Living out loud is so important to me, particularly on this blog. I want to be real and authentic with what I’m experiencing, what God is teaching me, and how life and faith collide in my Texas world. So, here’s the latest.
I’m better. Really. Better.
I was quite sure I would never be writing that.
Because I was diagnosed with a chronic illness. Because I’ve spent the past two years learning to live with said chronic illness and how to best manage my symptoms while still having a life, friends, a loving marriage, young adult kids, and a peaceful home.
Career, gone. Mobility, iffy. Energy, very limited. But I found joy.
I changed my diet and embraced a regimen of supplements (vitamins and minerals) which made some improvements, moved to a climate that’s better for my illness, reduced my stress levels, and was experiencing more good days than I used to. But I was still very clearly a gal whose life was limited by this illness of mine.
Then things began to shift.
I was skeptical as I walked out of my first appointment with my shiny new doctor a couple of weeks ago, expanded supplement regimen in hand, more dietary restrictions listed. Seriously? No caffeine and no wine? I’m not a barbarian! But I was willing to try. So, I carved back my food list even further. And I started the new supplements. And I made friends with Apple Cider Vinegar and Kombucha 3 times a day.
And I feel as though I’m waking up for the first time in 2 years.
Remember a time when you had the flu, sick for a couple of weeks, weighed down with fatigue, aching and miserable, wondering if you’d ever be well? And then you woke up one morning feeling more like yourself. Feeling better. Well. Imagine a flu that lasted 2 years, and waking up one day feeling more like the you that you used to be. That’s my story.
Tears of gratitude on my face, I lay in my bed last week, praising God that I could do things, that reasonable activity expectations for a day weren’t “one and done,” that I could actually do SEVERAL errands and still have some energy around the house in the evening. My brain was buzzing with all the things I could accomplish, all the possibilities.
Here’s the thing: I could focus on the things I’ve had to give up. No red meat, no sugar, no gluten, no white potatoes, no dairy, no fried foods- the list goes on. But I can confidently say, balanced against what I’ve gained in the process, it’s worth it.
Far better to focus on what I’ve gained. It’s hard to describe what it feels like to see the light at the end of this incredibly difficult tunnel, one I never thought I’d see. And I may not climb Half Dome again (which is fine with me, by the way, once was good), but I could feel normal-ish again. Which means more than you can know unless you’ve had seasons of canes and wheelchairs, confinement to a couch, isolation, and crushing fatigue that were part of my world.
I can choose to eat the way I used to and feel terrible. Or I can choose to gratefully submit to this new program and begin to feel good again. Easy choice. What am I willing to give up? A lot.
I don’t know if the changes and improvements are permanent, and I have a long way to go, but I am cautiously optimistic. It’s like waking up, as I said before. Not just my body but my mind and my heart as well. I feel like myself more than I have in so very long, like there are possibilities I hadn’t imagined. Or that I had set aside, sure they were not part of my future.
I’ve had people tell me “Oh, I could NEVER give up (fill in the blank)!” But you can. If it will change your life, the way you feel, the way you are able to function and love your family and contribute to this world you can absolutely 100% give it up, whatever it is. You can. We choose, and we live out the consequences, positive or negative, of those choices.
So, this leads me to ask: What are you willing to give up? What are you holding up as an “I could never give up” that is keeping you from God’s best for you? From better health? From better relationships? From better living? Is it worth it?
Hanging onto things that aren’t your best, even if you love them and will suffer without them (ask me about my four-day caffeine withdrawal headache) isn’t something you HAVE to do. It’s what you choose to do.
I’ve learned so much about what I can do without, even when it’s really hard. I’ve done without so much during this time of illness- activities, outings, time with people I love, hiking, exploring, walks, my career- because of my limitations. I am trading limitations, I realize, but these are changes I choose to accept because the help and health far outweigh the loss. It is worthwhile to make these changes if I want to have energy and a pain-free life again. So, I choose. It’s tough when everyone else is sitting down to a burger and fries and I have my, um, bun-less beef-less fry-less alternative. It’s hard. But I choose.
Maybe this is a bit like what we are asked to change, to give up, to rethink in our walk with God. He gives us a pretty clear idea of what an abundant life in Him could look like. Steered by love, looking out for others, living out our faith in a real way rather than just a Sunday type of deal.
But if we follow His way, we have to give up a few things. Like being motivated by ambition, or holding onto bitterness and past hurt, like seeing everything through our own flawed lens instead of through God’s eyes. It means giving up striving and being willing to trust Him and walk in His Grace. It means giving up pride and self-sufficiency, surrendering MY way to His.
These are so. very. challenging. to give up if this is the way we are used to living. But. It is so worthwhile to lay these burdens down at the altar, leaving them there to go up in flames, rather than carrying their burden any further. Worth it to walk through life lighter, free-er, happier, more joyful. I don’t want to over-simplify here, but it some ways, it is simple. Just not easy. The struggle of letting go of long-held habits and hurts are worse than my four-day caffeine withdrawal headache. I get it.
But you get to choose.
What are YOU willing to give up?
If I needed to come all the way to Texas to find this doctor, I am grateful beyond the telling that I came here and I found her. She is an answer to prayers spoken across this country, putting me on the path to restored wellness. Thank you, truly, for your prayers as I’ve walked through this season.