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Monday Reflection: Remember!

By Rae Lewis-Thornton

March 21, 2011

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This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.

Sometimes it feels like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders. I know you can relate. The hits just keep coming and coming, and you wonder if there is even a God up there.

Stop being all righteous! You know I'm telling the truth. Let me be clear, deep down you don't really question if there is a God, but you do wonder if His plan for your life is gonna get any better.

You know what I'm saying, we ask ourselves, "Am I ever gonna get a breakthrough?" Some of us are even bold enough to ask God, like me, "Hey Home Boy, I know you up there," is what I say, "But Lord, it sure don't feel like it right now."


Sometimes the pain is so heavy you can't help but to wonder, if joy does comes in the morning, like the Bible says, how many more mornings before that joy shows up with the sunlight? A couple of weeks ago I blogged about trying to make sense out of suffering. How we misquote the Bible as a way to find meaning and provide hope. How those sayings sometimes become our God. It's what people throw at us when they don't know what to say or can't make sense out of the suffering. But they only provide superficial comfort in the midst of a crisis. Here's the link.

The hurt is the hurt and telling me to think I'm better don't take away the hurt nor does it instantly make the pain go away. At the moment, what you are going through is concrete! Like right now, I have an opportunistic infection related to having AIDS. I have drug resistant herpes.

My vulva is raw and red as if someone took pliers and pulled back my skin. And this week the infection started bleeding. My pain level is at a 10 all day and walking is so painful I don't even want to get out of bed. I started IV medication to treat it last week and the side effects of the IV medication and the medication that I have to take to protect my kidneys from the IV medication is kicking my tail. Nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and so on. This, of course, on the back of just getting over pneumonia and having to make the hard decision to sell some of my jewelry, handbags and designer shoes to keep food on my table. It's like, Damn! Can it get any worse, huh? Sometimes I want to give God a "side eye." But in the end, I keep it moving through it all.

I get asked often, how I do it. How do I take hit after hit and seem to keep it moving in spite of it all? How do I get out of bed when literally, the pain is almost unbearable. And let's not even talk about the emotional baggage around it all, knowing that years ago I could have made different choices that would have rendered me different outcomes for today.

So how do I get out of bed with the weight of the world on me and the pain is squeezing the joy out of me? Yes, I pray and I read the Bible for comfort, don't get me wrong there. My faith is the center of my strength.

The substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. We quote it often, I know, I know. But, it's hard when you don't seem to have a tangible. And just telling me joy comes in the morning don't make it so.

I Remember! I Remember my history with God. Just like the Children of Israel, I draw from my own experiences with God. We rarely think of ourselves in terms of having history with God, but just like Israel was living history, so are we. But typically we rely on the Bible stories to guide us, rather than our own history with God. But even in that sometimes it seems a little far fetched to take the stories we read in the Bible and translate it into a RIGHT NOW blessing. It's not that we don't believe, but gee, I know you wanta say, "Ain't nothing ever seem to happen that quickly for me."

So, in the reality of all of this, how do I keep it altogether? I Remember! Yes, remember my history with God. I Remember what He has done for me to keep me grounded. He's capable, whether He does it or not. Each morning when my body is in pain and my spirit is hanging in the balance, I get out of bed because I Remember. I Remember that a year ago I prayed every day that God would bless me with a one bedroom apartment. Having downsized from a three bedroom three years ago, the studio I was living in was closing in on me.

My prayer was simple: Lord, I don't want to wake up in the morning and have to look at my bed for another year. Please bless me with a one bedroom so I can get up in the morning and go into my living room and have tea. I can't take looking at my bed another year. This is crushing my spirit. I need a change. It don't have to be in a fancy highrise, just clean, decent and affordable.

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See Also
More Personal Accounts of Women With HIV/AIDS


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Rae Lewis-Thornton Speaks

Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton

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.

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