How do you sum up forty years of life? What do you include and leave out? You might say just tell us the highlights. In reality the mundane day to day life is what taught me the biggest lessons. We’ve all read about people who have had that aha moment. They have fallen on their face sobbing before God begging and pleading for answers and were rewarded with clarity and direction. Like a light had been turned on and they knew why and what they were supposed to do. That’s not my story. Don’t get me wrong, there have been moments with me on my face ugly crying and imploring God for answers only to get back up with no direction, no audible voice, no answers of any kind; just exhausted from the fight. But every time the one thing I did walk away with was peace. A quieting in my soul. So I proceeded putting one foot in front of the other. Moving forward and seeking answers. With that in mind here’s my attempt to tell you my story.
I’ve existed with pain to varying degrees my whole life. When I was little I would complain about the pain and my older brothers would tell me I was being a wuss and a whiny girl. I figured that they must deal with the same pain, that pain must be a normal part of life and if they could just “man up” and deal with it so could I. So that’s what I did. I hid the pain until it was unbearable and then played it down when it was too unbearable to hide anymore. My siblings got creative and changed the word invalid (sick or disabled) but pronounced it invalid (without value or purpose). They weren’t trying to be cruel, they didn’t know how much pain I was in, they did it all in good humor. Unfortunately the words we say in jest sometimes cut very deeply. I already thought that love and acceptance was based on my behavior and now my ability to deal with pain also added into that equation.
When I was 16 I crashed while downhill skiing and started suffering with ribs that slipped out of place and chronic headaches. After a couple weeks I went in to the chiropractor and found out I had scoliosis and that my skull was slipping down and putting pressure on my neck. This was the first time that I felt like there might be some justification to the pain I had. He tried to fix it but after several treatments I realized that it only provided temporary relief and that I needed to learn to live with it. I learned how to use the door jam to help relocate my ribs and thankfully the headaches weren’t too often or too bad.
16 was a crazy year. My tumultuous family life I learned could get even crazier. My younger sister was asked to leave the house and go live with another family since she couldn’t get along with my mom. My brother, who was one of my best friends, started dating my friend and they both turned on me and lied to my folks. This cost me my parents trust and my relationship with both my brother and my friend. My best friend was starting to fool around with her boyfriend. He was the definition of trouble and the more I tried to convince her of this the further away she went. I was concerned so I went to her mom and told her what was happening, this cost me my friendship with her and her whole family. My world was getting ripped apart.
I believed in God but didn’t really know Him. One of the other lies I learned was that God was sitting up in heaven just waiting for us to screw up so he could give the command “Hulk smash!” This philosophy was incorrect on two fronts, one the hulk isn’t real, and two this is not God’s thought process towards us. He’s a father who loves us and wants us to succeed. Not necessarily in the world’s standards but in His way and time. Another long lesson I’ve fought my whole life. In the mean time I figured I had done something wrong and God wasn’t happy with my behavior therefore He didn’t love me anymore therefore He had lowered the hammer to show me how much he despised me.
Isn’t it amazing how one belief can alter reality so grotesquely? My belief about love and acceptance being earned carried itself into every aspect and area of my life. Slowly but surely this theory would be tested and fail time and time again before I finally learned that true love is not based on what I can or can’t do but who I am.