So this is probably going to be one of those "let me tell you how I really feel" posts that might be a little long.
Part of the reason I have been so emotional is that I have just not felt well at all and my body feels so achy. My chest feels like someone stomped on me and I am beyond exhausted from all of these:
They also make me feel like someone pounded me in the face and put my brain on the other side of the room. When you feel so horrible emotions go all crazy, every situation is amplified on the intensity scale, and spiritual awakenings are more frequent...at least for me.
Over New Years I finally felt a little bit better from my pneumonia/recovery and many of my girl friends were coming up from St. George and down from Logan for one of our yearly traditions. It has been a couple of years since we have been able to get together for New Years because of missions etc, so no matter how crappy I felt, I was so determined to get up there.
We had such a blast (don't judge by the satanic looking eyes in this picture) and I laughed my guts out as usual. But it was so hard....so hard to go to the dance and be stuck with anxiety and paranoia of getting elbowed in the chest while people were going crazy (there were thousands of people there and standing room only). So tough to be exhausted and hurting all over while I looked at this room full of 20 something year olds and jealous of their ability to have fun and not worry about so many health problems. Of their able bodies. The fact that they could scream and yell and dance and have fun without thinking twice about their body malfunctioning or ending up in the ER. That I had been sad that I just heard news of another surgery this month. I felt dumb for thinking that too...for feeling bad for myself because obviously every person in that room has problems. And many I would not being willing to trade mine in for. My friends were so sweet to try and block me from the mosh pit and people "gettin' low" and I tried to have fun....and I was because I was with best friends....but so badly did I wanted to feel normal and feel good.
We got home and I crashed and burned. The next day I started this book:
...and headed up to Logan to stay for a few days on a whim with my friend Ashley. I poured myself into that book and bawled through the entire thing. I am just so grateful for Stephanie Nielsen and her courage to write this book. To say all the things I was thinking during these 10 years of my difficult health struggles but could not adequately express....to be totally honest. One thing I love about this book is that she does not sugar coat how difficult her journey has been and how crappy life can be sometimes. However, she does talk about the miracle of motherhood, the joy that comes from accomplishing goals, the reality of God, and the beauty of a healthy marriage. I highlighted the crap out of that book and I just have never adored another person I have never met so much. Even though all of the things she has gone through are far worse than I have had to endure, to me my trials are tailored to what I need and it is very heavy at times. Because of her I have been able to be more honest about what I think and feel.
One of things that is so hard for me is my inability to work, to serve, or to do things for myself. I like to clean, to help others, to be active, and involved in a lot....these things are just simply impossible sometimes and it can be really discouraging. It has been hard to be still, to let my body heal. She says in her book so eloquently,
"The answers to my prayers had almost always come as inspiration that involved the work of my own hands, strengthened by God. The work I longed to do now was to get out of bed, to make dinner for our children, to be a mother again, but I knew I couldn’t. A different kind of work was required now. The work of lying down, of letting my body heal, of exercising faith without moving a muscle....
(When talking about the nurses that cared for her)...“however, when it was time for their shift to end, I had to adjust to the miserable realization that they actually were going to lead the lives we’d talked about. They were off to enjoy their evenings, running to the locker room to change, walking to the bus, stopping to pick something up for dinner. I remembered driving to Trader Joe’s and getting out of my car effortlessly. I thought of pushing a cart through the aisles, planning dinners I would make for my family. I’d been so innocently living my life, and though I’d made every effort to appreciate my many blessings, it struck me now just how much I had taken for granted. I looked out my window at the hikers and joggers on the snow-covered foothills and I remembered how invigorating it was to exercise in cold weather, the chilly sting on my cheeks, and the heat my body generated as my heart pumped. Was I grateful enough to have a body that could run before I lost it? Did these hikers even comprehend the incredible freedom they enjoyed, how lucky they were to put one foot in front of the other?
....Like everything else, it sounded so simple, but there were a thousand steps leading up to it.”
While reading this book I felt like I had a friend. Someone who understood exactly how I felt. Someone who wouldn't tell me it could be worse, or that I was doing good, or that it will get better. Nope, just that it is hard and that it is so frustrating to not be able to go to the bathroom by yourself, or shower alone, or drive, or have all your freedom taken away. That doing the most simple things like brushing your hair was impossible. Today was one of those hard days going back to school and hardly being able to put one foot in front of the other. I looked at all the students that were hurrying to class passing me left and right...the joggers and athletes whose bodies I envy. I just wanted to take the stairs and not be aimlessly searching for an elevator. But, it is what it is and I begged for help from above and I made it. Maybe not fast or feeling well...but I made it through my day.
She explains there is always hope of a better day. That when you never give up, you become this strong immovable force. The experiences you have with your Creator and the ability to believe in miracles and the power of the atonement and Savior is unmatched. To see the love from others that care for you and to make room in your heart for deeper more meaningful relationships. To understand the incredible power of healing...spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I love when she says....
“As I lay thinking about my recovery, the image of a tree came to mind. It was small and spindly now, easily toppled by the wind. But there was potential in the tree, to grow deep roots and blossoming branches. I pictured each stage in my recovery as a new branch—moving my fingers, lifting my arms, sitting up, someday standing on my own. The branches also represented my many blessings—my relationship with Christian, my loving parents and siblings, my own sweet children. Yes, it was frail now but could grow into something marvelous, with full branches and beautiful leaves, sturdy enough to withstand wind and weather, strong enough to protect our family in the days and years to come. These feelings of hope were a blessing to me—such a welcome comfort—and I did my best to hold on to them. It wasn’t easy—I found that many times the seeds of hope were often swept from my grasp by fierce waves of doubt and depression, but I always prayed that my hope would return. And one way or another, sooner or later, it would.”
And finally, the best for last. It needs no explanation and is going to go on my wall. It has pretty much been my mantra through this entire experience.
Elder Holland came and gave her a blessing and some great advice...
“As we talked he told me to be proud of my scars. 'We look for Christ’s scars because they are evidence of what He did for us. They’ll be the first things He shows us when we see Him again. Your scars tell a story, too. Although they may not make you feel attractive, they are a witness of a miracle, that God blessed you to live, and that you have accomplished very difficult things.'”
So thank you Stephanie. I adore you. You will probably never meet me or know me or know my story.... but I feel like I know you and I am grateful for the strength you have given me and the ability to feel and let go. To know that someone knows how it feels....and helps me to never ever give up.