Hey guys and gals!
Pie here. Last semester I wrote a paper about the “storm in my life” for my theology course. I bet you can imagine what I wrote about! But if you are new here, or do not know, I talk about my battle with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. I have grown up in a family that is religious. But please know that I am not trying to shove religion down anyones throats. This is just my own story and I wanted to share it with you. I wrote it for my theology class, that’s the reason for all of random quotes XD they were a part of our assignment. Hope you enjoy it, I really liked this assignment ❤
Dancing in the Kitchen
Robert Ellsberg once wrote, “A peacemaker prays. Prayer is the beginning and the end, the source and the fruit, the core and the content, the basis and the goal of all peacemaking (Ellsberg, 153).” I believe that we need to have blind faith through prayer. The problem is that we live in a day in age that people rely so heavily upon themselves, while forgetting to look towards God. We focus on what we believe measures our self worth such as, the worldly possessions that we value, but those will not last. Things such as money, status, and health are temporary and can be easily lost. We need to let God work though us, and help us to let go of our desperate need to control our lives. It amazes me how little control we actually have in this world. When I lost my control I was led to God. My spirituality and prayers were the core and foundation that protected me from the tribulations in my life. They were there for me in the beginning and I can be sure they will be there until the end. In the darkest time in my life I was immersed in a sea of prayers, those of my own, my family, friends, and strangers as well. One always knows they are lost in a storm when strangers are praying for their safety back to shore. I am desperately thankful that the strangers, friends, and family in my life that never gave up on me because, without knowing it, I needed them.
In the fall of 2004 I was a vivacious ten-year old with a big personality and bleached blonde hair. I had just transferred to a Christian elementary school, which scared me at first, but soon I came to realize how happy the school made me. This school taught me how to actively live through my Christian faith on a day-to-day basis. Which is a lesson I have carried with me for my entire life. Dauntingly, I had no way of knowing that I was a few months away from the storm of my life. My storm started, as many do, with a few raindrops. My body’s immune system was struggling to fight off viruses and I found myself sick every couple of weeks. With every stomach bug, flu, or cold, my body would not fully heal and soon I felt as though I was sick every day. My once blonde hair changed to brown and I felt like I was slowly losing my identity. I did not know who I was after everything I had know was stripped from my life. I was not sick everyday with a cold per se, but suddenly my well of energy had run dry. I spent the majority of my days lying on the couch, watching television. By the time I started fifth grade the energetic ten year old I had once been, had deserted me, and I was left with a new person who I did not recognize, but at the same time, was all I had left.
My memories from my eleventh year are blurred. I remember taking a nap every day, going to school three times a week (if it were a good week), listening to books on tape, and last but not least, going to doctor’s offices. In the past ten years my veins have run dry from every vile taken and my throat closed to every pill swallowed. The blood results were without fail perfect, and on paper I was a healthy little girl. I was so desperate for a diagnosis that I would pray for the test results to come back positive. My sickness was grueling for me, but much harder on my family. My parents worked tirelessly to discover a cure. I went to the finest hospitals and spoke with the greatest doctors in the country and finally, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue. Fatigue means tired and chronic translates to all of the time. It was not a true diagnosis, just a title for the unknown. Soon doctors would turn me away because they too, could not see the cause of my storm. I was not diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome until I was a freshman in highschool.
Looking back, my Mom ensured I never fell into depression. She made sure every week I would have something small to look forward to. We watched comedies, made delicious food, did science experiments with my neighbors, read funny books, and most importantly we laughed. My childhood was never deprived of laughter and that was the best medicine. I think that is what God wants for me, a life of laughter and letting go of control. On my hardest days my Mom would be in the kitchen and she would pull me in and dance with me. I would rest my weary body against hers and she would sing to me and spin me around. She taught me to see happiness in my suffering and hope in my recovery. My life storm relates back to my theology class because they both have taught me how to live life to the fullest and how to remain thankful. My mom gave me peace just like when Jesus bid farewell to his beloved apostles he said, “Peace I leave to you, my own peace I give to you; a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you (Ellsberg).” It is challenging to find peace within a storm but I have found, if one looks long enough, it is possible.
Dancing with my Mom in the kitchen was more powerful than any diagnosis. Laughter brought me peace and simultaneously destroyed my self-pity. I wanted to choose a path that did not lead to a loss of hope. My life’s peace remained fairly strong throughout the lifespan of my storm but I vividly recall three moments where my hope was shaken. Each time was almost identical to the other where I stood in my sister and my bedroom, sobbing and begging God to heal me. I asked him why this was happening to my family and why I had to watch their hearts be broken. I felt guilty that my pain had become their pain, and my burden was theirs to carry. It is much easier to feel pain inflicted upon yourself, than to see your own pain reflected through the eyes of the people you love. Despite my frustration, I always felt God’s innate calming presence in our conversations, which is something Teasedale would describe as the “quieting of emotions”(Teasdale, 24). My struggle left me with two choices, to either turn my back on God, or to walk with him.
My illness instilled a blind faith in my heart. I truly believe that suffering is one of life’s greatest teachers. My path relates to those in Modern Spiritual Masters, because my storm led me to God just like, Mother Teresa, Thomas Merton, and Henri Nouwen. Mother Teresa found her blind faith through prayer and she said that, “Work cannot substitute prayer. Nevertheless, we can learn to make work a prayer…by doing our work with Jesus and for Jesus. (Ellsberg, 27).” Mother Teresa has taught me that I feel closest to God, not when I am helping myself, but when I am focusing on others. For the duration of my illness my family kept me strong and humble and I was reminded that many children were suffering more greatly that I could imagine.
I lived with this severe illness well into my high school years and looking back I cannot imagine the person I would be without the conflicts I have faced. I can now be a support system to the people around me and finally start thanking God for all of the angels he has sprinkled throughout my life. A wise woman named Wangari Maathai once described, a hummingbird putting out a fire with one drop of water at a time, she explained that one drop may seem insignificant, but the small bird is just doing the best it can. When we are put up against trials such as these, it is our duty to try and put out the fire whether it is our friend’s demon or our own. We can alleviate their pain by just being there to comfort them in their time of need. I cannot express in full the importance our actions have on people. Without my Mother, Father, family, friends, and even, strangers I would never be where I am today. (Maatihai)
The best words I can use to describe what my storm has taught me are not my own, they come from Robert Ellsberg, and through my class readings his words ring in my ears and overpower all of the other voices. I want to live life through this phrase, “Make sure that you let God’s grace work in your souls by accepting whatever he gives you, and giving him whatever he takes from you. True holiness consists in doing God’s will with a smile (Ellsberg, 33)”. Life may have given me an illness that seemed unbearable at times but I am proud of how I handled it. If I have learned anything from my life, it is to not take things for granted like I once, did in years past. The teachings of this class have shown me that kindness of a neighbor can go much further than self pity, and we become who we are meant to be by building each other up. Gandhi told us that our values become our destiny; therefore, we can never be who we are meant to be, without helping our neighbors become who they are destined to be.
Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful rest of your day ❤