Possibility. So many emotions can be wrapped up in that single word. Possibility. And that’s what it was for me, the possibility of a serious health issue. I cannot even explain the nights that I laid awake with all of these possibilities running through my head, sometimes begging God to let me see another day. The fear was so real. The fear of not enough time. The realization that my life could change…forever.
I had so many tears, because I did not know what was happening in my body. I didn’t understand the pain, the unusual sharpness that would come and go as it pleased. So the unanswered questions filled me with fear. I realized around age 15 that I may not make it to adulthood. None of us have the guarantee of making it to adulthood, and for the first time I realized it. So, I sat there with my journal and I honestly and truly just wanted to give up. And for a little while, I shelved my dreams and goals.
I may not make it to adulthood. I may have cancer. This may be a brain tumor. This could actually happen to me. I remember the day that my mom and I talked about the very real chance that I could have a brain tumor. My breath was stolen somewhere between the possibility of a brain tumor and the reality that my mom and I were actually having this conversation. It was real. It was never right for me to worry. It was never right for me to fear, but the realization that this could be serious began to change the way I lived.
I realized very shorty after shelving my dreams and goals that it wasn’t the correct response to the life that I had been given. I couldn’t fear tomorrow. I couldn’t sit and wonder what could happen, I had to live each day one day at a time. And truly, that is what I began to do. I was put on various medications and had a plethora of doctor appointments. All of which were discouraging, but mom and I usually ate fries or got a shake after them!
Between ages 15 and 17, I started to change the way that I thought about life. I changed the way I lived it. Suddenly, giving my time to people was important and simple moments in my day became the best thing in the world. People still make fun of how I love the little things and how easily entertained I am. I don’t mind, because during this hard time in my life—those simple things became a great joy to me. It meant life and life is a gift from God.
I changed the way I viewed life ,but that didn’t mean that I never struggled with fear and bitterness. I didn’t want to hurt all the time. I didn’t know how to make my friends understand that I was hurting every minute of every day and the pain was more real than they thought it was. It didn’t feel like anyone understood and in some ways I closed myself to those around me.
Ask any one of them and they will tell you that there was a time that I became completely serious. If you know me, then you understand, that THAT is NOT normal! It was during this time, that absolutely everything about life and death became more real to me.
Pain, doctor appointments, and no answers became the never-ending cycle. One that I didn’t particularly enjoy. It was a daily struggle to seek God’s strength for patience. I failed so many times.
However, God continued to give grace and let me live each day. I was finally able to say, “I don’t fear death. I know that God will take me home whenever He wants and my life is in His hands.” The possibility of death truly helped me live life. I could not worry about the what if’s. Truly, there was no reason to fear the possibilities, but I let fear reign so often.
My senior year came and it was so discouraging. I had doctor appointments so often. I was tested for all sorts of things and they found no food allergies, no diabetes ,and NO brain tumor! That was not discouraging! However, during this year, my stomach and digestive system began to act up. I literally felt like my body was falling apart! Would it ever end?! It was no longer fear that showed in my life, but the monotony of physical weakness.
The pain was so great and it was continual. How could I keep on doing this?It was then, that I realized that I couldn’t, but God could. I realized how truly weak I was. I learned to appreciate actual physical weakness, because it made God’s strength so much more real to me. My body was very weak, but I knew….I knew that God could bring me through each day. And He did! I didn’t always trust Him and I often failed, BUT He still gave me strength.
While learning all of this, I began to have severe chest pain. I couldn’t carry my school books without it hurting. I could hardly open doors and even breathing was a challenge. After a time of continuous chest pain, my grandma took me into the ER for fear that it may have been heart related. I remember that car ride. I stared out the window, once again realizing that tonight my life may change forever. That was sobering. Granted, I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but these sobering thoughts tend to come when you are faced with unanswered health struggles.
I walked into the ER and honestly, I just laughed! All the people in there looked so pathetic!!! Then, I stopped laughing…because I realized I was one of them too and looking just as pathetic! I waited in the ER ,and I was nervous. Chest pains meant heart related things. Heart-related things meant scarier things.
I opened my Bible to the Psalms and read the verse, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” One verse is all it took to calm my heart. One verse that reminded me to trust God. He had my life. Now, this ER experience could be fun….and it was( but, that’s a whole different story!).
Because my chest pains could be heart related, I didn’t have to wait very long. I remember sitting in the room and listening to the doctor and my grandma talk about me and all the possibilities. I remember hearing things like “Does heart attack run in your family?” and “We don’t want to radiate her, because she is so young.” I sat there, while these words were thrown around. I was 16, but I was really in this doctor’s office talking about radiation.
Though I was trusting God with the results of my tests, it was very somber to hear these things. I got the results back. My heart was fine. My white blood cell count was fine, and all of those other fancy science terms were fine. I was good to go. I didn’t have answers as to why I had pain, but I did get MORE pain medicine to take home.
It continued to be my daily struggle to accept that God’s answer for my pain was no answer. I had to learn this every day, every hour, and every minute. So then, the issue was not just weakness, it was battling intense discouragement. I had more tests through my senior year that still gave me no answers. I just knew that my body hurt, and it hurt badly!
It has been a year since I was a senior and God has shown Himself mighty in my life. My pain is still continuous, but then my God is faithful. He has brought me through the worst of it and upheld me through the consistency of it. He is good! I also know that God has given me a functioning body, even if it’s hurting.
Truly, I have learned that I am not to fear death, my weakness is needed for God’s strength, and my steady joy can only be found in Him. When I look at 3+ years of continuous pain and constant struggle, I can’t have bitterness. God has become more personal to me, and the living of life and the dying in life holds more significance.
I think that to have lived without this pain would be a huge loss. This pain, this constant struggle of my weak body guides me on the path to my God. This path is called weakness, it’s called vulnerability, it’s called the unknown. I have learned that these paths mark my humanity and my need for God. And what I find so amazing about these paths is that God is with me the whole time even as I journey closer to Him.