Thank You, Severe Neck & Back Pain, You Brought Me Closer To God And People

Thank You, Severe Neck & Back Pain, You Brought Me Closer To God And People

Learning to be thankful for pain and resting in His promises.

Hello, world! I’m writing to share with you that this will be my last article for the Odyssey. If you’ve wondered where I’ve been, it’s been quite a story, and God has taught me a lot about life along the way. My schedule and circumstances have forced me to have to say no to some things I love, and this was one of them. In order for us to focus on our dreams sometimes we have to say no to other things, even if it’s just for a season, and that is okay! We have to realize we aren’t Superman and we can’t do everything, no matter how much we really want to.

Back in May, I had really intense chronic neck pain. I had been dealing with back pain too, but the neck pain got worse in May. My neck started to burn. It was a pain so bad that it made me cry and I thought that the pain would never go away. I went to see a spine specialist, and she said that this has to be a muscular problem. She did X-rays and MRI scans. There was no sign of a bulging disc or pinched nerve. However, she did see that my neck and spine are now straight as a stick. How did it get that way?

My plans for the summer quickly changed and I was basically forced to stay home, close to my parents to get the help I needed. I wasn’t babysitting. I wasn’t working, and it was tough. I went to physical therapy, a chiropractor and two massage therapists weekly. Each person along the way helped me, and I know God used this summer to help me lean on Him, to grow in Him, to rest in Him and to see His giant, overflowing, gargantuan heart of love for me.

My neck pain has gotten better, but I’m still dealing with lots of back pain. So with that being said, I know this story is still being written. Back at the beginning of June, I did get to go to church, and Levi Lusko spoke these words, “I know this may seem weird, but if you're going through a trial right now, consider it a blessing and an honor.” He showed us the symbol of the FedEx Logo. He said, “Does anyone see anything different about this logo? Does anything stand out?” I thought, “Ummm, no.” Then he said, “OK, take a second look at it. There is an arrow in-between the E and the X.” I saw it. I saw it loud and clear.

And then I started thinking about the people I’ve encountered throughout the way. My spine specialist, my physical therapist, the chiropractor and the two professional massage therapists. One of the massage therapists was also a personal trainer who encouraged me to work out again. Once I found out that working out helped my neck and back feel better, I was so happy. He invited me to a workout group called Unity Fitness in my hometown, and it was so much fun! We would play soccer and football, and in the middle of it all, I started to laugh again and regain joy in my heart. I even went with the Unity fitness group to feed the homeless, and when we did that, I had no pain in my neck or my back. I dove into the word of God more and more and was learning something new every day.

Though my summer didn’t go the way I had planned for it to, I know it went the way that it was supposed to – God’s way. Which is exactly what we want, isn’t it? His ways are higher than ours and his thoughts are higher than ours too. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

You see, this summer I needed to rest. I didn’t know the busy schedule this semester of student teaching would entail. I thought I could do it all, but I had to say no. Saying no is something that’s hard for me, and as I’ve talked to other friends, I’ve found out that it’s hard for a lot of people to say no too. I had to say no to babysitting jobs, college leadership team and writing for the Odyssey. It was hard, because those are all things I absolutely love being apart of.

And here I am, almost at the end of my first semester of Student Teaching, and I’m thankful. I learned in the middle of this trial that I need to be thankful for it. I didn’t know what was in store and the people that I would meet, but if I hadn’t gone through any of the physical pain, I wouldn’t have met the spine specialist, the chiropractor, the physical therapist or even the massage therapists. I wouldn’t have had the experience to meet these wonderful people without the pain. I stopped in awe and wonder, “Wow, God. I had no idea. Thank you for this pain.”

Pain launches blessings in disguise. You may not see it at first, but take a second look, you'll see the arrow. And all the while God kept telling me this summer, and He keeps telling me now, “Keep going, sweetheart, keep going. I’ve got you. Trust me.”

Cover Image Credit: Jordan Belle Brittain

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Sorry Not Sorry, My Parents Paid For My Coachella Trip

No haters are going to bring me down.

With Coachella officially over, lives can go back to normal and we can all relive Beyonce’s performance online for years to come. Or, if you were like me and actually there, you can replay the experience in your mind for the rest of your life, holding dear to the memories of an epic weekend and a cultural experience like no other on the planet.

And I want to be clear about the Beyonce show: it really was that good.

But with any big event beloved by many, there will always be the haters on the other side. The #nochella’s, the haters of all things ‘Chella fashion. And let me just say this, the flower headbands aren’t cultural appropriation, they’re simply items of clothing used to express the stylistic tendency of a fashion-forward event.

Because yes, the music, and sure, the art, but so much of what Coachella is, really, is about the fashion and what you and your friends are wearing. It's supposed to be fun, not political! Anyway, back to the main point of this.

One of the biggest things people love to hate on about Coachella is the fact that many of the attendees have their tickets bought for them by their parents.

Sorry? It’s not my fault that my parents have enough money to buy their daughter and her friends the gift of going to one of the most amazing melting pots of all things weird and beautiful. It’s not my fault about your life, and it’s none of your business about mine.

All my life, I’ve dealt with people commenting on me, mostly liking, but there are always a few that seem upset about the way I live my life.

One time, I was riding my dolphin out in Turks and Cacaos, (“riding” is the act of holding onto their fin as they swim and you sort of glide next to them. It’s a beautiful, transformative experience between human and animal and I really think, when I looked in my dolphin’s eye, that we made a connection that will last forever) and someone I knew threw shade my way for getting to do it.

Don’t make me be the bad guy.

I felt shame for years after my 16th birthday, where my parents got me an Escalade. People at school made fun of me (especially after I drove into a ditch...oops!) and said I didn’t deserve the things I got in life.

I can think of a lot of people who probably don't deserve the things in life that they get, but you don't hear me hating on them (that's why we vote, people). Well, I’m sick of being made to feel guilty about the luxuries I’m given, because they’ve made me who I am, and I love me.

I’m a good person.

I’m not going to let the Coachella haters bring me down anymore. Did my parents buy my ticket and VIP housing? Yes. Am I sorry about that? Absolutely not.

Sorry, not sorry!

Cover Image Credit: Kaycie Allen

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A Thank You To The Boy Who Stayed During My Depression

You held my hand when everything around me was crumbling.

Hey you,

Thanks for staying by my side when I didn’t want to stay myself. You have shown me such a huge amount of love, respect, and inspiration. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would be going through such a hard time with someone who is as steady as a rock. Thank you for saying that you love me, because it brings me peace throughout the day.

You have taught me to persevere and keep going. You are one of the only reasons I wake up in the morning and try to go on with my day. You have taught me to love myself despite my flaws. You never give up on me even when I give up on myself. You don't know how much it means to me to know that I have your continual support. You stayed when others have walked away. Not too many people know about depression and the effects it has. You're one of a few, and you choose to stay through it all. You are the light in the darkness. You constantly remind me that you’re here to stay and you’re not going to leave despite the struggle.

Thank you for reminding me that my depression does not define me, that I am more than this. I know its tough to stand tall when the person you care about is crumbling, but you do it without fear.

I’ll never be able to thank you for what you have done and continue to do for me. It takes someone unbelievably strong to hold someone’s hand and guide them through something this tough.

Thank you for being that unbelievably strong person.

I love you.

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