On the first Sunday of every month, in the main meeting of our church, members of the congregation get to take the opportunity to come forward and share their own belief and faith. It is something that I have not done in a long time, so I felt today to get up and do this.
I’ve been thinking about some of the things I said and some things a little beyond what I said there. It really is something that I’m slowly coming to terms with, accepting, and embracing as something that is just part of my story.
In truth — and this isn’t whining, just the facts — I have had a rough few years. In the last three years, I been through the following:
- been laid off or otherwise had to part ways with 3 jobs
- thus been unemployed for almost a year and a half in aggregate
- was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney disease
- had to do dialysis for 3 months
- had a kidney transplant
- had another minor surgery
- spent over 3 months in aggregate in the hospital
- discovered the eye problems I was having are worse than I thought
- had to stop driving at night because of my eye sight
- found out I could be blind in a decade
- had my marriage end
- wrecked and totaled my car
- took on a lot of extra debt because of unemployment and necessary medical expenses
I share this because lessons are learned often in the hard and difficult times. During these times I have had to rely on the sacrifice and service of others and that has been something very hard for me to do. I have often questioned why these great things are done in my behalf. I often question why I am still alive, why my life has been spared; I’ve certainly stared death in the face in the last few years.
I share all of this as an introspection of where I am today and where I’ve been. I admit, I would be amazed at anyone else who has had all of these things happen to them. But I don’t think I’m that special. Sometimes, when faced with life threatening things, some people rise up and show what amazing people they are. Lance Armstrong went on to win several Tour de France after having cancer. Though succumbing to the disease, Randy Pausch was able to inspire and help many people (and still does) after being diagnosed with cancer. Michael J. Fox has gone on to be a tireless advocate for research and treatment of Parkison’s since his diagnosis. And Ludwig van Beethoven was able to compose what I consider one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever after going completely deaf. And the list goes on.
Well, I’m not one of those people. In fact, I have really struggled. I was (and am) hurt and scared by my kidney disease. I became bitter and angry, fighting with people that in a very real way I felt were saying that they didn’t care about whether I lived or died and that if I needed help, I was lazy, taking advantage of people, and not worth anything. I lashed out and got scared. Life scared me — even the things I wanted and treasured the most I was so afraid of.
I write this to say that I’m starting to accept it more. I will never be that totally amazing person that conquers it all. Yes, I have been through a lot. But I didn’t sail through it. There is much that I feel great sorrow and regret for. I did the best I could given where I had come from and what I was going through. If I could, there are some things I would definitely change and I wish with my whole being that I could. But that’s not possible.
This is my reality. I have to do and be my best. I am sorry if I get scared. I’m sorry if I get angry. I am sorry if I am emotional all the time. I can only do my best. I can only do what I can at the capability and habits I currently have, no matter how much I want to be better. Some days, getting out of bed and going to work is a major accomplishment. Some days, just taking my medications that I need to keep alive is a major accomplishment. Other days, I feel like I could conquer the world.
But I have to be okay with where I am. I know I want to be better. I certainly wish I could be like Randy Pausch, Lance Armstrong, Micheal J. Fox, or Beethoven. But I’m not them. I’m me. And right now, just the fact that I am alive and still have my friends and family that love me is what I have and what I can do. If someone has problems with where I am, or the pace at which I am healing and changing, ultimately it has to be their problem. It can’t be mine. I can’t take the weight of the world on my shoulders. I’ve tried, and even with 3 kidneys I just can’t do it.