Letting Go Is Difficult

Monday 11/22/21.

It isn’t easy to let go of dreams…or ego.

Recently, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have been working very hard to avoid telling my story. I wrote this on is Bonus Day #910 since my Memorial Day Miracle in 2019. It still feels weird to refer to my experience as a miracle. However…it was, indeed, a miracle. It’s just odd to think that I, Kent Morrell, have actually experienced a miracle. Being healed of permanent nerve damage in a large section of my thoracic spine is still mind-blowing to me. How does one process that?

I wish we knew the story of Lazarus after Jesus woke him from death. I wonder what Lazarus did with his second life. I know a few other people who have experienced miracles, and we all have similar questions regarding what’s worthy to pursue with our second opportunity to live. My miracle friends believe—as I do—that time is our most valuable asset in life…but also the most under-appreciated. We all get 24 hours each day. Tomorrow is not promised. As ones who have experienced miracles and have been given second chances in life, we don’t take our days for granted anymore.  

I live life at a frantic pace now. I have a lot of things to accomplish while I’m able! Even though I have experienced healing, I still live as if my good days might end tomorrow. After what I’ve been through, I’m not the optimist I used to be. I hope and pray for continued good days, but I do not expect them. I am thankful for every single day I wake up without pain. Every day is a bonus day to me.

I have literally crammed a lifetime of activity into my life since my miracle. For two years, I kept a constant full-throttle, pedal-to-the-floor schedule. Without an alarm, I woke up between 4:30 and 4:45 a.m. every morning, ready to start my day. I lived this way until around Bonus Day #750. Then, somewhere in the 800s, I stopped paying attention to my day count and started slowing down a bit.

For the last few months, I’ve been feeling guilty for sleeping until 6:00 a.m. I think I’ve started getting lazy…I think I’ve started taking my days for granted—at least that’s the guilt trip I’ve been heaping onto myself. Of course, we all know that unnecessary guilt is a terrible thing, and just like unresolved stress, it is extremely unhealthy and can lead to negative consequences for both mind and body.

The smoke alarms in my home—like yours, I’m sure—start making a short chirping sound when the batteries are low. That sound is intended to get our attention and force us to replace the batteries. Last night, Sunday 11/21, my internal battery was low, and my heart started chirping. I had felt like I was vibrating all afternoon, and by the time I walked into the ER at 11:15 p.m., my heart rate was pulsing at 154 beats per minute. As you might imagine, my blood pressure was unsettlingly high, too. 

None of the rescue methods I know had helped. Focused relaxation and mindfulness activities were pointless. Baby aspirin didn’t bring any relief either. The deep chest pains, nausea, and shortness of breath that arrived later were the triggers that finally motivated me to walk into a medical setting under my own power and of my own accord.

I have significant PTSD as a result of my 6,821 days of excruciating pain—misery that was primarily caused by 13 years of unnecessary medical treatment. I don’t trust our health care system, but I have no other options for care. Sometimes I think that fact alone is enough to cause me to have heart-attack-like symptoms.

I’ve experienced severe anxiety attacks in the past, but it’s been a long time. There have been none in recent memory, so this event was a surprise. It seemed different, too, because I felt clear-headed. Tests showed that I had not had a heart attack. I was eventually diagnosed with sinus tachycardia, high heart rate. It took five hours, with me hooked up to an array of equipment, for my heart rate and blood pressure to finally fall back into acceptable ranges. Ultimately, I received no answers about the cause of my chest pain.

“Come back if it gets worse and we’ll run more tests,” they said. Then they kindly sent someone to my ER room to offer payment collection before I was released. (How convenient.) “Looks like you haven’t met your deductible this year. That’ll be $575…”

As I absorbed the cost of my peace of mind to know that I was not having a heart attack, I suddenly put my left hand up as if I were a student and said, “Wait, wait, wait…” I paused for a few seconds and then slowly smiled. Incredulously, I repeated, “We haven’t met our deductible this year?” My left arm was still raised and my hand turned as if I were offering praise to Jesus. “Wow…that’s great news! And I didn’t have a heart attack!”  

I could feel my heart rate dropping further as my arm fell back to my side. It was another miracle. There was a time in my life when getting sued over unpaid medical bills was an annual event. It became a running joke between myself and the process servers. “It’s that time of year,” we’d say to each other. But I don’t have to deal with that experience anymore. Learning that I hadn’t yet met this year’s deductible was an important reminder of the many miracles I’ve experienced over the last 20 years. In addition, it led me to see this whole ER experience as my body reminding me to check my batteries, to remember the source of my power, and to focus on my purpose.  

