To the girl with a disability in her teens or 20s, who is drowning in the whys and what ifs:
I understand you because I am you.
I get it. This is hard, uncertain and painful. It’s so easy to wonder why this is your life and worry about the future.
It’s easy to be mad and wonder why you are the way you are when you finally work up the guts to go to that social event. But when you get there, you’re just miserable the majority of the time because your body hurts, you can’t keep up with your friends and you’re stuck on the sidelines.
I know how often what ifs about that dream job jump into the center of your attention when you start thinking about life after you graduate college.
And you do your best to not think about high school. Like ever. Because that’s when most of the really painful what ifs and whys started.
The “why does this have to happen to me?” is hard to fight away when you wake up every morning and something on your body hurts.
And oh, do I know that there actually is pain behind the jokes you make with your family that you’re just going to end up as the crazy dog lady.
The “what if I actually do end up alone?” really stings and eats away at you when you are talking to that guy in class. And then the dreaded question comes, yet again. The minute he asks if your crutches are from an injury or if they’re a “permeant gig," and you can’t lie or hide it.
I know how much it hurts when you have to answer with a yes, that those crutches are something you’ll never be able to shake and you can instantly feel him and everyone else around look at you differently.
The why questions grow 10 times bigger and haunt you when you fall in a crowd of people and hear the laughs that some people aren’t even trying to hide.
“What if this never happened to me?” is the worst thing you can ask yourself. Because your mind instantly spins out of control, and it’s really hard to get it back. And the “what if daydreams” are nothing else but painful.
The whys are massive when you walk, wheel, crutch or scoot into a room of people and feel the stares burning through you.
The what ifs are looming and countless when you’re sitting in that doctors’ office time and time again.
I get it. This sucks.
I understand the feeling that some days, you’re not even mad about it anymore. Because you physically, emotionally and mentally can’t yell at God anymore. So instead of being mad, you’re just really, deeply sad about the whole thing.
I get it. It doesn’t make sense.
And I’m not here to explain it to you, because I can’t. I don’t understand why we’re like this either.
I’m also not here to tell you that “it’ll get better.”
Because I know how much that statement can make you want to punch a wall.
People have been telling me that for 6 years, since I was a freshman in high school, fully realizing for the first time that my life was going to be different.
I’d believe them for a minute. But then I found myself a few days ago, as a sophomore in college, sitting on my dorm floor, just sobbing. Not out of anger or spite for my situation, just exhaustion and deep, pure sadness.
I’m not here to tell you when it will “get better” on this earth, because frankly, I don’t know if it will.
And now, I’m going to make one of those statements that might make you want to punch me (it’s okay, I’ve definitely wanted to punch someone when they told me this too.)
I don’t know when or even if “it’ll get better” on this earth. But one day, when our time is up on this earth, you’ll get to run. You’ll be pain-free. You’ll wake up, and things won’t hurt. You won’t be worried about what people think.
I get it. That’s a hopeful statement, but it’s also frustrating.
Because you know that while you’re here, on this earth, it’s going to be rocky. And it’s frustrating because you want that physical healing now. You don’t want to hear about how you’ll get it later.
I want it now too. Trust me. I cried three days ago after spending a weekend with friends, because everything in me wanted nothing more than to have been able to keep up with them and play sports with them this past weekend.
So, I can’t say that this is something that you should read for answers to your whys and what ifs.
Because I don’t have them.
But I do have one answer. And it’s a hard one to completely grasp. I know, because I don’t completely grasp it.
I know, because the girl who was sobbing out of frustration, tiredness and sadness three days ago is the girl who is writing this. And that girl really struggles with this answer sometimes.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
What does that mean? It means that if we don’t put our sights on the days we’ll be running in heaven, this life on earth is going to be sad and miserable.
If we don’t focus on our pain-free, eternal days with the Lord, our pain on Earth will be amplified.
Look, again, I get it. This is hard. I struggle with it too.
Right now, this is my life. This pain and struggle is part of me and an obstacle I have to do my best to jump every day. If this is my current situation, how the heck am I supposed to focus on a future one that I can’t even imagine or fully comprehend?
Do it through the hope in the statement.
Don’t look at the frustration in the “but I want it now” that follows the hopeful statement.
If we’re going to conquer these medical conditions that don’t have earthly cures, we can’t do it like that.
Maybe you’re done listening to me because I didn’t give you the answer you wanted.
That’s okay. A few days ago, heck a few hours ago, I didn’t want to hear it either.
All that I’m saying in this post is these things:
You’re not alone. Even if you feel like it.
Yes, this is hard. But you have to keep pushing and clinging to hope.
I don’t have the instant gratification answers that you and I both wish I had.
But I have an eternal answer.
An eternal answer that’s okay to wrestle with. Frankly, I’m wrestling with it as I write this.
But as I’ve learned before, I always walk out of my wrestling matches with God a little wiser.
I’ll let you know how this one turns out.
Here’s charge and point to this post (and know that I’m fighting to learn how to do the same thing):
Do your best to push the whys and what ifs out. Replace them with eternal hope in the one day we will have healed with the Lord.
Stay focused and keep pushing through, and I will too.
One day running,