Saturday, December 12, 2009

Burn away my pride/ Bring me to my weakness/ 'Til everything I hide behind is gone

A year ago, God once again changed my life's direction. I began the road of a UC flare that was sort of the beginning of the end. One day I'll write more about this flare and its implications, but basically, while there have been a lot of turning points over the last couple years, this was a pretty big one. This was when I really realized that UC was beginning to define my life. Until then, it was just a new diagnosis - I'd been diagnosed for just over a year - and so there was a lot of hope that things would settle down. I thought (and my doctors did, too) that we'd get this under control and I'd move on with my life. I'd get back to normal. But as UC reared its ugly head again, it dawned on me that this disease wasn't just going to go away and let me get back to normal.

For the first time, I understood "chronic illness" and put myself in that category. Before this flare, I thought I understood what UC was and wasn't. UC was NOT like getting strep throat - you're pretty sick, feel lousy, go to the doctor, get some meds, take them for a while, and get better. My perception was that it was sort of like having high blood pressure - you have to take medicine forever, but as long as you swallow those pills, it stays low. I just had to find the right combination of treatments, and my UC would get better and stay under control. But this flare made me realize that, no matter what treatments I tried, I would probably still be sick and in pain most of the time. That each treatment came with a list of side effects that was a new way to spell insomnia. I realized that I was in the awkward position of being close to the end of treatment options at age 21. That maybe this was as good as it was gonna get. I guess this is when my denial stage after being diagnosed finally ended.

At this point, God used UC to strip away my identity - who I thought I was - and taught me that His grace is enough, that power is perfected in weakness. I learned that my identity isn't "diver" or "responsible student" or "cool friend" or "strong person" or "smart" or anything like that but that I'm a child of God. A child - weak, dependent, trusting. It's been very painful to have so many things I loved deeply taken away from me. None of these things were bad, but I had let them take greater importance than God. They became a part of me - I thought they WERE me - but as God painfully stripped me of these idols, of my pride, I was left naked, weak, and saw myself as He sees me - someone who falls far short of the mark, in need of His help and mercy. Rereading prayers I wrote last year, I'm amazed at the complete brokenness, submission and humility before the Lord that I had. God brought me to a place where He made me truly willing to give it all up for Him. I'm challenged by that. I pray that that is still the attitude of my heart. He showed me that nothing is worth having in comparison to knowing Christ. He is truly the greatest thing.

Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. If UC has taught me nothing else, if I haven't learned anything else this year, I've learned that when I am weak, then I am strong. Christ has shown me Himself in these times of weakness, and I hope He's shone through my life for others to see. I am actually glad that He's walked me through these times. He seems more real to me than life itself, and pursuing Him is the only thing worth pursuing in life. I've learned to fix my eyes on Him. My prayer now is that I won't forget these lessons learned in the fire.

Hannah ;)

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