As I look back on the past 4 months, I find myself wishing I had taken a bit more time to document these memories here on the blog or at least journaled more about them. There is just something about written words that relaxes my anxious heart. It makes me feel like maybe time isn't fleeting after all.
Deep down, I know that it is. I know that living in the dorms with 5 of my best friends won't last forever. I know that the stress of finals week always feels like it's going to kill me...and then it's over and I realize I made it. I know that nannying won't always be considered my job and one day I'll probably have to give it up for good. I also know that it won't always be acceptable to shower once every three days. Pause. What do you mean that's not even acceptable right now?!
I've learned those things. I've learned those things and a whole lot more. A year ago today I was being wheeled into the operating room for my first of two joint surgeries. Through those surgeries and recovery alone, I primarily learned about endurance and how crucial patience is as part of the process.
This semester began with awful abdominal pain and unrelenting nausea/vomiting. I ended up taking a trip to the hospital and spending the first week of classes at home. A colonoscopy was ordered and came back unremarkable aside from inflammation at the very end of my small intestine. I continued to be thrown around between providers who did not understand the extent of my pain and symptoms. Night after night I cried myself to sleep and morning after morning I woke up in tears. It was as if the crying refused to cease -- just as the pain would not cease, either.
Finally, two weeks ago, some answers found their way to me and my team of doctors. After a second opinion, an endoscopy was ordered which revealed a rather large (and bleeding) stomach ulcer. The days following the procedure were mayhem. I was sick from anesthesia, my pain was out of control, and we had to reevaluate my med list to eliminate any and all NSAIDs. I began taking two new medications to treat the ulcer and stuck to a strict diet of bland foods. So much had changed, but the vomiting still persisted and the pain still remained. I spent hours in bed when I should have been writing papers or completing projects. I felt defeated and so badly wanted to throw in the towel and give up on this semester. It was all looking so bleak and dreary.
As I was cleaning out my backpack that day, a crinkled piece of paper fell to the floor. I unfolded it and a smile came across my face as I read the lightly written words...
Lord, may I learn to love You with my mind and through my studies. May I not only seek You when time most perfectly allows or when it is most convenient -- but may I do so in the wake of adversity and in the face of challenge. May I not fear things that push me past my comfort zone. May I not be tempted to take the easy way out. May You calm my anxious spirit as these thoughts run rampant.
Heavenly Father, use my time in higher education -- especially my time here at Bethel -- to honor You and grow in more expansive ways. Reveal Yourself in new and unexpected situations and continue to keep me in the grasp of Your perfect and Heavenly peace.
Amen.The paper was dated October 22, 2015. I distinctly remember writing out the above prayer one day in class after becoming so frustrated at still being behind on homework after being gone for so much of September. I remember wanting to throw in the towel that day.
I remember wanting to throw in the towel when I was a freshman in high school -- undiagnosed and struggling with my mental health. I remember wanting to throw in the towel as my home nurse taught me how to give myself a weekly injection of Enbrel (a drug to treat autoimmune arthritis and psoriasis). I remember wanting to throw in the towel when I had a kidney infection and spent a week rotating between the hospital and my bed. I remember wanting to throw in the towel after a nurse called me with MRI results and mentioned the words "mass" and "cancerous" last November. I remember wanting to throw in the towel as I began chemotherapy and immunotherapy this past year.
I remember so many times that I desperately, desperately, desperately wanted to throw in the towel...and I also remember that every single time something gave me just enough strength to refrain from doing so.
So instead of chucking the towel as far as I could for once and for all, I readjusted my expectations for this semester, had a long conversation with one of my best friends, and opened up to my professors. I started going to bed earlier and taking a break from homework/studying occasionally to read for fun. I spent some time alone. I took a break from social media. I wrote a bunch of awesome people some good old fashioned snail mail. I prioritized my commitments for next semester. I kept going.
And you know where that led me? Right here. To today. Today when I can
To me, it just felt like more pain. More stress, more anxiety, more fear. But with Him, it became an opportunity for more growth. More endurance, more strength, more dependence on Him...and I am oh so grateful for and comforted by the fact that He has allowed me a tiny glimpse of that Heavenly perspective.