Sometimes I just don’t recognize myself anymore. I have used many words for myself such as Julie Anne, Recovering Type A, Recovering Catholic, Adult Child of an Alcoholic, Jul, Child of the King, Snookums, Just Julie, and Booberry. Many other labels inside my head will not make it to this blog as they are unkind and reflect the stinking thinking that was an outcome of my childhood. While I have come a long way there is still so much to do!
My biggest challenge these days is having some kind of identity when my world is smaller; there is less going on. I am sick a lot of the time. I am isolated most days. I go fewer places, see fewer people, engage in fewer activities, and generally do less than at any other time in my life for longer than any other time in my life. Whilst engaging in various activities a person engages in various roles that comprise one’s identity, for example: friend, church goer, Master Gardener, sister, sister in Christ, kayaker, exercise enthusiast, and so on. All of the roles that I have mentioned have severely diminished for me in the past 2 years because of a serious illness. I do not know when this will change. The tendency is to ask the question, “where have I gone?”
I really miss my life before illness. Sure it wasn’t perfect. I still had chronic pain, went to the doctor and had some type of treatment for pain a couple of times per month, and limited my work schedule to a maximum of 30 hours per week. But I was also the most physically fit I had been in my entire life, had the greatest financial freedom that I have ever had, enjoyed rewarding work as an occupational therapist with a flexible schedule, and went to lots of neat places with my amazing husband. My mind was sharp, my confidence was growing, and I felt really loved. Things are more mushy now. Most of the time I feel lost. I am not even convinced I have the correct diagnosis or treatment plan. So this translates into the reality that I don’t really know when I will be well again. This is tough stuff indeed.
And yet there are many new activities that have emerged these past two years. While I don’t work in all-things-gardening as much, I did become an Advanced Master Gardener AFTER I got sick. That was an amazing and humbling accomplishment! The Lord gave me the opportunity to explore blogging, learn more about social media, publish an eBook (Hope Beyond Lyme: The First Year), learn to make macramé jewelry, and launch an online jewelry business (Trinity Jewelry by Design). I’ve made some amazing friends via a local Lyme Support Group in addition to some compassionate folks online. I have kept a journal for most of my life and now my blog has a growing list of really cool followers from around the world. Talk about humbling! Wow. If only you could see my heart right now, transforming from an identity crisis between the lines of this blog tonight to a woman with a vision. You do that for me, Gentle Reader, guided by the Holy Spirit. Thank you for listening as this gets worked out within me . . .
If we were to examine the experiences of my life, we would probably agree that I have had a life that has been harder than most. Over and over again I have had to find Little Julie then Jul and Just Julie amidst a firestorm of hurt, loss, and strife. I have come to understand that the Lord has had His guiding hand, loving arms, and protective wing around me all along where the good people and perks of life were missing. He has allowed the trials and tears to bring me closer to Himself, to help me to see beyond the circumstances around me. The Lord has shown me that the bad stuff was not wasted or intended to hurt me. The Lord wants me to be complete and allows all this to conform me into the image of Christ. I pray that I will not lose heart during the refiner’s fire. I pray that I will see His blessings soon as I have seen so many times in the past. I just gotta hang on a little longer, let Him carry me a little more.
Where have I gone? I am in another wilderness experience like Moses and the Israelites of the Old Testament who wandered in the hot, dry desert for decades wondering if they would ever be “there yet.” I must keep my eyes on Jesus: the light that leads and the cloud that blots out the forces of evil that taunt my doubts, fester my feelings of inadequacy. It just doesn’t matter anymore where I have gone. What matters now is where am I going?
Happy new year, Gentle Reader. Will you go with Him too in 2014?