I was born in Minnesota (say it like this: Mini-SO-TAH) during the summer of 1986. I spent my childhood living in a middle class home in Northern Iowa with 2 brothers and a mother and father who loved me dearly. Despite my seemingly normal home life, my school years were hard. You see I was born with Erbs Palsy.
I’ve always been a little airheaded I suppose, but I didn’t really realize anything was wrong with me until 4th grade. We were studying handicaps and I had to give a speech about what Erbs Palsy was, and what it was like to live with it.
So if you’re like I was and don’t know what this is, let me give you a quick explanation.
I’m sure you know Palsy means paralysis. The name Erb came from one of the doctors, Wilhelm Erb, who first described the condition.
I describe it as basically a condition where one of my arms just doesn’t do what I’d like it too. It doesn’t have the full range of motion that it should, so I can’t lift it over my head, or do things very gracefully with it. This is caused by nerve damage, and mine was a result of my birth. I can still do all the normal things I need to; I just look ridiculous doing them. I’m working on embracing that.
I should add although I have always felt ridiculous doing things, and awkward like it’s so obvious that it’s the only thing people notice about me, some of my closest friends have never noticed. But because of this struggle, it has made me so much more humble, determined, and accepting of others. In a way, it has helped me be a better person. When I was little I asked my mom once why I had to go through this. She said, very mater-of-fact “Because you’re already beautiful, smart and can sing. If you were perfect in every way you’d be a snot. This keeps you humble.” That was that, I never asked again.
Back to 4th grade, I was nervous to talk to the class about my “issues”, and couldn’t wait for my speech to be over. That’s all I wanted, to just finish the speech and be done with it.
After my speech the teacher talked about how having glasses is a disability too. She was trying to level the playing field and show us how no one is perfect. A kid looked over at me and said “Hey, then you have TWO disabilities”. Ugh, thanks kid! Kids can be so cruel, you know?
In the lunch line that day a boy in my class asked me how long I would have my “arm thing”. Before I could say anything another boy defended me by punching him in the arm and said “Duh, she’ll have it her whole life. It doesn’t just go away!”
Wow! My whole life?! Really?
I honestly didn’t realize this was a life sentence until very that moment in time. It’s just that my parents and brothers didn’t baby me over it, make it a big deal, or let it hold me back.
So why did I? It’s something I’ve always been really self-conscious about. I’ve let it direct my course in so many ways, and it took a lot of years to just be okay with it.
In 2004 I met the man who would become my husband. I was fresh out of high school, and he was raising a toddler. Talk about a shock! I was concerned with how my selfies were turning out, if I’d pass my upcoming nursing courses, and where I’d live when I became a doctor; because I was definitely going to be a doctor, and I was definitely leaving Iowa. Ha! I was in no way ready for a serious relationship, or to raise a child. Why did I have to fall so hard for him?
So many times I wanted to run away from the struggles we were having as a couple, and the struggles we endured through a horrible custody battle with his ex-girlfriend.
Again, life was hard and I was asking the question “When will it end, God?”
On a cold and snowy day in 2008 we buried my mother-in-law after her unexpected and fleeting battle with cancer. Watching my husband grieve, and fall into depression from losing his mother was the most heart wrenching thing I’ve experienced as a wife.
Many nights I asked God “When will it end?” God provided through our church family and gave my husband relief through introducing Christian men into his life who helped him in his faith, & to hold fast to God’s promises.
This hardly compares, but a couple years ago all 5 of us ended up with pink eye. For a month, A full freaking month, people. It was awful. I was sanitizing every surface, washing sheets every day, expressing breast milk into a dropper for everyone’s eyes because the internet said that was the best medicine (lesson learned- hit the eye doctor early on).
Each time I’d look into someone’s swollen red eyes I kept thinking.. “When will it end?”
People, my first point here is just EMBRACE your struggle. I give you my word, it will make you stronger.
Secondly, do NOT lose faith. My faith is in God. Through each of those struggles God has been faithful and always there for me. He didn’t take away my struggles (even though I begged him), but he gave me the eyes to see why I needed to endure the things I did.
There are so many more “When will it end?” stories I could share with you; like the time I was proposed to and dumped on the same day. The time my daughter broke her arm, or that time I bought a dog because I was mad at my husband and it peed all over our brand new house. I’ll save those for another post, or even better let’s chat about them over a cup of coffee (or tea!) on my deck someday.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18