So, yeah, I’m writing a book. It’s a book about me. My journey. My story. It started out being a blend of my blog and reflections on the past two years. It was going to be about liver disease, transplants and facing chronic illness but then it shifted. I’ve had a lot of people telling me to write a book. I used to just shrug and thank them with a polite, “maybe I will.” It didn’t get started until the piano player from my daughter’s wedding, now my friend, Ron Carroll, wrote me a long letter to motivate me and give me the first two words. He closed his letter with, “Now put this letter down and go to you computer and begin by writing two words, ‘Chapter One.'” I did that and the words started flowing.
I sent Ron the first 45 pages to say, “Hey, thanks for the nudge.” He told me it was good but not enough. He, and a few other pre-readers told me I needed to let readers get to know me before just jumping in with, “Hi, I was dying. I got a transplant and now I’m living.” They told me to start at the beginning.
Frankly, I’m still wondering who would want to read my story and why. I guess inspirational stories are in. They tell me my story is inspirational. Other than Corrie Ten Boom, who I called “Corrie Nine Bang,” I haven’t read many inspirational works. It’s not my preferred genre. I usually read books that promise to make me better or smarter. I want seven habits to make me more effective and I want to know how to motivate people, meet needs and grow groups. I mix in a novel for pleasure now and then but only because Steven Covey told me to in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. And now I’m writing an “inspirational” book with no idea what I’m doing.
At the moment I’m writing about growing up and memories are flooding back. Reflecting on my life is giving me answers for why I am the way I am. It’s explaining why I like what I like and giving me an understanding of why I get mad at things that make me mad. It’s making me love my family more as well as understand why some of my personal baggage is as heavy as it is. It’s making me understand why I have such a heart for the underdog. It’s making me remember times when I was left out and times I left others out. I remember times I bullied and times I was bullied.
Thankfully, mom and dad and my sisters, nurtured me into a child and teenager who could walk the middle of the road. I was able to be with the popular kids and cross over into the misfit world. My sense of humor allowed me into both worlds. While fat jokes and labels stuck, I used self-deprecating humor to laugh along with those who made me the joke. I hid the hurt with humor and put myself on stage to get laughs and attention pretending I was not wounded. But, I was.
Until about 7th grade I was an obese kid. I was “Moose, Lumplump, Tubby.” Mom bought my clothes in the “Huskies” department. I had crooked, home-cut bangs, a bowl cut, high water pants and knockoff everything except for dad-bought sports equipment. I remember going to the YMCA to try out for a basketball league wearing cutoff jeans, tennis shoes, colored socks and a white undershirt. Having a hoop in my yard, I had some skills but I definitely did not look like it. The other boys were wearing their cool shorts and jerseys, headbands, tube socks (cool then) and basketball sneakers. I remember kids laughing at me, refusing to pass the ball to me and judging me. I left after about 20 minutes saying I was sick. My dad drove me home knowing exactly what happened. I think he was embarrassed for me and hurting too. The next time I played I felt like a pro. Dad made sure I was equipped. The other guys passed me the ball and I remember their sudden acceptance when I was one of the top scorers. From outcast to inner circle thanks to a Dave Cowens jersey? What a stupid world we live in.
Thankfully, I experienced both rejection and acceptance growing up. I experienced both worlds. Why is it that we remember the emotion of harsh words more than the accolades? Why can I write today and feel the same pain I felt at that first tryout but not really remember the emotion of dressing the part and gaining acceptance?
Some never experienced the accolades. Some never gained entrance into the popular club. Some lived life as the targets of most everyone else. Because I experienced some of their hurt and still carry an emotional scar or two, I ache for them and understand. I want to erase their pain but I can’t.
I want to tell you something if you were one of those kids. I want to tell you that they were wrong! The ones who called you names, stuck labels to your back, picked you last or not at all and told you you are worthless? THEY WERE WRONG!
My God made you beautiful. My God gave his most precious for you. My God knows your potential and your worth. (Psalm 139) My Jesus is a rescuer and a lover of your soul. You are the apple of his eye (Psalm 17:8). They were wrong.
Writing this book has brought some of my pain back to the surface. If no one reads it, writing will have been therapy for me because each time I unearth painful memories and allow the toxic material to come to the surface I am able to face it with the truth. I am able to stare it in the eye with my Jesus at my side and let it go knowing that they were wrong. My worth, though I had given them input, is not at all based on the bullies. They deserve no input at all. My worth comes from my creator. Your worth comes from your creator.
I know many of you reading this today are in the throws of struggle. I know you are being bullied by disease. I know your disease is telling you things about your worth. You know I am fighting the same messages and trying my hardest to stand up and say, “You are wrong!” I am on the other side of transplant but I remember the messages of my liver disease before the surgery. I remember it telling me I was a burden, that I ruined everything and that it would just be better if I were dead. It was wrong! You, my friend, are worth so much. The people who love you can’t imagine life without you. Your creator made you priceless. I pray that you will stand up and tell that cancer, tell that kidney disease, lung disease, liver disease, “You are wrong! I have worth and I will not allow you to defeat my spirit!” You are not your disease. You are not what the bullies in your life told you are.
I hope you will watch this 7-minute video I found thanks to one of the blogs I follow (http://bolstablog.wordpress.com/) . It’s powerful.
“I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer. Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 17:6-8