Tuesday, May 20, 2014

God can make a way.....

A few years ago the comedian, Larry the Cable Guy, made the phrase, “Git er done” quite popular. Although it’s not the lingo I usually speak, the sentiment is one that has always described my ethics. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a lot of things on my plate, preferring to be busy and involved over idle and useless. Being active and connected to others in my young/middle adulthood helped fill the void in my life that sometimes comes with being single and not raising a family. There were always more things to do than hours in the day, and yet, I always managed to get things done. Life is very much like that again these days, but somehow, by the grace of God, I manage to “Git er done.”

When I lost my job downstate and moved away from family and friends, I lost a lot of my identity and the social interactions I had with people. This was a difficult time for me and the loss played a big role in my weight gain and near demise. Losing that sense of “community” and then the death of both my grandpa and my dear friend, Fr. Sauter, sent me into a very dark place.  I turned to food to fill the emptiness and comfort me in my sadness. When my new job ended after only two years due to financial cuts at the church and I found myself unemployed…with only 6 months of unemployment, it was almost more than I could handle.

 I enrolled in college full-time at age 42, mostly because I didn’t have any other choice because I was dependent on Financial Aid to keep the lights and heat on.  Going to school turned out to be best thing I did but it was getting harder and harder to get around the college and make ends meet. Not only was I dealing with the emotional pain of loss, and the tremendous amount of studying involved with a full load in college, but my body was also wracked with physical pain, later diagnosed as Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was put on very strong pain medications, but none of them helped.  It was a very tough time in my life, but somehow, by the grace of God, I was able to “Git er done” and managed to graduate with honors. My faith was my strength, but food was my companion and I was spiraling out of control emotionally and physically. Still….my only focus was “doing what I had to do…. to do what I had to do” to get through each day.

After my college graduation I was fortunate enough to get hired at the college full-time. I was thrilled to be gainfully employed again and given the opportunity to help others. I loved my job and things were beginning to look up, but hidden behind the happy face I put on at work was pain and sadness. Shortly after starting my new job, I was told that I needed to go back to school to complete another college degree in order to maintain my employment. And so….I was working full-time during the day, going to college full-time at night, coping with grief, and trying to deal with overwhelming physical pain caused by the RA.  I was taking very strong medications by injection every Friday night. I vomited and was ill every weekend for 18 months, but I used that time spent in bed each weekend to do my studying for college.  My entire focus was on getting up, going to work, doing homework, and going to bed to start all over again the next day. No one, not even those closest to me, knew my pain and struggles. Isolation was my way of life and food was my comfort; certainly not a very “healthy” way to live.  Life was very difficult then, but somehow, by the grace of God, I managed to “Git er done” and graduate from college and get through that time, but not without serious consequences. No doubt, my faith and strong, stubborn “do what you have to do to do what you have to do” mentality played a big part in my journey, but I was slowly killing myself in the process.  

When I graduated from Spring Arbor University, I weighed over 400 pounds and could barely walk. I bought a new home two weeks after my graduation and I couldn’t even walk to the mailbox, but I was happy to graduate, have a new place to live, and a job that I loved, but my body was a mess and physical pain was my constant state of existence, and yet no one knew the private hell I was living in because I hid my pain behind a forced smile and a bag of potato chips.

But my story doesn’t end there. One day I decided that I wasn’t going to live like that; I couldn’t live like that another day longer! I HAD to do something….and so began this incredible journey. People often ask me, “Theresa, how did you do it? How did you manage to stick with it”? I wish I had a more concrete answer; if I did, I would write a book and retire in the tropics. I don’t have the answers. I don’t follow any specific plan. I don’t have a personal trainer or a chef. I know little about nutrition. I’m JUST LIKE MOST OF YOU….just a regular girl, living a regular, simply life, with a very strong desire to make a difference in the world; to help others. 

My ONLY secret, and it’s not really a secret at all, is that my faith in God (or whatever you call your higher power) has been my strength. The grace of God has helped me “Git er done” and do what I have to do. He has made a way when there appeared to be no way. He has made all of this possible and has blessed me with this miracle; this new life. When my life was filled with pain, despair, hopelessness, and fear, God showed me that it didn’t have to be that way; that together, He and I, would change the outcome. He used my “stubborn determination and faith” to transform my thoughts so that He could transform my life. There is no other explanation: God power and will power and the belief that “GOD will make a way when there appears to be no other way.” I’ve said this before in interviews; GOD CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS; but you have to pick up the shovel! He will make a way…but you have to do your part too!

Many of you are in situations that seem hopeless. Many of you have very heavy crosses to bear. Many of you have a long way to go on your journey. Some are struggling with grief; others are dealing with addiction of another sort; some are fighting serious illness and depression. Some are right in the same place I was three years ago.  To you… I say….Don’t lose hope! Don’t lose faith. Dig deep and do WHATEVER you have to do to “Git er done!” Allow God to transform and strengthen you on your journey and just keep trying again and again and again. But be forewarned: it is NOT EASY. There is not anything easy about changing one’s life. In fact, it is downright difficult. It is a daily choice. It takes hard work and determination. It is likely one of the hardest things you have to do, and it is a fight you will fight for the rest of your life. BUT…….GOD can do all things.

Don’t give up! Life doesn’t have to be the way it is today. YOU CAN…and YOU WILL change your life!