Want to trade mail?
Medical bills. Fourteen in one day.
Given to me by my friendly mailman (who is my home teacher and he is friendly) the day I visited Dr. Heppenstall the third time for coughing over and over, getting x-rays, and being told that now I have pneumonia. Fantastic.
“I’m surprised you still have a job,” the pharmacist told me while ringing up my antibiotics, after I told her I hadn’t been in the office since the third week of April.
I grinned, a sad, little grin, and said something like I telecommute but kept most of what I wanted to say to myself.
I called one of my friends yesterday that I haven’t talked to since last summer. She dropped off the face of the Earth. Her cell, along with her husband’s cell, had been disconnected. They stopped using Facebook, and I didn’t have their email. She never responded to snail mail sent. Her family moved an hour north of us, so she was no longer close enough for me to go see in person without making plans first. I chalked her up to the large list of people who stop talking to me for no reason.
I know I’m not the only person who has had that happen to them. They have a good friend and then one day, alacazam, they disappear.
No explanation. No reason. No goodbye.
And you know for a fact that it is not because of anything you have done or said.
And you know it’s not because they’ve died or suddenly contracted Alzheimer’s and no longer remember who you are, how to contact you or where you live.
About a week ago, I was perusing through Facebook and saw in the feed a new picture of my friend’s husband posted.
I got this feeling of excitement! Someone had recently contacted her husband and I’d be able to maybe somehow connect with her again and find out she didn’t dump me after all! I wanted to see how she was doing, how her family was doing, because they were struggling when we had last talked. I sent a message to the person who posted the picture, and she responded the next day with a new cell number for my friend.
I got a strong impression to call her while I was telecommuting and coughing up my lungs, so I did. It was the first time I’d talked to her since August.
She didn’t know who I was at first. She didn’t recognize my cell number, which I’ve had for over a year.
She was thrilled to hear my voice.
At first, she asked me about my job, family, Christopher’s business and my health.
Then I asked about her’s.
I won’t go into details since this is a friend’s private life. Suffice it to say that she is having a very, very rough time with health problems I can relate to and some I can’t.
She feels trapped in her house, since she can’t walk without crutches and doesn’t have a car.
She needs surgery but has horrible insurance and no one wants to cover it, so they keep sending her in circles.
Her husband has been unemployed for three years, so that is a huge source of frustration.
She can’t work because of her health problems.
Their family has given up on them.
They are super broke.
I was in a stupor, trying to think of how I could help her, when she asked if I was still on the phone. I told her yes, just thinking about how to help. Then she asked me a question that has been stuck in my mind all day:
“How can you be so positive? How can you be so happy with the health problems you have? How do you do it?”
Surprised, I didn’t know what to say, and my mind went blank.
She continued, “I don’t know how to make friends. I don’t know how to reach out to people. I’m an introvert, so I keep to myself, especially when life is hard. You’re an introvert, too, but you always reach out. How do you do that?”
Before I could answer her, she started talking to me further about how she’s feeling and what she’s going through, so I listened. She didn’t bring the conversation back around to wanting to know how I am positive, and I didn’t bring it up for her comfort.
I want to answer my friend’s question here.
Some people are under the impression that because I’m Mormon, my life is glittered unicorns singing Shiny Happy People dancing around me while poofs of naivity shoot out my ears and gum drops out my butt. That is one of the reasons I have this blog. To share the good and the bad, the fun and the sucky, the strong and the weak aspects of my life.
Regardless of what you are or who you are, you will face challenges in life. Everyone’s challenges are different. It doesn’t make one person’s better or easier than someone else’s. God allows certain trials to occur for the betterment and building of our character. Other trials happen because there are morons amongst us. Then sometimes, we are the morons and we reap the consequences of our actions. Last, we are sometimes the victims of circumstance or Mother Nature – no one to blame, just life, i.e., tornado or getting struck by lightning.
How you live your life, whether you have big or small rocks on your path, is how you have joy.
God blesses us and strengthens us with hope, peace and faith when we are actively doing all we can to overcome our problems and find solutions, while remembering He is in control of this life and those answers come in His timetable.
I believe this, because I had to learn it the hard way. I believe this, because I live it. I know it to be true.
