I used to think that women in their twenties had it all together. By the age of 16, I had envisioned being married by 26, having my first child by 29, and walking gracefully into my thirties. I’m now a 26-year-old single lady who happily babysits other people’s children, while working part time to stay afloat as I fulfill my childhood dream of studying fashion design in NYC. Things have not really gone as planned.
I chuckle when I reflect on my ascent to 24, when I confidently proclaimed that my motto would be “24 is MORE!” It was as if the very utterance of those words cued the collapse of what felt like nearly every aspect of my life. Over the course of three months, I reluctantly ended a four-year relationship, started a new job that was initially a hot mess, and received a letter that dealt a huge blow to my bank account.
In the midst of those events, my body seemed to be revolting against me. At the time, I was a patient care volunteer with the local children’s hospital. I remember shadowing a team member when I noticed that my hands had a tingling/stabbing sensation running through them. I requested to stay off the patient floors that day.
Later that evening, I had the same feeling in my feet, making it difficult to walk. Within weeks I had odd rashes on my face and body, and I eventually decided my Google diagnoses weren’t adding up. After a visit to the doctor and several tests later, I was sitting in a sterile room as she shared that my bloodwork had come back positive for a few autoimmune diseases, including lupus.
My follow-up appointment with the rheumatologist helped me understand that my immune system was attacking my body. She covered everything from what to be mindful of if I ever had children, to the possibility of needing chemotherapy if the disease progressed over time. I often felt extremely tired and struggled to get out of bed. I spent many nights silently screaming and crying. I was depressed on a level that I hadn’t experienced in years, and I was too overwhelmed to let many people in on what I was going through.
I had known God as a Father, a provider, and a friend, but I had never truly known Him for myself as a healer. What I did know was that prayer was a powerful tool, but faith without works was dead. I adopted an anti-inflammatory diet, exercised regularly, and journaled. I had another check-in with my doctor to get the latest test results. She stared at the document and said, “What have you been doing?” Every test that was originally positive had come back negative!
A wave of joy washed over me. I told her that my mom had the prayer team going strong in addition to the lifestyle changes I had made. That day marked a major victory in my life, and I had to hold on to it when I faced a similar battle this past spring. A series of strange physical symptoms led me back to doctors who ran bloodwork, took a skin biopsy, and informed me that lupus was showing up in results yet again. I felt like I had let myself down by allowing anxiety to potentially trigger the flare up. After a few months, a visit with a rheumatologist brought me back to that feeling of victory when he told me he didn’t believe I had the disease. I celebrated the news, but I also reflected on the idea that a closeness with God isn’t reserved solely for seasons of chaos. He wants to be a part of the moments I deem as small, and those that feel insurmountable.
There was a time when I longed for the version of myself before the break-up, crazy job, financial setback, and my body turning against me. It took a while for me to realize that perhaps, though the seams of my life seemed completely unraveled, God intended to stitch together something more beautiful. I don’t have it all together, but I trust that His plan is far better than mine. Hollaaa!
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