The disease of identity

who am i

A couple months ago I was diagnosed with a chronic illness. It’s nothing too serious, but it does cause me to suffer with pain from time to time. After the diagnosis, I only told a select handful of people because I didn’t want sympathy from others. But really, I was just in denial. People usually say after going through a medical condition, you’ll face a series of steps. First you face fear, then denial, then anger. For me, it went more like this: denial, anger, acceptance, freedom.

Denial: refusal to believe a doctrine, theory, or the like.

I remember walking out of the doctor’s office with a million questions going through my head. Will this be what kills me? Am I going to endure a long and painful life? How did this happen? WHY ME? Once I sat in my car, I prayed for peace and then my brain just turned off. For those of you who know me well, you know it’s only by the power of God that I’m able to actually stop thinking. After a moment of silence, I informed my family of the news and then went about the rest of my day. Honestly, I didn’t know what to think anymore or how to handle it. I eventually settled in my mind that the doctor misread test results or mixed me up with another patient. It just couldn’t be possible that I was the one she meant to diagnose.

Anger: wrath; a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong.

After a couple weeks of denial, I started having pain. As pain came, denial turned into anger. Why did this happen? God, didn’t you create me healthy and whole? I don’t care about the label of this disease anymore, I’m in pain. Make it go away, God. My anger became demanding. I questioned God then demanded He heal me. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about anger in the past few years of my life, it’s this: anger turns into bitterness which the dictionary says is “characterized by intense antagonism or hostility.” Once bitterness grows, it forms into rage, hate, and hostility towards everyone – even people that never did anything wrong.
I remember spending time with an old boyfriend that I had built up anger and resentment against. I used to absolutely hate confrontation more than anything in the world, so whenever he would upset me, I just bottled it up. Eventually that bottle started to overflow. I remember this one particular day with him so vividly. I’m a laid back person that rarely ever raises my voice. As some put it, I’m a lover not a fighter. But on this one day, I had enough of bottling my emotions. Everything I held back – hurts formed from the relationship, fights that I wanted to fight back and didn’t, and memories that I wanted to leave in the past – came out. He really didn’t do anything wrong on this day, I just finally had enough. My bitterness turned to anger. I yelled. I called him names. I even slapped him. . . Ha! Poor guy didn’t know what was going on because he didn’t do anything wrong. My bottled anger finally wanted to be free.
Most everything that happened during that time of my life is a blur, but I believe God left this day so clear for me to remember because it’s a reminder for me. A reminder of what anger does. A reminder of what my life will look like if I always avoid confrontation. A reminder of God’s amazing grace throughout that whole situation. Because of that day, I was finally able to let go and move on. I didn’t like who I was becoming and realized I needed to give my anger to God.

Acceptance: the act of assenting or believing; favor; approval.

After being in denial of actually having an illness, and after my anger resided, I learned to accept the fact that I was diagnosed with a chronic disease. Acceptance at first was me realizing my body was changing. I started noticing things about myself that I never noticed before the diagnosis. The more I noticed, the more I started to research my illness. I started critiquing every little new thing that happened to my body. It was borderline obsession. I got to a point that I didn’t want to just accept that my body was going against what it’s supposed to do. I wanted to be free of it. I wanted to no longer worry or be afraid that any new changes to my body are because of this disease.

Freedom: the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint; personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery.

After seeking prayer from family members and leaders in my church, I started experiencing freedom. No, my diagnosis isn’t gone. I’m still not 100% according to MD’s. I still feel pain. But I no longer allow this disease to define who I am. I’m no longer held back by the “why’s” and the “but’s”. I’ve moved forwards. The way I look at this speed bump is if God’s allowing me to be covered with an illness, then it must be for a good reason. Even if I were to die from this, I’d be dancing disease-free in Heaven. How amazing would that be?! So I say to this diagnosis: do what you want, cause pain whenever and wherever you want, because I have a God that’s greater and stronger than any diagnosis. I won’t allow this to stop me from becoming the woman that God has called me to be; I’ll continue to move forward, disease free or not.

There are a million and one scriptures from the Bible that pertain to healing and freedom, but Psalm 103 speaks to me the most. It’s a reminder of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and forgiveness. He’s created us whole and in His image. Even when things in life come our way that we didn’t expect, there’s a reason for it. Whether it’s to shape us or force us to rely on God, it always ends up the way He intends. Think of an artist who paints and there are people watching. The bystanders usually can’t tell what the finished piece will be, but the artist has the whole idea in his mind. It’s not until the picture is complete that the people watching can see and admire the finished masterpiece. God is much like the painter and we are the bystanders. He knows the finished piece, but we can’t see it. It always turns out beautiful in the end. We just have to trust that God knows what He’s doing.

Psalm 103
“Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will. Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the LORD, my soul.”

4 responses to “The disease of identity

  1. Taylor what a shock it is for us when we get sick or someone we love is going though something! It’s one of those areas of life, that I think we won’t ever truly understand this side of Heaven. I do think God is like the painter, but I don’t think he causes sickness or allows people to suffer for some outcome…why the pain and suffering then? I don’t know, and I don’t know if I ever will. It reminds me of the song Held by Natalie Grant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOufqWodFNo

    Over the years, God has answered this question in various ways for me, in order to give me glimpses and also peace during certain times, but still I fail to comprehend it all. But, if I could understand it all I wouldn’t be human, so it makes sense in that way. Anyway, sorry to hear you are dealing with this, but so glad you are overcoming it and that you know where your strength lies! You are a conqueror in Christ!

    Here are some of my favorite songs for those days when you feel you can’t go on, and in general anyway:

    Hillsong United: Oceans http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy9nwe9_xzw

    Michael Gungor: Please be my Strength http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QX0bhq6FM5g

    Gungor: Dry bones: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJWHZnZ9E6k
    (acoustic live version) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ljf-s-msY0

    Chris Rice: So Much for my Sad Song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isHfhuOlFCM

    • Julie,
      I agree that God doesn’t put disease on us. But I do believe that He allows us to go through situations – like a disease – for an outcome.
      Thank you so much for the music! I absolutely love music, so these songs will definitely be some I listen to on tough days!

      • I always used to believe that too, but I started listening to some more Grace based teaching, and that was somewhat uprooted. However, obviously God makes all things new and makes beauty from ashes, but I don’t think God purposely lets us go through things in order to teach us something…Us learning things is a definitely a result of going through trials, etc, but ultimately God is a good God, and wouldn’t sacrifice us on the altar for a “cause”/ or “movement”…anyway, that’s some deep theological convo that can’t be had via texting, lol! So, we can agree to disagree on this for now 🙂

        Yeah, I knew you were into music, which is why I included the acoustic version of one (not bc I think it is particularly better in the way it sounds, as many acoustic versions are, I actually prefer the original), but thought you would like that video, bc of the instruments used, etc…anyway, ENJOY!!

  2. Pingback: Are you taking Essential Oil living too far? | Founded on the seas·

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