitation schedule, I have only been able to see her twice a day for 30 minute slices. Her condition has been so erratic that each time the doors are opened to visitors, I have walked somewhat timidly down the long sterile hall. She has been physically stable, but her mental condition is an entirely different story.

Prior to this week, I have never spent much time in the world of severe mental illness/psychosis. It is frightening, sobering and overwhelming. As I have tried to talk about it with friends this week, words have failed me. The delusions C is experiencing are bizarre to the sane and completely believable to her. She cannot comprehend why we don't see things the way she does--including the violent assaults she insists she can see happening in the walls around her.

During a consultation with the Psychiatrist yesterday it was determined that C needed to be committed to a mental health facility because she is a danger to herself and others. I cannot describe how stunning it is to hear this about someone who was functioning normally when I last spoke to her before my ski trip two weeks ago. This morning we packaged this broken, sobbing young lady up on a gurney and sent her to a facility that is going to work on getting the voices out of her head.

It is unclear now which came first, the drugs or the schizophrenia. As impossible as it seems, the 'legal' synthetic cannabis she smoked can cause this level of psychosis/schizophrenia/mental instability permanently. Long term use can also can uncover underlying issues that previously did not cause any symptoms in a person. (This is not exaggerated junk science. Google it. You'll be blown away by the stories.)

This has hit those of us who love her and have been investing in her like a sucker punch to the chest. Only God knows what He has in mind for her next chapter, but this story just got infinitely more complicated here on Earth.

Yesterday morning, by God's precious providence, I found myself at the front door of a good friend's house to pick up something. It was 'supposed to' be a quick stop, but when she invited me in I found myself in a puddle on her sofa--finally releasing the hurt, fear, sadness and confusion I was carrying. It is in the broken hearted times like these that I seriously question my ministry. I am undeniably drawn to these young women--but time and time again I am crying for them because there aren't 'easy fixes.' They go to jail, move in with a violent man, pick up their parent's addictions...

I am such a productivity driven person that the lack of results is very discouraging. I honestly do not want credit or recognition for service, I just want it to make a difference, to count for something. My heart cries, "I will follow and obey, Lord, but, is it asking too much to see some success every now and then?" In my exhaustion and disappointment I want to throw my hands up and shout, "WHAT is the point?"

And slowly over the last 36 hours, God has been revealing the answer to that question to me:

1. "The point" is not about me fixing anybody, it is about being salt & light, a minister of grace, mercy, love and care.

2. I am to do those things because He told me too, not because of any expectation of results.

3. And if I observe #1 & #2, the results that I am most likely to see are in my own heart and life as He reveals His radical love and care for me through my service to others. That sounds a little more complicated than I intend for it to. Simply put, the love I feel for the girls God puts on my heart never makes any sense to me. It is not earned. It is frequently not returned or worse it is abused/misused and yet, my heart cannot deny it.

It is through this aspect of ministry that I experience more of an explanation of 'amazing grace' than anything else. It is ONLY because He first loved me that it is possible. There is no other explanation. I am blown away by the depth of unmerited grace and love God lavishes on us.

The past two mornings when I have arrived at the ICU, I have found C asleep in the fetal position, one arm still restrained, stuffed bunny under her head, face obscured by her messy but beautiful curls. Her petite 19 year old body marked by scrapes and bruises from her outburst Tuesday a stark contrast to the the starchy white sheets and blankets of her large hospital bed. Not wanting to wake her, I would stand and silently pray over her with my eyes opened.

Yesterday morning I was struck by how that picture mirrors the human condition. Hopeless, helpless, confused, broken, captive, battered and bruised by life--and yet, God's pursuing us, committed to us, longing to wrap us up and rescue us from the pit. And it has absolutely nothing to do with anything we can 'do' for Him.

When C did awake yesterday it was to tell me that she was God and that I didn't need to worry because she had a plan and she was gonna rebuild the whole world. It was delusional and simultaneously familiar. In my sanity I don't say that out loud, but in my sin I often operate as if I believe it to be true of myself.

And when her mind cleared up a little she pulled the covers over her head and sobbed for how unfair her life seems--why she has suffered abuse after abuse and yet she is the one with the consequences. I had no answers, only shared tears.

I will be very limited in how often I can see her now, as she has been moved 90 minutes away and the visitation hours are all at night. If she crosses your mind, will you please pray for my friend C? I know God has a plan for her...I just wish it weren't so hard.


Sincerely Anna said...

I always find encouragement through your well-written words. Thanks for sharing your heart and how the Lord is working in your life. My husband and I are in student ministry, too. I'll pray for C.

psm260 said...

Have you heard of the new book, Kisses From Katie? I think you would find it interesting. It seems that God has you doing what He has Katie doing in Uganda. Meeting people where they are and loving them.

HW said...

Before we had children, my career was in the mental health field; I worked in a long term care facility for persons with a psychiatric diagnosis, about 95% of our residents were schizophrenic.
I believe it is quite common for this disorder to first rear its head in the colleg years, which appears to be C's age.
I am drawn to this story as it is wehre my heart lies if I were working outside the home. I will pray for your sweet friend and for you to find opportunities to minister to her as it is obvious you long to do just that.

sl said...

I will be praying for your friend. She is so lucky to have you in her cornor. I hope you get to stay in touch with her. I know your visits will mean so much to her. You are a wonderful Christian friend and mentor to her. Bless you and your minstry.

Elizabeth said...

I will be praying for your friend. It breaks my heart what some of these young girls go thru. She is so lucky to have you there.

delee said...
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LaQuetha said...

Thank you so much Jen for serving these girls. It is something God is drawing you too and using you to touch these girls lives. I will definitely be praying for you friend C. As a young lady who overcome some obstacles myself to be the person I am today I truly attributed to the godly women who pursed me and prayed for me. Way to go for being obedient and serving these young ladies and giving your heart away to them. I will pray for you and C.

Wife Goes On said...

I pray for C, and for you as you minister to her. I will pray for C every day.

CrysHouse said...

I came here from Ministry So Fabulous, and my heart just breaks for you...

But then my heart breaks for all of us in ministry--for every person who has ever felt the need to "fix it." At the end of the day, don't we all want to see that it's making a difference? I've struggled with that same viewpoint.

I want to point to your entry here and say, "Yes. Just this." For my own heart. And for others.

Brenda on the S OR Coast said...

Having walked through a ministry with startling similarities over the course of the past 14 months, I can identify with your pain and fear and frustration.

At the end of the day, I have been gently reminded by the Lord that He can take care of my friend far better than I. And I have had to admit to Him, "I don't trust you." And He has said to me, "That's okay. I love you."

I would dearly love to have been able to see the beauty that will come from the ashes of my friend's broken life. And perhaps I will get to see it this side of Heaven. Perhaps not. But I am learning to trust Him.

And He is good.

Sara said...

I have prayed for C, and also said a prayer of thanksgiving for you, J. Thanking Him for your willingness to be used by Him and to open to what He is teaching you in the process. It's hard, and scary, but I admire your commitment and your generous gifts of time, emotions and investment into these girls' lives.

Kaitlyn said...

I've left your post up on my computer, trying to find the words. Nothing is appropriate. All I can say is-- thank you for writing this, and I will include C specifically in my prayers.

Leslie said...

Praying for restoration for your young friend.