Happiness in high heels
Two Sundays ago saw me standing up on the stage in our church, almost doubled over with joy and laughter telling everyone how it was that I was now wearing my high heels (completely pain-free!) for the first time in over a year!
How did I get to this point? As a friend said, the only place to start, is at the beginning…
My precious friend*
It all started with a beautiful friend of mine from the school gate, whose husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer in January of this year; being told that he had a couple of years to live was a huge shock, but come mid-June his condition deteriorated considerably. He was admitted to the palliative care unit on the Tuesday, told he had two weeks to live; then getting even worse, was told by the Friday that he had a couple of days. Of course his wife was devastated, and was at home with a 5 year old and a 10 month old wondering how on earth things could have changed so drastically. My heart was totally broken for them, as individuals and as a family. I prayed. A lot. With them, with our school prayer group, on my own…and I felt that I just had to do everything that I possibly could.
The Cwmbran Outpouring
At around the same time, I started to hear things about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit happening at Victory Church, in Cwmbran in Wales. I realised that I desperately wanted to go there to pray for my friend’s husband. Why would it make any difference to pray there, you might wonder? In some ways I wondered the same, but as a friend of mine described it…it’s is a place where, in the same way as there are some places where you get all four bars of signal on your mobile phone, the reception there to receive and hear from the Holy Spirit is very strong! I felt I had to give it a go.
The first weekend of July, we were booked to see some good friends of ours in Cardiff, and on enquiring and finding out that Cwmbran was just 20 minutes down the road from them, I knew we had to make it work to go there! We left our very understanding husbands at home to put the children to bed, and we headed off to the industrial area where Victory Church makes its home, unsure of quite what to expect.
I like to maintain what I would call a healthy scepticism. The Word calls us to weigh and to test prophecies (1 Corinthians 14:29), and in the same way, I felt that I should approach this outpouring by testing what I heard and saw, as well as being aware of what I felt. We are called to have a balance of the Word and the Spirit, and this saying I’ve heard in church before sums it up well,
Too much Word and not enough Spirit and you puff up (in the sense of pride). Too much Spirit and not enough Word and you blow up [you are not grounded]. With the Word and the Spirit together, you grow up. (www.enduringword.com/commentaries/4204.htm)
With all this in mind, and thinking too of Todd Bentley and the Lakeland, Florida revival, and the confusion surrounding that, I went to Cwmbran with an open and enquiring mind to see what percentage of what was being experienced there was truly God, and what might, however inadvertently, be of man.
The evening started immediately with worship, even as we were walking in, and within about 20 minutes I had tears streaming down my cheeks. It wasn’t the words of the worship, or even that the band were so emotionally charged and amazing musically…it was heartfelt and sincere, but there was no whipping up of the crowds in any rock-stylee way. I felt the Holy Spirit just breaking my heart for my lovely friends from school, His sorrow that my friend’s husband does not yet know the depths of Jesus’ love for him, and then Him showing me the immense grace and mercy he has for us all, including both of them.
As we worshipped, my sorrow was replaced by relief and a clearer focus on the Lord – even while many around me were bouncing up and down, dancing, shouting for joy, singing at the the top of their lungs, hands stretched to the heavens and generally giving their all to worship the Lord – it was as if he had taken my cares upon his own shoulders and left me with a new lightness and calm.
I had heard, generally, of people being healed physically purely through worshipping the Lord, and so having released my friend and her husband into the Lord’s perfect hands, I was in a position to hold open my own hands to receive from God for myself. I asked Him to heal my ankle.
The story of my troublesome ankle
Last July I was rushing to get to the gym, and in taking off one pair of shoes and trying to put on my trainers, I twisted my left ankle and rolled it inwards. Being sure the initial pain would go over quite quickly once the shock had worn off, I continued to the gym and did my workout. I took some advice and gave myself the dreaded ice baths for it and dosed up on anti-inflammatories, but to no avail. I was assured that being a soft-tissue injury it would recover on its own, probably within 6 weeks.
I was not convinced since the whole time that the ankle wasn’t getting better, I was acutely aware of having had a similar injury some 10 years previously, again rolling my foot inwards, which is apparently very unusual. Having done it again indicated a probable weakness in the ankle – either pre-existing, or caused by both the trips.
By September I had completely give up wearing high heels (prior to that I had worn them occasionally, but for short periods only, like evenings out, and with great pain). Flat shoes were purchased, much to my husband’s chagrin! Physio was booked. Six sessions of private physio later, fortunately provided through my work, and things had first improved and then got significantly worse – worse even than the original twinges and catching pain. That was not what I had bargained for! So, I took some more advice and tried to see a physio leg specialist through the local hospital. He wasn’t available for a while, so I was seen by another lovely lady there. I did the exercises, and there was still stiffness and pain, and not a lot of improvement. She suggested I might be better off with a wedged orthotic on that side only, and that did provide some relief, but without eliminating the issue altogether. She did also suggest I try some wedged shoes, and hoping that this could at least be an answer to my reduction in height, I did have a go…I managed about 10 minutes at work – involving walking up a straight corridor to the kitchen and back – before giving up in pain and defeat and being in agony for the rest of the day. It is safe to say I was not a happy bunny :-(.
