Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I am Beautifully Broken

I'm sure if you are a woman/girl, and have a Facebook account, you have seen one of the things going around that are like chain posts, but ask you to add something to do for them, share your addition, and publish your response with the original post, and tag a certain number of people (by name) to do it next.

The chain post I am thinking about right now is this one:
"I was nominated again for the beautiful woman challenge by ____________. Here are 5 more pictures that I feel beautiful in for different reasons! If I tag you, please find 5 pictures that you feel beautiful in, share them if you would like and tag 5 of your friends to do likewise."
I got nominated to participate in this chain  by several people...and I just kept skipping it over.Why you ask?

I know I can be beautiful. I know that I am fearfully, and wonderfully made...and your works are wonderful. I know that you knit me together in my mother's womb. (Psalm 139:13-14) I know that I have held on tight to these 2 verses throughout the past 12 years of chronic, often unidentified, rare, incurable, possibly terminal diseases. Logically, I know this...and if I am fearfully and wonderfully made by God, then of course I am beautiful because God doesn't make anyone ugly, in his eyes.

So then I thought did like any Facebook obsessed, want to be compliant, and on the "in crowd" of Facebook; I dug through all my pictures past and present and completed the assignment of finding 5 pictures that I thought made me "beautiful". So here is what I came up with for my "beautiful pictures":

Those pictures are of me with my newly done hair and highlights with my perfectly colored face and eyes against them, sitting on a pier in the Bahamas, standing with a paper flower I found on the ground right after undergraduate graduation in front of the science building, my jumping for joy at the beach in Charleston, and me all dressed up for family pictures. 


While looking at these pictures I realized they are not me. These are beautiful pictures, but they are not who I am anymore. What I am is a 28 year old, female, with 12 chronic illnesses (2 of which have the potential to be fatal), fighting for my life every day, fighting for stamina every day, fighting to graduate with my Masters of Dietetics degree soon. I am simply a fighter. Everything I do, I do because I know God has plans for me, even if I have no idea what they are because God has not hit me over the head with a 2x4 yet to fill me in. Those pictures may be beautiful pictures of a girl I once knew, but they aren't beautiful pictures of me anymore. So I was at a loss...

Especially because, if you follow me you know, if you don't follow me you will know now. I have had like the worst summer (or time period ever while being chronically ill). I have been incredibly nauseous even with taking the max doses of all 4 of my nausea meds, my pain has increased, my sleep is messed up, I am having dislocations and subluxations one right after the other multiple times a day and especially at night. Every time I stand up for longer than a minute or two I get shaky, nauseated, start sweating all over, and shaking and usually have to lay down on the bathroom floor because it's cool. I haven't been getting all my feeds in because they are making me sick. I've been having increasing vision problems and have gone completely blind multiple times and at least once a day from 45 minutes-2 hours (and Friday it was 9 hours) everything is so blurry I can't read what's on my phone or computer, and can make out the pics on the TV but if they have subtitles I can't read them, and having double vision while out driving and really, really bad photosensitivity. I have also gone from extremely constipated and needing multiple prescription laxatives to being way the opposite of constipated and going to the bathroom 10+ times a day, and sometimes even having accidents because I can't make it to the bathroom in time. My tube keeps popping open and leaking bile and acid all over me and my bed and my clothes. Within the past 3 weeks, the longest my sheets have not needed to be changed from an accident (tube or bathroom) is less than 72 hours. I feel like all I'm doing is washing sheets to put them on the bed, to wash them again the next day. My muscle weakness has gotten so bad it is unreal and I'm using my wheelchair a whole lot more right now. And my lungs have decided to start crapping out and causing me breathing issues and possible sleep issues. I have literally felt like I was going to die multiple times these past few weeks, and have no idea how to shake it, and it just appears to be getting worse, not better.

So, long story short, I feel anything other than beautiful right now.I feel so far from beautiful. I honestly have spent the past 3 weeks thinking I could never feel beautiful again. EVER. I can't even have nice things because they all get ruined by accidents or tube mishaps. I am feeling extremely frustrated that I am doing (and my doctors are doing everything)  that can be done and I am just getting worse and worse. Not better at all. I've got 11 large scars from surgeries. I have a port in my chest that kind of sticks out somewhat and you can definitely touch it even if you can't see it. And I've got a foot long tube sticking out of my abdomen permanently, that is also primarily 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (minus showers, or quick pauses for something else) attached to a set of bags and a pump that provide me with all my nutrition and fluids for the day into my jejunum.And I frequently have to wear multiple braces to keep my joints stable, and have to use my wheelchair a lot too. And if I am going to be standing up for any period of time, I have to wear compression stockings, to help the blood flow go back up towards my heart and brain instead of settling in my feet (at least I bought pretty colors!! :) ) None of this makes me feel beautiful. In fact, for the past 3 weeks. I have felt ugly, worthless, and a burden on society. No matter how much in the past I've been able to say "God formed me in His image", "I am fearfully, and wonderfully made", and all the 'cliche' verses of God formed you to be perfect and just like his most beautiful and perfect child, I could not go there in my head for the past 3 weeks. I just could not accept that God's perfect will was for me to live like this. Which if you normally read my blog, you know that is totally opposite of how I normally live. I look at being sick as my mission. To bring awareness to others, and to support people with the same diagnoses get through this and realize they are still beautiful, no matter what the disease takes from them. I thought of God as using me as His personal messenger, but somehow for the past 3 weeks the signals were getting crossed. I needed to get closer to Him...and I needed to get closer to Him fast. 

