I often have people comment on my life. It is just something people do these days. Granted, it is much easier to do these days the way that social media is. We truly share everything about our lives on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and wherever else it can be shared. It is not a bad thing to share. Perhaps sometimes we share too much. Maybe other times, not enough.
These days people are commenting on how hard my life is. They wonder how I get through life. They wonder if I am depressed. They wonder if I hide behind a smile. Today, I am going to set the record straight.
I am a happy girl.
My Mom and I were chatting when we were in one of the garden shops searching for plants. Since she doesn’t see me often, it hits her harder every time she sees me – I think she feels responsible for my lipedema. Yes, it is hereditary – but she can not control genetics any more than I can. This particular hot day I was reaching for a beautiful flower that burst of colour. A single beautiful coral flower, shining in the sun. As I freed it from the tangles of the other plants, my Mom said, “that flower is so you – bright and happy and beautiful.” It warmed my heart.
Later, as we were driving home to plant that beauty, our conversation once again turned to the circumstances of my life. She mentioned that my load seems particularly heavy (and she wasn’t just talking about my body!) She was talking about how I face every day life as a disabled Mom with two special needs sons. Yes, life is difficult. But one thing she said stood out in my mind and heart that day – and has the past few weeks. She said, “your whole life has been full of challenges that you should not have had to face. But you have a beautiful life. And you have always been so happy.”
I do have a beautiful life. I was born into a loving, Christian home. As an adult, I think back on my childhood years as a gift. Long summer days spent in the backyard, in the front yard, all over the neighbourhood. I had friends to play with – my Mom always said I could make friends wherever I went. And if those friends weren’t available? I had three siblings that would play with me.
Some of my favourite memories from yesteryear were the days we spent at the cottage. Hot summer days spent in the lake – I could swim all day. My Grandmother called me her little mermaid. On rainy days we would venture into town and stop in at the used bookstore. I loved the smell of the bookstore, the pages of the weathered books I added to my pile. So many books, so many pages. Like treasures. I knew I had too many in my pile – more than my siblings. But when I asked my Dad for just one more book, he never turned me down.
That coffee stained photograph is me at ten. Sitting on the couch at the cottage with my book in my pyjamas. Because what kid doesn’t love to stay in their pyjamas all day when it is raining? Do you see that smile on my face? Happiness.
I am not going to lie, life does make you jaded in some ways. Now when I look at this picture all I see is legs. Skinny legs that probably could rock those trendy leggings like nobody’s business. But the sad truth? Lipedema was starting even then. I never had a chance. I will never wear leggings. And you know what? I am still going to be happy.
I do have challenges in my life. I do have things that are difficult. There are days where I cry and worry and feel pain. But the wonderful thing is that I am not going to wallow in it. Discontentment is a powerful prison – and I like to be free.
When my childhood was over, I went to university. I was going to be a journalist. I had big plans. My plans were different than God’s plans and He gave me the beautiful gift of a sweet baby boy who was born before I had a chance at a career. For awhile, I wallowed in that loss. But do you know what? He is just so happy. There is this sweet joy that bubbles up inside of him, just like it bubbles up in me. And don’t even get me started on my Micah. He lives life so excitedly that nothing can keep him down for long.
This beautiful, challenging and exhausting gift is a gift. The people who surround me are a gift. Every single day is a gift. I was recently reminded to be thankful for what we have while we have it. It seems simple, but can we just think about that for a moment? Like, really think about it.
I can be thankful for these huge, painful legs because while it is difficult to walk some days, I am WALKING.
I can be thankful for the hyena screams of my children in the morning because it means they have breath in their lungs for another day – and so do I.
I can be thankful for the stress that is our house before school, and the mad dash to get them fed and dressed and out the door – because they are healthy, and happy and have the opportunity to learn.
I can be thankful for the food in my fridge and my pantry, even though I am unable to eat so many of the things I used to love – because I can swallow my food and enjoy the taste.
I can be thankful for the clothes in my closet, even though some days it brings me down to see the number on the tags…because I have clothes to wear and I am more than just a number.
I can be thankful for the sleepless nights when the boys are restless and distressed, because God has somehow gifted us with the ability of functioning on little sleep.
I can be thankful for the long distance relationships I have with special family and friends, because even though it breaks my heart to be so far away from them, when we are together it is beautiful.
Yes, my life is beautiful. There are so many challenges, I will give you that. But do you see the gifts? A happy childhood that was full of love and absent of all those terrible things you read about happening to children. A husband so kind and caring who really and truly deserves his own blog post. Children who fill our home with noise and our hearts with laughter.
I do not feel depressed. I do not feel ripped off. I am not angry at God for the circumstances He has allowed in my life. Because really, for all the not so great things happening in this hard life, He has blessed me more.
And that is that. Thank you Jesus, for filling me with happiness. I am a happy girl.