“hope is never lost”

I know it’s all you’ve got to just, be strong
And it’s a fight just to keep it together, together
I know you think, that you are too far gone
But hope is never lost…
Just remember that you’re a fighter, a fighter
You never know just what tomorrow holds
And you’re stronger than you know…
Hold on, don’t let go…
Just take, one step, closer
Put one foot in front of the other
You’ll, get through this
Just follow the light in the darkness
You’re gonna be ok
And when the night, is closing in
Don’t give up, and don’t give in
This won’t last, it’s not the end, it’s not the end
You’re gonna be ok
Brian and Jenn Johnson – You’re Gonna Be Ok

I know that I haven’t been faithful about writing, but I needed a little bit of break. I needed to spend some extra time with God, and figure some things out.

But, today, I just want to say, whatever you’re going through… GOD IS FAITHFUL. I found out that I had a lot of medical conditions … slowly. For a time, I was essentially slowly wasting away, and I was losing weight and sleeping all the time to the point where my family and I wondered if I would live to be 18 (I was 16 and 17 around the time). I didn’t respond well at all, which ended up causing depression and a worsening of my already present anxiety.

But God was faithful. He was there every step of the way, bringing me to the right doctors, even if it took several to receive the full list of diagnoses. Recently, I swam 72 consecutive laps before being too tired to continue (66 is a mile). I cannot explain the feelings of joy and thankfulness that I felt when I finished lap 66. When I first got really sick a few years ago, I never would’ve imagined being able to swim a mile – I just wanted to get through practices without having to skip laps. I am doing better, and I am going to be ok, medically.

Psychologically, I am still pushing through. And I love the song I shared, because it reminds me how I got this far medically – one step at a time. It also reminds me that God will be faithful to me in my psychological struggles as well. Even if it isn’t healing to the point where I am totally “normal” (whatever that’s supposed to mean), I am trusting Him to heal me to the point where I can honestly say that I am ok. There have been several times that I wanted to give up everything. It’s been a long road. And it isn’t over. But I will fight to live for Him with every breath I have left, because He has redeemed me spiritually and restored my health.

Just wanted to give a quick shout-out to a few people. To my freshman year roommate, thanks for giving me the strength to fight until I found the strength I needed in Christ. You have truly changed my life and I will be forever grateful of your willingness to tell what I needed to hear, if I really didn’t want to hear it. To my friends in InterVarsity and the small group Bible studies, thanks for the support and prayers and love. To my friend who I have known since we were, what, like 7?, thanks for our walks and card-making sessions. To my friends at AWANA, I am sorry that it took me so long to be honest about what I was dealing with. Thanks for your patience, love, and prayers. To my family and other friends – even if you didn’t think you did anything, you probably did. Just smiling or sending me a card on my birthday or anything like that makes me a little happier and gave me a reason to fight when I was still searching for my purpose in Christ. I love you all.

And to God, I will be forever indebted to You for your grace and love. Your blessings to me are more than words can describe. I will be forever grateful of your healing and grace and love and patience and… and everything else.

 

To anyone who’s struggling out there – it might seem impossible right now. Keep searching for a glimmer of light in the dark places. Keep fighting, and keep trusting the Lord to be faithful. He will never let you go.

You are so much stronger than you know. Anyone with an invisible chronic illness or psychological disorder knows that it’s hard being called lazy or a health freak or whatever because people don’t realize you’re not ok. But you are stronger than you know, because they don’t see how hard you fought to get out of bed and take a shower and brush your hair and brush your teeth and go to class or work or wherever you needed to be on time. And hopefully, one day, you won’t have to fight so hard. But even if you do, God will be faithful through it all. And if your struggles aren’t invisible, then you are facing different struggles that the rest of us cannot begin to understand. We don’t know how much strength it takes for you to fight each of your battles.

I heard this on the radio yesterday, and I decided to share it. You can’t compare your situation to that of someone else, because you might be in different seasons. You might be in winter and see them enjoying summer, but you weren’t there to see them go through fall and winter and spring to get to summer. Keep holding on, because your summer is coming, just at different time for you than it did for them.

Keep fighting, one step at a time. You’re gonna be ok.

living with long-term illness

I don’t think I have mentioned this much before, but I have an autoimmune disease and hypocholesterolemia (meaning my body doesn’t produce enough cholesterol) and a bunch of other diagnoses. And some days it’s hard to know how to respond and to stay strong mentally. I am sharing this not because I want an outlet to complain, but because I want others to understand the confusion and frustration and discouragement.

Imagine this for a second. It’s 6:30 pm. You have pain right below your stomach that’s worse than the normal everyday pain. You have already taken the maximum medicine for the day. You’re also totally exhausted from walking to classes and barely keeping up with note-taking in classes. You want to lay down and curl yourself up into a ball under your blankets and listen to some music. But you are also in college and have a short paper and 150 pages of reading and two quizzes the next day. What do you do? Do you sleep for a few hours and wake up at midnight to finish your work, knowing you won’t get much sleep between finishing work and having classes? Or do you try to finish everything first and then sleep? Or do you finish everything except the reading and ask a friend for a synopsis? Or maybe you skip studying for the quizzes too and hope to do ok without studying? My point is, how do you decide whether to try to feel better or to do really well in school? And sometimes, I don’t make the right decision. I had to get an extension for a paper once. I’ve skipped reading before. I’ve failed quizzes that I could’ve aced with a little studying.

And, as someone with anxiety, when my pain levels increase, I freak out. I list off things that could be wrong. Once I calm myself down, I can think through things to identify the which organ(s) are located in the area that hurts and think through things logically. Slowly, the time required to calm down is decreasing. But it is a slow process.

It’s really easy to get discouraged. For example, my abdominal pain will get progressively better for a period of time. Then, all of a sudden, it’s back – sometimes worse than before. And while some progress is consistent, a lot of it is not. It’s easy to start complaining. It’s easy to get angry at God. It’s easy to want to give up. And for me, this is my hard thing. I think everyone has that hard thing in their life. This is mine. While the anxiety and the panic attacks are bad, if I could change only one thing, I would choose medical healing, not psychological healing.

Through it all, I am trying to remind myself that God is still up there, watching over me, protecting me. I am reminding myself of the many, many blessings I do have – antibody levels decreasing, energy levels are a little better, less unexplained muscle pain. While it feels like repeated piercing of fiery knives 24/7/365, I am trying to be thankful for the days that are a little better. When I want to complain, I remind myself of days that have been worse. I remind myself that Jesus never left and never will, and that He is right there with me in the pain. I remind myself that if I finish strong, one day I will be in a place with no more pain and no more tears. And in that beautiful promise, I can rejoice.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. – Revelation 21:4