Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Against All Odds

The story of my life. But not in the way you might expect. Normally, when this expression is used it is in the context of the underdog succeeding despite the abysmal circumstances. In the scenario of the underdog to win, there must be another character who is the favourite to win but somehow looses to the underdog despite the odds. In the story of my life, I play the character who looses to the underdog.

When I look back at my life, I am completely confounded as to how my life ended up the way it has. Growing up, I was always financially provided for. I had a good education, attained good grades, was well rounded in extra curricular activities, excelled in my two main sports karate and trampolining achieving medals in major competitions in the latter, had the privilege of studying biology and psychology in the University of St Andrews and then going on to study medicine at the University of Leeds. With that profile, it would seem like the perfect recipe for success. But there is a variable that hasn't been accounted for that flipped the tables - life. Good old messy life.

While on the face of things, life seemed like it should have been going well, the reality was very different. During my childhood, I was bullied, plagued by low self worth and failure, carried burdens too great to bare, had regular panic attacks and by the age of fourteen was diagnosed with clinical depression and thought the world would be better off if I was dead. My teenage years was marked largely by complicated family dynamics, my struggle with depression and trying to achieve academically while failing at every hurdle.  When I left home at eighteen to go to the University of St Andrews I was followed by the failure and the shame of not achieving the grades I needed to be accepted onto the medical degree programme. In the two years I was there, I made two further applications to medicine which was when I finally got accepted to Leeds. However, there was always a part of me that regretted leaving when I did. Even though I did receive a Diploma of Higher Education, I had failed to complete the four year degree course that I had intended to. But what was more painful, was the fact that I was leaving all my friends and going somewhere where, once again, I would be on my own.

My time in Leeds was anything but a walk in the park. I became severely depressed, failed my first year exams which resulted in me being held back a year, had a job which gave me severe chronic back pain for six months, was in a soul destroying relationship which left me feeling broken and unlovable, had a major operation on my ankle, got cancer and left university, had a very brief car crash of a relationship, went back into university while trying to emotionally process the ordeal of the last six months of treatment, had another operation on my ankle, eventually got into fourth year of medicine and then got cancer again. So that is the story of my life to date. Marvellous.

When I was younger I used to think that in a parallel universe there would be another me enjoy and sailing through here life while I was left to endure all the rubbish to balance things out. Just my luck. But then, it isn't actually about luck nor is it about odds. I'm no statistician, despite the endless painful stats lectures that were endure by myself and fellow countrymen, but I think that if you were to work out the odds for the series of events in my life to have occurred starting with the moment I was given life, I think they would be close to impossible; definitely not worth betting on that's for sure.

I guess the way I'm feeling right now, after a long weekend of suffering with a terrible infection, this is exactly how I feel. After each disaster had passed previously I would think that surely that this would be the last catastrophic event and there will be a turning point. If this is what the first twenty five, well almost twenty six, years of my life have been like, what on earth is in store ahead. If I'm honest, I don't think I really believe that there will be a turning point for me, well not in this life anyway.

I'm on a ward where people between the ages of 18-30 are being told that their cancer is incurable or that they need to have their leg amputated or that they will never have children, the list is endless. There is so much death and suffering here and it is almost unbearable to talk about the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ with this back drop. But the thing is God is our turning point. What the world sees as treasures is worthless to God and what the world sees as useless, God sees as priceless. There is something far greater at stake with odds that would make any gamers' mouth water. The chance to live for ever in a perfect world where there is no sickness, suffering, pain or death; just pure bliss beyond contemplation with our creator. But would you take the gamble even if would cost you everything even your life as you know it? Some might say well of course you would forever is a really long time and eighty years is nothing really in comparison . But imagine you had no money, or was starving or experienced a life of unyielding suffering. Would you really take the gamble or would you say that there is still a chance that the horse favourite to win might lose, despite the the impenetrable odds?

Everyone has something to lose with this gamble; the loss will either be worldly or heavenly. When Jesus said "Take up your cross and follow me" He was saying that there is a great cost to following Him, after all, in effect He was carrying His death sentence on His back. He willingly gave up His life and endure the most horrendous type of suffering so that whoever wants to can live forever in relationship with God with no more pain. At some point
, we will all be given the choice, what will you lose and what will you gain? 

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