My last post talked about fighting to get better and not being alone. I spoke from the heart, it’s not an easy path but it can be done. A friend challenged me to go back to my journey and say, HOW? It’s been a long, painful journey and I’m not done yet but I want to share my story because, as hard as my life has been at times and, at the same time, as abundantly blessed I have been, I believe that all of us that hurt, all of us that struggle, all of us that just want to give up, we’re in this world together. God is with us in all of it. If there is a single strand of hope in you, if you really want to get better, YOU can do it.
I think my healing can be described using the Serenity Prayer authored by Reinhold Niebuhr: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I started at the beginning. Looking at my life to see what I cannot change: my past, my illnesses, my hurts. Short of going back in time, none of this was going to change overnight. I needed to accept the pain that exists and make my peace. This required me to really face what had happened in my life, not deny it or sugar coat it. But the most important thing I did was to not stay there.
The next step was to find the courage to change what I can. When that prayer says “courage” it means COURAGE. It was hard to face the pain that others had caused me and not become bitter. It was hard to move past the desire for revenge or karma. I had to realize that in order for me to become better I needed to release all that negative energy. I needed to forgive. Even though those that harmed me didn’t ask for it and had no intentions of changing, I needed to heal. Step by step, prayer after prayer, I struggled to make peace with my past and move on. It didn’t happen immediately or painlessly nor was it a one-time action, but slowly the pain began to subside and the peace began to take its place. It is still a back and forth process but it grows easier as I turn to God and develop a habit of appreciating what I DO have. Instead of focusing on the pain I was caused, I think about the people that love me and nurture me, NOW. Instead of focusing on my mental instability or the various health issues I’ve battled, I realize I’m here, I’m writing, I’m connecting with others. I use the pain as a springboard to drive me to get better.
I’m still working on the third request: "the wisdom to know the difference". Here’s where it gets hard and is really an individual task. When you are sick – regardless of type – it is really hard to know when to fight and when to accept. Only you know where your boundaries are. Do you need to walk away from the relationship or get counseling? Do you need to seek medical healing or spiritual healing? Spend some time finding your limits because that’s what they are, your limits.
People call me, “strong”. I suppose I am but they say it as if it’s unusual. Those of us who battle any type of illness are strong. Anyone who wakes up each morning and faces the day is “strong”. It takes strength to face the day knowing you’re going to be in pain, or your reality is twisted. But we do it, day after day. We are all STRONG!