Today I cried. It was the first time I had cried in a long time. At least from what I can remember and I haven’t been remembering too well lately. Short-term memory loss tends to make life difficult in that way. Anyhow, I cried and it felt really, really great. I cried first with my sister and then with my mom.
Moseying around our room at home today, my sister asked me “are you OK?” I responded with “yeah, sorta, well actually no.” Cue tears. And she said that’s OK. Nothing is wrong with not having it all together. No one is asking or expecting you to be totally with it. I had a similar conversation with my mom. I am so thankful for these women in my life.
After coming home from spending two weeks in the hospital in Seattle, I wasn’t sure the kinds of emotions I would experience, but after one week in I’ve mostly felt overwhelmed. After being home for one week, there is still so much to process. That is to be expected.
Two weeks ago, I had a seizure that caused me to become unconscious. After not being able to communicate with me, my parents started reaching out to my school friends via Facebook. Finally, after sending my friend Andrew directly to my dorm room finding that I did not respond to his knocks, the police were called and the door to my room was broken down.
Before being flown to Seattle Children’s Hospital from Washington State University, where I had been enjoying my first semester. I spent a short time in the ICU at Pullman Regional Hospital.
Things were bleak. I am no doctor, but I’m pretty confident that a lot of people were unsure of if or when I would wake up, and if so, what damage would follow?
Waking up, while clearly a great step towards recovery was nonetheless very confusing. I didn’t know where I was, who my parents were, or even what had happened.
In all of the confusion, there has also been a lot of clarity. I’ve had to rely and trust entirely on Jesus and my doctors. Jesus has shown me that my priorities are out of place and I also need to take it easier on myself. His presence has been so imminent. One of the workers in the hospital told me “I am so glad you have your faith!” I am too. I cannot even begin to imagine where I would be without my faith.
I have never felt so loved in my life. By God, friends, and complete strangers. I’ve also learned that just because God throws us curve balls in life and we don’t receive what, does not mean at all that he does not care for us. This is not the case at all.
I feel strongest in my weakest moments. People have been calling me “miracle child” and more commonly, “fighter.” And while I know this is meant to be flattering, I rarely ever consider myself either one. I call it being human. I am who I am because of hope. Side note: many people who follow my blog, read a blog post I wrote in March titled Hope is Hard. If this post interests you in any way, I’d also encourage reading my thoughts about hope as it is a topic I have brought up.
When people ask me how I’m doing and how I’m handling everything, my typical response has been along the lines of “All things considered, I am doing great!” However, internally, I’ve also recognized it’s perfectly healthy and normal to recognize that there have been large bumps in the road and recovery, especially emotional recovery, will only come with time.
Everyone, whether diagnosed with epilepsy or not faces trials and tribulations of various sizes. Sure, the events which took place two weeks ago my not occur to everyone, but everyone has a story-one that is unique!
No matter what I write about, storytelling almost always becomes incorporated. I write and share with you only because I hope that it’ll prompt you to do the same! So tell me, what’s your story?
I am what you would call a woman with a plan. I make it a point to plan out my day and/or week even if I know that realistically, nothing will go accordingly.
Something tentative needs to be in place.
I despise not knowing what is going on. When certain things happen, such as sudden downwards turn in my health, transferring dormitories, losing roommates, etc. I start to panic. Every piece of me screams “this was not part of the plan!” I do not recall writing this in my planner.
Seeing that I’m a planner, I don’t typically consider myself a spontaneous person. I am occasionally, but not by natural inclination.
I’ve found that dashed plans and other types of conflict is the only way I’ll turn my attention to other, more important things.
My life has been rather messy these past few weeks. However, I wouldn’t trade the mess for anything. I’m not saying that I liked it, but through it all, I learned how loved I was.
I haven’t always felt loved by my “friends.” I often felt as though everyone left when things got even the tiniest bit messy. Or, even worse, they’d never been there at all. Even when things were great.
I few weeks ago, I had an epileptic seizure during the night and fell off of my *high* bed. I fell flat on my face and almost broke my nose. That wasn’t planned. Or expected. I had lost control. Again. Everyone knew what had happened except me. The paramedics, my roommate, the RA. My neighbors. Everyone.
To top it all off, roommate troubles led to my moving out of my dorm room to a residence hall on the opposite end of campus.
It’s not worth it to gloss over the shitty things that happen in life. Sugar-coating doesn’t change the fact that something bad happened. Why hide the mess? When people, read my blog, I want them to feel human. That’s why I share stories from my personal life. Not because I’m searching pity.
These things shift my focus back towards him. Where it should always be. Every time I try and take control, I fail. I wasn’t meant to do life alone. I was meant to do it with Him. And in community. A community that cares.
Over the next few days a few friends murmured a few words of encouragement to me. Other friends didn’t say anything. They sat with me. Hugged me. Let my tears wet their clothes. They saw me at my worst. And instead of being disgusted and without telling me to grow up and get a grip, these events somehow let them love me more.
