Thanks To Vegas

I spent this morning praying the same thing over and over: Lord, what do I do?

In the wake of yet another confusing, terrifying, heart shattering tragedy, I’m left empty-handed and full-hearted, longing to know how to make a difference for those who are grieving, even as I grieve.

I log into Facebook to see the instant politicization of these lost lives.

Gun control! One side chants.

Anything can be a weapon! The other responds.

I am tempted to respond. Tempted to take my stance. Tempted to try and solve the problem, yet again.

I’m a student of the human mind & the human system. These attacks leave me desperate to understand. Desperate to fix it. Desperate to see us all come to a common place of sorrow & compassion.

Instead I see people tearing at each other, condemning each other. I see politicians using these events as a platform. I see justifications and racist media representations of the aggressor & exploitation of the victims. I see traumatic videos shared callously with empty, emoji ridden captions.

I want to throw up & scream & cry & hold the hand of Jesus.

So today, I prayed. & I got an answer.

I am fighting a battle that’s already been won. I’m fighting against a world that’s already so broken only One can fix it, & He already has.. the time just hasn’t come to see it fulfilled yet.

I’ve struggled with feeling like my faith is a cop-out. I fear being seen as complacent, I fear losing my sense & drive for justice. So I share information & reminders, I write about my convictions, & I hope my words don’t fall on deaf ears. But in the end, I can’t change anyone. I can’t prevent mass shootings. I can’t prevent people driving others down. I can’t prevent people being stabbed. I can’t prevent rape. I can’t prevent poverty. I can’t prevent police brutality. Yet, I have poured my energy into attempting to fix these things, so much so that I’ve had none left to pour into doing the most important thing there is: loving others.

It was seeing so many people searching for their family member or friend that made me realize I never know if I’ll be the last unfriendly face someone sees. I have no control over the last moments of someone’s life — but I have control over the moments I leave in someone’s life. What if I’m the angry person honking my horn at someone on the freeway because they didn’t merge fast enough and they are hit by a drunk driver on their way home? What if I’m the irritated customer rushing my cashier who is killed by her abusive boyfriend when she gets home late from her shift? What if I’m the sour face in the waiting room before the other patient passes away from surgery complications?

These people will never care about my social media campaigns for safe driving, for domestic violence advocacy, for better health care. But in those small moments, they’ll care that I didn’t take the same amount of time to share a meme as to make an effort to look at the bigger picture and let go of my own frustrations and give grace. Give love.

Thanks to Vegas, I’m done with politics. I’m done with spending my energy trying to convince others to change. I’m done trying to fix a world that’s out of my control.

I’m just going to love hard. Im going to smile and encourage my cashier, the stranger next to me in the produce aisle, the lady sitting next to me at the doctor’s office. I’m going to let go of my need to be everywhere doing everything at once & breathe.

We’ve been told to live like every moment is our last.

But what if we lived like every moment is the last for those around us?

Thanks to Vegas, I’m going to try.

xoxo, B

Why Divorce Is Never An Option In My Marriage

By no means do my husband and I have a perfect relationship, let alone marriage.

We are going on four years in June, two of those spent married. It’s crazy to me how such a small amount of time can hold so many memories: both good and bad.

For a long time, I wasn’t sure we would last. We faced a lot of struggles and a lot of hurt. The word “divorce” got thrown around. Our marriage turned from a place of refuge to a place of war.

There was no miracle that saved us, we put a lot of hard work and prayer into making our marriage go on. We had reached the point where the only thing holding us together was that piece of paper, but we chose to rebuild, and with grace and a lot of support, we saw a renewal of our love and were able to offer each other forgiveness and relationship.

I took away a lot of things from this experience, but the number one decision that made a difference was to say: Divorce is not an option.

Divorce is not an option because it allows for a fallback. It means that if a marriage fails, there is still a socially acceptable alternative. It means that once there’s only a piece of paper holding you together, you might as well make it disappear.

Divorce is not an option because it allows for “what-ifs.” It asks the question “What if this marriage was the wrong decision?” “What if we should have waited?” “What if…?” Allowing the what-ifs encourages dissatisfaction and insecurities in the marriage.

Divorce is not an option because it means throwing the first stone. It means you compare your spouse’s shortcomings to your own and judge them based on the scale of your own design. It means judgement is placed higher than forgiveness in your marriage and that the faults of your partner outweigh their charms.

