What differs, among people, from one to another is the matter of how.
And, most importantly, why.
This is my journey.
The becoming, beautiful and incredible thing about journeys is that there are none the same. Not even one.
We may share the same lives to minimal extents, but no one indeed can know the entirety of our journey.
No one except God.
I am a firm believer that God is the author of my journey.
I am, too. But it is not by chance that I exist, nor is it by chance that things happen to me.
Things that change the path of my life, change the way I see things, change the reason I believe what I do.
It is these such things, these changes, these circumstances which have led me to share my journey.
It started almost 20 years ago, but recently reached a beautiful, tragic climax at which point I had to choose what my journey would look like, what path I would take.
While we may not be able to control the situations and circumstances around us, one thing we can control = how we respond to them.
Our response is what determines our future.
Our journey is more than a chance, a whim, an accident.
Our journey is our choice, guided by love, loss, hope and often tragedy - yet we decide how we respond to it.
We choose our response, and that, dear readers, is our journey.
About my journey
Allow me to share my journey with you. I feel it will inspire, challenge, and hopefully change the way you see things.
I was in a hospital bed. Why?
Oh, what a long answer that required.
Or, even longer perhaps, was the question:
Why is it that our lives only find meaning when we lose it?
Why do valuable things feel precious to us only when we cannot have them?
Why is it we want to desperately find ourselves when we see that we have not?
And where was God in the midst of all this?
Where was God in the pain? In the sorrow?
So many things I questioned, so many times I was nearly overcome.
So many times I just wanted to give up.
To lay down, and die, to let this stampede of darkness trample me and take me with it.
As if dying would end the pain, end the nothingness.
Back in that hospital bed. Begging God. Pleading.
Please, God. Please. If You are God and You are good, end this pain. Let me die.
He did not. Why? Why will You not let me die?
"Because I have more for you, My child. So much more."
Angry. So angry.
There, on the hospital bed, unable to move, unable to go anywhere or to run away. For days I fought, fought to understand, to believe, to simply survive.
I fought God. For the first time in my life I turned away from my God, my love, my all.
I couldn't understand how a God who professed love could not only let this happen but also wouldn't let me die - refused me the end I so desperately wanted.
And then, after some fighting, I reached a decision. Alright, God. Alright.
If You did not let me die,
- Give me a reason to live.
That's when things started to change. Little by little, although the struggle had only just began. I was nowhere near being free of this living hell I had existed in for so long.
A struggle, yes. Hard, yes. Painful, yes. But I got through it. God got me through it. It was God and God alone. Now I realise that.
I know I knew that. I grew up thinking that. Yes, of course you turn to God in your troubles.
But this was real. So real.
It got to the point where, if I did not trust God with my all, it would be the end of me. And finally, after so much struggle, I wanted to live. I wanted to get through this. It was hard. So hard.
So many days, I lay there, alone in the silence, both in hospital and in my room, physically always at death's door. And each day, though a struggle it was, I had to choose God. I had to choose to fight on.
To live. I had chosen to live.
Now, 12 months later, I look back and still feel ripped raw by the memories. I feel the pain, the sorrow, the agony. But I also feel different. I have come though. God has brought me through.
I have come to a place of healing, of completion, of new beginnings.
That doesn't mean the past doesn't hurt.
That doesn't mean it didn't happen. It means I am forgiven, I am made whole. I am healed. Perhaps not fully physically yet, but inside.
That was my request to God.
Oh, God. I don't want You to heal me on the outside and still live in this pain, this unending sorrow. I want to be healed from the inside out, or don't heal me at all.
I still struggle with physical illness, though my healing continues. But inside. Oh.
I am whole.
And I know, like never before. I know who I am. I know Who God is. And I know I will never be the same.
God is the only answer. There is no other way around it.
That's the truth. It just is. He is.
About my Physical journey
I have shared a little of my heart's journey above.
For those of you that are interested, here is a little bit about what actually happened to me.
I have been a strong Christian all my life, raised by wonderful Christian parents, in a loving home. Yet, like everyone else, I had problems. I was very good at hiding them though, and had been since I was quite young.
Finally, at age 18 the world on my shoulders became too much to bear and I got to a place where I could no longer hide. No longer keep my fears, my worries, my sorrow to myself.
I have carried sorrow deep within my heart for as long as I can remember, even as a young child. It was always there. Always looming. Always a part of me. My sorrows finally gave way to depression and at 18, I became sorrow itself. I hid it well, until it took its toll on my body.
You see, the body is only designed to handle certain things and how we are inside really does reflect outside. I became sick in the form of stomach troubles - vomiting, until it became so that I could not eat anything without losing it. Naturally, this made me lose weight and become physically weak.
I was dying. I knew I was.
What scared me was the fact that I wasn't scared. I felt like all feeling was gone; only sorrow and pain and heartache remained. I wanted to die.
I got weaker and weaker until finally, after many empty doctor's appointments and no diagnosis, my parents took me to the emergency department of the hospital.
It was bad. I was so weak from vomiting I could have had a heart attack. I didn't care. Surprisingly, though, I was at peace. I knew I would go to God. I just wanted the end to come soon.
I remained in the hospital's intensive care unit for some time. Unable to move, sleeping all the time. My poor, poor body. It was there that I wanted to die. It was there that I fought with God. I don't know exactly when I chose to live and not to die, I just know that I did.
Despite that choice, the illness continued to destroy my body. Even when my will had changed, it seemed the damage had been done. It was such a struggle. I returned home, without a diagnosis, more ill than when I went in. I got my weakest, my thinnest, my lowest.
And it was there that I found God.
Among the pain, the chaos, the struggles. I found God. Or rather, He found me.
I got to my point of weakness. That was it. My body could no longer go on. The prognosis was poor. And so, with my will, my desire, changed, I prayed.
It was during that time things began to change. A miracle occurred - God began healing me. This long, slow, process. Painful. But healing. Oh, healing.
... It is just over 12 months, now, from when my illness began.
My healing has been great.
Physically, there is a long way to go - I am still unable to eat a huge variety of foods, but my strength has returned.
I am fit, I am strong. I go running. I dance. I am fitter than I ever was before. God has healed me in this aspect. But most importantly, I am healed inside.
I am whole.
Nevertheless, my illness has left its scars. I have been diagnosed with an autoimmune illness which causes my stomach to reject food - and by reject this is in the form of physically vomiting until nothing remains in my stomach.
Finally, and after much direct guidance from God, I have been able to find foods that will not be rejected by my stomach. My vomiting is reduced, but I must not eat outside my tolerances else the process begins again - and sends my body in a physical spiral that can sometimes only be repaired by hospital treatment.
So I am very careful in what I eat. Even small amounts of disagreeable foods cause severe illness.
In medical terms, I have Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis and am highly allergic to most foods - including dairy, eggs, corn, yeast, wheat, salicylates (colour in food), and pretty much everything that is an allergen.
My can eat list is very small, but God is increasing it - amazingly, often when I have a major spiritual breakthrough in my life I am able to tolerate a 'new' food.
This means I cook everything. I take all my meals with me wherever I go, I am veryorganised with my meal preparation. I have also learnt to make bland, tasteless food interesting, although it takes time. I have experience with cooking for allergies, because mine are pretty much all of them.
And it has given me a greater understanding of people who suffer.
This journey has been hard. This mountain is climbed, now onto another. It has been a long climb. A hard climb. I cannot go back.
But above all, there is one thing I know. - the prayer of Hezekiah, when God restored to him his life.
"YOU, God, restored me to health and let me live.
Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish."