The one thing to remember when someone says sin is the cause of your disease

You have a disease. It cripples your mornings, costs your afternoons, and keeps you up at night. You take whatever medicine the doctor tells you to take, get sick of it, try a homeopathic way, can’t do it alone, go back to your medicine, change doctors, try to find a happy medium. Start all over again.

You’re sick.

You’re tired.

You’re sick and tired of what people tell you about why you’re sick when every part of your body that’s hurting feels like it has its own heartbeat.

Then someone tells you you’re sick because of the sin in your life. You’ve heard the speeches about how you should eat better and that you did this to yourself, but you haven’t heard this before.

Please remember this one thing dear friend:

Remember the blind man Jesus healed.

Remember Jesus’ words when his disciples asked him who had sinned and why the man was born blind. “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:1-3).

I’m not a theologian nor a preacher, but I don’t think it’s hard to understand what Jesus is simply saying here.

What we think is unfortunate in our lives could very well be one of the deepest, most amazing ways God displays His glory. It’s through the trial. It’s through the aching. It’s through the disease.

Every once in a while, I’ll find myself trying to make sense of pain and suffering. Yes, it’s a very large thought indeed. While my mind will start racing to answer, my heart will come in with very simple reasoning.

Perhaps pain draws us to God. Perhaps we cannot grow spiritually or even morally for that matter if pain was non-existent; we cannot show compassion unless there is someone in desperate cry for care. We cannot give to the needy if no one has less than us. Everyone’s pain is an opportunity to show tender-hearted love.

I don’t know your story or what chronic illness you’re going through, but I do have empathy for you. I understand because I know chronic pain—I know it well and I know it young. I know the burns, the painful joints, the flares, the extreme fatigue, the headaches. I know the feeling of wanting to toss the papers that read normal life out the window. Our stories may be totally different or on the contrary seemingly similar. We may not understand why we have a disease, but our pain is not hopeless. And our pain isn’t because of the reasons a random person at the food market tells us it is; there is no one cause of pain. It’s what God himself is stirring in us; what God is doing in us through it for others. And it’s beautiful.

We all know that all it takes is one forged smile to hide an aching soul—to hide what’s really going on. Be real with the ones that love you; hold their hands while you’re sipping your morning coffee and pour your heart out. Talk with others going through chronic pain, you’re not alone. Don’t let the words of others that don’t understand dictate your life.

Have faith in the pain. Remember the blind man Jesus healed—remember his words, dear friend.

Until next time,

Sav

photo: kendall lauren vegan photography

Advertisements

Why I won’t accept my illness, but I’ll accept the battle

I was once asked what I’ve learned from living with an incurable disease. I didn’t really have a determinate answer, but I did say having chronic illness has given me a deeper compassion, one I can’t quite explain. Being a young woman in her mid-20s, most people think I’m in perfect health. However, on the outside, I look nothing like what my body has really felt like for the past three years.  

Swelling, joint pain, raw stiffness, throbbing muscles, needle-burning pain and fatigue were just some of the things my body woke to one September morning in Colorado. My body was not my own; everything from my knees, shoulders, hips and hands were all in pain. I limped to my bathroom to brush my teeth, but my hand couldn’t hold the toothbrush.

I did the best I could that morning despite the overwhelming confusion and drove to work with just the palms of my hands to steer the wheel. After eight months of grueling doctor visits and pain that went unclarified, I was finally diagnosed with systemic lupus after my 23rd birthday. I’ve done everything from changing my diet, exercising, taking medicine — but nothing permanently takes away the flares of pain.

The word “accept” by definition means: 

A) To receive willingly.

B) To endure without protest or reaction.

I don’t accept lupus because that would mean enduring this disease without objection, which means no battle. No battle means I’m not fighting.

But I fight for normalcy despite pain. I fight for staying in a job I love despite the physical exertion it requires working with children on the autism spectrum. I fight telling my body every day that she doesn’t have to accept this disease, because isn’t that what we’re supposed to do when any kind of pain tries to become the boss in our own lives?

In the past three years, I’ve had my fair share taking extra pain pills in the mornings, canceling day plans and praying through sleepless nights. I know the forged feeling of putting a smile on your face in front of people when all you want to do is lie in fetal position in your warm sheets at home with heat pads. I know the feeling of adding layers of clothes to your body during the fall and winter because your body starts to flare — but it’s still your favorite time of year.

Maybe pain happens to people for greater purposes than we think. What if pain doesn’t have anything to do with what we put in our bodies, and it has more to do with something that can’t be seen but felt. Perhaps pain gives us a gift of something greater; a phone call to a family member we haven’t spoken to in a year or the courage to start something we’ve always wanted to. Maybe pain doesn’t leave because it’s supposed to keep teaching us something otherwise lost — something deeper, something that helps others and not ourselves. Pain is a bittersweet blessing in disguise in my life, and it constantly reminds me of others who are facing challenges.

I don’t know when this illness will go away or if a cure will ever be found. I don’t know how my pain will look like tomorrow or in the next week or month, but I do know how I can fight it.

I fight it by doing what I love, even if that’s altered in some way. I’ll keep teaching children and spinning them around in my arms on the days my hands and elbows haven’t given up. I’ll endure jogs on cold mornings when my knees aren’t swollen or my chest doesn’t ache. I’ll drive to a friend’s home to have coffee on the nights I’m not physically drained. And I’ll keep cutting my hair because Lord knows I can’t spend an hour every night brushing a horse’s mane. I’ll still lie on the autumn and winter ground, feeling the crunch of leaves beneath my feet or snow soak in my hair. I’ll keep giving and loving.

I’ll keep doing all these things because if I’m breathing, I’m counting my blessings. I hope you do too, dear friend.

**original article published on The Mighty here**

3 times a special needs child did the perfect thing, and they had no idea what I was going through

Throughout the three short years I’ve had of working with elementary special needs children, there have been several encounters that brought me to tears of joy. I feel like sharing three of these precious moments with you to let you know just how comforting a child that’s “different” really can be, even when they don’t know what you’re going through.

***

When Jesse hugged me after I was diagnosed with a chronic illness called systemic lupus in April of 2014.

Jesse had a traumatic brain injury. He also had a speech impairment and needed help in many different ways. I loved helping him. The day after I was officially diagnosed, I was sitting at the lunch table with Jesse in the cafeteria and he was playing with orange slices in his mouth. He put one in his mouth, like we all did when we were little to show the other person that our smile was in fact not teeth, but an orange’s skin. I giggled, but the smile didn’t reach my eyes. He looked at me for more than three seconds and said, “Nee hug.” He reached out his arms gesturing me to come to him, but it sounded more like, “Come he, come he.” I scooted towards him and hugged him, feeling like he became the adult and I was all of a sudden a child in desperate need of a hug. I instantly felt like everything was going to be OK. A child’s hug is everything.

Continue reading “3 times a special needs child did the perfect thing, and they had no idea what I was going through”

These two things made me fall on my face, yet more in love with love

This past year (2014) a couple things happened, were said, done, and felt. All these different things however made me grow more in love. I love love. Is it not the best feeling? I love learning more about God’s love and growing in it. I usually write to music and tonight’s music belongs to Steffany’s – No Fear in Love.

Continue reading “These two things made me fall on my face, yet more in love with love”