A few weeks ago on Instagram, I got a few questions on a picture of mine in reference to the pain juvenile arthritis causes me on a daily basis. A few girls wanted to know "what it's like." Someone asked how I've changed since my diagnosis. Another woman wanted to know how I keep my smile on.
I also got a comment from the SWEETEST girl, Lauren, last week...
"Girlfriend, I'm almost 29 years old, and you teach ME more than you will ever know!!! Love you for it!!! God is SO NOT done with you friend!"
That comment was a kick in the assets straight from God to share "what it's like." I really do believe that He's called me to teach about it and to be a resource for this disease.
A LOT of people have asked me how I deal with not wanting to feel "normal," and to be completely honest, I can tell y'all I don't have a clear memory in my head of what it was like to be "normal." Whatever the heck "normal" is! ;-) So it doesn't affect me. I can wholeheartedly say I've never envied anyone who is healthy. Ever. And I would never wish this disease on anyone. It's horrible, yes. It's treacherous, yes. But it's what God has entrusted me with, so I'll fight the good fight.
I've never truly addressed this before! Not even in my type A, complete over-thinker mind. Ha! How juvenile arthritis has changed me...?
It's made me more grateful for little, teeny tiny things. 15 minutes to lie down. Hot showers. That extra Excedrin you can take once you're +13 and older. (HA! Kidding. Kinda.) It's just given me that count-my-blessings attitude... And I never had that before my diagnosis.
It's given me a MUCH more outgoing, I-want-to-help-people attitude. Surprisingly, I was pretty quiet before my diagnosis... But now, I want to get to know people... Like, really KNOW. I want to hear about their struggles and how they've managed to overcome them. The only way I learned to have that attitude is because I finally overcame some of mine.
It's taught me millions of lessons about responsibility. From all the meds I've taken throughout the years to driving myself to therapy each morning... I can truthfully say it has taught me more about reliability and maturity than anything else could have!
It's taught me that crying is completely acceptable and understandable. I know that might sound like a bawlbaby-101 lesson, but I'm serious. There are some serious benefits to having cry fests with the people you trust. There are days when words don't do the trick.
It's taught me that Jesus has a lot of faith in me. It's taught me that He knows my strengths and weaknesses long before I discover them. He's taught me that I am not strong enough to face the world + my circumstances on my own... And boy, has He taught me the power of prayer...
How arthritis has changed me? Y'all would never, ever be able to tell the ways by glancing at the outside... (And you can thank therapy for that!)
But on the inside, I am not even relatively close to the girl I was 3 years ago. She was a lot of drama... With a HUGE side of bad attitude. I don't talk to her anymore. ;-)
I like to think that through it all, my smile has become more genuine, my faith has become more of a necessity, and my battle has become more of a victory.