Waking to Sadness ...
By Rae Lewis-Thornton
July 21, 2011
This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.
I woke this morning to an overwhelming sadness, as if a cloud of darkness was hanging over my bed, infecting every part of my being. As I laid there, I started to ask the most ridiculous questions of God. Like how long? What's up with that? And on and on. Then I started to think about the Apostle Paul and his throne and then I started to fight back the tears.
But it hit me, what I really needed to fight back was this cloud of darkness that was infecting my very being. I knew I needed to do something, or I wouldn't get out of this bed today. I knew I needed to do something because everyone that encountered me today would be affected by my infection and it wouldn't be pretty. You see, I understand the saying, hurt people hurt. Sometimes they do it intentionally and other times unintentionally, but they do it nonetheless.
I knew I had to fight this sadness because I'm better than and stronger than the cloth that it is cut from. I knew that I couldn't let its substandard nature rule my life on this day. So I crawled out of bed and showered. Water is one of God's wonderful creations. There's something wonderful about water threshing down your body. It says I'm alive. I'm alive in spite of. I'm alive when I should/could have been dead. I'm alive! And this isn't just about AIDS. There are thousands of people who don't wake in the morning. Who will never feel water again.
Water hitting your body is like God speaking to you, saying, "Can't you feel this blessing of life?" And in that moment, I began to thank God for my life rather than ask, "how come?" There is victory in praise. Praise defeats the devil at his core. You see, the devil only comes to seek and destroy, his intent is to render questions, not praise. So when you praise, you fight him at his core. And let me say this. You don't have to scream and holler to praise. Just an acknowledgment in your spirit that you are because God is ... is enough.
After my shower, I had some Captain Crunch. I chose that cereal, because it makes you work. Your jaw muscles have to really participate. And then there's the crunch, and each time I crunch, I am reminded that I am alive with all of my senses and how precious a gift life truly is.
Now don't get me wrong. None of this really took my sadness away or the things that are causing my sadness. But it did give me perspective. Enough perspective to fight for my spirit in the depth of my pain.
For the last five months I've woken each morning and have gone to bed each night with some sort of physical pain that has required a strong pain medication. Physical pain will drive you mad. While the doctors are trying to get a handle on the AIDS-related infections that are causing my physical pain. I must continue to get a handle on the emotional pain or it will kill me quicker than the physical pain.
I must continue to get a handle on the emotional pain or it will kill my spirit and a dead spirt is a dead life. It would be a shame to stay alive physically living with AIDS ... defeating the odds to die spiritually.
So today I fight for my spirit with what I have, praise, a shower and Captain Crunch. What am I saying? That thing that you are struggling with may take time to defeat so in the meantime, use what God has put in front of you to fight back. Stop looking for the miracle to fall out of the sky when it's all around you.
Oh Yes ... tea is next on my agenda.
Rae Lewis-Thornton Speaks
Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award-winning AIDS activist who rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with AIDS in a cover story for Essence Magazine. She has lived with HIV for 27 years and AIDS for 19. Rae travels the country speaking and challenging stereotypes and myths about HIV/AIDS. She has a Master of Divinity degree and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Church History. Rae has been featured on Nightline, Dateline NBC, BET and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as in countless magazines and newspapers, including Emerge, Glamour, O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Jet, Ebony, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, to name a few. She earned the coveted Emmy Award for a first-person series on living With AIDS for Chicago's CBS News.
Rae is an active user of social media -- read "Long-Term HIV Survivor Discovers the Power of Twitter," an article on TheBody.com about Rae's social media activities.
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