This week, I'm exploring how God has been teaching me to give up control of my health. Today's post is part 1 of 4 posts in this series.
I can remember a conversation with my Mom when I was really young. I knew that I had already had surgery for 3 hernias before I was 2. And then I heard someone talk about hernias being caused by straining or lifting too much. So I asked, "Mom, did I lift heavy things when I was a baby?" She told me no and I asked if she was sure that I wasn't trying to carry chairs or something.
When I was 4, I was diagnosed with scoliosis. Again, I remember the early questions but I don't know if they were directed toward me or just overheard as someone asked my Mom. "Is it from poor posture?" Then later as a teen when I had to wear a Milwaukee brace and hated it desperately, one of my Mom's friends suggested that I should visualize my spine straight and refuse to see it, even in my mind, as curved and then it would straighten and I wouldn't have scoliosis anymore.
As an adult, an acquaintance told me that she had been researching Marfan Syndrome and believed it was caused by low copper and if I would just buy the supplement she sold that I could probably eradicate my syndrome.
In my Christian circles, lots of people brought faith in. "You just need to have more faith." "It's not going to happen if you don't believe that God can heal you...you DO believe God can heal you, right?" "You're putting too much faith in medicine, that's why you're not being healed; you trust what your doctors say rather than just believing God." And I think the most damaging were those who believe that all illness is tied to some sin. A friend, and don't misunderstand me--this is a wonderful Christian woman who acted out of love and concern for me--gave me a book that she thought would help me. It was a book that linked specific illnesses to specific un-confessed sins.
So over and over, starting from a very early age, I swallowed this message that somehow my health challenges were my fault. Somehow there was something that I was doing, or not doing, that was bringing these constant challenges into my life. The nurse side of me didn't buy it. Logically it didn't make sense based on what I knew about my syndrome. And the friend of Christ side of me didn't really buy it either, it just didn't line up with John 9 where Jesus says that the man wasn't blind because of sin but so the works of God could be displayed in him. But even as I didn't buy it there was this small voice in my head that whispered that it was my fault. That if I could just figure out how to do the right things; the right diet, the right activity, the right faith, the right prayers, the right attitude...that somehow I could fix this and not struggle so much with my health. I willingly embraced the responsibility for my health. I owned it.