I still do not understand. Never in my life have I had friends so willing to meet me, right where I am. This is the Gospel in action.
God has not allowed me to endure this suffering alone. I can only hope that these trials result in opportunities for my testimony to be shared and God’s love and grace and peace and goodness to shine bright, even in the darkest of hours.
For a few weeks now, I’ve debated internally about whether or not I should share about my struggles. it’s personal and messy and I’m not sure I want to reveal that to the world. Well, here I am. Messy, broken, but healing. In an attempt to make sense of my experiences, I wrote- a lot- about the question I believe many people ask: what is depression?
I came to the conclusion in that depression, unlike other medical conditions, varies drastically from person to person.
- unable to be defined.
- wanting to enjoy the company of friends and family, but ignoring them when they reach out to you.
- lying awake at night and dragging yourself through the night.
- telling yourself that you’re the only one who feels this way.
Isolating yourself is the worst possible action you can take if you’re struggling with depression. It’s tempting. I created excuses not to go to birthday parties, and many other activities. I didn’t have any reason not to attend these events, but I convinced myself that I wasn’t wanted. Surely the party would be more fun without me.
I loved this excerpt from Donald’s Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz:
We see those cigarette advertisements with the rugged cowboy riding around alone on a horse, and we think that is strength, when really, it is like setting your soul down on a couch and not exercising it. The soul needs to interact with other people to be healthy.
Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller
In the past, I was naive in believing that depression was black and white. In other words, I thought you happy go-lucky or suicidal. The truth is that there is a large gray area spanning between those two extremes.
I’d say my depression peaked my sophomore year of high school. I was trying hard to fit in. Trying to finally become friends that I had eaten lunch with since 5th grade.
Whether or not I realized it at the time, writing became my therapy. It helped me come to terms with feelings I didn’t know how to share in depth, even with my closest friends.
Here’ what I found about writing:
Writing heals you from sicknesses that before, you never even knew you had.
When you write (if you do), my guess is that you tell a piece of paper more than you tell most people. People wonder why I’m such a crazy advocate for keeping a journal. I guess I hadn’t previously connected those experiences with my writing habits. There’s no doubt that they’re related.
I knew I was depressed when I denied having any feelings at all. I threw myself into school, church activities. Not to mention other people’s problems. It was bad.
Only recently have I really been able to do more than just write, I’ve come to the point where I can wake up in the morning and decide for myself that I’ll get out of bed and choose joy.
Regardless of how my day goes. Unfortunately, that is one thing I don’t have control over.
That decision may seem action may seem small and insignificant, but not everyday is as happy-go lucky as we’d like. It’s not something we should discredit. Recognizing the smallest of achievements is important.
For me, depression is something that doesn’t really go away once it’s begun. I’ve simply learned to cope with it and recognize the red flags which let you know the real you is being stifled by someone else. Since my freshman year of high school I’ve filled over twenty journals with practically everything. I’m not saying that to brag, but to emphasize that a lot of life happens in short amounts of time. If we’re not careful, life continues on it’s way before we are able to learn anything from our time spent in the pits. And thus the cycle goes unbroken. Nothing gets better.
Title: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Author: Rebecca Skloot
What’s it about: This book is about the immortal life of the HeLa cell line, grown from an African-American woman who died of cervical cancer in the fifties. Henrietta Lacks cells were the first human cells to be immortal. When Lacks was operated on at John Hopkins hospital, her cancerous cell tissue was taken without her consent.
Why did I read it: This book was part required reading material for my Women’s Studies class I’m taking this quarter. I don’t like the class so much, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning about Lack’s story and her incredible contribution to science.
Favorite idea: In the book, Skloot writes about two of Henrietta’s adult children seeing their mother’s cells for the first time. When discussing genetics and DNA, a researcher at Hopkins explained “They [the HeLa cells] all look the same–they’re just clear until we put color on them with a dye. You can’t tell what color a person is from their cells.”
Where you can buy it: here.
Author: James L. Rubart
What’s it about: When Micah Taylor inherits a mansion in Cannon Beach from a long dead uncle who he has never met, he’s not quite sure what to think. After stepping out of his comfort zone, Taylor decides to visit this mystery house. In the house, he encounters rooms which force him to face bits and pieces of his painful past-and the faith he thought he had abandoned for sure.
Why did I read it:A friend recommended it to me and I thought “why not?” It’s probably something I wouldn’t have chosen for myself, but I’m glad I read it nonetheless.
Favorite idea: “Despite the unanswered questions and being within miles of where his heart had shattered, he felt at peace.” This feeling resonated deeply with me.
Where you can buy it: here
Title: My Sister’s Keeper
Author: Jodi Picoult
What’s it about: A lot of things. Ethics, morals, family dynamics. But mostly two sisters who love each other a lot. Kate has acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). Her younger sister Anna, is her cure. She’s been a part of Kate’s treatment since birth. But now that she’s thirteen, she’s not so sure she wants to keep contributing to her sister’s well-being. You’ll have to read the book to discover how she navigates her way down this messy path.
