I gave my life to Christ on December 13th, 2009.
Two weeks later, my life completely flipped upside down after a routine flu vaccine. And a long term health crisis ensued that led to a chronic illness.
I lost my thriving career. I lost thousands upon thousands of dollars trying to get well. I lost the ability to participate in doing my hobbies which all involved athletics & travel. I lost friends. I lost time. I certainly lost confidence during the first two years of hospitalizations.
And it all happened in the span of less then 48 hours.
I will say that I never lost sight of who I was. I never lost my business sense as that carried me through so much of the process via legalities, endless pursuits of physician teams, etc. And I give God the glory for all that He equipped me with going into this trial. And unbeknown to me, He was preparing me for this trial all along, I believe.
What Satan intends for evil, God really does use for good. God trumps Satan over and over again. He smashes his head. And I love that the only safety I will ever find is in Him.
My testimony isn't 'mine'. It took me a few years to figure that one out. My testimony is His. He is simply using me - as He is all of us who welcome Him into our hearts - to tell a part of His story that has purpose for His Kingdom. This testimony - this story that He is telling with my life - is about all of the widespread community He surrounded & continues to surround me with. I stand in awe of those who stepped in to be His hands and feet during the hardest time of my lifetime thus far. And I cry out with joy often in appreciation for all of those who love me. Because the love that people poured into me along the way remains in me. And I am able to then pour His love into others. And for that, I don't know of a proper thank you. Love is the greatest gift of all.....His kind of love.
We are meant for community everyone. We cannot go through this life alone and we aren't meant to. You are not alone. It's a beautiful realization.
So yes, I met Christ at a time that I was severely suffering. Suffering was our introduction to one another. My first long conversation with God was in a hospital room....just Him and I. And I remember as if it were yesterday, I was lying there curled up in a ball, bawling my eyes out for help from Him. He gave me a surge of strength that lasted just long enough for me to calm down that night. And I can remember saying, 'God, let's do this'. And as He began to move, so did I. And He began to move like a currant and I held on.
I threw on my business hat and barreled through each phase of the battle. And I battled through with a team that God arranged.
Through others generosity, unconditional love, exhaustive endurance and perseverance along side of me, I began to pull through the worst of it all. God was using all of these people to break through layers upon layers of pain, loss and trauma. And not just from illness but through my overall brokenness. He was teaching me daily lessons about grace, mercy, forgiveness and just immense love. And wow is He intentional. He humbled me down to my knees. And continues to.
God allows trials. He allows suffering. And a lot of people don't understand that but when you really dive into scripture, pray and talk to Him, you WILL begin to put the pieces together. And it's hard to articulate how He can sit with us in the 'pit' and not pull us out 'immediately'. Trials are meant for His glory. Trials refine us. Trials actually heal us. Trials redirect us. And what He is doing through the trials is often evident during the trial but sometimes His purpose is left to be a mystery until we meet Him face to face. And that's a frustrating reality of 'faith' b/c we all like answers now in our humanness (smile).
In me, He was building a completely new heart. It's as if He was reconstructing me entirely....physically, mentally, emotionally and very obviously, spiritually. He was teaching me how to love and be loved....His way.
He removed the people in my life that He didn't want in my community. And He replaced them with those that loved me in the most healthy & Godly of ways. He tore off my mask that I had worn - like we all do - all of my life. I wasn't brave enough to tear off the mask myself but man, He sure was. And He showed me that being vulnerable & accepting help is the best route to being able to give back to others in need.
I began to build resilience and cultivate joy through the mess of my circumstances. While friends were my shoulders & family lent hands, God was my holding me entirely. And then I began to rise up. My friend Laleh & I still marvel at all of the little & large miracles that took place along the way. No one can know my entire detailed story and not believe in God afterwards because He is evident all over it.
I began to 'unlearn' most of what I learned throughout my life about true love & mercy. And only He could teach me that slowly.
Words from Brene Brown from the book, Daring Greatly, come to mind "I'm with you. In the arena. And when we fail, we'll fail together, while daring greatly". We simply can't learn to be more vulnerable and courageous on our own. Sometimes our first and greatest dare is asking for support'.
Nothing has changed my life more than this trial of illness and healing. Nothing has even come close. And it's because I just gave myself to Him saying 'God, I am yours, do with me and my life what you want'. And that felt so scary to say to Him because uncertainty has never been my 'thing' (smile). I have always been the one to try to place the 'certain' in uncertainty. And frankly, it's never worked because the only certainty we have is in Him.
He has surrounded me with people that have kept pointing me to Him....relentlessly. He has surrounding me with people who share hard truths with so much grace and who aren't afraid to hurt my feelings. And I appreciate that. Nothing has changed me more than every single person who came along side of me through the journey. Words matter. Being there for one another matters. Being kind....matters. Being in community....it all matters.
To refer to Brene Brown once more is a fitting end to the chapter in this story He created for me: Referring to Roosevelt's 'Man in the Arena' speech, "I also learned that the people who love me, the people I really depend on, were never the critics who were pointing at me while I stumbled. They weren't in the bleachers at all. They were with me in the arena. Fighting for me and with me. *Nothing has transformed my life more than realizing that it's a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reaction of the people in the stands. The people who love me and will be there regardless of the outcome are within arm's reach. This realization changed everything'.
Thank you to all of you who have been in the arena with me. I love you all so much. I am renewed in Him through each and every single one of your demonstration of His love. And there is no greater gift any of you could have given me but to show me more of Him.
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.