When my daughter asked me to join a walk in our city to support research and awareness for her auto-immune disease, I said yes.
- I said yes so I could walk a mile in her shoes.
- I said yes so I could walk alongside her like I have done my whole life.
- I said yes because though my auto-immune disease is different than hers, the genetic glitch came from me.
- I said yes because autoimmune diseases are misunderstood and people need to know about them.
- I said yes because God is using our DNA frailties for good in our lives and I want to shine a light on that reality.
As I wrote in my book,
…I find great comfort in trusting the higher story unfolding above her head and mine. God would not have let the tough stuff sift through His fingers, so to speak, if it wasn’t going to be for our good. That’s the twist. Satan will try to destroy. People will commit offenses against us on purpose and by accident. Imperfect DNA may tumble together inside our children. But in spite of these, and no matter what, if we walk closely with God and let, He will turn all “harm” into so much good it will leave heads spinning, including our own. (Live ABOVE the Chaos, p. 61)
My daughter and I don’t have miraculous stories like Kara Tippetts who handled her battle with as much grace and peace as I could imagine. Our health stories don’t compare to Joni Eareckson Tada who has handled her decades of quadriplegia with as much perseverance and fortitude as I have ever observed from afar. However, my daughter and I have medical conditions that are real and chronic, and we have contended together to understand how our circumstances mesh with our faith. We have sought to answer, “Where is God in all of this?”
Since my daughter is the one with lupus, and she is the one who pulled a team of walkers together for this weekend’s event, I am going to let her do the talking today. What follows is an excerpt she wrote in my book about how her freshman year of college unfolded following a lupus flare:
My mom has spoken about how God allows our lives to unravel in the confines of His love and safety in order to show us parts of our hearts that are blocking Him. I had heard of the process of gaining a clean heart, but had not begun to experience it until the last year of my life. Here is my story.
Soccer was always second nature to me. I had high hopes of going far with my soccer career. When I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus in high school, the hopeful future I had envisioned for myself was suddenly jeopardized. After a long college search with many setbacks and struggles, I still managed to arrive at a Division I school as a student-athlete. My hopes for success in soccer were revived. Within weeks of arriving, however, I became ineligible to play as a result of a back injury. In addition, my blood test results skyrocketed, indicating that my lupus was active. Far from home, I began new medications with scary side effects. My life was out of control. I couldn’t control my injury, my playing time, or my health. But there was one thing I found that I had complete control over, and that was my food intake. I exchanged soccer disappointments and poor health for body image and appearance; I was thinking this would make me happy. After completing only one semester of college, I returned home and entered rehab for an eating disorder.
I couldn’t understand why all of these negative things would present themselves at such a crucial time in my life. I was constantly asking, “When will God do something good in my life?” I now see some of the re-construction He has been undertaking in my heart. Because God loves me, He has taken away the things I had always trusted in to make me feel good about myself. My lonely pit of darkness in college is what prepared my heart for God and His truth to shine into my life for the first time.
I returned back to my parent’s home with an open heart to accept His guidance and plans for my life. Honestly, I began to take my relationship with God seriously for the first time. In addition, I have established a closer relationship with my mom. After nineteen years of letting her advice go in one ear and out the other, I find myself now striving to look more and more like her every day. But one of the most important understandings I have gained through the past six months is that spiritual battle exists. I am learning not to let Satan gain a foothold in my thoughts, but to have my mind constantly filled instead with God’s truth about who I am in Christ. I am beautiful in Christ. My relationship with God has grown drastically since coming home.
I am starting to experience what my mom talks about. Chaos exists around us and even in us, but when we let God grow us through our circumstances, we rise above the chaos by growing more strong and beautiful no matter what. I haven’t suffered like Job, but after all his suffering ended, I have an idea of what he meant when he said, “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you” (Job 42:5). What I have suffered is worth what I’ve gained—more of God. (Live ABOVE the Chaos, p. 148-150)
To all of you are suffering, be encouraged today that though there may not be a walk of awareness occurring in your city today for your particular circumstances, you do NOT walk alone.
Life is hard for everyone. Believe it.
Let your friends in on the struggle. They will support you.
God is there for everyone. Join His Story for you and let Him use the hard stuff for good.
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