Why did I read it: First of all, I read this lovely novel because It’s been on my “To Read” list for years. Secondly, I love meaningful fiction. Picoult is a lovely writer and this book really tugs at your heart-strings.
Favorite idea: “It is so easy to think that the world revolves around you, but all you have to do is stare up at the sky to realize it isn’t that way at all.”
Where you can buy it: here.
Hope is hard. It’s a fact of life.
But hope is also beautiful. It means we’re choosing to believe that there is indeed a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. That, my friend, is no easy feat.
Hope is counting on and clinging to what we cannot see. Hope is what we grab hold of as we’re searching for peace in the middle of a war. Hope is not always comforting, but sometimes it’s all that’s left.
If hope were a person, I wonder what he’d say or what he’d do. I’d like to believe that he’d take my hand and say “here’s my hand, you can squeeze it.” Hope would know that if I can’t change my present circumstances, I’m better off knowing I don’t need to endure the battle ahead alone.
Faith and hope work closely together. Without faith, how could we hope? How else could we confidently say,”everything will work out.” Hope is the product of faith in something. In anything. In anyone.
C.S. Lewis once said that “Faith is the art of holding on to things in spite of your changing moods and circumstances.” Sounds a lot like hope doesn’t it?
Not everyone may believe in God or a supernatural being, but it’d take an incredible amount of convincing for someone to tell me they didn’t have hope. We hope in our friends, our family, our circumstances. In tangible things.
However, I’ve found the most beautiful sort of hope is that which can’t be seen or heard or touched, but still believed in.
Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
Every writer has this defining point in their writing journey where they ask themselves the questions:
“Why am I writing?” “Is it all worth it?” “Who should I write for?” “Should I write for high stats, or what’s on my heart?”
I’ve been blogging for a year. I haven’t even reached 2,000 views. I’m pretty sure I get the most views when my mom shares my posts on her Facebook page. My fan-base is limited. (I’m not sure it even qualifies as a fan-base). I’ve signed up for about every suggested social media site one could think of. And, consequently, I haven’t seen much change in my stats.
I continue writing. If I don’t write, I feel as if part of me is missing. Still, it’d be nice for a complete stranger who is more successful than I have been to recognize my work. There is no denying that wishful thinking.
I hate sounding cliche, but no great thing comes easily. Good things come with hours, weeks, even years of hard work. That’s what I missed when I first began my journey. I missed the tears, the calloused fingers, the rejections, the failed attempts. The ceremonious burning of drafts. The promise to get up, leave, and never write another word. Those are defining moments in any artist’s life. The rise to fame hardly compares to the time spent laboring to arrive at that point.
So if it’s not easy, why do it? I’ll tell you why. Because that one person who is impacted by your writing, makes up for the lack of viewers, the low stats, the rejection letters.
One of my Twitter followers responded to my post stepping away for awhile with these words: “You shine.” Folks, that’s why I keep writing.
If you write for numbers, there’s good chance you might not write anything great at all.
Keep at it.
The church is not a building.
I’ve always loved this concept. The church is not a building, rather, it’s a community of Christ followers. However, I came to the realization yesterday that the only place I’ve ever heard this concept discussed, is at church. The building. The sanctuary. In the pew. The irony of that fact hit me hard.
I was at college.
I attend a public community college. I wasn’t in chapel or in a theology class.
God moves everywhere. The bible study at my school, Ignite Fellowship, meets multiple times during the week. I haven’t been able to attend often because of a wacky schedule.
By God’s grace I was able to attend yesterday. It was beautiful. We met in a study room. Put our bibles on the conference tables in front of us.We sang a few worship songs and after that, we shared communion. We borrowed a small table and set it up in front of the small room and covered it with a table-cloth. A plate and goblet were set out.
In that moment, I had a revelation. When Jesus communed with his disciples as they were partaking in the Last Supper, they weren’t in a church building. No ordained pastor officiated it. I doubt anyone was dressed in their church clothes.
The last supper wasn’t pretty. I imagine the filthy dirt floors and Jesus and his devoted followers sitting around. I’m sure they were weary from going everywhere on foot. A steak dinner surely would have been accepted without a word. Nonetheless all that sat before them was a loaf of bread and some cheap wine. These twelve men had been everywhere with Jesus. And yet their going away party was anything from glamorous. In fact, right off the bat, Jesus puts forth a disclaimer: “one of you is going to betray me.” (John 13:21).
Their meeting was somber. Tears were shed. I’m sure some felt a sense of abandonment and definitely confusion.
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Why do we create limitations? The church was a body of believers long before it was a building. Jesus is the head of the church, not a building. If we forget the people part,we forget Jesus’s heart. He loved people.
I find it hard to see how the true gospel will effectively be shared if we (if I) don’t live the gospel.
If we try harder to envision Jesus’s last supper, maybe then we will fully understand how important it is.
Watch out, the church is leaving the building.