Over 4 years ago, I got my first tattoo, 3 birds on my right shoulder. My body and its many symptoms (at this point, of undiagnosed origins) were beginning to hold me back from the life I wanted so desperately to live. I felt trapped. Freedom was slipping from underneath my fingertips, so I got it inked on my body so that it could not escape me, if nothing other than symbolically so.
These days, those birds have many more meanings because I’ve lived a lot of life since then, but the biggest thing they represent is the trajectory of the journey that I’m on now – and the fact that I am free once again. I don’t need external reminders anymore. I just am.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” – John 8:36 (NIV)
I’m free not just in a spiritual sense, but also in a physical sense. Curious? Let me tell you my story because I truly believe that my story can be yours, too.
My name is Emmie and I’m a 23-year-old woman who just got her life back after years of being knocked out by chronic pain and fatigue. That’s not an exaggeration or just how I’m feeling; everyone around me is perceiving it, including people who have only ever known me in the context of my illnesses, like my doctors. There’s light in my eyes, pep in my steps (about 10,000 a day, according to my Fitbit), and wild amounts of hope in my heart once again. I feel like myself for the first time in a long time. People are getting to know the real me and I am getting to be the real me. It is a gift of proportions I cannot explain.
The strangest part about all of this? The pain and fatigue aren’t gone, and are in fact at pretty similar levels to what they were before; I’m just managing them much better because now I have many practical, simple, and transformative tools that help me live and thrive anyway, despite everything. Before, at the worst points in my journey, I didn’t think it was realistic to aim for much more than survival from one day to the next. Now, in less than a week, I’m starting a rigorous graduate program full-time with the goal of becoming a chaplain at a children’s hospital. That’s just one change, but it’s indicative of the inside-and-out, top-to-bottom changes I’ve had in my body, mind, and soul. I’m radically opening up to the possibilities of my life, the many hopes that I now feel comfortable speaking into truth – goals that I’m going to be pursuing with my whole heart and with the Spirit of God within me.
So, my friend, I have good, perhaps even life-changing news for you: Whatever you’re going through right now, it’s possible to push your limits and capacities even just a little bit more than you think you can at this moment. Why? Because I’ve done it, and I’m no stronger than you are. Because I’m living it, loving it, and reaping the benefits of it, and I want you to as well. Because I’ve seen it happen in front of my eyes for others and me, and I want you to be the next one to succeed. Throughout my posts, I’m going to teach you some of the biggest concepts that I learned at Mayo Clinic’s Young Adult Pain Rehabilitation Center in Rochester, Minnesota this summer. These are some of the very most important things that I’ve ever learned, things that helped me turn my life around.
Having the gift of a new life thanks to the work of God, family, friends, and the Mayo Clinic PRC is too great to keep to myself. Life is expensive and not everyone can make it to the PRC for the intensive program themselves, so this blog is my way of trying to pass on some of the blessings that I have received. Yes, I have already been an avid blogger about my health journey for the past almost 3 years, and many of you have followed my Tumblr, but I am creating this new space to be more focused and intentional now because I am experiencing and witnessing miracles rather than just surviving. I am actually living out the illness to wellness namesake.
I pray that you keep an open heart and mind and that you are willing to try something a little different as you read along – I can promise you it’s worth it.
“If you only walk on sunny days, you’ll never reach your destination.” – Paulo Coelho