From the time of diagnosis (SLE) through now, my faith has carried me through. I have not always responded in the best way, but I learned much and it has given me a deeper relationship with Jesus.
So much of my life after my lupus diagnosis took different directions that I soon realized my life wasn’t mine but Our Lord’s.
When I was diagnosed, I had been going to Church but I was not yet knowing the whole picture. My husband hadn’t been going and we were married for 4 years at this time.
There were many signs and symptoms I was having that led up to this, but even once learning what it was, I had some denial. I was even more shocked to learn the lupus I was diagnosed (and there are 3 forms), is the terminally ill one.
Even though I thought I would have some time to wrap my head around this new reality, turned out not to be the case for me. My physical pain took over. I was given some heavy duty drugs to cope. I started losing hair and gaining weight because of the prednisone. My stomach was always making me uncomfortable or in pain. I had less energy and started to find myself less outgoing. To top it off, the sun became an enemy and of all places to live, Arizona, was hard to avoid.
At one point after having to call into work sick every week, I remember crying and just wanted things to go back to the way they were. I was home alone, got out of bed, and looked out of our bathroom window just asking God to help me.
My work had become more difficult to do and I took this hard. I had worked myself into a promising career and then had to let it go, at least for a while I thought. So I had to resign.
I wanted to be a part of something so I signed up to go to a bible study and attended a women’s fellowship at our Church. I met some great people and felt very comfortable. Eventually, I went on a retreat with my husband that was life changing for the both of us. My husband’s oldest brother had passed away and his heart too was seeking answers to what was going on with his life and connection to those who were suffering.
For the both of us, we started to take our faith more seriously. I remember having a huge desire to learn more about the faith even during the hard hit news abuses of the Church and the number of people leaving. I felt a clear distinction that my faith was real and could not be broken. There was too much I didn’t know about it to leave it and the atrocity, the evil, that wanted to ruin it wasn’t going to include me as a collaborator to break its foundation. As it’s said in Mass, “Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church”.
Sure enough to this day, I find myself defending Church teaching to untruths. Getting stronger cleared my eyes to see I am a part in the Body of Christ.
My fervor grew and I tried things I didn’t think I would do like public speaking, host bible studies at our home, and volunteer.
When my Dad got diagnosed with stage 4 sarcoma, I felt as though I had been prepared. It gave me new insight to suffering as I saw my Dad go through it. He too found Jesus after he spent most of his adult life to drug and alcohol addiction. He became a born again Christian and restarted his life. So when we got news of his cancer, our family life was about helping him. My Dad passed away 6 months later.
A few months after, my husband and I were blessed to go on a pilgrimage to Rome. The timing was perfect! It swept us off our feet! All the rich Church history, meeting other Catholics who were in different points in their journey, and answers to areas of the Church we thought we knew. This experience placed love in our hearts and protection for our faith to not just see our faith as a building and good advise but living, breathing, as clear as Christ is the Church! Can’t separate.
There was a conversation I had with a friend close to this time. She asked me if I was angry at God for allowing my lupus to be. It hit me and said to her it was a blessing. From it, my life has forever changed in my deeper faith to Him and continues too. Thanks be to God! +++
“What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” – John 3:6-8