Owning my health didn't just lead me to make responsible choices, it led to major struggles with control and frustration because I never could own enough of it to fix it. Something had to change.
You can imagine my frustration about 4 or 5 years ago when suddenly a whole new world of challenges began. I started having severe, excruciating headaches. As a child in 2nd grade I had been sick for 2 months with headaches that were so bad that I couldn't get out of bed. I was ok if I was lying down, as soon as I stood up the headache came back. They never were able to determine a cause and eventually it resolved. Except for migraines it was a onetime occurrence. After a solid week of constant headache, I went to the doctor. After a few weeks with no relief they referred me to an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat specialist) who couldn't find anything wrong. After more time with no relief, I was referred to a neurologist. An MRI showed Chiari Malformation so they sent me to a neurosurgeon who did more MRI's and found that my dural ectasia was severe so they couldn't treat the chiari malformation surgically. I left with an answer of "we really have no idea what to do for you. Just go live your life." The neurologist tried medications which offered some relief and lots of side effects, but at least I could function. I switched to UCSD and still the neurology department didn't really know what to do with me. I researched on my own, I changed my diet, I adjusted my activity level, and some of it provided some relief, but nothing healed me.
In the midst of all of this I cried out to God over and over. I asked everyone close to me to pray. I asked God to show me if there was some sin in my life that was causing this. I wanted to make myself right, I wanted to fix this. If I was blocking God's healing in my life I wanted to know and take care of it. I confessed my lack of faith; I confessed that I knew God could heal me I just wasn't sure that he wanted to. Time went on and pain became my constant companion. I argued with God, I was working at a church and homeschooling my kids--both things I felt God had called me to do--so how could I really be effective for him if I hurt all the time. How could my life be a testimony if I was frustrated and exhausted and needed to lie down? I could do so much more if he would just make me well! I had a plan! Why wasn't he getting on with it?
One day, as I was driving to work I was listening to tobyMac's song Made to Love You and singing along at the top of my lungs because it was one of my favorite songs. I got to the part where it says "anything, I would give up for you, everything, I give it all away" and as I sang it, I heard a voice say very clearly "even your health?" I was alone in my car and it wasn't an audible voice but it was loud and clear and it was a voice I knew to be God's. Shaken, I pulled my car over to the side of the road and just sat there. God asked me again, "Even your health? Would you give up your health for me?" I was stunned. I knew God wasn't literally saying he was going to make me sick. I want to be clear on that, I don't believe that God caused my health issues. But I knew that God was asking me to give up the idol that I had made of my health. My health was on this high pedestal, it was the unattainable that I was willing to change everything to achieve. I could readily give up money, fashion, a house, but God knew that my idol was being healthy and he knew that spiritually, that wasn't good for me. I was able to justify this idol by saying that I was being a good steward. God said that my body was a temple of the Holy Spirit, so it was honoring God to want to make my temple the best it could be. He was inviting me to come back to Him and Him alone, forsaking all my idols. Could I do that for him? Could I accept whatever came my way with my health and still honor and glorify God with my life? Could I be sick well? Could I live without grumbling and complaining? Could I be joy-filled and pain-filled at the same time? It was an invitation I wanted to accept. It was the invitation to come closer to my savior and allow him to be enough, even as my body broke down. But I knew it wouldn't be easy.