The Next Thing

I’ve been waiting for this moment for over a year. Though at the time I never would have thought that the first doctor’s appointment would lead me on a mad chase for answers. I never would have believed all that my body and soul would be put through. I never could have fathomed the medicine, the pain, the disbelief, the hospitalizations, the feeding tube, the ER trips. I just thought my stomach hurt. I didn’t think that I would have to travel across the country for relief.

I’m on the precipice to the rest of my life, and I simultaneously have no words and every word I can imagine. People don’t understand the extent that MALS effects life. My family and friends that have been close to the situation have seen all that it takes. It reduced my life to survival. There were so many nights when I would be drenched in sweat, yet freezing, watching the room swirl around because of a negative reaction to medication. I was on so many. They didn’t know what else to do except shove pills in my face and hope they worked. Many of them made me worse. They made the pain worse. I spent many nights on the floor, clinging to consciousness, and begging God to make it stop. Please, make it stop. Lord, I don’t know why you thought I could handle this, because I can’t. I’m not strong enough, I’m not brave enough, I’m not willing enough. I’m tired and scared and done. Those thoughts repeated often.
But I wasn’t suppose to be the strong one.
I wasn’t suppose to be the brave one.
I wasn’t suppose to summon up copious amounts of positivity and be able to push through with my own strength.
I just needed to be still. Be still, and give up control. Surrender all that I was, all that I am, and all that I thought I would be.
I remember the night I realized that in order to get through this I would have to stop leaning on my own abilities.
Okay, God. I have no idea why this is happening, and I want nothing more than to throw up my hands and give up. But God, in His mercy picked me up and carried me through it. He was there when the doctor’s told me it was in my head. He was there when the pain was overwhelming. He was there in the hospital. He was there in the ER. He was there during the painful, traumatic medical procedures. His truth and grace carried me though it all.

His truth is woven throughout this life like the stems of a dandelion crown. It is the theme of my story, and others like it. Though there are parts that leave a bitter taste I know they are purposeful in telling His story. That is all that matters. I think I will always wonder what would have happened had I never been diagnosed with MALS . The same way I will always wonder who I would be today if I had never been sick at all. But I suppose that is the beauty in it, that regardless of who who I may have become, I am who I am because that is simply the way God wanted to tell this story.
I am thankful for the simple joys He sprinkles throughout this life. I soak them in. I cling to those little joys all day. A pretty sunset, a wildflower, an unexpected hug from my sibling, an encouraging text from a friend, veggies from the garden, the smell of cut grass, long talks over coffee, my favorite song, dance parties in the kitchen with my sisters, quiet rainy mornings, adventures in a sunflower field with a best-friend. These simple joys give me life.

So, after so long trudging through this dark valley, I see a light. I see hope, swelling like an ocean, ringing throughout the air like the chorus of your favorite hymn. I know that there is more pain ahead. I know that recovery won’t be easy, and that I’ll have to continue to fight to heal. There will be days when that hope shrinks a little, but I know it will always be there.

I don’t know what life will be like when I’m not sick. It’s all I’ve known for so long. I don’t know who I will be when it’s over. But I’m ready to head into it, I’m ready to push through to the next thing. The next dream, the next chapter, the next day…

For the person out there reading this in the middle of their own valley I say this: don’t give up. The majority of the time you may feel hopeless and tired, but in those moments search out the simple joys. In the middle of this storm is the still, small voice of the Lord telling you to trust Him. You can’t have a valley without a mountaintop, so keep going until you get there. He is in both places, and He is just as good, and holy, and righteous in both.

-Anna C.

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