As I lounged on the couch and perused through the latest issue of Real Simple that arrived in our mailbox yesterday, I was struck by an article entitled “The Conversation that Changed Me.” I do admit that my favorite articles in this magazine typically revolve around organization and recipes…and I have this awful habit of skimming through the real-life articles. But this one was different. At just a glimpse of the title, my mind began rummaging through a handful of conversations in my life that have permanently made a mark on me. One of them is such a sweet memory, I can’t help but share it with you.
Now, if I were to write about this story in full, you would be reading this post for hours. So instead, this is the super condensed, I’m-leaving-out-a-ton-of-important-details version, but I think it will still get the story across.
The shortened backstory is this: In the beginning of my junior year of college, my thyroid decided to stop working correctly and out of the blue, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. A fancy word that simply means my thyroid was underactive and not producing nearly enough of the necessary hormone to keep everything in my body working properly. The solution is simple: take a teeny tiny pill every day to supplement the lack. Sounds easy, right? Unfortunately, there is no easy way to determine what dosage a body needs, so it’s months and months of trial and error. These months ended up being THE hardest few months in my life thus far. I had gained a terrible amount of weight, constantly felt exhausted, had a hard time staying awake in classes, and was overall extremely discouraged. Even that is a huge understatement.
A few months into this and still feeling really awful, I made a trip home to have another visit with my family doctor. I was desperate for any help he could offer me. That night after the appointment, I distinctly remember laying on the couch in my parent’s basement in tears. I felt like a failure. Like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders and I just couldn’t press on any longer. I wanted to drop out of college because I felt like the challenge I was facing was just too difficult. I remember really wanting my dad to come downstairs to console me, and sure enough, he called down to me from upstairs, “Allison, are you getting sick? I’m hearing a lot of sniffles!” I mumbled out a fake chuckle, and my dad made his way down to be with me. I unloaded on him all my fears and frustrations and feeling so terribly stuck. His response is something that will forever be etched in my memory. It went something like this, as he gently stroked my hair:
“My daughter, I love you. If you drop out of college, if you come back and live at home, if you gain 100 pounds, nothing will change that fact. You are my daughter and I will always love you and think so highly of you.”
Although I didn’t realize it at that time, those words were exactly what my heart needed. I needed to know I was OK. That my value in life had far more weight than did the challenges that were staring me in the face. This conversation not only gave me a huge amount of freedom to embrace the difficulties and frustrations in that stage of my life, but it also brought to life for me how deep God’s love for me truly is. My dad’s words clearly impressed on me that there is nothing I can do to make my heavenly Father love me less. His love for me is infinite. Unwavering. Eternal. Extravagant. And in this unfathomable love and acceptance (not based on anything I have done, but because of Christ), there is freedom.
Freedom to embrace seasons of difficulties.
Freedom to be me.