I fancy myself a conqueror of sorts. I’ve spent the last two years convincing myself that I’m stronger than I think I am, that I’m no longer the sick kid whose body is weak and unfit for adventure. In fact I’ve come to truly believe that I can do anything I set my mind to. My greatest obstacle is myself and my own fear. No longer do I let my bad lungs or big hand hinder me from trying something outrageous.
On the evening of Christmas I got very sick. I started having some of the worst stomach pain I have ever had in all my life. I went from being entirely fine to incredible pain in the span of two hours. Unsure of what else to do, my family took me to the emergency room in Spokane. My mom asked me if she should take me to the hospital and all I said was, “Whatever you do, don’t call 9-1-1!”
I am strong. My pain tolerance is very high because I have daily pain in my hand that I have simply learned to live with. Ignoring it has been my biggest plan of action and it has become second nature. This pain however, was too loud to ignore and impossible to argue that immediate action had to be taken.
In the emergency room, they took me back as soon as we arrived and they started me on an IV with pain medication. I got some relief but to be honest, I don’t like putting medication into my body. I avoid it as best as possible, so I chose the smaller dose until I couldn’t handle it any longer. They ran tests and took my blood, but after several hours everything revealed itself to be normal, other than the extreme pain. I literally had the fourth doctor who saw me that night come into my room, ask me question after question, look me in the eyes and say, “I give up, I have no idea what’s wrong with you.” I started crying and told him, “Don’t say that to me.”
After that they admitted me to hospital and ran tests on me for the next 24 hours. I remember very little from the next day, but I have bruises all up my arms to prove the many times they poked me and drew my blood.
I saw a handful of doctors, nurses, and specialists while in the hospital, but they discharged me the next day because my pain was under control and I could keep food down. They have no idea what was causing the pain, but I have tests with pending results still to come in.
Since I’ve been home, the pain has returned, less intense, but present nevertheless. Yesterday I laid in my bed and cried and cried, but not because the pain demanded tears, but because my heart was so discouraged. I was hurting and not knowing what to do to make it better, because I have no idea what is even causing the pain. I hate not knowing. I can’t conquer it if I can’t name it.
And like I said before, I fancy myself a conqueror of sorts.
This conqueror felt more helpless than words could say. And every time the conqueror asked her King for direction, He would just smile and pull her closer, embrace her tighter. When a conqueror is ready to fight for justice, the last thing they want to have happen is to be told to rest, take deep breaths, be still, be taken care of. They want to hit something, fight through the pain and climb the mountain! Yet the King whispers, “you are not defined by your pain. You are not defined by what you can and cannot do.”
I have always been the sick kid. By the time I was 12 years old I had had six surgeries. I was in and out of the hospital so many times, I had the routine all figured out. I can even remember times as a girl saying I was sick simply out of a desire for attention. As I got older, I no longer lied about my pain, but I let myself be defined and consumed by it. There were so many things that I never tried because I simply believed in my heart that there was no way my body could handle it. Now after fighting through the lies I had told myself over and over and the labels that had been placed on me for years, there I laid in a hospital bed, helpless to conquer anything. I kept thinking to myself, “I’m not the sick girl anymore, so why am I here?” As if being in the hospital defined me. As if all the work I had done to redefine myself, to let truth win, was stolen. And the voice of the pain just got louder and louder and the voice of truth got quieter and quieter.
Yesterday, as I cried in my bed, helpless and hopeless, I called Andy. He knows me so well, he sees me so well. It’s a little trippy sometimes. And out of his mouth, he let the Spirit speak. It was his voice but the King’s words.
Yes I am strong. But strength is not something that is defined by whether I’m standing or laying. It’s a heart attitude. It’s a mind set. It’s joy when there’s nothing to laugh about. It’s hope when darkness surrounds. It’s love in the midst of hate. It’s being able to admit that help is needed. I thought being strong meant ignore the pain, never ask for help or show that I’m weak and broken. To be strong is to be impenetrable. How wrong I’ve been.
I need help. My body hurts and doctors cannot find a cause. My heart is tired. And I need to be reminded to let Jesus renew it. I need prayer. Let’s be honest here, the King is the only answer. I am penetrable. I am strong, but weak all at the same time. I am a conqueror who needs a redefinition of what that even means. We were not made to do this alone. I am not made to do this alone. Even highly experienced hikers need a sherpa to hike Mt. Everest. Will you be my sherpa as I hike this giant mountain? Will you whisper the truth in my ear as the lies shout at me?
My name is Hannah Sophia. I fancy myself a conqueror of sorts. But don’t let my laughing, sweet demeanor, crazy past endeavors, and inner strength fool you. I am penetrable. And I need you.
And that’s okay.