Y'all. I fell off of the blogosphere this summer. I want you to know three things: 1. I still care about you, and this little piece of the internet. 2. I will try to update more often. 3. Posts will be different, and I will probably continue to be a bad blogger for a while. #sorryboutit.
Here is the explanation... These past two years have been freaking hard. Since basically Day 1 of our marriage, I've dealt with some chronic mystery health issues that have really affected my day-to-day life. Things could definitely be worse, but for a girl who loves to be productive and move quickly, chronic illness has been humbling to say the least. A big range of symptoms with no explanation from doctors led me to leave my beloved job with Young Life a little over a year ago--a decision that came with many tears and prayers. After years of pouring my heart into the ministry (and getting to make my passion my job!), I was sad and terrified to step away. But it became clear that the demands of the job were just too much for my sick little self to handle. Not an easy concession for this independent and prideful girl to make.
That being said, hindsight is 20/20, right? I look back at those months of agonizing over how to give my job and the wonderful people I worked with the attention they deserved, while dealing with the physical drain of these medical issues, and I seriously marvel that I didn't self-combust. (Josh would probably argue that I did, in fact, explode on many occasions (sorry babe), but that's not the point.) The point is that it was just too much.
They say that in marriage you realize how selfish you are. That is true, but I would say that I have learned how STUBBORN I am. I have always been told that I was stubborn, but I kind of thought it was actually a hidden positive trait (you know, the kind of "weakness" you admit to in a job interview), because, dangit I push myself and I get crap done right and people can depend on me. But our first year of marriage taught me that I am stubborn, and that often means that I cause harm to myself and my precious relationships. I was too stubborn to accept that I was sick, too stubborn to ask for help, and too stubborn to let go of my hopes and my dreams and my very identity that has always been so wrapped up in what I am able to do.
Something changed in my heart when I finally came to terms with letting go of my favorite job ever. I have been able to focus on finding a diagnosis, on resting, and on the process of healing. I was afraid of becoming selfish by focusing on myself and my own health. But to be serious, I just couldn't continue any more. I couldn't continue to live as I had been---driving myself into the ground to try to keep up with the demands of work, and getting sicker and sicker in the process. Quite literally, my body could not do it.
That was a huge (well-deserved) blow to my pride. Praise Jesus for my wise husband who sees the world differently than I do, always seeing the big picture and always keeping the long-term in mind. While I desperately tried to scrape by day-by-day, I was not serving anyone by maintaining that survival lifestyle. Josh was able to help me see the reality--that I am sick and need to rest and to heal. And that acceptance of reality has done wonders for my emotional health, my spiritual life, and our marriage.
Now, old habits die hard for this stubborn girl. I found myself with some idle time on my hands. I got excited about throwing myself into graphic design and getting back into the art that I so deeply love. I quickly gained excitement and vision for this little business of mine. I launched this website and my blog, and started taking on projects to re-work my portfolio. And, typical Emily, I took on too much.
Art and design are SO life-giving for me, and in many ways, these little projects I've been able to work on have been lifesavers. Getting to do something that I love, interacting with people, and designing from my house on my own time in my sweatpants has been such a gift in those times when I have felt so purposeless in the midst of illness. As someone who deals with anxiety and panic disorder, I cherish the distractions of creative projects to keep the anxiety monsters at bay. BUT the moral of the story, which I thought I learned over a year ago but apparently never sunk in, is that I am too sick to work the vast majority of the time. So the expectations I put on myself to tackle a ton of cool and interesting projects, and to build a reputation as a successful freelancer, while just as sick as ever, were really absurd.
So here is what I think I am trying to say in these way too many words: I am not officially working. I am not currently using this blog as a professional tool, but will continue to post personal updates when I can. I will keep doing design projects for friends when I am able (please continue to ask me about any design needs you have! I love it!) BUT I'm not drumming up business or making a living out of all of this. I look forward to the day when I will wake up early, go for a run on the beach, grab a cup of coffee, and sit at my computer clicking away on oh-so-edgy design projects that I will proceed to share here on the blog. That day is not today, and probably not tomorrow, or any day very soon. One day.
We're gaining ground on the health-front, and I am encouraged. I have some good days, and some more bad days--the days when I really can not get out of bed. We have a diagnosis (chronic Lyme + a bunch of other more rare things that are hard for me to really understand, let alone explain, so I'll save you from the long answer here). We are moving forward. I am not able to work. I am sick. This is my life right now and it is okay.
For way too long, I believed the lie that I was alone in this. I was the only one experiencing my tired and hurting body, so I figured I was isolated by the illness; other than from Josh, who-poor guy-took an "in sickness and in health" oath. But we are not alone. I know that now. I have my ever-present God, and all of you. My friends and family, who, near or far, have loved me and cared for me through all of it. I am sorry for the way that I get stubborn and block people I love out of this part of my life. I am sorry for the times I have not replied to emails and texts. I am sorry for not allowing you all to see my weakness and to support me. THANK YOU for encouraging me with your friendship and for bringing brightness to my life on this weird journey of mine. Thank you to everyone who reads my silly little blog (still can't believe how many of you actually read this thing!), and thank you to everyone who has asked for an update. I can't express how grateful I am for the incredible people I have the honor to call friends and family. I hope that this post comes across not as a complaint or request for pity, but just an update and explanation. Sending all of my love to all of you! See you back here soon :)