I'm excited to be back with another installment of Watt's Up?. This year I am mostly cutting back to blogging twice a month to allow more energy for other activities, but my monthly linkup posts with a Chronic Voice will stay as they are one of my favorite posts to write and also quite popular!
Lately I've been…
I mentioned in my last Watt's Up? article that I was selecting photos to print for my scrapbook. In 2022, I took hundreds of photos, and for months, I consistently took at least one every day. I now have my favorites printed and have been scrapbooking. I've been pasting photos on colorful 12"x12" sheets of paper, journaling alongside the photos, and having fun decorating the pages with stickers, punched shapes, and embellishments.
As I've been summarizing both the good and hard of the past year, I keep realizing how faithful God has been. My scrapbook serves as an ebenezer that I can look back on and remember how God has carried me this far. I trust that He will continue to remain faithful in 2023.
I became sick when I was newly fourteen. I crossed into puberty with a chronic illness that made my prior life seem even more unrecognizable. My body changed in more ways than me beginning to look like an adult woman. For years, I also mostly lost my ability to read, sing, take walks, cook, craft, and leave my bed. My postpubescent life was radically different from my childhood.
As a result, I struggled with dissociation. For years, I felt like I lived two completely separate lives, one of health and one of sickness, that ended and started respectively at age fourteen. The healthy, active life felt mostly distant, unfamiliar, and almost like it was never my own and instead like it was merely a novel I'd read.
But thankfully, I have been slowly getting better, especially over the past two years since I began babesiosis treatment. The improvements are adding up, and I am beginning to cross into a life where I'm not as disabled and can occasionally leave the house. My dissociation has greatly improved in the past few months. At age twenty-one, it no longer seems insane to believe that I used to be healthy and active because I'm starting to live a life where I occasionally can again do things such as cook or go to church, things that seemed like completely unrealistic hopes for years.
One of my friends invited me to participate in the Spring100 Walking Challenge. During the duration of spring, I'll attempt to walk 100 miles, and if I succeed, I'll win a Spring100 t-shirt. It's a big goal and perhaps unrealistic, but I'm going to try. I have the drive; I'm just hoping my health will allow me to make it come true. I walked 1-2 miles daily for much of November and December, but for the past two-and-half weeks, I've been too sick with herxing and then COVID to exercise much beyond walking around the house. This week, I've had high fevers and a lot of nausea, pain, tension headaches, and weakness. I'm mostly in bed currently, but I'm starting to turn the corner.
I'm not giving up on my walking goal, and I'll be back on the treadmill as soon as I can. In fact, towards the end of last month, I burned up our treadmill from using it so much. I was walking at my usual pace of 3 mph when I suddenly decided to increase my speed to 6 mph, which meant running. As I felt breathless a minute later, I simultaneously began to smell smoke coming from the treadmill. I immediately stopped it, and thankfully, the drama stopped too. The laughter, however, over how my ambitious personality led to the demise of our treadmill has not. Even my doctor found it amusing.
Thankfully, my parents are both Type A like me and replaced the treadmill immediately with a NordicTrack that they bought used from Facebook Marketplace. That is where our previous treadmill came from as well, and that one came with a funny story. The previous owner bought it in an attempt to lose enough weight to fit into a dress for a wedding, but as soon as the wedding was over, so was her exercise. I think my family had that treadmill since 2014, and my mom and I especially got a lot of use out of it.
I like what Sheryl said about this prompt, "We tend to think of a New Year in terms of a brand new chapter in life. Yet often, it’s a lot to do with picking up the broken pieces, rebuilding our lives, and growing further. After all, life is chaotic, and is often a process of building and rebuilding."
It tends to bother me when people say to just move on from the past. I agree that we shouldn't dwell on our sins and mistakes and should accept God's forgiveness and no longer live in guilt. In that sense, we should move on, which is exactly the opposite of what Satan would like.
Furthermore, I agree that we shouldn't wallow in self-pity or act like Eeyore. We shouldn't let our circumstances paralyze us with sorrow and keep us from finding joy. But I'm not going to simply move on and pretend that I haven't lived through nightmarish years of chronic illness because if I want to truly grow from my experiences I need to admit that they did indeed happen to me. I need to allow myself to feel my emotions and to write, think, pray, and reflect to truly heal.
I've often compared my life to a mosaic, an art form where broken pieces are rearranged to create something beautiful. This year I will continue to work to rebuild something beautiful out of my brokenness. I'll keep blogging and even hope to rebuild my website. I'm also working to rebuild my health by continuing to treat Babesia odocoilei and Bartonella, eating healthy, exercising, and nourishing myself mentally and spiritually.
I've heard it said, "Lower your expectations and raise your acceptance." I've even repeated it myself. However, I wonder if that's really the best piece of advice.
Unmet expectations are certainly the cause of much disappointment and even anger. I've been there. When I became sick as a fourteen-year-old, I told myself that I'd surely be better by the following summer. Yes, maybe I'd have to continue to eat gluten and dairy free, but I really thought I'd be mostly asymptomatic. I couldn't have been more wrong. I instead became much sicker and continued to worsen for years. My unmet expectations left me hurting, confused, and in tears.
But despite the grief I have felt from unmet expectations, I don't think I should stop having expectations. Instead, I need to avoid expecting things God never promised me. So what has God promised? What can I expect that will be fulfilled?
- That God will be with me, strengthen me, and uphold me (Isaiah 41:10)
- That His power will be made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9)
- That He will never leave or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:8)
- That the testing of my faith will produce perseverance (James 1:3)
- That if I delight myself in Him, He will give me the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:8)
- That I will suffer but that I have hope because Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33)
- That weeping may last for the night but that joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5)
- That I am more than a conquer through Christ and that nothing can separate me from the love of God (Romans 8:37-39)
And so much more… I encourage you to Google "promises of God" and memorize a few verses. Just remember that not all God's promises are for you.