I love the story of Evy McDonald, who suffered from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), an incurable, usually fatal, neuromuscular disease that destroys the body’s motor neurons, the nerve cells that control voluntary movement.
Sitting in her wheelchair, Evy chose to literally face her disease, and sat before a mirror looking at her deteriorating body. In the beginning, she was revolted by herself. Gradually, she became able to find aspects of herself to admire. In time, she made peace with herself and her weakened body.
That’s when a miracle occurred.
In a newsletter of the Canadian Holistic Healing Association, Evy wrote, “I couldn’t pinpoint just when the shift occurred, but one day I noticed that I had no negative thoughts about my body. I could look in the mirror at my naked reflection and be honestly awed by its beauty. I was totally at peace, with a complete, unalterable acceptance of the way my body was – a bowl of jello in a wheelchair.”
Although she had been given only a year to live, Evy ultimately made a full recovery from the disease. In writing about her process, which you can read more about here, Evy stressed the importance of letting go of outcome in her quest to accept herself.
Easier said than done. But she persisted.
Evy suggests this as a step in the healing journey, a step we can all wisely follow, no matter what kind of healing we are doing: “Release all expectations of how it will turn out. Your body may heal completely – or not at all. You may find that a wheelchair, cane, walker or crutches becomes an integral part of your daily life. That does not determine whether or not you live in a state of wellness.”
Our wellness, indeed our wholeness, then, does not depend so much on whether we lose the weight, heal our knee, or find the perfect career. We become well and whole when we make peace with all of us, with ourselves exactly as we are.
Our jobs then are to make peace with our overweight bodies, our strained backs, the times we yelled at our kids when we were tired and angry, the unkind things we said to ourselves, marrying the wrong person, failing the test, and so on.
When we can accept all that we are, all that we’ve done, all the decisions we’ve made, we become whole.
The only thing that’s stopping us is the our failure to see the truth about our beauty and our magnificence.
It’s the work of a lifetime, but I can’t think of anything better to do.