Faith is a very powerful thing. When I was released from the hospital, my faith was so strong. I believed that God had seen me through the worst and held my hand the whole way. I believed that no matter what, He would always be there for me. Then slowly, repeatedly, that shield of faith – faith in God, faith in science, faith in myself and the ability of humans to rejuvenate and to accept the imperfect – began to be systematically chipped away. For three years, as my body healed and was re-broken again and again, my faith began to fade and my heart created walls in place of that shield.
I stopped going to church. My bible study group got busy and disbanded. I began to listen to the harsh, snarky comments of others who told me my beliefs were trivial, and I felt embarrassed. I gave heed to the jokes of those who saw my face rather than my soul. And somewhere along the way, I lost sight of my dreams. I forgot my passion and lust for life, and I told myself I would never be whole again.
When I was in the hospital, I never let the doctors tell me I wouldn’t get better. They tried on several occasions to warn me that I might not live, and if I did I might go blind or be severely scarred. I never let them say the words. I told them I wasn’t through living yet. I knew that God had other plans for me. I knew that I couldn’t die yet because I had not yet changed the world and made it a better place. My healing was miraculous then,and I got better much faster and to a far greater extent than any of the doctors had imagined. Even now my skin looks amazing, and the only real complications left are my eyes.
During and after the hospital I spent weeks blind, and my eyes have been in near constant pain for three and a half years. But I was never so blind as I have been in this past year. Before, with each surgery, I looked for the positives. I knew my eyes would get better, and I trusted my doctors. I don’t remember when, but at some point I stopped believing my eyes would ever get better. I began to plan a life with constant medical care and continuous surgeries. I told myself that preparing for the worst would make it easier when I couldn’t have the best. I stopped believing my dreams of magnificent were possible and began settling for a life of mild contentment. Even when I began to visit the specialist in Miami, I told myself that I shouldn’t get my hopes too high for fear of them crashing down again.
About a month ago, I began to open myself up again. I had a rather terrible experience that caused a dear friend of mine to ask me when I had changed and become this sad person who had such little faith in herself. I didn’t know the answer, but I knew she was right. Even during the worst, I had always believed I would stay creative and stay active in bettering the world. I was still the person people turned to for a smile and words of encouragement. But when I looked in the mirror earlier this year, all I could see was pain and failure. Perhaps it took three years for the shock and horror of what happened to hit me, but when my friend asked me what changed to make me so self-deprecating and depressed, I knew that I had to change again.
I put out feelers into the creative world and made contact with people who had previously inspired me. In a week I had several auditions to look forward to and the possibility of joining an improv troupe laid at my feet. I made plans to return to the Georgia Renaissance Festival and began getting excited at the prospect of creating a new character, things I hadn’t thought about in what felt like ages. I began to sing again. First it was just in car on occasion, but then I began to sing while cooking and wandering about the house and even sometimes at work. I even started dancing again!
I had a small get-together and was amazed by its success. Everyone had such a wonderful time, and it was so good to see faces that had become so distant. In the succeeding few weeks I made new friends who reminded me what it was like to dream and believe in something greater. Hell, I even began catching the memory of believing in myself. Talking with friends and family, I learned that they never stopped believing in me. I learned that they miss my passion and joy for life as much as I do.
It’s difficult to have faith that my eyes will look normal after they’ve healed from what the specialist in Miami has said should be the final surgery early next year. It’s difficult to have faith that I could pick back up with my dreams where I left them four years ago. Perhaps some of my dreams will never be able to be the same, but some of those dreams were never out of reach. Everyone else seems ecstatic that I’m even considering theatre again. Each time I write, it’s met with approval and encouragement. My work in class seems more than adequate to land me in an excellent graduate school should that be the route I choose to take. But finding the strength (and time) to work toward any of those dreams is difficult and requires me to have faith in me.
One of my favorite quotes from school in Ohio was from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: “Leap and the net will appear.” What a leap of faith life has proven itself to be.