Because I turned 30 this past Tuesday.
And it was actually one of the worst days I've ever had.
Just a combination of things really. Through circumstances beyond our control, Jeff ended up out of the house all day and did not get home until late that night. There have been things going on in our lives that have been very hard, and very emotional. Then personally I have had a tremendously hard few days- Jeff has actually had to dress me the past couple of mornings. I was tired and I was incredibly lonely. It's not that I don't have wonderful friends- but I do not have anyone I can talk to who truly understands the unique set of difficulties that a person goes through whose body no longer works right. Unless you are in it yourself, you truly cannot understand the doctors, the medications, the pain, the wondering if every new symptom is actually something bigger- it's a lot. I actually do have one girlfriend who I text when things get rough- she doesn't know firsthand what it's like to have physical limitations, but it happened to someone very close to her so she understands a lot of what I go through. I texted her a lot that night and I just told her that I was very lonely- and I just wanted the day to end.
But here's the thing- the day did end. And a new one began. And for me, a new day means waking up in tremendous pain, being dressed by my husband, walking with a cane, and if I am lucky, maybe having enough strength to leave the house. This year has been a real tough one for me and my family. Most people sit on their thirtieth birthday and take stock of the previous year and maybe they even have planned for many years what it would look like, how it would feel, where they would be, what they would have accomplished, etc.
I was never like that. From as early as I could remember my main goal- no, my ONLY goal has been to live one way and one way only- with integrity. Not to make plans. Not to try and figure my life out or accomplish great things with myself. But to trust that if I gave God my whole heart and live honestly and rightfully that wherever that path takes me it will be a good one. An honest one.
So as I sit here typing I am looking back and I am not filled with regret. Yes, my actual birth-day was rough. And many memories of this past year have not been pleasant. You have noticed lately that I have been making a point of documenting my illness in picture form. Maybe some of you are even taken aback my how revealing the pictures are. This illness is changing me in many, many ways. My body is no longer just my body- it was once beautiful and sensual and only for my husband's eyes. It is now scarred and torn, a product of my illness and the tests and treatments used to try and fix me, and I want to capture that both for my own sake and for yours. I want to see where I have come from, where I have been and where I am. This is changing me and I am daily being forced to choose what kind of person I am going to allow it to make me become. Today I spent and hour in my neurologists' office while he repeatedly shocked the nerves all over my body. He then stuck several needles in them. I was in so much pain...but I made Jeff take pictures. Because this is still who I am. This is still a part of where I have been.
|Checking out the "zapping" equipment waiting for the neurologist|
|Deciding I have no idea what any of it is, and figuring what the heck I guess I am ready!|
|The Zapper- felt like being hit with a taser gun over and over again (not that I actually know what that feels like, lol)|
|It hurt really, really bad|
|I made Jeff document this. It hurt, but it is a part of the process and I am thankful that my doctors are working so hard and that they care so much.|
I have stood and I still stand because of the person I am inside. I chose many years ago to be a woman of integrity. That no matter what ever came my way I would be a person who would let love and truth win out over and over and over again. That no matter what was wrongly done to me I would return the favor with righteousness. That if I was lied to I would respond with truth. That if I was yelled at I would answer with softness. That if I saw acts of violence, I would respond with acts of kindness. That if I was slapped in the face, I would turn the other cheek. That if I was hurt again and again, I would choose to forgive again and again. That in a world filled with lies, I would always be a voice of honesty. That when a hand was used to hurt me, I would use my hand to reach out and help someone. That if I was mocked, I would give a complement. That if everyone sees the worst in a person, I would choose to see the best in them. That instead of political conversations, I would BE the change I wanted to see in this world.
I have failed more times than I have succeeded...but I have only been trying for thirty years. I hope to have many more years to keep going at this. It is my intention to spend as many years as Jesus gives me doing the best I can to be, and act, and think, and love, and serve the way that Jesus did. Because things change. Life happens. You cannot predict, plan, or ever understand why. All you can do is have your integrity ready for it and then I promise you whatever comes your way you will be ready and able to stand.
I am happy looking back at my years. I have accomplished quite a bit in my twenties. It wasn't because I planned it that way, it was simply because I followed Jesus and he gave me life and life more abundantly. What a mess I may have made if I tried to do things myself. But instead I look into the eyes of my six beautiful, amazing children and a husband that I am not worthy of calling mine and I cannot help but think that God knew all long what the absolute BEST plan was for me- I just needed to trust Him. I just needed to let go of my own plans and release myself to Someone greater, believing that a righteous life lived with integrity really was worth living.
Thank God I did.
"If I had my time over I would do the same again. So would any man who dares call himself a man." -Nelson Mandela
**And I will just say this: after my test at the neurologists office, my husband got a babysitter so we could have the rest of the day together. He let me rest, then he took me out to eat, then he took me shopping...he mafe the rest of the day about me to make up for my birthday. I was weak and I walked real alow but he didn't care- he made the night all about me- it was amazing. We talked, we shopped, we rested, he hung out- he treated me like a princess. And THAT is the memory I will have when I think back on my 30th birthday. Things have a funny way of working out when you choose to do it right no matter what the cost. Goodnight friends.