Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Looking for Signs

Last year, I started the year by doing a daily declaration through a audio series called “I Declare” by Joel Osteen. This year, I am doing a similar series by him called “I Am.” I ordered it late and it came in February but with everything going on at the end of February (that was when I was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with PAH), I didn’t start listening to the daily declarations until a week ago. This past week, I had to leave town for a business trip. On the way to the airport, I listened to that day’s declaration. It was all about not being afraid to ask God for a sign. I never pray for signs. I pray for specific needs, have faith I was heard and try to leave it at that. That night, however, I thought, “why not pray for a sign?” Is it out of fear? Is it because I am managing my expectations and placing limits on my prayers in the process? I didn't figure that out fully but I did pray that night for a sign that there is healing in my future and went to sleep.

The next day, I was in seminars all morning. At lunch, I sat with some colleagues that I’d never met. The topic of children came up and everyone started sharing stories about their experiences with sons and daughters. The woman sitting next to me just had her second. When it got to me, I was asked if I had kids. Normally, I would say “not yet" with a smile that indicated there were children in my near future. This time, I just said “no.” As we left lunch, my response bothered me. Why did I just say “no?” Was it a sign of waning faith? Had I given up hope of having children? As I was questioning myself and feeling pitiful, I got a text from a person I went to church with when I was in high school. Many years and another state later, we do not keep in touch. My sister still goes to the church and my recent diagnosis came up in conversation a week ago. When asked, my sister gave the woman my phone number. The text said “my church will be in prayer for your miracle tonight.” It was perfect timing. I needed the encouragement after the lunch conversation.

The seminar after lunch was about using adversity to grow. I can’t begin to do the story I’m going to share justice but I have to share it. The speaker started by talking about adversity in the workplace. Then, he shifted to application of the principles in everyday life. He talked about a woman he knows that was dynamic and healthy. One day, she was holding a cup and it fell from her hand. Not feeling right, she went to the doctor and was told she had multiple sclerosis. The doctors essentially told her to spend time with her family and doing things she loved because before long, she would have very little quality of life. She could have given up but instead she asked who said it had to be that way. Many years later, she hasn't had a symptom. In fact, she teaches a fitness boot camp among many other things. She is just as dynamic and amazing as she was before the diagnosis. As it turns out, this resilient woman is his wife. The story and the realness of her miracle really hit home with me. Later that night, I called my family to share the story of my day and of my prayer for signs and caused a ripple effect of positivity.

For some, all this could read as coincidence. For me, all of this amounted to the sign that I needed to build my faith on a stronger foundation. I will admit that I feel pretty crappy today. I am short of breath when walking average distances and truly having one of those days where I am forced to acknowledge my illness because I feel sick. I could choose to focus on how I feel and say the sign I was given was a sign that I will never get better. I could drown in negativity and ignore the positive moments from the day. Happiness and optimism are choices. I choose to see the positive signs I got today as answered prayer. As for the way I feel physically, I regard it as the creeping in of doubt that could detract from the good place I am in mentally if I chose to let it. Those days may come but not today. If I am to get through (and past) this illness (despite the odds and the lack of a cure), I have to choose to look for and stay focused on the good possibilities. It makes for a better life and I'm all about that these days.

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