Wednesday, June 17, 2015

a headache: reflections on recovery, self-care, and living an intentional life

I have a headache, indicating that something is wrong. My body needs more rest, because I did not sleep well the past couple of nights. I've been contemplating some big life changes, and nighttime is when all these thoughts come to mind and often interfere with my sleep.

My headache reminds me that just one year ago, I had the worst headache that would not go away. I would vomit up to seven times a day out of pain. I kept telling my parents that I wanted to poke a needle behind my right eye to relieve the pressure. I could not sleep without multiple ice packs around my head to try and numb the pain.

This headache didn't go away until two and half months later, after I had neurosurgery to remove the baseball-sized brain tumor that was causing the pressure. Unfortunately, I still couldn't sleep. The doctors gave me many medications to try and help with this. It wasn't until I got off all of those medications in December, nearly six months later, that I was finally able to sleep well.

Prior to my surgery, I didn't value sleep enough. I would stay up as late as possible because I never wanted the day to end. I would wake up early and drink multiple cups of coffee to keep going. I loved it. I thought that I didn't need sleep. I worked a lot, served a lot. I got a lot done. I thought that I was thriving. But deep down, I knew that I wasn't taking care of myself. I knew that I needed to make some changes.

At some point in April 2014, I took a piece of paper and wrote down my priorities. I was determined to rearrange my time commitments to match my priorities. I thought that I would begin that summer. God has a funny sense of humor. I like to say that He gave me a friendly "push" in the right direction.

Here I am, one year later, trying to realign my life with my priorities again. I want to live intentionally, to not waste time. 

Here they are, in order:

1) God - spend time in His word and in prayer
2) My health - set aside alone time; sleep well; exercise regularly; eat well
3) Family - go to weekly family lunches and call parents/siblings during the week
4) Friends - make quality time for those closest to me on a regular basis; keep in touch when not able to spend time together
5) Church - attend church services when possible; keep in touch with my church family (see #4)
6) Job - my job is not my life; go home after the work day is done
7) Community - help serve the community whenever I can

Several notes: I don't think that I prioritized health as high on my list last year as I have it now. But I've come to realize that I need to take care of myself to be able to give to others. Please also notice that God and church are not the same thing. My faith in Christ is not dependent upon attending church, but I do need the support of the church community and enjoy the fellowship. Lastly, I am trying my best to not define my life by my job. I am confident in the purpose and calling that God has given me. This can be seen through every aspect of my life, not just in my job.

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