by Alisha Bauman-Farley of Indianapolis, IN
Every day is a new day. Every second is a new chance to stop and change the way we choose to respond to the many interactions we may face. Just as every human out there, I have gone up against difficult situations that have challenged me and at times broken me into the shards of a destroyed window fractured by a rock.
My health has become broken. Over the years we have searched for answers to what could be wrong only to find ourselves empty handed, simply treating the symptoms that tease me each and every day. Before my disorder flooded my body, I was strong, energetic, and always eager to push myself beyond my introverted comforts. I had the opportunity to work for Community of Christ and explore what God was calling me to do full time. I loved my job, married my best friend, and had built up a powerful connection of mentors and dear friends. I believe God is love. I would follow anywhere I saw the love of God lead me. My spirit was on fire.
Go back to that first night where my leg would not stop shaking and my arm twitched uncontrollably. I was afraid. My physical abilities were being threatened. Days went by, then weeks, which were followed by months and my body became more and more flooded no matter how hard I pushed back as if trying to stop a dam from breaking. All we could find were doctors who could only work as builders trying to plug up the holes of the dam trying to keep it from completely breaking. My body began to limit me. I became trapped in what felt like a prison.
Struggling to figure out how I belonged within my church community and no longer working, I began to focus on my newborn child, using any fading energy I had to care for her. That roaring fire inside of me that used to burn brightly was now a small flame, dancing at the top of a single candle stick. Though it seemed dim it was bright enough for me so I did not have to weep in the dark or lay on the floor all alone when I would fall. God’s love cared for me. With every song I sang for my child, I could hear God singing back to me. It nurtured me, leading me to greater understanding beyond the security of a healthy, properly functioning body.
Let me tell you a story about community. Remember when I mentioned those piece of shattered glass sprawled across the floor. Sticks and stone can break my bones but words can never hurt me. Words do hurt. Words do judge. Words can break us. Sometimes those words are tied around a rock flying at us. We become broken, sprawled across the floor unable to physically clean ourselves up or piece ourselves back together.
Those words may be endless medical notes telling you that a doctor is not sure what you have; but, they will assume without proof making you feel like you are not trying hard enough. They may be be words constantly pouring out of a loved one’s mouth letting you know you will never be good enough. They might be ignorant strangers telling you the love you share with you significant other is sinful or disgusting. It might be words coming from your own mouth telling yourself that your body in ugly, too fat, too skinny, too light, too dark, or too anything else that is not perfect…
As I lay broken on the floor, some of the dearest people in my life surround me. They carefully pick up those broken pieces, gently wash the dirt from them, and begin to help me create a beautiful stained glass window. They fill me with encouragement and share God’s love with me. I begin to understand that my physical body does not define the spirit within me. Every day I get the opportunity to choose how I interact with others. Some times I can only do tiny things. As my husband and best friend reminded me, every day I choose to wake up. I choose not just life but to live life no matter what comes my way. My health can never get in the way of God’s love. My community I choose to surround myself with cheers me on, picks me up, and loves me with the love God gave them to use.
Community starts with you. Invite people in to help assess your dam. Be open to the repairs that God’s love can do. Be gentle with others and vulnerable to others care and help. I realize my spirit has always been on fire. Sometimes it needs to be a gentle flame and other times it needs to burn bright.