Growing up I was truly blessed! I had wonderful parents, 6 great siblings, a nice home and yard, a great neighborhood, and friends. My life wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty close. There were some hard times, injuries, losses, etc. but I knew that if I just pushed through, the trial would end and I’d be happy again. I lived by these expressions…“Look for the light at the end of the tunnel.” “Happiness is just around the corner.” “There’s always a rainbow after it rains.” It seemed so simple to believe these, until one day it wasn’t.
I’d just finished college and began my first year as a teacher. The first few months were intense but surreal. It was truly a dream come true! Then one day I woke up with the flu. I remember thinking that if I could just get through the day I’d be better tomorrow. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months, but each day I’d tell myself that I’d be better tomorrow.
My light at the end of the tunnel would be when I was diagnosed, and until then my energy would be spent on my students, doctors, and my relationship with God. I was in survival mode, and consumed by the physical and emotional pain that came with being ill. It took 2 ½ years before I received my first diagnosis, but having a name for it didn’t take the pain away. Over the next 2 years my health continued to deteriorate, 4 tubes were placed in my body to give me nutrition and hydration, I’d been diagnosed with multiple rare diseases, and it was no longer possible to keep my health a secret. I watched as my siblings and friends lives continued. They were getting married, starting families, building homes, and planning vacations. I felt broken. I WAS STUCK.
Oliver was also stuck. His mother had abandoned him, was left by his wife, lied to by his dad, and he too was hurting. Joseph O’Toole said it best as he and Oliver sat lost in the mountains. “Don’t wait for the pain to go away… Just leave it here on the mountain.” That was a defining moment in Oliver’s life as he chose to open up and let Shane into his life.
For me I spent 4 ½ years not letting people in, avoiding friendships, missing out on adventures, waiting for the pain to go away to be happy, and searching for the light at the end of the tunnel. BUT not all trials have a light at the end of the tunnel in this life. I realized that I needed to stop searching for that light at the END and instead look for all of the blessings that I’ve received from God as I’ve been ill.
We all have our own experiences that have been painful. Whether it is physical, mental, and/or emotional pain all of us have felt stuck or broken at some point in our lives. It is natural to want to protect ourselves from feeling that way again, but by doing so we are losing out on time, friends, opportunities, and potential happiness. Don’t wait for the pain to go away to start living again. None of us know what tomorrow will bring, give that pain over to God and enjoy today!
The Living Letters series continues as long as there are stories (or even praise reports) to share, and I'm always looking for submissions. If you would like to contribute something about how Signed, Sealed, Delivered has impacted your life (or even your wardrobe) that you'd be willing to share here on A&D, feel free to email me. Keep the good going and submit yours today!