My Voice Makes a Difference

Yesterday, my friend Kate wrote a post that made me sob, shake, and really want to throw something. As a rheumatoid arthritis patient, she has access to permanently disabled parking. She uses it to her discretion and for her well-being. It makes normalizing her life despite a debilitating disease POSSIBLE. As Kate was using this parking, a woman asked her what was "wrong" with her. Kate responded, crying, and explained the RA (treated by chemotherapy infusions), fibromyalgia, and tarsal coalitions she suffers from and deals with on a daily basis.

To be honest, what angers me about this situation isn't that my beautiful friend was crying. It isn't that the woman ruined Kate's night. What truly, truly angers me is that there is NO compassion for people who deal with diseases that are often invisible.

I know that Kate is so much stronger than anything that woman could have ever said to her. I know that Kate woke up the next morning determined to have a better day. The only thing that didn't change was the fact that there are still millions of people out there who will treat someone else the same way because they are unaware and oblivious.

That makes me so incredibly angry.

When starting this blog, I needed a place to vent about my health struggles. I felt alone and chose publishing my feelings on the internet instead of writing in a journal because I knew there had to be someone... ANYONE... Who was feeling the way I was. It took awhile for me to find a community I was comfortable sharing in, but it soon became the reason I got out of bed in the morning. It became the passion behind my writing. It became my purpose in life. Raising awareness and openly sharing my struggles was therapeutic and beneficial not only for me, but also for other people. People fighting the same disease I am.

Now, since starting this blog, I've had e-mails, comments, Facebook posts, and tweets come in about the disease that I, too, suffer from. Some have been encouraging. Some have been curious. Some have been knowledgeable... And some have been downright ignorant, disrespectful, and just plain MEAN.

I'll never forget the time I posted about my faith and how sure I was God would heal me when He was done using this for His purpose only to receive a comment that said, "If 'your God' is so big, why hasn't He healed you yet?" I remember responding to it with my favorite scripture and shaking my head at how unbelievable the comment was. I also remember feeling defeated. As if there was no purpose or reason behind anything I'd ever shared here.

But then I remembered this: People LOVE to discount the importance of things they don't understand.

That's when I remembered that the words I share here... The stories... The struggles... It ALL matters. It's not whining. It's not asking for attention. It's raising awareness for diseases that people are completely oblivious to. And my voice in this community... It makes a difference.


Loving When It Matters Most

Someone close to me made a few less than desirable decisions that affected our relationship lately. Naturally, two choices immediately appeared in my head: walk away or fight to keep the person that I loved. Very quickly, I realized the importance of that person in my life and knew that I would do whatever it took to offer the most mercy and grace possibleWhile there are way too many reasons to list, it all comes down the the fact that I love them so much. To me, 'I love you,' is never, ever, EVER circumstantial. If I can say those three words on a good day, I want to be 110% sure that I can say the same even on a bad one. Being hurt is one thing, but being circumstantial is another.

While dealing with these hurt feelings, I consulted two of my closest friends. One friend offered some wise words and re-instilled in me that forgiveness was essential in whichever decision I made. Another friend thought that it would be best to cut my losses to avoid being hurt again in the future. Both of them made some really good points as my best friends and I am forever appreciative - but I had to wonder and ask...

Do you have someone in your life that has NEVER hurt you? If so, I'd like to know how strong your relationship is.

I can honestly say I don't have a single person in my life that has not hurt, offended, worried, or disappointed me at one time in our relationship. In fact, I can also say I don't have a single person in my life that I haven't hurt or let down in one way or another. My health has taught me that trials, challenges, and tough times have a way of making us stronger and drawing us closer. Together. To God. To peace. To strength. Whatever it may be. Fighting even when it hurts and is really, really hard is essential. The fact of the matter is that hurt is not the problem... Giving up on unconditional love is.

Now, the world teaches us to love conditionally, circumstantially, and when it is most convenient. It teaches us that love doesn't have flaws, it doesn't hurt, and it doesn't involve sacrificing any parts of ourselves to meet the other person where they are. But JESUS teaches us that loving unconditionallywildly, and mercifully is the only way to do it. He understands the importance of loving us at our very ugliest and absolute worst because THAT is when we need the grace that only love can offer. He teaches us that love is ALWAYS a sacrifice.

The world says to walk away from people who hurt us. It says to get rid of people who don't appreciate us... But I have to wonder... If Jesus did that, where would we be?

I'm making the choice to LOVE today. Not when it's convenient. Not when I feel like it. Not when it's easy. Instead, I'm making the choice to love when it hurts... Because that's when it matters most.