I've needed a lesson from myself the past couple of weeks...but it doesn't exactly work that way. God knew it was going to take a mountain to get me out of this funk...and I can't really give myself lessons if my head isn't on my own shoulders right now...so God had to draw me closer to Him, so I could go back to drawing others close to Him through the dark times, and painful times, and lonely times, and scary times. So since I couldn't teach myself my own lesson God used this instead...

This song kept coming on the radio. And it sounded relatively new. I really liked the background music (that's what this ex music geek always notices first). I really liked the rhythms and the melodies. It was a solid song. It seemed like every time when I got in my car that song would play, no matter what time of the day it was, or if I went someplace like 5 times that day, it would always play.. So I started learning the words. And man, if that song was not God sending me a message, putting it right in front of my face, then laying it in my lap for me to look it and then flew into my heart. The song is by Ellie Holcomb and it is called "The Broken Beautiful". Here are some of the lyrics. 

"I'm better off when I begin to remember
How You have met me in my deepest pain
So give me glimpses now of how You have covered
All of my heart ache, oh with all Your grace
Remind me now that You can make a way 
That Your love will never change,
that there's healing in your name
That You can take broken things,
and make them beautiful
You took my shame
And You walked out of the grave
So Your love can take broken things
and make them beautiful 
You say that You'll turn my weeping into dancing
Remove my sadness; cover me with joy
You say your scars are the evidence of healing
That You can make the broken beautiful"
When I finally heard the words, like really *heard* the words, I was reminded *again* that God can do anything with anybody. He formed us perfectly, He knew how we would be for the rest of our lives. He didn't promise us a perfect life. But he promised He would take our broken lives and make them beautiful.

Did you get that...he takes our brokenness and makes us beautiful. He makes us beautifully broken. And it is no mistake. He chose us to be beautifully broken. He chose us to be on this path. Those of us with chronic illnesses. Being beautifully broken is one of the hardest character traits to have, but I also think that it's one of the most rewarding and most important character traits too. Because if we are not beautifully broken. If no one is ever broken. How can we ever know suffering? How can we no turmoil? We will not be able to understand what Jesus gave up and sacrificed for us. If you are one of those chosen ones to be beautifully broken, you should trust that God knows what He is doing and He is using you to teach others lessons about life.

So once I finally realized what my true beauty was. What it really looked like for me, a 28 year old, female, with 12 chronic illnesses (2 of which may be terminal), to be beautiful. It is so much more beautiful than the pictures I showed above, in my opinion, because they show the real beauty of me. The beautifully broken side of me. Do you agree:

There are pictures of me wearing braces on the entire right side of my body, the 4" scar on my left thigh from my muscle biopsy, the feeding tube and 5 scars on my stomach from my tube placement, stomach and small intestine biopsies, and endometriosis ablations, and ovarian cyst removal surgeries, me getting my infusion that I get every week at the infusion center, me trying out my new (it was the first day I got it) wheelchair in the kitchen, my scar for my port on my right upper chest, me with my formula and Gatorade bags which is the food and hydration I get on a daily basis, a selfie of me with my new "mito: what the cell" t-shirt on a day where I looked particularly good, and a quote that reminds you that every scar shows some battle that you have survived. Which is very, very helpful advice, because then we can look at our scars as a positive thing, rather than something ugly. 

Although the pictures above are not "glamour shots" by any stretch of the imagination. They are beautiful pictures of me. They are beautiful pictures of who I really am. These are the pictures of me, being beautifully broken, and showing that I am gonna fight back, and overcome whatever situation comes my way. God is using my circumstances to help others. He has this all planned out. I don't feel better physically, but I sure do feel better knowing that I am beautifully broken by God, for God, to do good work for His kingdom. I just have to keep reminding myself I am not broken. I am not trash. I am not worthless. I am beautifully broken by God. And am loving serving him through my beautifully broken journey, as long as it takes, even if I do have some hiccups along the way, we are all allowed to have hiccups every so often, right? Of course we are. 

For today, I'm going to forget about the broken part, and just focus on the beautiful, because you have to admit, I look like I have it all together in this picture. You would never guess how sick I was in this picture. You would not know by looking at it that I was up from 8:30-11:30 nauseous and dizzy, had a 4 hour infusion that I was also nauseous through, had a conference call with a UMDF (united mitochondrial disease foundation) staff person about the walk I'm on the sponsorship committee for because I have mito, or spent all night fighting sleep while my best friend was over here because I really wanted to hang out but could barely stay awake because I had over-exerted myself. And now that it's past my bedtime I can't go back to sleep. Nope that's not what this picture looks like at all. Not like someone who's broken at all. Just someone who is beautiful. 

But we all know that being beautifully broken is something that we should not be ashamed of, but embrace. 


  1. Oh, Megan, my heart goes out to you! Precious Lord, relieve Megan's pain and sickness. Bring healing in her body, Lord. And most of all, keep her mind focused on Your amazing grace and love for her. Thank you, Megan, for sharing what God is teaching you through your suffering. Beautifully broken. We all are, in one way or another. Blessings to you!

  2. Megan, my new and very special friend, this is beautifully written and tearfully read. Thank you for sharing your heart, your sorrows, your faith and your brokenness; His beauty and light are shining bright through your life. I will continue to pray for you on this journey, that He Who began a good work in you will complete it and bring glory to Himself in the process.