When you are so done…but God isn’t (AKA happy 40th birthday to me)

Today at 4:16 a.m., I turn 40 years old.

That feels weird for me to type. I don’t think 40 is old, in fact I have never even thought of my parents as old. But when I was growing up, the general medical consensus was that most kids with my level of Spina Bifida wouldn’t live too far into middle age. Combine that mentality with the fact that I was once more than 200 pounds overweight and continue to be 100 pounds overweight, my auto-immune diseases, and my general clumsiness, making it to 40 years old seemed preposterous.

It seems that God isn’t finished with me yet. In fact, this is a message he’s been telling me all year.

I have a story to tell you. I want to preface this by stating clearly that I have not, in any way, shape, or form, been suicidal and this is not a cry for help in that fashion. There is a distinct difference between wishing to no longer be of this world and wanting to actively end your life.

At the beginning of this year, I was in a deep depression for several months. I had just lost what I thought was God’s plan for my life on several fronts including when I was suddenly pushed out of an organization I dearly loved and had a hand in helping create. I thought it was going to be my next career path.

I also felt led to leave another organization that I thought was going to be a major part of my future and what I was supposed to do as a ministry. Both were profound losses.

My autoimmune disease felt like it was eating away at my body and emotions as it made me more and more tired and weak. I was facing the reality of going to only part-time work for the first time since I was a teenager (I maintain a full-time workload through the use of interns).

I was in constant pain and always tired. My mind, body and spirit were done. So. Done. But God apparently was not. I know this because I would beg him every night to take me home with him in my sleep. Yet, every morning I continue to wake up for another day. Imagine being angry that you woke up!

I came to realize that God wasn’t finished with me yet. This pain, this suffering, had a purpose that he was going to bring me through. I chose obedience and he gave me a peace to finally accept the situation. He brought me through it until we found a different treatment that is managing my symptoms better and gives me a better quality of life.

He also helped me realize that the two organizations I had been a part of and thought were going to be an integral part of my future were not healthy for me professionally, spiritually or mentally. They didn’t treat me with value and I translated that, along with my failing physical capabilities, as me not having value. The constant sense that I had to prove myself was debilitating.

One of the ways God speaks his truths to me is through others. I couldn’t believe when I got a newsletter from my friend Daphne at Well Done Life that spoke to pretty much exactly what I had been dealing with. I tried to link to the newsletter, but couldn’t figure it out so I will just quote some of it:

“If you’re still breathin’, it’s for a reason,” it reads.

Later in the newsletter, Daphne wrote, “I also know that regardless of a person’s ability to ‘contribute to society,’ everyone contributes to society. Think of the jobs created out of a need to provide service. I’m here to tell you a shut-in serves a purpose perhaps greater than the person with a to-do list a mile long.

“I also know this: a good work has been started in you and it’s not complete yet.”

I am choosing to continue acting in obedience to God through ministry. Not a specific, formed ministry, but by being the person he created me to be and the person he continues to shape. I’ll share more about this later, but he’s sent many people in the last year to me that have conveyed the message that what people need and what God needs me to be is myself. I’m not saying I’m great. In fact, quite the opposite. I’m broken. So broken that it hurts.

God will take that brokenness and use it for his glory. I’m still alive and kicking for a purpose and the only way I know how to live out that purpose is to “give them Jamie.” Not some regurgitated form of leadership or faith or anything.

Give. Them. Jamie.

I have no idea how long I have left on this earth, none of us do. But I now look forward to the journey.

30 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Thank You for sharing your story. Happy Birthday to the greatest daughter-in-law I could ever ask for! I am so glad you came into my sons life and my life his Mom. John always thought he would never marry, but he did! And I am glad he chose you! Big John and I love you both very much!

  2. I can so relate to this. When I lost so much last year, my health and what I thought was my career, I finally understood what it was like to not want to live. It’s been a long, show journey back, and I’m still not fully recovered. But I have learned so much about myself. My real self, not the me people want me to be. There’s a lot of freedom in that. I am glad you are finding your peace.