Countless times in my life, I was alone, depressed, angry and had no one or nowhere to turn. I’ve mentioned before that I was abused as a kid, and it was pretty horrific. Many volumes could be filled with just my childhood. As a young adult, I went through a lot of room mates, jobs, and nonsense because I kept attracting it into my life. I didn’t know how to get through hard times. I tried everything I could think of, working very hard for my jobs but still getting fired or laid off for stupid mistakes, nothing or ridiculous circumstances. I dated a lot and had many boyfriends, but no one worked out. I knew a lot of people, but had only three real friends in my early adult years who were also messed up.
On my 24th birthday, that is when the health problems kicked on for my left leg – DVT’s going into lymphedema. I was proposed to that Christmas Eve, and it was called off that February.
My brain split in half, and my heart shattered into a million pieces.
For two years, I mourned the loss of my fiance.
I literally lost my mind one night.
I stopped going to church. I stopped being myself. I stopped living.
It was too hard. Breathing. Moving. Feelings.
I wanted to die.
My dad told me to kill myself. Or he would do it for me.
It wasn’t until I was 27 and saw a therapist for 18 months that I was able to start becoming stable in my relationships and in my heart.
I took a severe beating yet again when I was 31, because I got engaged to a sociopath.
He tried to kill me by driving the wrong direction on the freeway.
I have a lifetime restraining order against him.
This time, instead of losing my mind, I had a mini-stroke, or TIA.
And I left my religion again.
“What the fuck?!” I would scream in my heart, over and over, every minute of the day, to God.
I was beyond angry.
I hated my life.
I hated people.
I hated anyone and anything that reminded me I had a heart that still beated inside of me.
I would imagine running over any smiling, naive looking woman I would see in the parking lot.
Slowly, I started letting go of my anger, hatred and disappointment.
I knew it was eating me alive and I wanted it out of my life.
I reached out to make friends again and talk to old friends I’d been ignoring.
I became best friends with someone I’ll cherish forever.
I returned to my religion, my church and more importantly, my relationship to my Father in Heaven.
I was able to finally realize the joy and strength found in staying in the gospel.
That God does not give us the answers we want, when we want them, because we would never learn anything if He did that all the time. However, He will give us hope, strength, joy, faith and peace so we can triumph over anything that gets in our path as we continue to work for the solutions and ask for His guidance.
I want to break this down, because I feel this is very important. It took me 35 years to figure this out.
When are we afraid, we can ask God for peace, and our fear will disappear. Does that solve our problem? No. Will it aid you in getting out of the frame of mind that fear puts you in, so you can move forward and overcome your problem and keep working to find a solution or just get through the situation? Definitely. I’ve had my life threatened multiple times. I should have died, many times. People have tried to kill me. Odd circumstances have put my life in peril. My body has some bizarre target on it that only weirdos can see that screams, “Aim here!” I have PTSD as a result of all the guns, car accidents, fists, belts, whips, karate chops, medical junk and other character building moments I’ve experienced. I’ve been terrified of my own house. I’ve been afraid to walk outside. I’ve been afraid of the wind. God has been with me, throughout my life. I’ve never been alone. I have felt alone, but He’s always been there, and I always knew that when I thought back. Whenever I was scared, I would pray to Him, and He’d be with me. He would give me peace and comfort. Sometimes it would last all day. Sometimes for an hour. I wouldn’t have made it to adulthood if I hadn’t had prayer, just to talk to God and ask Him to help me when I was afraid.
When we think all is lost, we’re depressed and broken-hearted, we can go to God and ask for hope. Hope will remind us of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice. He died for us all so that we may live with Him and God again. We can start over. We have a fresh, new start, thanks to the Atonement. Christ paid for every sin, every sickness, every pain, every problem we have and will ever face. This life will end. We have hope for the next life. We have hope for a better life while we’re here. We have hope in ourselves, because Christ died for us. I have made a lot of mistakes in my life, some quite serious. I sin every day, as I’m a flawed human being. Christ forgives me as I go to Him. I’ve been forgiven of everything wrong I’ve ever done. He knows exactly why I did those things and He knows I will never do the serious ones again. He’s with me and forgives me as I ask for help in my every day life and as I screw up in all the little ways.
