Disclaimer: I wasn’t going to post this, but after reading a few real, honest, unmasked posts by people today, I decided why not. Sometimes, it’s good to see what’s really happening on the inside of people. So here I go.
(And, just in case you don’t know the significance of Feb 1 and my story as a 16-year-old, click here for my thoughts from last year. Which, as I look back over it, looks a lot like this year's post... but oh well!)
Tomorrow is always a weird day for me.
On the one hand, it should be a day of celebration, thanksgiving, joyfulness. And in many ways, it is.
But on the other hand, Feb 1 still stands to set me apart from others. Makes me feel alone. And yes, just a bit weird.
Who talks openly about having brain surgery? And yet, I have to ask, why shouldn’t I? If only for the glory of God it’s worth it. And it really was (and is!) all to His glory that I’m even here teaching and dancing and living in Africa – even here – at all. For bringing me the parents, friends, coach, teachers I had… for the surgeon He placed in our path… for bringing me out and away clean and clear… I know that, I see it, and I rejoice. But when it comes to anything medical with the brain, the stigma clings firmly on. And just having gone through some of this stuff makes me feel… different.
Many people haven’t faced death at 16. And while I know I’m better for it, stronger, I also know that there were years of worry and doubt and fear accompanying this day of the year over the past 11 years. Accompanying any MRI results I might be getting back each year. Accompanying the question of, “what if it happens again?” Even though I “know better.” And it stinks.
I know I’m not supposed to live in fear. And ultimately, I don’t. Not of dying, anyway. I know that I’m going to be here as long as I’m supposed to be, and I know what’s going to happen (or at least, a bit of it!) when I do get to join Jesus in heaven, celebrating Him and who He is and what He has done with all His children from Earth. And I want to enjoy and live fully the life He has given me here and now without wasting a precious second.
But there’s still a “down-and-out” feeling that comes along, even when I don’t see it coming.
I wonder what the future holds, and why in the world God chose ME… because that’s what it comes down to, really. In a lot of ways, that’s where I wonder why I’m different. Different because this happened, but also different because I came through (mostly!) unscathed. Whenever anyone else talks about someone they knew with a brain tumor, the results were tragic. The person died. Or they never spoke again. Or they couldn’t move, or couldn’t see right, or looked funny, or SOMETHING. But then there’s me… who has been dancing and living and learning and falling flat on my face and getting back up and learning some more and teaching and traveling for the past 11 years, just like any other “normal” person on earth. And I just don’t see how it all fits together. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. And I don’t know whether to celebrate or sit still and be thankful. And even as I have a lot of yet-unfulfilled hopes for my future, I wonder whether I should hope for these specific things to come my way, or just to accept that His plans are best, come what may. Or, somehow, both.
So, here’s to life. One that I’m not really sure why… why me… but I’m here none-the-less. And I’m thankful for it! And here’s to all the people who have surrounded me, loved me, encouraged me, propped me up, and let me be “me” over the past 11 years, whatever that might look like.