  3. My 40th birthday was a reckoning as well. I got served divorce papers a few days earlier and he abducted the kids and wouldn’t return them until the court ordered him to do so. He’s still trying to get full custody. I got kicked out of his dad’s church and lost every bit of my support system. I thought I knew what God wanted me to do, but I know that God has better plans. He has taken me out of a cult that worships men and placed me back in a church that worships God. (Seriously, my father-in-law ordered me to obey my husband and him, not God, because he says that the Bible makes it very clear that women are too stupid to understand God’s commands.)

    Years of abuse have destroyed my health, but the more I manage to have no contact with the ex, the better my health is. I feel like I just might be making headway healthwise. Of course, every time I put out 1 fire, another pops up. If God needs me to be healthy to accomplish what He wants, then I know that He will heal me. Until then, I just place 1 foot in front of the other and do my best to accomplish what is in front of me.

  4. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through this, I’ve always enjoyed reading what you share. I’m glad you are still with us on this journey. I look forward to what you create next. Your light shines through your words.

  5. Jamie, Thank you for sharing. I never realized you were going through this. You have always added value to me and More Than a Review. I wish I had been more active in telling you. I feel blessed that we met all those years ago scrapbooking. You speak truth and authenticity like few people I know. Happy 40th!!! and Girl, God along with several 100 other people still believe you have a lot to add to this world. Here’s to your best year yet. love you, Donna

    1. Thanks so much, friend. And please don’t feel bad that you were unaware. That helps me realize I was outwardly holding it together at least a smidge.

  6. Thank you for sharing. I think everyone needs to hear they are loved and appreciated. And, even then, the real way that our minds work; is so different than just hearing encouragement. God will do a special work in each of us, that will open up a real love for self. I have definitely experienced this, this year. It’s hard to describe, but that seemed to make all the difference.

    Jamie you have always been a light and encourager in my world. I am so happy that God is not done with you, yet. Happy 40th birthday! Hope your year is filled with many blessings! I love you, my friend!

  7. Beautifully written. You are an amazing woman and I’m so glad He is not done with you. You are a role model for us all. ((Hugs)) Happy 40th! Cheers to a better year ahead.

  8. Happy Birthday Jamie! Thank you for sharing yourself with others… I thought I would share a few things I see when I see you.

    I see someone who
    1) is strong
    2) is caring
    3) is funny
    4) loves teaching others
    5) is honest

    Thank you for being you…

  9. Thanks for sharing! God is working in you and through you. One of the things I love about this time of year is the reminder that Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us, and we especially experience Him during those hard times. I appreciate your real and encouraging words. Happy birthday!

  10. Thank you for your story. Such a valuable reminder that everyone is fighting some sort of battle. I look at you and think how beautiful, determined, and talented you are and wish I had your ability to write so eloquently! You have such a gift and I’m so glad you are here to share it.

  11. Oh Jamie, how I needed this today. I had a really, really rough day dealing with these very thoughts. I struggle with autoimmune disease as well, and most days lately I feel useless.

    But God.

    I’m still kicking (even on the days it’s from the bed), so I guess there’s something left to be done. Just praying it comes together soon.

    1. Christie, I’m glad it was helpful. You are NOT useless! The way you use your need for gluten-free food and your kitchen expertise helps so many others like you.

  12. Jamie, so many thoughts as I read your post and the comments … I echo some of the words written by friends who know you much better than I, but still I’m sad that I didn’t know you were going through so much. I see you as strong, determined, caring and a SURVIVOR!

    I’m so glad God has left you on this earth to teach people like me to be more like Him. You inspire me, friend.


    1. Thank you, Suzy! I’m honestly glad no one knew how bad it got. It was truly something that I had to sort out with God with my husband’s help.

  13. Wow. You made me cry. Turning 50 this year gave me similar thoughts . . . what is it I’m supposed to be doing here? What is my purpose? I think I’ve stumbled on that purpose, finally, but it’s a struggle for lots of us. I’m so HAPPY you are still here, and I love this reflection you’ve shared. I see the funny, beautiful, no b.s. Jamie when I see or think of you, and I’m sorry you’ve had to struggle with that. I’m also sorry about the loss of those two organizations. That stuff is HARD, harder than what we might think. Happy birthday, my friend! You holler at me any time you need reminders about your purpose. I’ll happily remind you of the many ways you’ve shown me love and compassion.

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