I’m Not the Only One

Yesterday, I got to meet with a precious couple who helped my family and I get through the heartache of my brain surgeries back in 2005. I can’t believe it’s been almost 10 years since my initial surgeries… Nor can I actually fathom that yesterday was the first time I looked this couple in the eye and said the only thing worth saying, “Thank you.”

The fun part of that meeting was this couple had no idea who I was. Back in ’05, a mutual friend had voiced his desire to be at the Seattle hospital with me… And Dane and his wife stepped up to provide the otherwise unobtainable funds. The brain surgery was the main event back then, but Dane and his wife understood something a lot of people belittled: There’s no such thing as too much support when going through something as terrifying as pediatric brain surgery.

I said my thank-you’s yesterday, cried my tears, and then took a walk down memory lane. Terry, my friend who came to Seattle, passed away in 2008 from cancer. Terry and I had made bets on who would get to heaven first; though I’m fairly certain we only set that bet up in order to laugh through a pretty painful time for both of us. We were prayer warriors, we were fellow-fighters, and Lord knows, we held on to God and our families and then we all resorted to humor.

Terry’s nickname for me was Chia. It was a ridiculous joke over how quickly the steroids from the surgery made my hair grow back, but Terry seemed to only use it when he had a point to make. Calling me Chia was endearing, but it was also as if he used it to remind me that being a steward of God’s grace wasn’t something to take lightly.

During a rather sobering chat with Terry shortly after my first visit to Seattle, I learned my most valuable lesson from him. I was having a pretty narcissistic day, and Terry pointed that out in his gentle way, then shared something I’ll never forget.

“Chia, you know.. We’re not the only ones hurting. You’re hurting right now and I get that, but I’m not the only one with Cancer, and you’re not the only one with a seemingly incurable disorder. We’re not the only ones in pain. Stop acting as if we are.”

God used that to teach me to look outside myself. I’m not good at it, but it is a challenge I strive for. I’m not the only one in pain. I’m not the only one with a questionable medical history. I’m not the only one longing for God to tell me I’ve done enough and He’s taking me home. I’m not the only one who remembers being shocked when I woke up for another day.

Pain is pain. Doubt is doubt. Fear is fear. To say one person’s challenge is worse than the other is, in essence, saying one person is worth more than the other. Wrong.
We’re not the only ones hurting.

Just Another Day

I love Valentine’s Day. I love this horridly commercialized day even more when I actually have someone around in order to make the day applicable. What woman doesn’t enjoy being doted upon? What man doesn’t like steak dinner? Chocolate crosses genders… So when all else fails.. Chocolate. Unless you’re allergic to it– then you just laugh.

I’m approximately 9,000 miles away from my guy at the moment. I will be for quite some time yet, actually. So Valentine’s Day is mail ordered and picture packed. (Kind of picture packed. Actually, not really.) Regardless of what this day looks like for me, having a long distance relationship with someone I know isn’t just there for kicks got me in an analytical mood today.
Before I become a fun-sucker of Valentine’s Day, just know one thing. I love the man God has seemingly glued into my life.

I’ve learned one thing doing a serious long-distance relationship on a college campus: People either pity you or they’re confused by you. The girls have their flowers, the guys have their bragging rights and their girl’s hand to hold. Aaaand I have FaceTime (hallelujah), my man’s voice and a prayer that someday this insanity will not be an eternal habit for how we spend Valentine’s Day. It’s just another day.

Now before y’all throw mental darts at the poor man who’s turned the holiday of Hearts into “just another day”– hear me out. Long distance teaches you a lot about what love actually is.

I was going to do the typical list of what love is with reasons as to how this relationship personifies it. But seriously, I think there’s been enough of those thanks to social media. The reality is? This relationship I’m in is incredibly worth it, but it’s hard. My man has taught me much about how a relationship takes sacrifice, understanding, patience, humor and the ability to do the mundane together.
Some of the most endearing and enlightening times with him have been hour long conversations about job hunts.
Some of the most precious conversations with him have been after I’ve had a very female meltdown for no reason whatsoever. The Biblical truth of love that came out of those conversations (sadly, there’s been more than one) reminds me on a daily basis that love isn’t always touchable.

This relationship has taught me how love is a choice. How love will always be a choice. As much as I would love to say the depth of this relationship is always inspiringly deep, beautiful and fun– it’s not. There are days where when I can’t find a reason to count butterflies and write love poems, I’m still called to love him. If I can’t do that, I’m called to respect him, support him and cherish him. And he is called to the same.

Today is just another day because we’ve had to decide that commitment is an every day thing. If we had to wait for the Holiday of Hearts to decide that or show it– we’d be doing something wrong. We have fun with this day, but it’s just another day.