Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Feeling vs. Fact; Faith vs. Fallacy

Do you ever base your reality on how you feel? I have been so tempted to do that over the past few days. Sometimes, it's easy to take a word, a glance, or lack of "instant gratification" and get discouraged. It's easy to forget where we came from. It's easy to get distracted on our journey. But, that is my feeling vs. fact. That's fallacy vs. faith. It made me think about the prodigal son, about Joseph, and about Daniel. I know the prodigal son’s story. I’m living it. I want to compare myself to Daniel or Joseph, but that’s not true… not quite accurate. I wasn’t taken, or forced somewhere. I didn’t hold onto my principles in a foreign land. I am the prodigal. I took my blessings, talents, and gifts and squandered them. And I am making the journey home.

That’s where I am - on that journey. But I have to wonder… how humbled to get up from a pig pen, and take those steps. How hard was that journey home? It can’t have been an easy, quick, painless journey. And it was probably still rife with distraction, but how did he make it back? Providence? Grace? Mercy? I don’t have all of those answers… but I know that it’s easy to forget where we came from. Those distractions and those side streets on the journey make it really easy to forget what your goals are and the laser-vision of where you want to go! My feelings tell me that I am no better off. My feelings tell me that this is just an emotional high, and a group hypnosis. My feelings tell me that I am just nostalgic for a time, place, and people that no longer really exist. My feelings tell me that I’ll never hear Brenda LeDoux playing the organ, while Brother Wolfe leads worship service on Robinson Road again. My feelings tell me I’m still sick and fat and that I am going to fail in work and other areas. But that’s just feelings. Those are not reality. We can’t always trust feelings.

So, I went through my notes, my old tweets, blogs, and statuses. I got to adding time up... I started on this new life journey on 10/25. I had to count down for 8 eight weeks for surgery. And on 12/20, I had that surgery (and a big ole helping of miraculous occurrences). Let's revisit, back in October:
--I weighed in at a whopping 307.
--I drank almost every day (usually sugary white wine or a white-lightening-sangria recipe)
--I smoked over a pack a day (of cigarettes, yo. Get it right.)
--I was barely mobile. My feet, ankles, and knees would swell if I was too "active."
--I never cooked and I ate out every day. Not all was gross fast food. Lots were, but some were fancy, rich, decadent restaurant foods. Those aren’t' bad, but you can't eat like that every day.
--Less than 25% of my food was green.
--I was diagnosed with Advanced-Stage GERD
--2 ulcers
--Hiatal Hernia
--Barrett's esophagus (mine was cancerous)
--Ulcerated esophagus (from the acid and GERD)
--Daily vomiting based off of bad food choices.

My doctor said that I needed surgery. Like, serious surgery before I perforated my esophagus, or worse. Also, I would need to quit smoking, quit drinking (he actually said that I could only have red wine or clear liquor. No dark, and not much.), no acid (foods, tomatoes, orange, lime, lemon), no fast food. My only other option was to wait for death. I can't say I didn't consider it, if I am being honest. I had a choice. And I made the choice that I wanted to live. I wanted to live. I want to live. 

I did countdowns to the surgery. I dieted. I exercised. I walked. I juiced. I drank water. I quit smoking. I worked my butt off. That willpower alone was a miracle. Well, here's an update for you (for me, because I need it today), since 10/25:
--No cigarettes! (Not even one. Not even a puff. I, have, kept my e-cig close by - just in case.)
--No drinking yet. I took a sip, but just couldn’t get into it. I am happier not drinking and it's helped immensely.
--NO sodas. That was the hard part. I wanted some so bad. Sigh. But the chemicals and empty sugar just aren't worth it. I did sip some Sprite Zero once, but even that has chemicals so that it is "zero." Sigh. Having none is just better.
--NO fast food. I've had to make hard choices during travel, but... I made good choices and have pulled through. For the purposes of what could have transpired - I've held strong! Even fast food salad is better than nothing, and you can always make a good choice when you have to.
--Activity. Some type every day (take the stairs, park further away, walk to work, #C25K - 3.1 miles/day - usually, with days off here and there)
--I've lost 42 lbs.
--I can walk without swelling in my joints.

Now, let me tell you what I didn't expect. I didn’t expect recovery. I didn’t expect to get better, I just hoped I’d stop getting worse. I didn’t expect miracles or help or hope. I didn’t expect grace or mercy. I figured that what I’d spent 20 years doing to my body would just be there. I am a big believer in consequences. If you did the crime, do the time. If I ate and drank and was merry like there was no tomorrow… well, I did this to my body. But God is greater than that.

--I didn't expect that the inflammation in my joints would clear up. Like, my shoulders, elbows, knees. Gone.
--I didn't know that the clump where my hair had fallen out and some red patch was there would clear up. My hair actually thickened. Maybe that’s not a miracle to you, but it is to me.
--I didn't know that during surgery, they wouldn't find anything. Read that again: The cancerous cells: gone. The Barrett's esophagus: gone, The hernia: gone, the scars and ulcerated esophageal tissue: gone. They did the scope and fixed one thing, but all of the other - GONE. Healed.
--I didn't know that I'd feel better. Just feel better. I don’t have to plan food and sleep in recliner and worry about what to wear if I have to eat trigger foods. I don’t stress over food. It’s a HUGE deal to not spend lots of waking hours worried about your digestive track.
--I didn't know my brain and mind would function better - like back when I was young! Memory, speed, cognitive... all have improved function. I actually noticed it and wanted to track so I'm doing IQ speed tests and Lumosity so I can track any improvements based on diet and activities I participate in.
--I didn’t know I’d feel God again. Reread that… when I started this, I didn’t start it from a spiritual perspective. I started this because my Doctor harangued me into taking my own health under control and taking ownership over my own bad choices. But, getting off of alcohol, cigarettes, anxiety-reducing pills, and body-numbing food actually blew my spiritual receptors wide open. I could listen for God. I wasn’t using drinking, partying, and food to cover up emotions or to numb annoyances. I had no choice but to listen. There’s theology there somewhere, but I haven’t researched it. Bottom line, I got clean and God got my attention.

So what is the moral of this story??? Don't freak out if you have a bad day. Don't kill yourself over your perception of where you are in that moment. Take real, true stock of your location, and your situation. Take care of you. You are the only you there is. You are worth taking care of. If you cheat on something, you are only doing that to yourself. Examine yourself and find out why you are not important enough to you, and care enough about you, to cheat - be it on a diet, a drinking binge, smoking, your taxes, a test... Whatever your challenge? Why are you not important enough? You do you. You will get where YOU are going. If you don't see immediate results, that’s okay. You didn't immediately get where you are. Miracles still happen – so be one. And if you don’t “feel” it, that doesn’t make it true. Sometimes, you have to just do what you know is right.

Regardless of others’ perceptions, or your own perception, you have to keep doing – day in and day out – what is right for you. I love you, right where you are, how you are, and for who you are.

#JustBeingMichael ツ

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