For years I thought who I was directly correlated to what I did and the activities I was involved in. As a teenager I saw a great deal of who I was as being someone who struggled with mental illness and a speaker/debater because those two things dominated my life.
When I moved on to college and became healthier my view of who I was expanded a lot more. I was active. I was busy. I was a full time student and the president of a club on campus. I volunteered in my community and held a calling at church. In my mind those things were a big part of who I was.
Most of those activities came to an abrupt halt at the end of last year when I became sick.
In October of last year I got very sick very quickly. It took two months before we figured out that I had Gastroparesis. In the mean time time I could barely eat or drink. I lost twenty pounds in six weeks time. I got on a first name basis with all the staff at my local urgent care because of how often I needed IV fluids and the only medication that worked for me to be able to eat anything had the side affect of making me really loopy/sleepy for a few hours every time I took it.
Between everything happening with this new illnesses and the affects It had on my already diagnosed illnesses I had to press the pause button on most of my normal life.
I stopped going to my volunteer position for about six weeks. I handed off the club I ran to the VP. I dropped one class and worked it out with the rest of my professors where I would teach myself the materials, do some extra writings on my own, and basically only show up to take exams or for a couple projects I couldn’t do myself.
It was very difficult for me to submit to the fact that I wasn’t healthy enough to do the things I wanted to.
During this time there were two places I made a priority and did everything I could to make it there. The first was church on Sunday. The second was Institute class on Thursday nights.
There were some weeks where the only places I went were to doctors, urgent care, and Institute. There were days I went to Institute where I was not sure I was doing the right thing for my physical health by going because I had to skip dinner and evening medication to go, but I spent so much of my time trying to do what was best for my physical body that I needed those ninety minutes to take care of my mental/spiritual body.
I wondered a lot during this time what all this meant for me and who I wanted to be. I thought, “If I can’t go to school, if I can’t go to TAY, if I can’t do these things what does that mean for me? What does that mean for my life?”
Who was I without the things I did.
For an Institute activity in November we watched a Face-to-Face broadcast given by two of my church’s apostles. In it one of them advised us to be careful with labeling ourselves. He said if we want to place a label on ourselves let it be “child of God.”
I pondered on this a lot and I came to realize that I had been wrong in who I thought I was. Who I am is not what I can do. Who I am is and always will be the same. I am a daughter of God.
In my church the girls ages 12-18 focus on eight values: Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works, Integrity, and Virtue.
I’ve gone back to those and focused a lot on divine nature and individual worth recently. My worth is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. It is the same today as it was before I got sick. My worth does not come from anything this earth provides; it is divine in nature. My worth comes from my Father in Heaven. I am His.
Realizing this has brought me so much peace. Sure, I still sometimes worry about what my future holds and if my illnesses will limit what I want to do, but I know that with whatever happens I will be okay. He has guided my life so carefully this far. I have always had everything I needed - the right people, the right places, and at the right time. I know that he loves me with a love greater than I can imagine. I know He is always with me and because of that I never walk through any of my struggles alone.
My favorite scripture for the past few years has been John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace so give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
I am so grateful for this knowledge I have and the peace it brings me.