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How I Embraced the Woman I’ve Become in Spite of My Limitations

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Personally, one of the hardest parts of my illness has been the loss of the “old me.” The girl who could run three miles a day and read into the late hours of the night and still have plenty of energy to pour into the people she loved the next day. Oh, how I grieved her. I missed everything from the texture of her hair to her ability to fully embrace and enjoy life.

Looking back, I realize now that part of my quest for a diagnosis was fueled by the thought that if someone could just locate the source of the problem, then surely they could correct it and give me that girl back. The girl that I liked better, and everybody else liked better. You know, the one who was infinitely more worthy of love than this girl I had become. 

They say adversity introduces you to yourself. It shows you what you believe. And it turns out, deep down, I believed the sick version of me wasn’t very lovable. Because she couldn’t do the things she believed were earning her keep all along. She couldn’t stay in shape or come to the rescue of those in need. Heck, she could barely stay awake half of the time. Instead of helping others, she now needed help. It was uncomfortable, and apparently in my mind, unattractive, maybe even unlovable.

One of the greatest things I’ve done for myself is to let the old me go. I just let her go and embraced this woman I’ve become in spite of all of her limitations. This woman I’ve become is rooted in grace. She’s let go of all of that needless striving. She’s come to believe who God created her to be hasn’t changed one bit and what he called her to do hasn’t changed at all. This woman is going to do those things, regardless of how many diagnoses are pinned to her. This woman who thought she’d been stripped of everything has come to see she’s really only been stripped of all those false identities. This woman thinks if you can love her at 40 pounds overweight, that’s amazing and if you can’t – go with God. This woman is determined not to be defined by illness or any other circumstance. Instead she believes she’s defined by what God created her to be.

If you find yourself grieving that person you used to be, that’s OK. There’s a season of grieving. Cry those tears. Feel those losses. But when the time comes, let them go. Find freedom in embracing the person you are today; the one who knows what it is to overcome adversity and meet others in that same place. Celebrate the wisdom, maturity, compassion and insight gained by what you’ve gone through. Maybe you’ve lost some physical function, but I guarantee you have gained some life-changing emotional function to be offered to others as they walk this very same road.

If you asked me today if I wanted that girl back, the one that I used to be, my answer would be no. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have her shape, and she did have cute hair. But I’d rather have the insight and determination of this woman I’ve become. They’re worth more to me.

I have chosen to let the “old me” go, and embrace the “new me.”

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Originally published: August 10, 2016
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