3 things my diagnosis and college dropout experience taught me


In 2014, I was diagnosed with amplified pain syndrome, or fibromyalgia. I was 14. Fibromyalgia usually affects adults later in life, not as a high schooler. When I should’ve been enjoying my freshman year, I was unable to leave my bed in excruciating pain. 

It was obvious God was changing the course of my life, but I was unwilling to trust him and let go. I began to question if he was good and loving because life wasn’t turning out the way I thought.

After a year of physical therapy, things started to fall back into place. Until four years later I heard the audible voice of God tell me, “Tara, you’re not supposed to be here” in the middle of my college biology lecture. Three weeks into freshman year of college, I dropped out, and moved home.

It’s safe to say that my life didn’t turn out the way I thought or planned. I’m sure there is at least one thing that has happened to you – whether that be a struggle or unexpected twist – that has changed the trajectory of your story too. Although it’s easy to assume that our stories can’t be redeemed from that, there is hope.


Here are three things that God taught me through the twists and unexpected turns of my story, and I pray that they encourage you in whatever you’re walking through.

Your diagnosis or struggle is not the end of your story or the definition of your story.

My hopes of having the “normal life” I planned changed after my diagnosis. But what I learned was that my diagnosis was not the end of my story, but a vital part that God intended to fulfill so many things in my life through. 

You are not defined by your struggle, rather God will develop you through the struggle. If I had never received my diagnosis, I would not have the testimony that I have today. I would not have the faith I have today. Take heart knowing that God wastes nothing, and he redeems everything.

It may feel like everything is falling apart, but God is holding it all together.

When the unexpected happens, when our plans don’t unfold the way we thought, or we’re met with a struggle, life can feel like it’s falling apart. It’s easy to grasp onto control wherever we can, but control is a false sense of safety. 

Surrendering to God and trusting him to direct our lives, on the other hand, is freedom. Believe that even when you can’t see, he is holding everything together, and always working on your behalf behind the scenes. When life felt like it was spiraling out of my control, I learned that it was God’s way of reminding me to depend on him, and not myself.

Your weakness is not a burden or shortcoming.

The world will tell us that weakness or neediness is a shortcoming. The world will tell us that we don’t need any help because we have the power within ourselves to “manifest our own destinies.” But what happens when we are hit with an illness, struggle or we’re faced with our own humanity?

Our need for God and for help is not a bad thing. It’s a blessing. Let’s not overburden ourselves with the weight of the world. God wants to carry that for us. Together with your surrender and trust of him, he will do abundantly more than you could have ever planned for yourself.

Through it all, I questioned if God was really in control and if He even cared about my story. But what I learned was that trusting God to write my story was the answer and surrender was the way.

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