Saturday, June 29, 2013

Aim High

      In elementary or middle school (I can't remember which), I watched a video on smallpox. That video changed the way I think.
      I haven't told many people about this, but that video really hit me. First, we saw all of these pictures of people infected with smallpox. It was horrifying and hard to look at, but more than anything, it was saddening. Many of them were only children. Children like me. That could have been me. It really hurts to see things like that. But then the laboratories took over the screen. They showed the creation of the smallpox vaccine. Then, they showed all of the epidemiologists and health organizations working together. You know what the goal was? The goal was the eradicate smallpox from the entire world.
      I was stunned when I saw this. Their goal was the whole world! I cannot imagine shooting for a goal that big. I mean, isn't the world all we have, at least right now? There isn't a bigger goal! How in the world did they think they were going to completely eradicate smallpox? Plus, doesn't that seem kind of unattainable? Isn't that just setting themselves up for failure?
      Nope. They did it. They eradicated smallpox. There are no more cases.
      If they can eradicate smallpox, can't I set high goals, too? After all, they were only human. This is the perfect example of what teamwork and aiming high can do for you. I find it bothersome that some people think I'm crazy when I aim high.
      On top of many other things, I am aiming for remission. I am not putting a time limit on it, because that will upset me if I don't reach it, but I want it very badly. I don't think it is unreasonable or stupid. I think remission is something I will one day have. I truly do. Of course, I hope that remission arrives sooner rather than later, but I know it will. I think that is the Christian hope that everyone speaks so highly of: knowing that this life is not the end of things. So even if I never go into remission in this life, one day everything will be lovely and pain-free and I will be able to run and chase fireflies without tiring or hurting. However, that doesn't make today much easier. Because today, it hurts. And today, I was limited by it.
      People always used to tell me that I could use my juvenile arthritis to relate to other kids with juvenile arthritis one day. I'm pretty confident that I'm no longer headed down the pediatric rheumatology path, but I really do think it will be an experience I can use to relate to others with. When people first suggested that I will be able to speak to other kids with arthritis one day, I was a little overwhelmed. I mean first of all, I'm nothing special in dealing with this. I'm pretty darn average. Secondly, how in the world will I be able to talk to kids with arthritis? Won't it make me upset? It's hard at the arthritis conference to look around at the conference area and know that all of the other kids hurt too. It's hard to walk up to the kids of a mom whose blog I read and know how much they have been through. I don't go through as much pain as some of the kids there, and it's hard to think that they have to deal with the same pain or worse pain. In fact, it is hard to know that they have to deal with any pain at all. It is not okay with me.
      But now it seems so clear that even though I don't believe my arthritis is a blessing or purposeful "gift", God will be able to use it. I will be able to look in that child's eyes with empathy and I will be able to know how badly it does hurt. I may not be able to fix it, especially since I no longer have my heart set on being a doctor, but I will be able to understand. I cannot even begin to count how many times I've wanted someone to understand.
      I will aim however high I want. If human beings can eradicate smallpox, then I can live an extraordinary life.

Love,
Rachel

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