Tuesday, September 5, 2017
God Has Humbled This Proud, Conceited, Vain Girl
I was an extraordinarily active kid.
I was/still am a dancer. I took Mexican folkloric dance, swing, ballroom dance, waltzing, and drill team/cheerleading from elementary school through my freshman year of high school. To this day, you'll see me dancing in my apartment (well, only if I feel comfortable enough being the massive goofball that I am around you), dancing in the car, and sometimes in the aisles of the groceries stores when I forget that people can see me.
I was a tomboy who loved playing sports. I ran track, played handball, tetherball, and even baseball when the boys let me. I still remember being the only girl who would dare race against the boys to see who was the fastest in the 5th grade. In junior high, I mostly drill team until I had to choose between honors classes and drill team... and I chose the honor classes. After that, I played soccer, still ran track, and played basketball in my co-ed P.E. class. In high school (and I only went to public HS for a year and a half), I did dance for an entire year and then did a semester of co-ed P.E. I was one of the only two girls in the class who dared to play flag (American) football, basketball, soccer, and softball.
I also had my academic accomplishments. In elementary school, I was one of the chosen speakers of my elementary school graduation. In junior high, I tested into a more academically demanding track and had to choose between dance/popularity and academics. My parents drilled the importance of an education so it was a no-brainer for me. As a high school freshman, I (along with 4 other classmates) tested out of high school English so we took college-level elective courses with some seniors because they didn't have any English courses I could take. I developed severe social anxiety due to the bullying and mental abuse I received from both classmates and teachers so I lost an entire of school. They thought I was going to graduate when I was 19-20 through a charter school. I surprised them by graduating a year and a half early and I even gave the valedictorian/student speech at my high school graduation.
My health began to slowly decline shortly before I turned 18. Anxiety physically debilitated me and I'm sure my father's cancer diagnosis didn't help. I developed anemia for the first time when I was 18 and I was severely underweight from the anti-anxiety medications they'd given me. I recovered for a while but not before anxiety became worse... as did my health. I, who had no allergies as a child, suddenly couldn't eat or drink anything with dairy at 19. At 20, the egg allergy developed. I, who rarely missed school due to illness, became more and more sick... and there wasn't (at the time) an explanation. I returned to the Church in the midst of the uncertainty. The doctors then figured out that my (we now know) PTSD and social anxiety was the cause.
My academic career was terrible. I had to repeat a couple of courses because my health would sometimes affect things. Somehow, I was able to have lucky breaks and, despite illness and my father's death, I was finally able to graduate with my first Bachelor's degree. Quite a few years later than anticipated (I should've graduated around 2007-2008) in 2012.
I was okay for a couple of years but eventually, things began to decline again. When I was about 24, shortly after my father passed away, was the first time they noticed my platelets were lower than normal but no one bothered to check things out. It wasn't until I was 30 that they became more interested in getting to the root cause of my health problems, platelets included. At the time I'm writing this, I'm still a medical mystery to them since they can't figure out the cause (re: low platelets).
As many of y'all know, I overdid it and burnt myself out in mid-late 2014 when I did my first and second semester of my SLP degree... to the point where my health took the biggest hit. It took me until earlier this year to get my iron levels to the point where I was no longer anemic. After two semesters in grad school and a terrible car accident in late 2015, it took me a couple more months to recover my weight (I was underweight for about 2-3 years).
Things seem to be on the upswing and then... something brings me back down. Low platelets. Anemia. Anxiety. Academic failure. It's taken me several years to appreciate everything... and it's just now that I accept everything as being a part of God's will instead of trying to do things on my own, to the point where my pride makes me make terrible decisions.
I've recently realized that God has humbled me because it's been the best thing that could've happened. I was way too overconfident (read: conceited, proud, and vain) about... everything.
I was the girl who was always one of the top students. The girl who received academic honors. The girl who gave the speech at her HS graduation. The girl whose British Literature professor (during her freshman year of college) encouraged her to apply to Oxford University.
I was the girl who could whoop boys at a bunch of sports. I ran and hit faster than many of them. I wasn't afraid of getting hurt, bruised, or dirty.
