Tonight I went with my friend Abigail to a worship service. I know Abigail from UNC days... now she's all grow-ed up and in Law School at William and Mary. While she was home for Thanksgiving break, I got to see her. We met her earlier in the day at Target where she heard Miss Elizabeth call me "Becky" and then I invited myself to go with her tonight to worship.
This was not the first time we'd worshipped together. In fact, ten years ago, we did it quite often. We met during our time in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship where we spent tons of time together- playing cards, having crushes on many of the same boys, laughing too long at things that weren't that funny... and worshipping. And then, in late November 1997, my life- as I knew it- ended.
I was diagnosed with asthma as a three year old. My dad tells the story about seeing me in an oxygen tent during the hospitalization where I was first diagnosed... he said it was the hardest thing he'd ever seen. After those hospitalizations as a child, I continued to suffer. Unfortunately, unlike most people who "grow out of" their asthma, mine got worse.
In the semesters of my freshman and sophomore years at Carolina I had episodes where I was taken to the hospital via ambulance and didn't know I was even that sick until I woke up in the ER. Apparently those exacerbations were not typical for asthmatics- they were definitely worse than I'd ever had before. I remember that first time, after "coming to", when I got up to walk to the restroom it was like a scene from a movie. As I passed the nurses station one by one they started clapping until by the time I got there, all of the staff was applauding. I was completely confused until one of the doctors called out "Girl, we thought you'd never breathe again, let alone be able to walk to the restroom!"
The remainder of my college career was spent constantly waiting for a repeat of that night... it did happen my sophomore year, and then junior year I got away with just a "regular" hospitalization and a couple of trips to the ER. Then senior year it all changed. Mid-November, I ended up in the ER not being able to breathe... and I prayed I would die. I was so absolutely, 100% miserable, and just done with asthma, I wanted it all to be over. Fortunately for me, that prayer was not literally answered. Figuratively, though... that's another story...
1. Upon discharge from that hospitalization, my doctor requested that I move out of the dorm. I had lived in the same dorm room for going on 4 years. Now, mid senior year, I was expected to move out.
2. My tenure in IV was quickly coming to an end. We shifted leadership based on calendar years, not academic years, so my time as president was over.
3. I was beginning my job at Carrboro Baptist in January (later to be named HillSong). While the rest of my Class of 98-ers were going to basketball game camp-outs, I was chaperoning youth group lock-ins.
4. I didn't travel with my friends to Florida for Spring Break. (Which, btw, Abigail mentioned tonight was not such a big loss... supposedly the trip wasn't all that fun.)
5. I now lived off campus, so when I came in from class or work, I couldn't just hang out with whoever was around... I was stuck by myself when my roommate wasn't home.
This was one of the hardest and darkest times of my life. While I was beginning to regain my physical strength after those days in the hospital, emotionally I was only beginning to fall apart. I remember times of utter desperation and loneliness spent walking up and down the streets in Glen Lenox where I lived. I was so wounded and sad I don't even know that I had tears to cry.
So this is how my life ended.
But a new life began.
1. I fell in love with my dream job at Carrboro Baptist... with the people I worked with and the kids I worked for.
2. I got my first taste of "grown up living" and loved being able to cook meals for and entertain people in a space bigger than a dorm room.
3. I moved from that first apartment into another one with my best friend, then to a house with two very fun girls.
4. Then I met Dan.
5. Then he whisked me away (against my better judgement) to Winston-Salem.
6. Then I fell in love with this town.
7. Then I met my daughter and fell in love with her.
Clearly, ten years ago my new world was just beginning. But the one I loved so much had to end in order for me to discover what better was waiting for me. One led to another. And tonight I got the benefit of living them both. I left my husband and daughter at home, to join my dear Abigail in worship... just as we had done so many times before... before my life was over... as my life was just beginning.
I'm so glad she's been there for all of it.