This post has been one of the most difficult for me to write, as I have pulled from places of hurt and confusion that I’ve been sifting through recently. My hope is that by sharing with you my real struggles and silliness and joys, this will become a space to grow together in love and encouragement as we share stories as well as process and celebrate life together.
For the last six months or so, I have been asking myself a series of questions. Some I have discovered personal answers to and others I have not, and I’m learning that’s it’s okay to not always have answers right away.
One of the main questions I’ve been dealing with was, “If God really loves me and intricately formed me in my mother’s womb, why did He give me CF? Why didn’t He make my genes normal?” I know this may sound dramatic or silly, but it’s honestly something I’ve been grappling with that has been effecting me in numerous ways. Being a religion major, I am often involved in classes and conversations that discuss the nature of God and other things to that effect, so these personal questions and wrestlings have been coming up fairly often. In Jeremiah and Psalms there are verses about God forming us in our mother’s womb and knowingly and perfectly creating us. To be honest, I didn’t feel “perfectly made.”Depression is a real and fiercely haunting beast that sneaks its way into the things you love the most and gnaws at your core.
When I was diagnosed with CF about two and a half years ago, I felt fairly emotionally fine for someone given that news up until about a year ago. Being diagnosed with something so late in life is kind of like being picked up by a whirlwind for about a year or so as you have so much testing and waiting and results and procedures, and then one day you’re just kind of plopped down and expected to be yourself again. Personally, I didn’t really know who that was. I still held values that were important to me and still had things I’d always loved doing (and still do!) and AMAZING people who were still there, but something felt different. I’m not sure that I can explain it. Some people said since CF is genetic I’ve had it my whole life, so it really shouldn’t be that different. But for me, it was. And although I know those people were trying to help, I think I just needed someone to say, “hey, I’m sorry you’re going through this. It’s okay that you’re struggling right now. I’m here for you and you’re not dumb for feeling this way.”
I went to Portland because I was trying to rediscover the little things I used to love about myself and step into the new things God has called me to. I needed a break and a place I could truly reflect and just feel whole and alive again.
And I took the train.
And I think I realized today (aka 3:30am) why God set it in my heart to take the train. People like mountains. People like waterfalls and dramatic landscapes. I know this North Dakotan does! But often prairies and the places in between go unnoticed. I loved the train because I got to see all the “in between” places. I got to see grasslands and small towns and sunrises over cornfields. I had knitting conversations with old ladies and read too many books.
And then I realized that God created the cornfields and the pastures and hazy city skylines, just as He created the mountains and rivers and volcanoes. He created all of it and called it good. And although I am in love with mountains and sat below them for a time this summer, I can truly say that the most growth and self-worth came from sitting on my porch in Bismarck, North Dakota, watching the sun slowly make it’s way out of bed and streaming light throughout the prairie. Or hiking in the badlands, where my name comes from, and watching hundreds of buffalo make their way across the riverbank. God created everything and said it was good and beautiful. So just as some people have CF and others do not, all is beautiful in God’s eyes.
Sometimes I laugh at myself for taking so darn long to realize things, but better late than never I guess!
I am grateful to my CF because it allowed me change my perspective on life. My CF is not the worst thing in the world; unfortunately there is much greater, widespread suffering, and many people have gone through and will go through much more painful situations than I. I am lucky to have the type of CF I do. Life is still so beautiful, and I enjoy taking in the simple pleasures of life.