Yesterday the extent of my hair loss reached out from behind the mirror and smacked me in the face. “Could who I’m looking at possibly be me?” Yep, it was. The open empty, thinning spaces seemed like a good representation my life, empty space and barren in some places and holding on for dear life in others. But then today I was reminded of something miraculous. My boys and I read “The Purpose Driven Life” every morning and we are readung the chapter titled “God’s Power in Your Weakness”. I was so excited to start this chapter because I haven’t felt more weak in my life than I do right now. After we began to read the first chapter I was sure the words were meant for our family.
“Your weaknesses are no accident. God deliberately allows them in your life for the purpose of demonstrating his power through you.” It goes on to say, “That God uses imperfect people is encouraging news for all of us.” Then it hit home. “A weakness, or ‘thorn’ as Paul called it, is not a sin or vice or a character defect that you can change, such as overeating or impatience. A weakness is any limitation that you inherited or have no power to change. It may be a physical limitation, like a handicap, a chronic illness, naturally low energy, or disability. It may be an emotional limitation, such as a trauma scar, a hurtful memory, a personality quirk, or heredity disposition. Or it may be a talent or intellectual limitation. We’re all not super bright or talented. When you think of the limitation in your life, you may be tempted to conclude, ‘God could never use me.’ But God is never limited by our limitations. In fact, he enjoys putting his great power into ordinary containers.”
Yesterday I was looking into the mirror wondering what purpose I even serve. I wondered if my husband could ever find me attractive after all the changes I am going through. Yesterday I looked in the mirror and thought of all the reasons I am useless, worthless, and served no real purpose in the world. My life is thin and barren of so many things because I have made so many mistakes in my life and surely I deserve the pain. It’s easier to believe the awful things I tell myself and it isn’t that hard to find reasons why I feel like I deserve it.
About a year ago I was submitting a lot of stories to The Mighty. I liked the idea behind the site, finding hope through disability and the stories were mostly submitted. I had good luck and a few of my stories got picked up, one even made its way to Yahoo Health. It was a very personal story that included photos of my life with chronic illness. This piece was in opposition to my personality. I am not someone who likes to open myself up to public scrutiny and putting this post up on Yahoo Health did just that. I told myself not to read the comments but curiosity eventually got to me and I did. There were kind comments but the trolls came out as well. The comment that stung the most stated that I was a waste because I had a chronic illness. He validated all the horrible things I have believed about myself. I am chronically ill so I am worthless, I serve no purpose, and my family is better off without me. You would think I would have been happy after my work was being recognized, but shortly after I sank into a dark depression. My health was slowly getting worse, my son was going to have neurosurgery soon for his out of control seizures, and the depression made me feel very alone. Medication changes, depression, and stress are a bad combination. At my most desperate, I asked my husband to leave me. I negotiated and gave him every reason why he deserved more than what I could offer. Thankfully he could still see me under it all and reminded me of how much he loved me. I thought everyone else saw me as I saw myself. I didn’t allow my husband to see me as he wanted to see me. It turns out, he still saw me as the woman he married. He still does. I don’t know how he can see past what I see in the mirror every morning but he does and so does our Creator. Love is funny like that.
Contrary to what others have said about me or what I have said about myself, I have a purpose. My broken vessel can still carry a something precious. I don’t need to have a full head of hair, the perfect job or perfect family to serve my intended purpose. In fact, perfection isn’t part of the message God wants to share. He wants to share a perfect message through imperfect people. Those are the best kinds of messages, aren’t they?
When our son was diagnosed years ago, I found a lot of support online. When I searched for a group, I didn’t search for a diabetes support group, he doesn’t have diabetes. I searched for groups pertaining to his disease because I needed to talk to those who have personal knowledge of it. Experience is a useful tool, it also makes for a pretty powerful message. I have made friendships with people who understand when others may not. I have realized, the more God allows me to suffer, the more useful I am to his message and to the service of others. Assuming I have no purpose is questioning God’s own purpose in making me. I don’t need need a full head if hair to minister to others, just because I now have some physical limitations doesn’t mean I don’t have spiritual strength, and useless to the world never means useless to God.
I have spent the last eight years since my son was diagnosed pushing others away. I already hurt so much, I didn’t want any more hurt. It was easier for me to be alone than it was to take a chance and get hurt by someone else.The truth is, I was the one doing the most damage. I was isolating myself with the one person who had the most hateful opinion of me….. me. God is constantly challenging me in unexpected ways. Sometimes it’s through a sermon, sometimes it’s through a book, and sometimes it’s through those who won’t let me push them away. I am thankful God still had a purpose for me when I made some big mistakes but then again, he knows me better than I know myself, he is my creator. It may be about time I started looking at myself through His eyes, I may start to like what He created.