Someone tagged a picture of me from about a year ago, and I was shocked when I saw it. Now, I usually hate it when people tag me in photos anyway. I am very self-conscious about the way I look. Always have been.
But this picture is a horrid picture of me. I didn’t recognize myself. I look so sick, so swollen, so pained, so tired. I honestly do not recall ever looking like that. I remember thinking I was ugly, thinking I was fat. But I don’t remember ever looking so… sick. I was sad to see that, at that time in my life, I was literally wearing all of that pain and heaviness and depression and anxiety and panic and sickness. I know it’s just a picture. But really, it shook me. It was a shocking awakening to me to see the sickness on me. I almost cried. I could see everything that I had felt a year ago written all over my face, in my body, my grey eyes, my tired smile, my pale skin. What a horrible memory. I was embarrassed to think of it, to see myself from that time.
I showed Nick, seeking validation or encouragement or maybe a lie—someone to tell me that I never looked like that, that I was being too critical. Looking at the photo made me want to hide or to race back in time and erase myself, my memory of that time. How terrifying it is to look back at a photo of yourself from a year ago and not recognize anything about the person you’re staring at. But to be honest, I didn’t want the picture to be of me. I didn’t want to recognize it. “Is this what I really looked like? Did I really look this sick?”
He said, “Kels. You were sick. You were really sick. So you looked sick.” He pointed out my grey eyes. My eyes gravitated toward the extra weight in my face, my pale skin, my swollen gut. My empty smile that looked more like a grimace. Why didn’t anyone tell me I looked like that?!.
And then it all made sense—everything that people had said to me a year ago. People asking me if I was okay, how I was doing, if I was getting enough rest. People praying for me. Then, months later: My dad telling me that the light and color was back in my eyes. That I had life in my step again. People telling me I look great. My mom telling me that the old Kelsey was back. That my laugh was back. That I was smiling.
I guess I never fully recognized it until now, but I have proof. God heals. He really does bring healing. It’s not always the way you expect. If you are like me, you may not expect it at all. I doubted it. I didn’t think I’d climb out of the grave. I didn’t think I would ever live life the way I used to before I got sick. But He brought my life back to me free of charge, and He trudged through the mire of my doubt, pain, tears, fatigue, curses, and hopelessness. Wow. He crawled through all the sludge to give me life.
My eyes are blue again! There is life in my face! I smile. I laugh. I don’t cry myself to sleep every night. I don’t want to die. Yes, I still have pain. I still have anxiety. I need a Xanax every once in a while to prevent a panic attack. My arthritis comes and goes. But I am living again in a real way.
Maybe there is even more healing to come, or maybe there isn’t. But I never thought I would be here. Even if this is as far as God has planned for me, I have never been so thankful. I am so blessed to experience the kind of healing I have experienced. I don’t even care if I never experience full healing. This is enough. It will always be enough.
I never wanna go back. And I don’t just mean how I looked or how much extra weight I had on me or how swollen my joints were or this or that. I mean all of it. I do not want to feel lifeless every again. I do not want to look lifeless. I never want lifeless. I want life.
Sometimes I forget that’s exactly how I felt: lifeless. And now I have physical proof to remind me of how far God has carried me. From darkness to light. From lifelessness to life. From doubt, hopelessness, depression, and anxiety to faith and hope and love and truth.
It’s a sobering thought now to remember how heavy my heart was then. But I am also filled with hope and thankfulness that I am on the other side—or at least, a better side.
God is so good.
Please don’t expect me to always be good and kind and loving. There are times when I will be cold and thoughtless and hard to understand.
Be kind to yourself. Stop telling yourself that whatever you are struggling with “should” be easy. If something is hard for you, it is hard for you. There are probably Reasons, though those may just be how you are wired. Acknowledge these things. When you finish something hard, be proud! Celebrate a little.
And really, just stop saying “should” to yourself about your thoughts and feelings in any context. You feel how you feel. The things in your head are the things in your head. You can’t change either directly through sheer force of will. You can only change what you do. Stop beating yourself up for who and what you are right now–it isn’t productive. Focus on moving forward.
People always say that it hurts at night and apparently screaming into your pillow at 3am is the romantic equivalent of being heartbroken. But sometimes it’s 9am on a Tuesday morning and you’re standing at the kitchen bench waiting for the toast to pop up. And the smell of dusty sunlight and earl gray tea makes you miss him so much you don’t know what to do with your hands.