When we feel weak and tired, either physically or emotionally or mentally or financially, and we feel we can’t make another step forward, we can pray to our Father in Heaven and ask for strength. He gives to all freely. All blessings flow from Him. God will give to us what we need. He’s not going to have a fairy come tap me on the head followed by an explosion of fairy dust blinding me and then suddenly I won’t have lymphedema anymore. I have this disease for a reason, and I’m learning from it. In the meantime, Heavenly Father does and will continue to give me the strength to get through being sick for weeks since my immune system is weak. He was there while I was interviewing for jobs so I can have health insurance and pay my mountain of medical bills. A lot of people have physical or emotional illness; I’m no different. Atheists and others don’t believe there is a God because they have issue with this point that I’m making – that God wouldn’t let people suffer if He existed. Well, I’m here to tell you today that God the Father is more real than our finite minds can imagine. And the reason why God doesn’t magically cure everyone is because they would not learn a damn thing from their illnesses, nor would those around them. Also, we must have opposites in all things, and if we were healthy all the time, we would not appreciate nor take care of our bodies. Then many of us would end up sick or dead any way! Also, I am a much more compassionate, empathetic person now that I was when I was perfectly healthy. Sometimes, our weakness is our strength!
When we are starting to doubt, God will increase our faith if we just want to believe. Faith is knowledge of things that are real, which cannot be seen. Faith and hope go hand-in-hand. We may not know or understand why something has happened to us or what the future holds, but God is with us. He is omnipotent. He is aware of everything. God knows the why. He knows the how. He knows the when. He knows the who. Trust Him. If you don’t think you can and you just want to try, that’s all you need to start receiving faith. Just try to believe in Him. Let the desire to believe grow. After two horrible engagements, and other failed relationships, I didn’t think I’d ever get married, especially with a chronic illness and being an older lady. But I tried to have faith about getting married and finding a good man. I did.
All of this combined equals joy.
Having real joy in my life means that I know I am Heavenly Father’s daughter, a woman of infinite worth and power.
A woman who can survive anything this life throws at her face.
A woman who can do more than survive, she can get through it, overcome it and be a better person because of what hit her and the healing power of God’s love and Christ’s Atonement. As I use the Atonement in my life for my mistakes and for all of my pain, I am healed. As I reach out to my Father for strength, peace and understanding, He gives me an increase of hope, faith, strength, peace and joy.
We exist to have joy.
We are not here to suffer.
As I have this joy in my heart, my understanding of the gospel is increased, as well as my love and appreciation of mankind, this Earth, and myself.
Anyone can have this joy. My friend can have it, even though they are poor, unemployed, without family speaking to them or aiding them and she’s in bad health. She can still have joy. You can still have joy.
Because you, all of us, are a child of Heavenly Father, a man, woman or child of infinite worth and power.
A person that can survive anything this life throws at them.
A person that can do more than survive, you can get through it, overcome it and be a better person because of the trial given to you, with the healing power of God’s love and Christ’s Atonement. You can use the Atonement in your life for your sins and pain. You will be healed. You can reach out to God in prayer, with real intent in your heart, and be granted hope, faith, strength, and joy, with an increase of love for all people.
Why did I start this blog post talking about having pneumonia and getting a nice stack of medical bills in the mail?
Because my life is not fun every day, as some imagine, just because I’m Mormon.
I’m in physical pain, all the time. My only relief is when I’m asleep. I like to sleep.
Seriously, I am not out looking for a pity party. Sometimes, in moments of sheer frustration and/or anxiety, especially when the PTSD kicks in, I am. That’s usually when I’m about to get stabbed for a blood test or something.
The reason why I talk about being sick on my blog and why I started it on this post today is because I’m grateful I’m sick.
Yes, I said it.
I’m grateful that the chronic illness I have is not blindness. I haven’t lost a limb. I can still walk. I don’t have some kind of illness or medical situation that means my husband and I will never get to be intimate again. I can drive a car. I can feed myself. I’m employed.
There are so many, many reasons that I am grateful that the teaching tool of lymphedema given to me, along with the other problems I’ve faced and am facing, have not robbed me of daily living and self-care.
I want to share that regardless of your circumstances or what you are facing, you have control of your attitude.
You have the ability to still turn to God and Jesus Christ and access Their love, support and the Atonement.
You are still their child.
Do I enjoy being sick? Hell no. Do I want to have lymphedema forever? Of course not. But I’m glad I don’t have the alternatives.
I finally figured out, a few years ago, that my Father in Heaven will love me forever, and I am His. I finally got the fact that the Atonement is a real fact. And if it was because of all the hard times I experienced that finally got me to this epiphany, I wouldn’t change a single one of them.
Jesus Christ Loves Each of Us