My sister Natalie’s 14th birthday was last weekend, and what a celebration we had. This girl is a riot. She was not even 7 years old when we began discovering her unique humor and outlook on life. She cracks me up more than any other person I know. Her sarcasm matches that of any adult. She’s one of the most sentimental and caring people I know – and the first who will tell you to go and get back into shape. Her tough love is strong and loyal. She is a gem and enormous blessing to everyone in her life. Especially me.
Natalie is my sister who is determined to find recipes that will result in things that I love. She sees my dietary restrictions as fascinating challenges to overcome. Grain less tortillas? She made them. Grain less and dairy free onion rings? She’s brainstorming those too. She is determined to make something delicious no matter the obstacles. She’s ambitious too – even considering going to culinary school to make a living out of making food for people like me. She’s been a hero and encouragement of mine like none other – in some ways she leads the charge for the other girls of my family to find ways to support me. I am so happy she is my sister!
In hard times, a lot of things are boiled down to the most important. It’s when other elects of life are stripped away that you hold tightly to the things that are true. For me that’s been family.
Last week my Honey and I went to a movie that reaffirmed all of that in a very deep and profound way. I had been warned that “The Fault In Our Stars” was a movie that will make you weep in your seat. I’m not accustomed to weeping in a movie, but this basically fit that bill. It’s a movie about the realities of pain and sorrow. It’s a story about how to live fully even when life seems to constrain and burden and limit you at every turn.
“Fault In Our Stars” is about a girl with terminal cancer. As much as it sounds impossible that a movie with such a storyline could be uplifting, it very much is. In an unapologetic fashion, watching this movie forces you to confront the painful realities that you face – and the way in which you deal with those realities.
My reality is this: I am by most accounts, a practically functioning person. My body is broken on the inside and inhibits my energy, my food freedoms, my flexibility, my focus, and the capacity of how much I can handle. But I can walk. I can see. I can hear. I can hug my sisters. I can talk to my Mom. I can work my job. I don’t have a terminal disease. I don’t have to live at the hospital because my body isn’t functioning in vital organs. I saw a perspective that only this kind of a story could convey: That even in the most intense physical conditions you can still experience hope and joy by centering on what is most important to our souls.
I know this may sound lame, but managing my current physical issues has been incredibly challenging from a mental standpoint. I say “no” to more foods every day than I say “yes”. Over and over again I see what normal people eat; I see what healthy people eat; I see good food that is healthful. And I simply can’t put that in my own body. Food that God intended for humans to have, my body rejects. I watch propel go about their daily lives, racing from one thing to another, and I simply can’t keep up. I don’t have the energy or stamina to participate in half the daily things that normal people can. That is so discouraging – and oftentimes I go to bed early just because I’m tired from the daily challenges I am facing.
I was so encouraged when I walked out of “Fault in Our Stars” because it proved something to me; that even in pain and burden and sorrow, life’s relationships are worth holding on to.
This movie pushed me to begin something that I had been contemplating for a bit now. Life is all about relationships, and sometimes those relationships are the only difference between making it out of a situation or not. As I have written about my struggles with allergies and SIBO and weight, I’ve discovered so many others with similar issues. We are a minority, but we are more than we think. I want to reach out to those who are in need of support and those who understand my story, and band together for strength.
So I started a FB Page called “Multiple Allergy Support Network”. I am hoping that this can be a little piece of the internet that will allow people like us to share our struggles, recipes, and life. I won’t belittle the support and relationships we have around us – people like my baby sister Natalie who want to help and encourage – but who will understand better than others in the midst of the fight? Then maybe it will be a little bit easier to find Joy in the midst of what we live through every day.
If you or someone you know has a similar story, you are welcome to this Group. I hope the community will grow and become a blessing.
And if you haven’t seen the movie, go. I promise that you will walk away deeply moved.