Identity

From Surviving To Thriving

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I get it. We’re all in different places. So if this blog post isn’t where you’re at and that’s hard, stop reading. If it makes you feel worse, close your browser. I won’t be offended. I’ve been there. I’ve read posts that are supposed to be LET’S DO THIS blog posts, but instead I end up feeling like something is wrong with me after reading them. Why didn’t I see the silver lining in my circumstance? Why does it seem harder for me to connect what is true with how I feel than it does for this person? And on and on…

First, I want to deflate a few myths and replace them with truths. 

1 | I do not have it all together.

Instead, I am covered in grace daily and try my best. I also have guiding values that I try to turn up in full volume and focus on putting my genuine energy into the things I do. Things tend to work out, even if it’s a round-a-bout way. 

2 | I don’t always feel like yelling, “Hooray!” from the rooftops.

Sometimes I do. 

3 | I’m not 100% healthy.

I am much healthier and stronger than I was a year ago.

4 | Thriving doesn’t mean everything goes my way.

Thriving is such a personal thing, so it’ll look different for all of us. Find what it means for you. I hope you experience it.

5 | I am not the most composed person.

I romanticize most things. I’m emotional and sentimental. What I tell is truth, and it’s my truth. It’s how I experienced it. 

Okay, now that we’ve got that straight, let’s get started…

This time last year I was spending a lot of money to visit a Naturopathic doctor that doesn’t take insurance. I was getting tested for delayed food allergies, of which I had a lot. Then he wanted to test my cortisol levels. My what? It costs more money? Ok, fine. We discovered my body produced no cortisol after Noon. I had adrenal fatigue. At some point in the last few years (probably starting in 2011, the doc thinks), my body was under high stress and produced immense amounts of cortisol to cope, fatiguing my adrenal glands. I’ve spent the last year trying to heal them. 

As my adrenal glands have been healing, God has been doing a number on my heart and soul, per usual. I see you, God. Thanks for hanging out and hanging on. 

I want to thrive instead of survive, I wrote in my journal almost every day. 

It turns out healing adrenal glands involves a lot of choices to change things in my life. My job, my diet, my activity. I started contract work at the beginning of 2015 mainly to give my body rest. I cut everything out of my diet that came up on the delayed food allergies test, which included sugar cane. I was told not to exercise for 4-6 months. All of these things were comforts to me, and all of these things had to be removed. 

I went to my comfortable cubicle job because it felt steady. While my mind was spinning and my heart wasn’t feeling at home, I could say “But I work for the state, I have health insurance and an awesome retirement set-up, so I’m doing something right.” 

I ate emotionally, calling sugar cane my BFF even if I never said it out loud. But it’s good to enjoy life and after a long day, I deserve a treat. 

I went to the gym to control my body image. If I worked out, I felt good about myself. When I worked out, I had an image in my head of who I wanted to become. What I wanted to look like. For some reason, it was hardly based on my body shape. I was chasing impossible goals, but at least I’m exercising. 

Removing these things from my life made room for other things. It meant I had to face my heart and voice in my job choice. It meant I had to deal with my emotions, rather than eat them. It meant I had to embrace my body shape and learn to take care of myself outside of the gym. No longer could these crutches be my solutions. I had to find new crutches. Just kidding. I had to deal with my chaos (or my beautiful mess, if that’s how you wish to see it) and stop acting like I could do it by myself. For me, that meant letting God in on all of it and letting friends see my process instead of just presenting all my answers. I had to admit I didn’t have a solution. I had to admit I wasn’t in control. Deep exhale. 

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So where am I now? What about all that in-between stuff? What are you even trying to say, Sarah?

I’m glad you asked. It’s been a year. It’s taken a long time. It’s still a process. 

We were sitting in a coffee shop in Portland a couple days ago and I caught myself mid-thought: I am thriving. (This is where we all yell HOORAY from the rooftop. Or start tearing up in the middle of the coffee shop, depending on how you roll.) I am doing work I love. I am leaving margin in my life for rest and sleep. I am saying No to things that don’t align with my values and what’s important to me in this season. I am not letting money dictate what I do (most of the time. this one is hard.) I am creating more than ever. I am building relationships and partnerships that I only daydreamed of a few months ago. I am cycling, running, and working out in the gym to take care of myself instead of trying to correct myself. 

When I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, I thought I was trying my best to live a better life. I didn’t understand that I was suffocating everything in my grasp so I could feel in control. I didn’t get that the wellness of my physical body was a direct reflection of how I was doing spiritually and emotionally. (Please don’t read that I mean this for everyone. If you are sick, you are on your own journey. I am not saying my journey is yours.) I didn’t understand the way darkness had wrapped around me and I robbed myself of joy almost daily. I didn’t understand how many things needed to change in order for me to thrive. I started to understand it last Fall, and all these changes over time have brought me to a place of healing – physically, spiritually, and emotionally. 

Maybe you’re in a place where you feel stuck. Maybe the walls feel like they’re caving in. Maybe your roofline is shrinking and the sun outside doesn’t seem to ever reach your heart. Maybe you just found something out that makes it hard to get out of bed. Maybe you’re working a job that drains you of the joy, creativity, and resourcefulness that you know you are made of.

I don’t want you to look at my story and wish it was yours. I want you to know that I’ve been walking through it, too. There’s a lot of stuff to sift through, and some days it can feel like a whole mess that won’t ever get untangled. I want you to know you’re not alone, and the heart you have inside of you is worth the hard work. The dreams you think of when you have spare time are worth taking action towards. We need you here. I’m glad you’re here. 

I hope you are thriving. I hope you find your way to thriving soon.

– note: post and images originally appeared on Sarah’s site here

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  • Thank you for this post. I am in my own journey of learning to thrive and not merely survive. Please keep me in your prayers.