Divorce is not an option because marriage is a vow. The words themselves are vows, yes, but even bigger than that is the soul binding nature of marriage. You are vowing your life to another person and regardless of how cheaply marriage is portrayed in our society, that is a weighty commitment. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard or read a statement from my peers along the lines of “I’m pretty sure he’s the one, but if it doesn’t work out, there’s always divorce.”

If that’s how you see marriage, your marriage is going to be a hard, rocky road.

There are without doubt necessary reasons for a divorce. It is not up to me to say what those are. But I do know that if you allow divorce to be an option during your marriage, the hard times will be 10x harder than if you go in knowing it is not an option.

When soldiers go into battle, they go in with the expectation that they will win. If they were to go in allowing the option to lose, chances are they will.

Treat your marriage like the most important battle of your life where your only option is to win and don’t be surprised to see victory after victory as you continue on.

xoxo, B

5 Chronic Pain Symptoms I Wish People Could See

It’s been a long year and a half fighting for a diagnosis. I don’t talk or write a whole ton about my struggles with chronic pain for a few different reasons, but recently I’ve found that talking about what I’m experiencing offers a bit of relief and helps keep the nagging question of my sanity at bay.

Chronic pain can be an isolating condition. It’s hard to socialize when pain and fatigue seem to always be looking around the corner. It’s hard to support your partner and family when you’re fighting to get through the day. It’s hard to explain the debilitating symptoms of what you are dealing with without coming across as whiny.
For others, chronic pain and fatigue are hard to understand because you can’t see what it is that is wrong. For some people, like those who struggle with RA, you can sometimes see evidence in their joints. But for those like me who are facing a fibromyalgia diagnosis, the pain is in our heads — just not in the way you think.

Regardless of which form of chronic pain someone is dealing with, the pain itself remains invisible, making it hard for anyone who hasn’t experienced it themselves to even begin to comprehend the level of discomfort or agony that a person is experiencing. For this reason, I made a list of 5 of the most difficult symptoms that I have encountered, and why I wish they could be visualized.

1. Joint pain.

This isn’t just the ache of a joint that’s cold or stiff. Imagine if someone was chipping at your joint bone with a sculpting tool and that is how I feel. It’s often difficult to move just for that reason alone.

2. Fatigue.

This is the kind of exhaustion that neither coffee or sleep can touch. The kind where you physically can’t climb out of bed without an urgent reason that gives you enough adrenaline to get up. There are days where, if it weren’t for my daughter, I wouldn’t be able to move to even feed myself.

3. Extertion.

A product of both the pain and fatigue, trying to get anything done around the house is like trying to finish a marathon. Things that used to be simple, like slicing a tomato, now take immense amounts of concentration and require a slow and steady plan of attack. Everything takes me about 3-5x as long as it used to.

4. Sensitivity.

A product of my body constantly trying to monitor my pain levels, my sensitivity levels have shot through the roof. Sometimes my skin feels like it’s literally being peeled off when I’m being touched. It has caused a panic attack more than once and in all honesty this is the hardest symptom I am learning to cope with.

5. Guilt.

One of the things no one has mentioned in all the articles and documents on chronic pain that I have been reading is the weight of guilt that I feel as a wife, a mother, and a friend. Everything feels like an excuse and it’s difficult to formulate an explanation that communicates my need and desire for interaction but my parallel need for relief. When you have a broken leg, people understand why you can’t drive to see them or why you aren’t comfortable going to a busy social event. But when no one can see the issue that you’re dealing with, it’s much harder. It is far too easy for me to accept my feelings of inadequacy and it is something I am working to overcome daily.
Although this list may sound like one of complaints, in reality it is simply facts about my life. I believe in recovery and in the healing power of Jesus Christ, so I don’t focus on mourning my pre-fibro life, but rather am learning to accept my new one and speak about it in a way that promotes awareness and self-understanding. I’m thankful every day for a wonderful team of doctors that is walking through this with me and for the family and friends who have been praying through this journey with me.

If you know someone who is battling an invisible illness, just be kind and love on them. It goes a long way just to hear “I’m here for you” and to know that someone is on your side.
And to those of you who are in this fight with me, you are courageous and brave. There will be a day with no more pain.

xoxo

xoxo, B