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Sending prayers out to Aimee Copeland, a Georgia graduate student, and Lana Kuykendall, a new mother of twins in South Carolina. Both of these women are bravely fighting a mysterious flesh-eating disease. Aimee has already lost her left leg and there is now talk she’ll lose all of her fingers. They’ve yet to release any additional information on Lana. I can’t imagine the pain they are going through and the pain their families are going through at this very moment.

Aimee and Lana’s stories got me to thinking about those of us walking around with soul-eating, happiness-devouring, blessing-burning diseases, those which are no less mysterious, and still, they have a way of eating us out of a full life. The offending “bacteria” could be a difficult childhood, an abusive relationship, or a traumatic experience. It could even be something as simple as a person you work with that drives you completely nuts. She means nothing at all, and somehow, because of her ability to annoy, she’s earned your focus, your time, attention, and yes, your full life. I’m so guilty of this, giving someone who does not want happiness the ability to steal mine away.

Just imagine if our emotional and spiritual illnesses were visible for all to see. What if we could see the spiritual limbs we’ve lost, the parts of us, without doctoring, that will never grow again? Many of us are so spiritually decimated, we need spiritual walkers and wheelchairs. And we know not where this debilitation was born. Would it matter if we did? The lack is felt, even if what is lacking has not been identified.

There are so many things that have happened in my life that have silently, but ravenously eaten away at my spirit. My earliest memories captured me being victimized. They are memories that cannot be reclaimed. They forever reside in what I once thought was a void. I am now learning that there is no void. All of me is “meat.” As long as I am living, there are parts of me that can be eaten and I need medicine to beat the “bacteria” away. For me, my medicine is faith, family, friendship, fellowship, biking, my students, writing, living. I want to live, so I am living. Hard.

I think about Aimee and Lana and they are, as we speak, fighting the toughest fights of their lives. They are fighting with everything in them to survive. Even after losing limbs, even after having bodies they’ve worn since birth change into something they no longer recognize. We must have that same fight in our lives, even when others cannot see our wounds, even when we don’t know what the actual illness is. We must be our own medicine, and cast aside those walkers and wheelchairs that cripple us forevermore.

When I think of the offenses, slights, abuses I suffered earlier in life, I have to remind myself that offense may have happened once, twice, many times in my whole life, but it is not happening now. RIght now, I am safe. RIght now, I am not suffering. Right now, I will be whole.

They say Aimee woke today and didn’t even cry when she realized her leg was gone and her fingers were soon to follow. While her family wept for her, she remained happy, maybe even grateful for what was left. That young woman, that student, is a teacher for us all. At such a young age, she has mastered what many of us have yet to learn.

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