My heart’s desire has always been to make a difference in people lives, but there was something internally unstable in my life. While I embraced my outer beauty, I suffered on the inside with low self-esteem and depression. I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Rhabdomysarcoma at 3-years-old.
I was cancer-free a year after my diagnosis, but left with two ostomies (colostomy and urostomy – bladder and bowel functions) that require me to wear ostomy bags for the rest of my life. In a weird way, in my mind, cancer was a small problem, but the disease I felt was “The Pretty Girl Blues” syndrome.
My outward appearance is beauty, grace and charm, but my inward existence was one of low self-esteem, shame, insecurities and on-going medical complications. While others appeared to be living a “normal life,” I struggled with self-pity, unhappiness and even suicidal thoughts. I found it hard, embarrassing and painful to be considered “different.” Could my beauty cover up my hurt? My mind, body, and soul longed for answers. Why me?
I did not understand back then how to walk in faith, depend on faith and keep my faith. As a pre-teen, my mom taught me about faith and to believe in God, however, I needed to develop my own relationship with God and I’m sure glad I did because it made a tremendous difference in my faith.
I remember being home recovering from yet another surgery, feeling sorry myself, when I decided to write down everything I ever felt about my sickness. I wrote about developing cancer, having ostomy bags, how people treated me, my relationships, too many surgeries to count, and why me? As the tears begin to flow, inner healing was taking place. I was writing to myself, but telling God everything I could not talk to anyone about. It was a feeling of relief and letting go of something that was not my fault or anyone else’s for that matter. I was able to let go and let God heal my hurts, disappointments and insecurities. In 2013, this journal would become my published autobiography, “Pretty Girl Blues.”
My candidness and transparency might shock some, while inspiring and empowering others. The message I wanted to convey in my autobiography is that miracles still happen. I am a believer of Jesus Christ and live by the scripture Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I see now through my faith that challenges help me to be stronger. I take challenges and turn them in to opportunities. What I thought was impossible, God turned into limitless possibilities. I’d never imagined being an author, top fashion model and motivational speaker, but I realized God chose me to be a vessel to help other people.
When you realize your purpose through those struggles, you, like me, can say “WHY NOT ME?” When you take the focus off yourself to help someone else, God is working out your struggles. We all have trials and tribulations. We must fight, overcome and be steadfast. Our challenges in life build, groom, teach us lessons and grow us to be conquerors.
By sharing my story, I want others to know that while life will “happen” to all of us, but we all have the power inside to survive and overcome any obstacle that presents itself. The odds are not against us because God is for us.
God is always in control through it all. I believe “life” is unpredictable, but we have the tools God placed in us to handle our tests through prayer, reading His word and believing in His promises of hope.
I am a living witness.
“Life” goes on even in the midst of pain. The question is: Will you live or die?
– Jearleen Taylor
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My God Is Greater: “Living With Ostomy Bags Don’t Define Me” was originally published on praisebaltimore.com