I was the girl who was offered a contract with a major agency (that would've radically changed my life) when she was 20.
I was the girl who, at 19, was teased about being the first amongst her friends to marry because of the luck she had with the fellas.
I'm now the girl who (people assume) is always sick. I'm the girl who has to be careful during cold/flu season because she can't get a flu shot (egg allergy) and whose white blood count is rarely within normal levels (read: low immunity against viruses). I'm the girl who can't be in the heat too long because she has lower than normal blood pressure. I'm the girl who has to be careful not to cut herself because the low platelets could potentially make her bleed more than normal. I'm the girl who has to be careful about what she consumes because of the food and medication allergies.
I'm the girl who sometimes doesn't have the physical energy/stamina to even sit up or open her eyes on her most physically debilitating days. I'm the girl who gets winded simply bending down and standing back up. I'm the girl who can spend days lightheaded or dizzy in bed. I'm the girl who wishes she could dance more but doesn't have the energy to do so.
I'm the girl who constantly fails in the academic arena because sometimes her health is so poor that mental fog is ever-present, making it difficult for her to concentrate in lectures and/or remember what she studied for exams. I'm the girl who abandoned her second Bachelor's degree... then a Master of Arts degree... and then the second Bachelor's degree again.
I'm the girl who is seen as being a stereotypically lazy Millennial who just lays around the house, doing nothing. I'm the girl who wishes she could work to pay off her student loans but who can't because of her health. I'm the girl who wishes she could financially provide for her mother so that her mother could retire; this girl wants to take care of her mother.
I'm the girl who is currently working on something that she hopes to one day share with you all but, for now, let's say I'm working towards something that I hope will make my mom (and my father, wherever he is) proud. I'm the girl who, despite the want to do well on this thing she's working on, is having a lot of problems accomplishing the basic tasks because she constantly falls asleep and experiences too much mental fog to complete anything she begins.
I'm the girl with terrible luck with fellas (though, perhaps, still has excellent taste because 3 crushes from the past 8 years have ended up in seminary) and, at 32, is one of the last of her friends to marry.
I'm the girl who still has her moments of pride and vanity... but who God is humbling in a way that makes the girl cry tears of joy because (after much prayer in which asked to be cured has now seen that) it's the way He shows His love for her. It may sound weird but I feel like God continues to humble me in order that I may join Him in Heaven one day... which is my ultimate goal.
I'm the girl who has learned that it's okay to ask others for help... to be okay looking foolish... to be who she is, deep down, without worrying about how others perceive her or if others will like her.
I'm the girl who has learned that all the worldly accomplishments, all the riches, all the "luck", all that she experienced as a girl and a young woman aren't important. Doing God's will and choosing to accept the suffering that I need to endure is more important.
And, finally, I'm the girl who hopes God uses to get "through" to others who feel alone... unloved... hopeless... like failures... everything she herself feels at times. I pray to God that I may say the right words or do the right works; to help others during their own low moments. Even if I don't ever know about it and even if it's just one person during my lifetime, I hope I do good. I hope I do my part, through my weaknesses and failures, for His greater glory.
Some of you may say that it will be foolish of me to say this but: I really do hope God does continue to humble me to the point where my pride and vanity is as nonexistent in my being as possible. God has already helped me see how much this "mighty" gal has fallen... and I wouldn't have it any other way. I know that I will continue to be seen as dumb, weak, too sensitive, a failure, etc. and I welcome it. I would rather be seen as being an insignificant than being at risk of having my pride and vanity return to the levels they were at when I was healthy and had too many options in life.
I'm going to leave y'all with this quote from the saint whose feast day we celebrate today (it's still Tuesday in Los Angeles):
“We are at Jesus’ disposal. If he wants you to be sick in bed, if he wants you to proclaim His work in the street, if he wants you to clean the toilets all day, that’s all right, everything is all right. We must say, ‘I belong to you. You can do whatever you like.’ And this is our strength. This is the joy of the Lord.” - St. Teresa of Calcutta