Refinement. 1 Year Stroke Anniversary
One year. One year ago today, our little world was flipped upside down.
One year ago today, at 28 years old, I had 3 strokes. (click to read the full story)
One year ago today, my whole equilibrium was rocked.
One year ago today, I went completely blind.
One year ago today, I lost all feeling on the left side of my body.
One year ago today, was the scariest day of my life.
One year ago today, I became a stroke survivor.
I would love to say how blessed and empowered I feel after one year. I would love to share how I just have this “one day to live, live to the fullest attitude” now… but that’s not where I’m at right now in my journey. The truth is, this has been the longest and hardest year of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly grateful for all of the progress I have made. I am grateful to have 3/4 of my vision back in each eye. I am grateful that I can walk. I am blessed to have an amazing medical team, and I feel incredibly blessed to be where I am today, but it has been tough. I suffer from vision loss in the top left quadrant of each eye, neck pain, light dizziness, and random “big” dizzy spells.
Because my stroke deficits aren’t “visible”, most people feel like everything is normal. I think that has been one of the hardest aspects of the past year. People see “normal,” so they don’t understand how “not normal” our life has been. They don’t understand how different everything feels.
They didn’t see the days I couldn’t get out of bed, because I felt so dizzy or the nights I cried in the shower, begging God for just a little less neck pain. They don’t see the dizziness I feel sitting in Church on Sunday from the blue lights or the florescent lights in Target. They don’t realize they are standing in my blindspot and half their head is cut off. They don’t understand the panic and anxiety that comes along with a “big” dizzy spell where my heart rate skyrockets, I feel like I”m going to pass out, then body starts uncontrollably shaking.
My entire body feels different now and I’m learning what the new normal looks like for our family. And, I’ve been slowly learning and un-patiently listening to what God is teaching me in this season.
At first, I just felt numb to what God was teaching me. I felt like I was barely making it through each day. I didn’t have time for “God lessons”, I just wanted to make it out of bed to attempt to work and take care of my family. Then, I felt like I couldn’t trust my body (thus not fully trusting Him). I knew that wasn’t true, but I couldn’t find peace. Everything felt out of wack, out of place. Then, I felt like the “lesson” was finding contentment in whatever season – good or bad.
Now, on the one year anniversary – I see refinement. I see Christ pushing me towards himself, pushing me toward becoming more like him.
“And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. – Deuteronomy 8:2-3
This verse just keeps sticking out to me and I’ve read it probably a thousand times. “The Lord your God has led you..” – humbling you, testing you… letting you hunger then feeding you.” God leads us to hard places to make us more like Him. I don’t know abut you but gosh, I would rather fast-toward through the trials, through the suffering, through the hunger. In the hard times, it often feels like God is taking things away from us, when He is actually giving us the greatest gift. He is refining us. He is teaching us to rely on Him, to trust Him, to become more like Him. The hardest spaces are where God does some of His greatest work.
Will you trust Him even when it’s hard? Even when you don’t understand? Even when you don’t see the good? Even when everything looks bleak? Even when you plead for no more suffering, yet the suffering continues? Will you let Him refine you? Will you trust Him with your life?
I know I still have a long way to go in the refining process, but I’m daily praying for God to use me and draw me closer to Him. I might not always be good at it, and I’m certainly going to struggle, but I feel incredibly blessed to live this life for Him.