ALUM HIGHLIGHTS: TYLER MATTHIJSSEN
(seen on the right)
LFP Alum Tyler Matthijssen certainly never would have imagined in her time here at Eastern that upon graduating, she would not be finding a middle school teaching job as expected, but instead would be fighting the battle of cancer. She recounts her journey through diagnosis and treatment in her open and blog posts. Tyler’s courageous steps to be raw, vulnerable and truthful about her experience has given others the privilege of taking a glimpse into her life and hearing about her daily battle. She credits her inspirational story to one of being surrounded by prayerful friends and family, and that through her battles with God, feelings of bitterness, and feeling pathetic, she believes that ultimately, somehow, she has come out stronger.
Tyler expresses a continued battle of feeling very alone at times, bitter that this illness has left a permanent imprint on her through side effects that will last for the rest of her life, and the wish of not losing a year of her life to this disease. She had been planning to move out, get her own apartment, many of these and other such expectations and dreams have not yet come through. Tyler has often stayed quiet about her story, due to fear of having such strong feelings resurface, and fear of people looking at her with sympathy.
Yet, despite these fears, she wonders if her extreme story may actually be relatable, such as to people who often feel stuck, and as though their life circumstances have doomed them to a life of constant struggle? She wonders if to such people, perhaps, her life and journey can speak to such experiences? She shares that everyone has their own hardships, and that this battle is hers, and will continue to be hers for now. Yet, in the midst of this hardship, she is learning how to talk about this battle, and she believes it is God’s goal for her to connect with others to share her story. Tyler recognizes the enemy’s goal to keep her from sharing this story, and perpetuating feelings of loneliness and a lack of desire to connect her story back to how God worked and continues to work in her life. Yet, she is taking the courageous steps to confront such lies of the enemy, no longer let them control her life, and instead take the bold step out into the freedom of sharing her story.
Tyler has experienced the reality that life is always going to be full of hardships, insecurities, and doubts. Yet, despite these, she has found beauty in so much that she used to just believe she deserved, thinking that life just randomly happened to bestow such provisions upon her. However, she has learned that God is so much more purposeful than this type of perspective on life, and there is so much purpose in everything that He puts in people’s lives. She says that while she is still learning the purpose of it all, it is very exciting!
With this new perspective on life, Tyler is currently searching for a full-time teaching job, so she can have a middle school classroom of her own. She hopes to continue to inspire others to recognize the beauty in the mundane, and help them to know there is so much more than meets the eye.
Tyler shares that her time in LFP was an amazing experience that allowed her to meet some of her best friends to this day. These friends have been ones she has seen get married, have children, and who visited her and sat with her in the hospital while she was loopy on medicine! Tyler says that LFP gave her the push she needed to lead a club, continue to have a social and academic life in addition to all of the schoolwork, and ultimately, taught her just how much strength she really possessed!