Sunday, January 15, 2012

The wound still bleeds...

Not too long ago, I wrote this post here about how my wounds were healed. There's a picture of my scarred stomach, my battle wounds from the previous year of all the surgeries I had. Those wounds are healed and I can honestly say that I've never felt this healthy in my life. I'm definitely not in the best shape that I could be in, and I'll never be completely healthy (Immuno-suppressant drugs sorta make that impossible) but health-wise, I am doing amazingly well and words can't really express how grateful I am because for a while there I did not think I was ever going to be able to get out of bed again.

Physically, I'm well again. I'm all healed. My transplant kidney, Lefty, is working well and we're getting along great.

I thought I was doing that well emotionally, mentally and spiritually as well but this past week, God showed me that I still have a large, open wound that is still bleeding and still in need of healing.

Emotionally, I'm still shattered. I still shudder when I think of some of the procedures I went through, still cringe a little when I remember the pain. If I think about it hard enough, I'll still cry when I remember the huge disappointments I endured and the broken dreams I had wished so hard would come true.

Mentally, I'm still paralyzed with fear. Fear of getting sick again. Fear of hope, and dreams and plans for the future. Fear of disappointment. Fear of not being able to do it (whatever "it" is, I just want to be able to do it) Fear of trusting God.

Spiritually.... I have no idea. I know I have come along way from those dark days of illness and just wanting to die because I believed I had no future. But I also have a long way to go to get to where I need to be. Or maybe, I'm exactly where I should be. Perhaps God is big enough to handle my questions and my doubt and my fears. But more than likely, "they" are right and I should never question God, only trust and believe. If I just read my Bible more or I just prayed more or I just trusted more, than maybe I would understand more and be more grateful for what happened.

I'm told I have a great testimony of God's goodness and faithfulness and love. I'm told that what happened to me has been a huge blessing to a lot of people and that God answered their prayers. They tell me I encouraged them by the way I responded to this trial in my life.

But I wonder if they know how dark my thoughts went during that time? I wonder if they know how much I cursed God out because I was so angry at Him for what was happening? Do they know that I still struggle to this day with some of that same bitterness and anger that I had during that time? Do they know that I still look at that year as the worst year of my life and I feel such a deep sadness when I think about what could have been had I not gotten sick?

I felt like I watched the story of my life, a thick book full of 19 years worth of life experiences, goals, dreams, plans, a purpose and a passion for something great, thrown into a fire and burned to a crisp. And that burning was a painfully slow, agonizing burn that lasted for a year before there was nothing left but a pile of gray ashes.

I guess you could say that I moved on. I've picked myself back up and I started working, started saving, started trying to live a life of some sort. But I found myself looking at that pile of ash and wondering if there was anything worth saving. Anything worth going back for.

Maybe some day I'll be brave enough to look for the answers that I want.

Monday, January 2, 2012

It's a brand new year

I don't know why the new year just tends to make me nostalgic and reflective and motivated but it does. Something about the fact that it's new and you feel like you have the chance to make a fresh new start and have a better year than the one before.

2010 was the worst year of my life. So many disappointments, so much heartbreak, so much pain on all levels. 2011 was definitely an improvement. I completely recovered physically from a kidney transplant about six months into the year, I got a car (and learned to drive it), and started my first job as a waitress working full time.

Still some disappointments, still some pain (recovery is always difficult) but there were a lot of victories and some triumphs. I wanted to write briefly about some things I've learned this year, some I've just learned in the last two months because of my job, and others have just been learned because of the experiences I had this year. There's no order or rhyme or reason to the list I have here, it's just a random listing of lessons learned that I want written down so I'll remember and maybe they'll be beneficial to you as well. :-)

• You can't put any time limit of recovery, everyone will recover at the own pace. But it does help to have good friends and family to help push you (gently) back into life again.

• When I get old, I want to remember to be kind and enjoy life wherever I'm at. To smile and make people enjoy being around me. Those are my favorite residents at the retirement home where I work and the fact is, I can be that person now so I'll be that person 40-50-60 years from now.

• Rest is important. It's not being lazy, it's being healthy to take time out to do things for yourself. Take care of yourself, go to bed on time and wake up on time, exercise, eat right and be good to your body and soul. You can't take care of others if you aren't taking care of yourself.

• Smile. And laugh. It's surprisingly contagious and it's a super easy way to brighten someone's day.

• When you don't act like the world (i.e. you don't cuss, you don't smoke or drink, you don't sleep around just for the fun of it, you don't tell dirty jokes, etc.) you get two responses: Ridicule and respect. Sometimes both at the same time. The ridicule is hard to put up with, the respect is nice, getting both from the same person is confusing because you never know exactly where you stand with them. But knowing that you're making the better choice is a reward in itself.

• People are looking up to you and are learning from you whether you like it or not. It's humbling to be able to invest in someone's life and to set a good example for them.

• Be a grown-up when you have to. Be a kid the rest of the time. But always be responsible.

• Enjoy the little things in life. Stop to smell the roses (literally). Enjoy how pretty blue skies and green grass looks when you're driving to work. Lay on your back and look at the stars. Watch a fire burn in the woodstove. Take a closer look at the fly that's landed on your arm. Buy a crazy green wig (or pink or blue) and wear it. Really taste and savor that cake you're eating.

• Stay in touch with good friends. The kind of friends that you can call anytime, even in the middle of the night, and you know they'll be there for you. The kind of friends that will encourage you and give you the motivation you need to push through those difficult moments in life. The kind of friends you can tell anything to.

• Complements can make people's day. Tell someone that you like their shirt, or that their hair looks good, that they are good at the job. Appreciate what people do and tell them. Use your words in a powerful, positive way.

• God is everything. He is the most important priority, He is enough, He is it. Nothing matters without Him. If God isn't in your life then you will fail. If He's not in the standards you're holding, then it's not worth it. Love God and put Him first.

Here's to 2012.