The sole purpose of a smoke detector is to sound an alert for smoke and possible fire—to save people’s lives. Jesus also came to save people’s lives. Following Jesus makes it somehow possible to endure unbearable suffering. I have experienced this truth myself many times. I have experienced multiple miracles, and I believe God wants me to tell others about the miracles I’ve seen and experienced while following Jesus. It took a trip to the ER with severe chest pain to remind me of my purpose—to tell my story.

This is a struggle though…because telling my story also means having to relive my story. Discussing my story conjures painful memories I prefer to avoid…memories I’ve worked so feverishly to stuff into the attic of my mind. As a result, in part, I have filled every conscious moment of my second life with creating and developing numerous well-intentioned projects and pursuits.

A friend who knows of my current activity level recently told me: “There are many good things to do, but few great things. Find the great things.”

What a challenge… I am deeply involved in multiple time-consuming projects that all appear to be “great things.” I want to pursue every one of them, but I now understand that that choice is no longer the correct path for me. Actually, it never was.

But I have such pride in all of these projects. Pride…there is so much of “me” still left in me. It’s a difficult daily struggle to surrender my pride. Yet I must, so I can follow the path I feel called to follow and pursue the purpose I feel called to pursue. I have found it difficult to keep my eyes on the narrow way while chasing so many important dreams all at once.  

Thus, as I work to narrow my focus, I’m also continually wrestling with my pride. Ultimately, my goal is to follow my leader so closely that I’ll bump into Him if He stops. I’ll know I’m on the right path when I can see His feet and His footprints.

In the coming weeks and months, I would greatly appreciate your prayers for the Lord to help me identify, reduce, and eliminate my self-induced stress and distractions. It will be a challenge for me to let go. Fortunately, though, suffering is an effective treatment for pride and very clarifying as to one’s purpose. My unexpected cardiac issues were unpleasant, but they led to my first step in reducing my stress level.

I released one huge dream just this morning. I decided I will not run for state office next year. This was a very difficult decision to make—and a very dear dream to release. I ran for U.S. Senate last year primarily to practice and plan for next year’s state race. I love the political arena, and I’d like to think I’ve developed a bit of knowledge and skill from my years of advocacy in Nashville and in Washington. 

My primary goal has been to defeat my political opponent—my current state senator—in next year’s race. In the last few months, I have happily spent tremendous amounts of time and resources in pursuit of this goal. For me, it’s personal. In 2015, this man voted to repeal and nullify a law that had guaranteed certain protections for doctors and patients. The domino effect of that vote quickly led to the reduction of treatment options, and ultimately, by 2019, to the complete obliteration of proper pain management for the citizens of Tennessee.

As a result, the state also lost numerous experienced and well-respected providers. For example, I would say few Tennesseans are aware that an entire group of renowned, world-class neurosurgeons left Vanderbilt because current state laws now prevent the appropriate use of the pain management medications necessary to properly treat post-procedure surgical pain.

Over the years, this state senator’s votes have directly contributed to my personal misery as well as the misery of tens of thousands of my fellow Tennesseans. Ironically, he is a physician himself, yet he has betrayed the patient community…and I have wanted political retribution. In my mind, he is the tangible cause and symbol of my suffering—one that I could realistically defeat next year—so I have sought to take vengeance on the political battlefield. I have happily wrapped my selfish motivation with a veil of noble intentions and righteous indignation. I wish to see him defeated—and I wish to defeat him myself.  

While running for office last year, I met many, many people and made a number of important contacts. However, I didn’t realize the credibility I had generated for myself during that time until several weeks ago. Recently, while talking with some of my political contacts, I began discussing my plans to run against our current state senator in the primary for next year’s election—and they were excited.

As a result, I now have the beginnings of an actual organization forming, with a potential campaign manager, an interested bookkeeper, and several others who have offered to be volunteers and knock on doors for me. A few people with important fundraising contacts want to speak with me as well. Things have moved quite quickly, and it’s all very mentally and emotionally intoxicating. The attention makes me feel important and significant. I feel like I matter—and I haven’t felt that way in a very long time. Running for a political office is an extremely potent endorphin-generating activity. I really like it! I fully understand why people are drawn to politics.

But my vibrating heart shook off the facade of good intentions and exposed the selfish motivations behind most of my current endeavors. Political retribution and emotional intoxication aren’t the right reasons to run for political office. Although I’m still very frustrated with my state senator—and truthfully, running for office again does sound delightful—I have to focus on and pursue God’s specific purpose for my life at this particular time. It was a very difficult decision to sacrifice my current political dream…but even now, I feel a release of stress just thinking about how much time and energy have been freed up. Surprisingly, I didn’t have full clarity on my motivation until I released my goal. It took a trip to the ER with severe chest pain to remind me of my purpose.

I have seen miracles! It is time for me to share my story.

Kent Morrell

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