I had had quite a bit of prayer over the months, with various words given to me indicating possible roots, people were giving me encouraging pictures and yet still I had awful heel pain in the morning, stiffness first thing, then an intermittent and unpredictable catching pain which was like an electric shock up my leg, so sudden and disabling as it was, and the rest of the time a bit of an ache. One benefit at least: it got me out of running the Mummies’ race at our son’s first school sports day, as he declared, “Mummy can’t run. She’s got a poorly ankle”, said in a very serious voice! Ritual humiliation averted!
A new work and perfect peace
Anyhow, having prayed that evening at Cwmbran, I didn’t notice any of the possible signs of healing, such as heat, or tingling, no movement of tendons, muscles or bones in my foot, but somehow I had a quiet confidence that Jesus had done a new work in my ankle.
When the call went out to come forward to receive prayer, I was one of many who did so. There was a real sense of The Lord releasing joy to many who were there, and there was much laughter and excitement. I really wasn’t feeling it for myself, so I asked The Lord, am I holding back from you simply because I don’t want to surrender control? He showed me, that as before, he speaks joy over me and has done so for many, many years (it was the first prophetic word given to me!) and that like an unbreakable stick of rock, I have the word JOY running all the way through me, and it is unbreakable, because ‘the joy of The Lord is my strength’ (Nehemiah 8:10). He then showed me that at that time it wasn’t so much joy that he was pouring out on me, but his incredible peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7), and, ‘”Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.”‘ (John 14:27 NIV) – and I felt most wonderfully serene and rested in his presence.
By 10pm, having been there since about 6pm when we were queuing outside to get in, we decided we should head home to our families, even though in many respects the party was only just getting going! We left with church volunteers who were staffing the doors, gazing open-mouthed at a lady who had apparently not been able to walk since birth, and who was wearing those heavy looking medical boots, which I imagine are provided to give support and perhaps to deal with uneven leg length? It looked as though she had a wheeled walker with her, but when we left, she was on about her third lap of the room, taking big strides, albeit somewhat awkwardly, with someone holding her hands out in front of her (while they walked backwards), and she looked delighted!
When we got back, I think the guys were expecting us to be pumped up and overflowing with the excitement all that we’d seen and experienced, but in fact we were really quiet and calm, as we both, I think, felt very peaceful and we were reflecting a lot. As an extrovert, who usually likes to process a lot externally, I think my hubby was somewhat surprised at me, and he even thought we were both a bit subdued! I guess the peace of The Lord can do that!
Healing: a double measure
The next morning, I got up and my ankle felt undeniably felt better. Still being with our friends in Cardiff, and with the husband of the household pretty sceptical and wary of the gifts and manifestations of the spirit, I was cautiously and quietly optimistic about my ankle. It felt strengthened and stable – previously my balance on that side had been dreadful! As I went down the stairs it felt strong and pain-free, hallelujah!
We went with my friend and her children to her church, Cardiff Vineyard, and all the time my excitement about my ankle was growing. I kept checking and noticing all the time how it was feeling. We got there, and after the worship there was a time of listening to shared words and testimonies, and a young woman there explained that she had previously been an Olympic-standard archer, but through injury her wrist tendons had been ‘shattered’, I wasn’t quite sure what that meant really, but it sounded horrendous! She stood up and explained that the week before, she had been prayed for, and her wrist had been instantly, completely and miraculously healed. One of the things which had so saddened her was that she wanted one day to be a mother, but hadn’t been able to imagine holding her baby in her arm, as it wasn’t strong enough either to hold an infant or to do anything with that arm once the baby was in her good arm. It really resonated with me as I’d developed something called ‘mother’s wrist’ (or the less catchy but more specific, ‘de Quervain’s stenosing tenosynovitis’) in both my wrists after our boy was born and I had wrist splints for months and months. My wrists are so much better than they had been back then but still weak and still I was getting pins and needles, and numbness most mornings in both wrists. My left wrist had been prayed for in January and had been completely healed; now I was holding out for total healing in my right wrist too – greedy I know!! As I’d heard that testimony, and having heard a talk at Trinity just last month about testimony being seeds of God’s promise which we can receive for ourselves, I stood up for prayer at the end and asked for prayer. The most obvious thing for me to test after I’d been prayed for was by rotating my wrist – previously it had been clicking. After praying it was still clicking, but again I had the quiet confidence that Jesus was going to do something!
By Monday, back home, my wrist was no longer clicking and all pain had gone! I couldn’t believe it, as much as I had been waiting in hopeful expectation, it seemed too much to be true for both my ankle and wrist to have been healed!
Putting my limbs to the test!
I went to the gym as usual (a glutton for punishment!), and met there with my trainer. Working with him is a luxury I allow myself as he has been the only person really over the last few years to have been able to help me to exercise without pain (in my feet, knees, hips and lower back, never mind my wrists!). I don’t think he would mind me saying, he is fairly sceptical of healing by God, so he was interested but really not completely convinced by my tale of my ankle being healed! He certainly put it to the test, getting me to do interval training of shuttle runs up and down the gym. The thing I noticed the most was that I wasn’t even thinking about being careful about how I placed my foot down as I did the turns at each end, and I could really roll through my whole foot as I ran! On the other hand, my knees were creaking away at the end of a tough session, and that was what was preventing me from doing more. I always worry about really damaging my knees in a way that means that I’m set back rather than advancing in my fitness, not unjustifiable given my past history of injuries! We finished the session with him saying to me, ‘well, you’d better get some prayer for your knees now then!’. If only he’d known what that would start off…!
* With thanks to my lovely friend at the school gate for allowing me to share a little of her story