As I shared a bit in my last post, good health has unfortunately not been a highlight of the first few months in my new home. Since arriving in Kansas in July, hardly a week has gone by without at least one visit to a doctor, dentist, or orthodontist. I have been a medical mess.. jaw pain, elbow pain, muscle spasms, mysterious rashes, you name it! In the beginning of my time here, I went to many appointments and gained few answers. As my patient mother could tell you from my phone calls home, this caused a lot of frustration for me. And while I’ve learned it’s okay to sit in this emotion for a short time, it’s not healthy to dwell in it.
Thankfully, there are a whole host of things that have helped me gain perspective on this season. One is that I have slowly started to feel better and gain answers. Another is that I have an incredible group of friends and family that have been my biggest encouragers. One reason for writing this post is to say a sincere thank you for your generous phone calls, packages, cards, and emails that helped me gain positivity over the last couple of months. I have also been blessed with work that I believe in and enjoy, as well as new friends who provide laughter and encouragement.
I happen to be (or am rather intentionally) reading this book about what it means to rise strong from times of disappointment and hardship. The author outlines a battle cry for readers – something she calls a ‘Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted’. I love it in its entirety, but the first two stanzas are ones that particularly resonate with me.
There is no greater threat to the critics and cynics and fearmongers
Than those of us who are willing to fall
Because we have learned how to rise
With skinned knees and bruised hearts;
We choose owning our stories of struggle,
Over hiding, over hustling, over pretending.
As a result of this book, I’ve been digging in and owning this struggle of a season. I’ve gained courage in again hoping that I will feel better, understanding that I risk disappointment if it doesn’t come in the way or speed I expect. In my own way, I am rising stronger, and in doing so I have come to recognize some new things. For one, a lack of answers and desperation for better health has been humbling, as I have been more dependent on God’s word and prayer to maintain the hope that I will get better in time. I have come to a new place of trust, believing that He is working in my waiting.
Another realization is that an increase in the bitter of life’s bittersweet has caused a nearly identical rise in sweet. In other words, it almost seems that the good days and moments have felt a bit sweeter in this season. For example, a couple weeks ago I returned to the World Food Prize events in Iowa, which was what first prompted my interest in international agriculture (and ultimately resulted in this blog for my time in Turkey) six years ago. During this trip, I was able to meet the man that funded my trip as a high school student and thank him for all that he’s done for me. Talk about sweet!
On Thursday I head back to D.C. for vacation so that I can see my lovely host mother for the first time in over 3 years while she is visiting some of our Senegalese family in the area!! While I have told her for years over the phone that I will see her soon, InshAllah (God willing), it’s finally true and I couldn’t be more grateful or excited! It is these events that make me realize – I would take the bitter any day for this kind of sweet. The reality is that daily life is defined by the bittersweet, and we can either be frustrated by that or embrace it fully.
Coincidentally, my recent perspective aligns with this new song by Gungor that proclaims..
These are the days we’ve been given
What will you do with each of them?
What will you do with your one wild life?
Brave the rise and fall
Go on and feel it all
I want to feel it all
I want to be present in all of today and whatever bittersweet-ness it brings with it.