By Grace

“Tell me your story.
Where do you begin?
What have you created?
Are you free?”
-Alison Malee

In the fall of my twenty-first year everything that I had come to know about my life and myself was ripped from me. All the things I had worked so incredibly hard for, the goals turned into reality smashed to pieces before my eyes; all the dreams I was still chasing left slipping through my fingers like sand. My strong body reduced by a kind of physical pain I still have difficulty describing. I was met with the prayers and well wishes of all those who cared for me. I was greeted with flowers and gifts as if the amount of attention received would directly affect the havoc being wreaked upon my system. I wish I could say that all of this support stayed with me through my battle over the next two and a half years (bringing you to this moment, here and now) unfortunately that was no the case. The more foreign my body and more evident my illnesses became, so did the world around me. I was, more often than not, met with an inability to empathize with my situation and a severe lack of knowledge about how to live with a life-altering illness. I found myself in a society where those who fall ill are expected to get better because that’s simply how it works.
Doctors will treat you.
Science will cure you.
God will heal you.
When there was no cure or treatment to be found I was passed from doctor to doctor and then hospital to hospital. When my prayers of healing were not answered I was told that my faith was inadequate. Somehow I wound up thinking that my suffering was my fault, that my presence was a burden to those around me.

It’s now fifteen days into the new year. 2017, can you believe that? I have relearned how to walk, endured botched drug trials, been declared chronically malnourished, lost function of muscles and organs and nerves…I have come to know the greatest of losses and the deepest of sorrows. I have been to the lowest of lows. There is no shortage of suffering in my story. But along with the bad has come the ability to find resilience within my aching bones. I have come to know the most profound happiness and peace through the strengthening of my faith and by forging ever onward, greeting life on each new day with open and loving arms. Through Christ I am able to accept and trust in whatever comes my way. Courage is not about being unafraid. It’s continuing on with grace and the notion that He will be ever present through all of my fight, both the good and the bad. My faith is as raw and as real as each twinge of every nerve, the quake of my tremor and every explosion that occurs in my brain with the onset of yet another migraine. It is messy and challenging and so much different than what my beliefs looked like prior to falling ill. I ask, “why me,” and, “why haven’t you healed me,” more times than I’d ever like to admit, but every time I fall down this the deep, dark hole of self-doubt I am lifted back up by His resounding love. He offers a kind of hope that breathes into me the strength to outlast and outshine all of the pain and agony that is living inside a body that betrays me.

So, as much as I like to portray the joy and truly beautiful moments that I experience this year, I will not deny the truth of the uncertainty that I face with each coming day. My life is a treacherous and never ending battle, yet I have the will to refuse giving it anything less than my all. I am often plagued by anxiety and depression, yet I am able to detach from my fears and find peace. I am loved deeply and filled up with the most joyous light, yet I am humbled by the places I have been and the things I have seen. To think, I have God to thank for this, His Son to thank for this, the Faith to thank for this…That is more than enough for me.

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