I began my journey towards faith as a Catholic. I don’t call myself that anymore, nor do I regret being one, because it gave me a start. It helped me learn who Jesus was and learn about the grace of God. I attended catechism, took my Catholic sacraments, got married in a Catholic church, Jeff and I had our kids baptized and continued to teach them about Catholicism. While on that journey of educating our kids, my brother introduced me to a deeper understanding of faith and the Bible, and that’s when I learned I had a calling on my life.
However, since learning I had that calling, I initially found it difficult to live with. Anyone who ventures into a deeper relationship with God knows you are attacked at times throughout your life. I’ve had to endure many of these to finally realize I wasn’t supposed to retreat when they happened, which is what I did. Following a “recovery,” I would neglect daily prayer or reading scripture. I’d avoid my relationship with Jesus and not talk to him because when I got closer to Him, something bad would happen to me. That said, what I realized after looking back on the times I was attacked by the enemy, in my darkest days, I remember myself praying harder than ever before. In my valley, I would pray, but when I emerged, I would run as fast as I could from that place in my life.
For example, if you’ve never read my post about the event which was the importance for the name of my blog, please do. As awful as it was to endure that recovery, I never stopped praying while in it. Each day I got up but had pain and limited mobility, I still thanked the Good Lord that I was on the right side of the dirt and that I was able to work and was healing, albeit slowly with lots of plateaus, but I was making progress. After I got better, I began to retreat from my faith. I shut down. I was grateful I recovered but was afraid to forge a bond deeper with God because I might get hurt again. And, I was also marked by the feelings I struggled with during that period.
What stands out the most when I remember that season in my life was feeling fathomless loneliness. Understand that outwardly, I looked okay. I appeared well, except for a limp. I was still trying to be upbeat, and I was able to continue working. Because of that, I don’t think people understood how alone I felt. I wasn’t crippled; I still had some quality of life, so nobody checked on me. Nobody called or stopped by to see how I was doing. Even Jeff had no idea the mental anguish I was suffering. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to hike again, or even walk normally. But, I was especially afraid I wouldn’t ski. All those fears, which I should have placed upon the Lord but didn’t know how, also made me feel helpless. So, what I did was throw myself into the physical therapy I trusted would deliver me, and it did. Working so hard to recover contributed to me feeling less helpless. But, despite working with physical therapists and seeing my coworkers daily, I still felt alone, because nobody really knew what I was really going through.
That event, my Falling Upstairs moment, only heightened my anxiety when I faced brain surgery. I know, I was entitled to feel anxiety. It’s not like people you know have a brain tumor removed each day. So, yes, I was allowed to feel anxious. But, what heightened my anxiety was remembering how alone I felt when I was recovering from my knee surgery. I didn’t want to experience that feeling of detachment, again. I didn’t want to feel forgotten as life went on without me. Thankfully, I didn’t. In the span of years between my Falling Upstairs moment and my brain surgery, I amassed a new group of beautiful people in my life.
See, being lonely caused me to be a more active player in my life. It was Gods way of showing me the value of human connection. He had to break me down a bit for me to appreciate what I finally had when it came to me, true friendship. It’s not that I didn’t have friends before, but the Good Lord put me in situations where I was able to make connections with a variety of people. Being a natural introvert, I normally shy away from forming bonds. But, after my experience with loneliness, I never wanted to feel that way again. When we lead ski trips out west, I met so many wonderful people. I call them my tribe now. They know what an introvert I am, but they don’t care. They have all adopted me. The other thing I learned about true friends, is they love you no matter what. They know when we are all out together, and I’m quiet, it’s just me; I’m a quiet person. I like to listen. I will contribute when I feel like it, but I mostly like to pay attention, smile, laugh, and just be there.
When these beautiful people were getting to know me, and when we first began to spend more time together, they would check on me when I was quiet. But, they all know me now and they know that’s how I play along. I’m more of a passive participant.
The most wonderful thing about my tribe though, that is especially special about them, is they connected with me when I needed them most. Following my brain surgery, they sent flowers and Edible Arrangements. They sent cards throughout the weeks of my recovery. But, more importantly than the material things they sent (which I loved), they reached out to me. They called and texted to make sure I knew they were there and that they cared about me. They visited and made a point to come almost every weekend. Thank you, God, I wasn’t alone because of my tribe. And, I know now, had I not endured what I did with my knee during that lonely season, I may never have let these people in. I am grateful for my faith, which helped me appreciate good and bad times, and thankful for the people in my life whom God placed lovingly into it because he doesn’t want us to be alone. He is always with us, but He also knows we need each other. I know that now.