Sara Frankl was a friend and fellow blogger who suffered from an autoimmune disease and several complications. As I worked on the book that tells Sara’s story and shares her message of hope and joy, I was amazed and moved to read about the incredible strength Sara drew from her faith. That inner strength allowed her to withstand immeasurable pain both physical and emotional — and to choose joy through it all.
I invite you to read an excerpt of our book today, where Sara responded to a reader who asked if she’d trade what she’d learned through her disease for good health.
I wouldn’t trade what I’ve learned for good health. It sounds insane, even to me, as I sit here in pain, but I can say it without hesitation.
I really, really would like to be in good health. I’d love to walk outside, to sing to my heart’s content, dance, go to a friend’s house, to travel home for the holidays. I’d love to not have to think through every single movement I make and I’d love to be blissfully ignorant of the word debilitating.
But more than all of that, I love feeling at peace, believing, trusting, accepting and being open to life as it is. And when it comes down to it, I don’t want to trade fulfilling who God needs me to be for my own comfort.
People used to tell me they prayed for my healing so I could be whole, but the only thing that would make me less than whole is if I chose what I needed over what He needed from me.
Whole. I have fought this word a lot in my life. So many truly well-meaning people have used the word in order to tell me what I could be.
If I would just take another remedy.
If I would just pray a certain prayer.
If I would just . . . fill in the blank.
If I would just do any one of the magical things that they have just heard about from their aunt’s cousin’s mother, then I would be . . . wait for it . . . WHOLE.
I couldn’t figure out for the longest time that what was hurting me was people looking at my life and viewing it as something other than complete. To them, I was less than – less than perfect, less than their idea of what I could be, less than I used to be, less than I should be. It took a long time for me to sort through all of the noise and clutter of it all to realize that I am whole.
I am in pain, sick, frail, homebound, bedbound, without great possibility or potential in my future. But in all of that, I am whole. I am complete. I am exactly what God made me to be in the exact time He created me to be it. God made me as I am. To do exactly what I am doing.
And I am whole.
Of course there are moments when I long for a more “normal” life. I’d love to have a husband and a family, a career and a social life. I want to be a part of things – a real, tangible, active part of the outside world. But the truth is that I have no idea who I would be right now had all that happened. I have no idea what my priorities would be, where I would have lived, what friends would be surrounding me. God set me on this path and lined it with blessings. I can’t presume my dreams would have turned out better than His plans just because they seem easier in my mind.
If I judge my life against others – or even against the life I used to have, if I’m grading myself on a curve of normalcy, then of course I feel short-changed. But being normal is not the goal. The goal is to live the best life I can with what I am given.
Obviously my life is intensely abnormal compared to others, and these past few months have been the hardest of my life. But I still wouldn’t trade it for the normal one I always thought I would have, because this is the one He meant for me to live. It’s a relief to know we’re not graded on a curve, but instead loved for exactly who we are designed to be.
I am whole. I am who He created me to be. And I wouldn’t want to be anyone else.
If you enjoyed this excerpt from Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts, you can learn more about the book and its authors at TheChooseJoyBook.com.
Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She writes about her imperfect life with humor and honesty, encouraging women to give up on perfect and get on with life, at http://www.givinguponperfect.com. Mary is the co-author of a new book called, Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts. Released by the Hachette Book Group in 2016, CHOOSE JOY is a must-have for those searching for meaning and beauty in a world full of tragedy. Sara’s words breathe with vitality and life, and her stories will inspire smiles, tears, and the desire to choose joy. To learn more about CHOOSE JOY, visit TheChooseJoyBook.com.