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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Independence: The Beauty of Finding Your Own Way

Asking for help is one of the hardest things for me to do. Regardless of my struggle, I believe that I can do it. It’s a natural reaction for me, and I don’t even pause to consider if I actually need help or not. Throughout my life, I have always been able to find a modification for everything.

Once, as a baby, I insisted on feeding myself with only one finger on my left hand because my right arm was in a sling. It took me longer to eat, but I managed it. My mom was both aggravated and proud. But she is the one who always told me, “You can do anything, Candida. Find your own way!”

And I loved discovering my inner strength and accomplishing the complicated. Having someone do the difficult tasks for me would have hindered me. Always waiting for others to help me would become a limitation, disadvantage, handicap, and ultimately cause me to become a burden to others.

All of the things, I never want to become.

Independent and strong is the type of person that beckons to me. When we constantly rely on others, we put our dreams and life in their hands. Accepting help on occasion, however, is not a bad thing.

At the grocery store a few days ago, something fell off my cart in the parking lot and became lodged under the tire. The cart inclined and I struggled to hold it with one hand and pick up the item. A kind woman stopped and picked it up for me. I was thankful for her help, but I’m sure if she would have asked me first that I would have refused her help. Not intentionally, just automatically. Eventually, I would have figured out how to do it myself because that’s the way I’m programmed.

When someone offers kindness we should accept and acknowledge it for what it is. Nevertheless, we should still do the things we can do, and always give more than we take. Otherwise we come to expect kindness without appreciating it. And unintentionally take advantage of people.

Just like with God. He wants us to ask Him for help, but He also expects us to do the things we can do for ourselves. We can’t just quit our job and expect God to provide our needs. Or stop seeking Him and expect Him to bless our lives abundantly. Accountability for our own lives is important, and so many people these days expect others to care for them.

I’m truly thankful for my stubbornness, strength and independence. It enables me to grow and prosper into the person God created me to be. Relying on others, doesn’t force me out of my comfort zone or challenge me in any way. We need to learn how to become comfortable with the uncomfortable, and embrace the curve balls of life. The more I struggle to do things for myself, the more I am able to accomplish; which, in turn, boosts my confidence and helps me with future trials.

Just so we are clear, my family helps me tremendously. We all take turns with the chores and responsibilities, but I never use my challenges as a way to get out of certain tasks. Even when I had a really hard time walking a few months ago, I wouldn’t allow my family to cater my needs or for my husband to carry me. That would have been the easier option for me, but I knew, in my heart, if they made it easy for me to stay in bed that I may never walk again.

While there is no shame in asking for help when needed, I also believe that every once in a while we should help ourselves. So I’m going to continue embracing my independence.

What do you all think?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Struggle: How to Overcome the Impossible

Tuesday, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to cry or go back to bed. My body ached and I couldn’t seem to get past the misery. I moped around and finally drug myself to gym—expecting my workout to lift my spirits. My experience, however, was not what I hoped for.

My body felt heavy and uncooperative. Ignoring all negativity, I decided to run. It was hard, okay brutal. My rib hurt, a blister developed on my foot after the first mile, and my legs were heavy. Being the stubborn person that I am, I refused to give up—even when my legs felt numb. So I pushed beyond my limits.

And then the treadmill just stopped. I was furious. It was like the machine knew that I didn’t have enough sense to step off, so it just quit. Instead of stretching and leaving, I went to the elliptical for a few miles. Every movement hurt and I realized after two miles that I couldn’t do it. I tried to dig deep, but I had nothing left to give. Defeated, I grabbed my things and left.

At the time, I couldn’t see that I had still managed three miles with numbness and tingling in my feet and legs. Then I remembered my daddy’s words of wisdom, “You’re doing better than what you think”.

Instead of feeling better though, I dwelled on what I couldn’t do. And I believed what I had always assumed and been told.

Running was impossible for me—especially with a twisted pelvis and a foot affected by Amniotic Band Syndrome.

It was so hard for me to accept my limitations. But I tried. I even attempted to forgive my body for not being able to do something I truly wanted to do. Who am I kidding? It hurt. And I don’t like the disability card. Ever!

So I went back for one more attempt on Thursday. And I decided to try a new approach. When I set the treadmill to run the 5k, I began with a smile and praise for my Lord. As my feet pounded, I thanked God for every step, and for letting me not only walk that day, but for the ability to run. I prayed for all of those who are not able to walk and run, those fighting for their lives, and those who have heartaches and troubles.

When I reached the part where my whole body ached, I put one foot in front of the other and smiled at my reflection. I was only a mile into my run, when the screen showed that my course would get harder. For a moment, I wanted to stop. Step off the machine and agree with the doctors and the negative voice in my head—that I couldn’t run.

Then I realized it is during the most challenging times in our lives that we learn how to overcome. My legs were still moving. It was my mind that wanted to give up. So I focused on how it would feel to complete my course. And I’ll be quite honest, I imagined every time my foot came down that I was stopping on the devil, who threatened to steal my hopes and dreams.

With my heart and spirit, I finished my first 5k program. It took me 40 minutes to do my impossible.  I can do anything with God on my side.

While my aches and pains prove that I fought the battle, I also have the victory written in my heart. And that victory will remind me on the tough days to keep my eyes on my Lord.

Last year when walking was difficult for me, I lay in my bed and peddled an exercise bike that sat on my bed. When my feet were numb and painful, I pushed with my heart and the determination that I would get better.

The enemy will take our lives if we allow it. We need to fight with every ounce of strength we can manage. Every day we are in the biggest battle of our lives, and we get to decide what kind of solider we want to be. I want to fight a good fight. If we give up every time our course gets tough then we will never reach our full potential.

We have no idea what we are capable of until we try.  I have no limits, only possibilities waiting to be conquered.

Author shares message through Zippy the zebra