As many of you know, in 2002 I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. At the time I had recently been promoted to a management position at a jewelry store, was volunteering as a stage manager at Impact, leading a bunch of beautiful high shcool students in a small group, and living with my sister in our own little apartment.
Because of the effects of this chronic illness, my life was flipped over and all those things slipped out of my grasp. The first thing to go was stage managing, then the small group, then about ten hours a week at work, then the apartment, beause I could no longer afford it, then church attendance, any time spent with friends, and finally the job. I found myself at the proverbial rock bottom in February 2004; unemployed, living in my parents basement, and completely out of touch with the people and the church that I love.
The good news was that I had no place to go but up. It was time for a fresh start. In Yancey's book Where is God when it Hurts? he talks about Joni Ericson Tada's struggle with God after she was paralyzed. Her mind kept coming back to Jesus' promise that he came to bring life, and life to the fullest. Either Jesus had lied or there were possibilities for her life that she had never imagined before. She decided that she was going to hold God to his promise.
I'm now on the journey to live the full life that Jesus has promised me, and what a journey it has been! In July of '04 I was watching a late-night infomercial about eBay and suddenly felt certain that God wanted me to sell paintings on eBay. At this point, you could count the number of paintings I had done on two hands, but I was filled with hope, which is something you don't take for granted when you have a chronic illness. By August my art 'career' was up and running. More than 70 of my paintings are now featured in private collections throughout the US and as far away as Germany and Spain.
I'm an amateur's amateur and my paintings don't make a lot of money, but they have given me so much joy, allowed me to meet so many wonderful people, and opened my eyes to all the possibilities that exist in my life.
One of those possibilities is to fulfill my life-long dream of being a published writer. I finished my first children's book earlier this month (I use the word "finished" loosely, the thing seems to want to morph into a chapter book and I don't know if I'm gonna let it.) As embarrassing and scary as it is to talk about, I'll try to keep you all updated on the progress of "My Book."
There is no cure for Fibromyalgia. It effects me in some way every single day of my life. It has shaped the life I have now and will continue to dictate the way I live my life for a long time to come. Maybe in the future I'll feel more sorry for myself, maybe less, maybe I'll be more lonely, maybe less, maybe I'll be on disability, maybe I'll be a successful children's writer...right now I'm just trying to claim the life Jesus promised, and live it in a way that shows love to the giver.
Newsweek article about Fibromyalgia