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Gracefully Broken (by Huntington’s disease)

The following story was shared with me by a friend. I’m not sure that it is her story; possibly one passed on from someone else. It made me think about the ways I have been “gracefully broken”. As the story explains, there are some people who will be content just “being”. However, some of us that God has picked out special have to be “broken” so we can fulfill the path He has chosen for us, fulfilling our purpose in this life.

“I was in a Dollar Tree last night and there was a lady with two kids behind me in the long line. One was a big kid and one was a toddler. The bigger one had a pack of glow sticks and the toddler was screaming for them, so the mom opened the pack and gave him one, which stopped his tears. He walked around with it smiling, but then the bigger boy took it and the toddler started screaming again. Just as the mom was about to fuss at the older child, he bent the glow stick and handed it back to the toddler. As we walked outside, the toddler noticed that the stick was glowing and his brother said, “I had to break it so you could get the full effect of it.” I could hear God saying to me, “I had to break you to show you why I created you. You had to go through everything in your path, so you could fulfill your purpose.” That little brother was happy just swinging that “unbroken” glow stick around in the air because he didn’t understand it was created to “glow”. There are some people who will be content just “being” but some of us that God has chosen that have to be “broken”. We have to get sick. We have to lose a job, or go through a divorce, or bury our spouse, parent, best friend or child, because, in those moments of extreme desperation, God is breaking us, but when the breaking is done, we are truly able to see and understand the reason for which we were created: To glow!”

I have been broken several times and during those times, I – like anyone would - questioned God’s plan for me and wondered why these particular things were happening.

My mother’s death in 1989 as a result of Huntington’s disease (HD) was my first encounter of being “gracefully broken”, although I didn’t recognize that until many years later.

Multiple miscarriages over 21 years of marriage and thinking that each one might be because of HD, gracefully breaks both husband and wife, even when you have seven beautiful earthly children.

Being diagnosed with brain and nervous system disorders over several years and wondering, “Is this the start of HD?”

My sister Lisa dying from HD in 2011, and debating whether or not I should be tested for the disease …

All of these are paths that I would have rather not traveled, but I try my best to surrender to the fact that it is God’s plan for me and and not mine.

After nearly 30 years since my mother’s death - a day I clearly remember even though I was only 13 - I am now able to truly see and understand why I had to be “broken” and walk the path of HD with my family. You see, every time I was “broken” was somehow related to my fear and anxiety about the disease. My husband, Jason, can attest to the fear that I have carried for many years, and to the relief that I have felt since finding Hope in our sheep and the establishment of Harvest Hope Farm. Thankfully, I have recently been able to “take up my cross” and walk the Lord’s path for me in order to help others who are enduring what my family has on the HD journey.

Do I wish HD didn’t exist in my family? For sure! But do I regret it? No. For my Cariveau family, HD drew us closer. At times, it made us rely more completely on each other. At times, it was really icky. But this is our path; a path that is God-given. With all the tears that have come because of HD, we have also learned to forgive and love others despite disagreements and strong opinions. We have met amazing people that we likely would not have met otherwise. We have learned what community is and how it is okay to ask and receive help from others, even when it is extraordinarily difficult to do so.

Gracefully broken, yes! Purpose-driven, yes! I am stretching myself in so many ways I never believed I would to fight for a cure for HD. I am hopeful that my generation will be the last to know this devastating disease. I encourage you to find your purpose; to not be content; to reflect upon the ways you may have been “broken” in order to use your path to make a difference in this world.


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