So it’s been about a week and a half since I wrote my first post about AI. If you haven’t read it I recommend reading it first: A Series of Unfortunate Events: Autoimmune Disease. I really appreciate the love I’ve received from everyone and if you want to know how much check out my “Thank You” post.
I left off talking about the yet to be seen working of God in my life through this experience. Let’s pause for a bit and recap. Got sick, worked lots of jobs, was busy and in pain all the time – and God was doing some crazy thing in my life. When you are as stubborn and private as I am it’s very hard to share with friends the reality of your situation. You might be afraid that they will reject you, look at you differently, think you are only looking for attention. This was definitely going through my mind as I “battled” the first stages. It’s not that I didn’t trust my friends. I did! But I was afraid. I didn’t want to change. I didn’t want to be vulnerable. I wanted to be strong. I resembled Jeremiah in the Bible. Young man is called by God to speak to the people of Judah, but he is scared. He won’t speak up, he names the reasons why, and closes the book. “I can’t speak for You! I’m too young!” he says (ref. Jer. 1:6). Well yes I’m not Jeremiah; I surely didn’t hear a voice (if it was a voice) that said “Tracy go and saith to thou companions the distress of thy heart!” (ref. Tracy 1:1; KJV). What I did hear from the depths of my heart, from the depth of my mind was a yearning to share with the women around me how I felt. The women, and men, who were important to me and were supposed to represent the love of God. The problem? I didn’t know how.
I can speak with people about anything EXCEPT myself, my longings, my deepest desires and secrets. I want to pause here for a moment and answer the question that might be in your mind already. Why is she taking about this? Isn’t this a post about AI? Well yes it is! But people who have Autoimmune Illnesses, or any other type of illness for that matter, including crappy parents, not only suffers physically. There is something about being different from others, being atypical (physically or emotionally) that truly affects your entire life. See my battle with AI affected and still affects every area of my life. And I want my readers to know that others struggle with relationships and communication. It is pretty damn hard to share our struggle with someone who cannot experience it. This is true for everyone.
Now that we’ve made that clear…let’s get back to business. I decided to go ahead and embrace the yearning for sharing in community, to let others in a little deeper into my soul. This is what happened:
So the officials took Jeremiah from his cell and lowered him by ropes into an empty cistern (well) in the prison yard…There was no water in the cistern, but there was a thick layer of mud in the bottom, and Jeremiah sank down into it. (Jeremiah 38:6 NLT)
Pretty ugly huh!? Well though I’m no Jeremiah, the people I trusted took my trust and shattered it. I was put in a well, felt isolated by others, and sunk into the mud. Sometimes people just don’t know what to do when you pour out your heart to them. Sometimes they are just out to get you. I was devastated to find out how sharing my struggles with AI served as a gateway to be discredited. But all is good! right? Not really. During that time (as I mentioned before: my Junior Spring semester) things had just gotten worse. I was having more flares, more pain and more distress. I thought I might as well shut down and speak to no one any more, I even thought about withdrawing from university. The one time I tried to be open with others had gone terribly wrong, so why try again? I was very confused. If God had put this yearning in my heart why did it turn around and stab me in the back?
I realized something important in the weeks and months to come. The concept we have of God and who God is and what God does, sometimes seem to show that He is manipulative. The yearning in my heart was true. The decision of the people around me was wrong! But it was their decision, not God’s. They had a choice to be sincere and good, and maybe they thought they were being so. But the important thing is that I shared it! regardless of the actions of others, I’d finally opened up a bit more; and I felt free. It took me a while to realize it and I still struggle with it now. That is one of the reasons I’ve begun to write about it – it brings me freedom. Regardless of the physical pain and mental exhaustion you will have to determine who will put you in a well and who will give you a hand and help you get up from the mud. Though some people rejected me and betrayed me, others stayed by my side and comforted me, and that’s what truly matters!
One of the first steps in OVERCOMING is acknowledging the people that should and should not be in your life. You also need to begin caring for yourself, allowing others to care for you and love you. I can tell you it’s very difficult. Some friends and even family will walk away, but others…well others will stay and hold your hand no matter what. You will discover new friends, and built new friendships.They will come into your life to show you that there is still good people out there, willing to stick together and be their sister’s keeper. I thank God that because of the situations surrounding my health have allowed my heart to be broken and healed. It has led me to revisit the past and confront the present. I am learning to care for myself, to be more adventurous, to trust more, and to be more cautious. God and life allow for series of unfortunate events to heal our hearts, to give us hope, to make us dream once again, to make us stronger, more sympathetic. The story will have a good ending, whether you know it or not.
King Nebuchadnezzar had told Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, to find Jeremiah. “See that he isn’t hurt,” he said. “Look after him well and give him anything he wants”…they sent messengers to bring Jeremiah out of the prison. (Jeremiah 39: 11-14)
Here is a prayer that I found in the Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals on Major Life Transitions: “Lord, help me now to unclutter my life, to organize myself in the direction of simplicity. Lord, teach me to listen to my heart; teach me to welcome change, instead of fearing it. Lord, I give you these stirrings inside me. I give you my discontent. I give you my restlessness. I give you my doubt. I give you my despair. I give you all the longings I hold inside. Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth; help me to listen seriously and follow where they lead through the breathtaking empty space of an open door”
P.S. I’ll try to finish this really long post in one more part! Let me know your thoughts!