Each September, I think more about sickness and healing. It comes up in conversations. I find myself stumbling into the Gospels on quiet mornings, picking at the details of how Jesus healed people. One way or another, it comes to the surface after I’ve buried it deep for most of the year.
Sometimes, it’s my body that reminds me: swollen joints, a pressing tiredness behind the eyes, aching hips. It’s not so painful or debilitating, but when my feet touch the floor first thing in the morning, tender and swollen, they stop me in my tracks.
Despite all my plans and ambitions, I am not whole, and I can’t make myself so. I picture the disease pooling in the soles of my feet on those mornings and consider going back to bed.
I pretend I need the rest, but really I’m exhausted by this thought: No matter how far these legs can take me, I can’t escape it. My DNA manifests these symptoms like it manifests blue eyes and brown hair.
Tomorrow, it will be 12 years since my diagnosis*. While many days pass that I don’t think once about it, I’ve never been able to let the marked date pass without noticing.
I think God tries to reach me around this time of year because it is rare that I make myself available to talk to Him about healing. It’s too exhausting to do faithfully, to constantly ask, to be disappointed over and over.
So I settle for my mostly good health. This is enough, I think. People face so much worse.
I thank God, and mean it. I carve out what I think is a safe place where I don’t have to face the hard truths or challenge my beliefs. It feels safer, but it’s incredibly dangerous, this illusion that I don’t need Him, that I’m somehow in control.
I’m not asking for healing, so I don’t have to wonder why he’s not answering my prayers, and I don’t blame myself for lacking believing. I’m off the hook; He’s off the hook. But He doesn’t want to be let off the hook, and He’s not letting me off, either.
I was praying in an open, listening kind of way, but not about healing. I hoped to connect with God, but it wasn’t what I expected, as it often isn’t. The words flashed across my brain in an instant, and hung heavily in the air: “You don’t believe I can heal you. You are afraid to have a baby because you don’t trust me.”
Piercing through everything, there was the truth, challenging me to come out of the false safety of denial and present myself, my doubt and fears, before Him. He wants my whole heart, even in the places where it’s broken and hopeless.
There are plenty of other reasons not to have a baby just yet. I think I’d be making that choice regardless, but I’m also afraid to face the reality of the disease, to come out of the illusory safe place where I find my sufficiency in myself and my doctors.
I’ll have to challenge the equilibrium that medicine and doctors have given me. I’ll have to go off medications for the first time in 12 years and see what happens.
It’s an opportunity to stop hiding, to trust God, to stop thinking I can control everything and hand it over to Him, and I’m afraid.
Question: What parts of life do you try to control?
*I was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease, on September 11th, 2001.
Image source (Words added to original)