I've been working on this series for a long time. Since Easter, in fact. I thought I would save it to give you something interesting to read while I am up during the night changing diapers, feeding a baby and only half-awake during the day, trying to make sure a few meals make it to the table and I don't set anything on fire. I will publish it in four parts.
Recently, a friend who has celiac told me that she had been encouraged by another woman to pray for healing from her disease. The woman, a religious sister, reported having been miraculously healed of the same disease in recent years. Several other nuns from her order were also subsequently healed of celiac, following an increase in their faith after seeing their sister freed from the affliction.
As a result, I have recently been contemplating what it would mean for me to ask Jesus to heal me of my diabetes. I haven't done it on a consistent basis, but have become increasingly puzzled about why I can't quite bring myself to do so. This series follows my journey to uncover why I just can't quite say those words, "Lord, please remove this burden from me," without a real mental reservation.
The first time I was confronted by the idea that God might actually desire something different for me, something other than diabetes, was when diabetes came up during a conversation with a casual acquaintance in college. To pass the time sitting around a small table, waiting for a few others to join us, he was politely inquiring about what it was like to live with the disease. I told him I couldn't remember anything else, so it seemed pretty normal to me. Besides that, I had no other life-threatening or even life-altering complications. So I felt pretty good about myself. His response, which came after a thoughtful pause, really surprised me.
"Well, at least you won't have to deal with that in heaven."
I didn't have time to respond before our meeting was underway, but I sputtered, confused, hurt, and without words. Excuse me? I thought to myself. How dare you imply that my body is somehow insufficient! I am a very healthy Type I diabetic, and you have no idea how good I am at it. This is normal life, buddy. I was actually offended!
Many of you may remember that I have lived with Type I diabetes ever since age 9, and I truly don't remember what it was like not to have it. My parents, in their wisdom, treated it so matter-of-factly that within months, I thought it was really cool. I would show my friends how I pricked my finger to make blood come out and gave myself shots. When people, in a horrified way, asked me, "doesn't that HURT?", I used to take a great deal of pleasure in shrugging my shoulders, playing tough, and responding, "Not really. I'm used to it." Diabetes became not only a completely normal part of my life, but my ability to manage it and tolerate the pain and inconvenience also became a source of pride.
So it's easy to understand how I became blind to the patently obvious fact that my body IS imperfect, and why my friend's remark so flattened my proud manner. This confusion about the disease got me through difficult adolescent years, when I was insecure about everything else except blood sugar management, and it is certainly understandable to a degree. It developed as a no-nonsense, no-self-pitying, coping mechanism for dealing with a disease that reality demanded I learn to deal with for the rest of my life.
But let's make no mistake. My pride obscured the truth, and created confusion. Internally, I had puffed up my chest with pride and asserted my competence at disease management as a substitute for true health and normalcy.
However, my casual acquaintance was right, and he meant the remark in complete kindness and encouragement. My hearty pride did not prevent him, as it had prevented so many others, from identifying the real truth about my situation. Others might have been wowed by my diabetic competence or my tolerance of pain, but he saw the truth plainly. He did not condemn my pride (he probably had no idea how deep my pride went!), but his statement of the plain truth crushed it.
Based on reading this blog, you may have noticed that I am still trying to get comfortable with the idea that I am ill. I have a disease. My life is harder because of it. My body is Not the Way It's Supposed to Be. Because of it, my life will be inconvenient at best and prematurely shortened at worst. It may even, much to my great chagrin, affect the way I give birth to my children (gulp). Whatever lasting scars I may bear, and whatever natural virtues or good character traits that I develop in response to it, my body will not suffer the decay and deficiency of diabetes in heaven, because diabetes is a disease. Diabetes will not exist in heaven, and my body will be more perfect as a result.
To be sure, this was the first obstacle I had to overcome before asking our good Lord for healing: recognition that I have a problem. "Hi, my name is Beth, and I am a diabetic." Diabetes is a disease. I have learned how to manage and cope with the disease, and those lessons are supernaturally valuable. Those lessons may have even been difficult to come by in any other way. But diabetes is a disease, a problem, and Not the Way I'm Supposed to Be. Seeking healing in faith will require a firm foundation in this truth.