“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
– Philippians 4:13
Well 2016 was going to be the year of my SMILE! It started off that way. My divorce was final, I had a place of my own and a job that I loved. I was walking on sunshine, baby, not a thing in the world was going to bring me down. I was even attending Bible study every week and getting my Jesus on. Joy abound in my heart and in my life. I was happy, heathy, killing it in the gym, dating, spending quality time with my family, it was like I had finally reached steady, solid ground. I mean, for the first time in years I was laughing joyfully on a daily basis and nothing in my foreseeable future was going to bring me down. Oh boy, I was in for a world of hurt right around the corner and had no idea a metaphorical Mack truck was about to turn my life upside down.
I hear the scripture above a lot, from so many people. It is a great reminder, but sometimes I feel like some people don’t understand the story behind this famous scripture quote. This quote comes from a letter that Paul wrote to the Philippians, and leading up to this he tells them that he has learned to be content in whatever situation he may find himself in. The highs and lows, abundance and starvation, every trial he has faced in life he understands he will be okay and he knows this now because he has learned that he can do all things through him who gives him strength. That is the key we often miss. We speak as if we know, when maybe we haven’t yet learned that this is truth. The other side of this, that I believe we miss is that Paul went. He tried, he failed, he succeeded, he gave his life for a cause and a man who he loved and a God he believed in wholeheartedly. This is very humbling when you take it all in. Because for us to believe in our hearts this scripture quote, we must also believe everything that it stands for and what it is built upon, not just empty words to make ourselves feel better. This is not a strongman competition, this is our eternity, our spirits connecting with our one true God. It is developed through our personal relationship with the Holy Trinity.
The reason that I bring this up and have elaborated so much is that 2016 kicked my sweet butt right into the dirt, so much so that I turned my back on the very thing that has brought me so far. My faith. For 37 years, I lived my faith to the best of my ability and I never shyed away from sharing what God had done for me, though I was never one to stuff it in your face if it wasn’t something you were ready to hear. I did that because I have had such a strong and personal relationship with my Lord, my Jesus. So strong that I call him my Jesus, and I have even been known to call him, Dude. That is what it is supposed to be, an open relationship like I would have with my best friend, and for me it was, until last year.
In February my Grandad, one of my heroes, died in my arms. It was the most beautiful and sad moment of my entire life. The week before that I had dislocated my knee cap in the gym and was laid off from my favorite job, in a few days time. Not long after losing my Grandad, I lost my relationship with my mother. May rolled around and I was hospitalized for a month, an entire month, for gallbladder surgery. Ridiculous does not even begin to explain the shenanigans that were occurring during this stay, all because my organs are backwards. One would think after being a patient at the same hospital for almost a decade we could figure this little tidbit out… NOPE! Anyhow, I had my galbladder removed the first week of June, through a lovely 7 inch scar that Tyler thinks is cool, so at least I made the cool factor, even though it added another scar to the war zone that is my torso.
For a few months life calmed down. I got a new job, I was feeling good, gaining strength and back in the gym again, lifting like a haus. Lifting brings me great joy. I don’t have a lot of control over what my body does, running on a battery and clicky things (medical terminology at it’s finest :)), I can however sculpt my body and strengthen it to my liking. The stronger I become the better I feel not just on the outside, but mentally, emotionally and even spiritually, because I do truly belive that without my dude Jesus and my Father in heaven, this chick would have been toast a long time ago… The Man gives me a great deal of strentgh and I forgot that for a long time.
September came in and knocked me out. For the next four months I spent most of my time on short-term disability and in and out of the hospital. I spent more holidays in the hospital in 2016 than out. I started getting lung pain when I breathed. I was running out of air doing the easy things and really running down doing the hard ones. I was having palpitations and chest pains. I was on oxygen 24/7 and pain meds, passing out and unable to drive. After many trips to the hospital and a trip to the Mayo Clinic to see the specialists, they found a hole in my lung, a pacemaker lead detached, but nothing serious enough to require open heart surgery. The risk is just too high. It basically boiled down to learning how to live a new normal. For a lot of that time I was pissed, tired, over being in pain and on pain meds because I hate them, and I simply wasn’t in the mood to hear anything from anyone. For a little while I prayed that God would take me in my sleep. It was the only time I prayed.
I am doing so much better now. Mostly because I just, in the words of my dear old dad, “gut up”. I have a life I want to live. Yeah, some days are a little sucky, but I am not dying today, I can do more push-ups than most people, and I have a lot to be thankful for, I have been overwhelmingly blessed in my life, so really, I kinda just needed to get over myself and work on getting well.
Dr. Seuss is a favorite of mine. Not only did he love God, but the man was freaking brilliant in the most simple, joyful ways possible. Take Chances – “You have to do things never thought of before.” Oh, Dr. Seuss! Did you hit the nail on the head or what? This tiny little sentence sums up my entire life, past, present and future. Not just mine, either. We all have to do things to enrich our lives. For me, I don’t fit any parameters… each day is a new adventure.
In 2017 I will tackle each day with the intent of a new adventure waiting for me. To try and think of things I have never thought of doing before. I went back to church today, after almost 10 months of being away, and it was like going home, but better. I was reminded of my journey and those who love and care for me. My sweet friends who have changed my life, and that I have in some ways helped change theirs. That is my strength. Love. It always has been. The joy of the Lord is my strength and because of it I can do all things through him who gives me strentgh. Love and Joy. If I can focus on that each morning when I rise, there is nothing that can keep me from walking on sunshine every day or at the very least, try!
Happy New Year to each of you. May it be a year full of strength from above and things you never thought you could do before.
– By the way, don’t be shy, leave me a comment and let me know what you think or if there is anything you would like me to write about.