Finding God In... CHRONIC ILLNESS

I’ll be honest, when I was asked to be a guest writer for this series to discuss how I found God in chronic illness, I wasn't sure I was the best person for the job. I haven't had the strongest belief in God in recent years and, in all honesty, over the last six years I’ve really struggled with my faith. I have struggled to understand why I've faced so many struggles and what I did to deserve the things that have happened. I have felt at many times in the last decade that if God was truly a Good God that I wouldn't have faced the trials that I have. But through the eyes of others and through the work that He has done in my life, I've come to realize that this isn't true. I know that My God is a Good God. I still struggle to truly understand why things happen, but I suppose I may never completely understand. Let's rewind and take a look at the journey that has gotten me to where I am today. In the Spring of 2012, I was living a good life working as an RN and acting as Charge Nurse most shifts. I loved my job working twelve hour shifts and having a job with direct patient contact. In January of 2012, I was hired as an adjunct Clinical Instructor for a local nursing school and I was so thrilled because it was something I had wanted to do since I graduated nursing school in 2007. I had also just started working on my Masters in Nursing Education. I was so excited to be moving toward my goal of teaching in a nursing program. My life was on track and I was happy.

Then in February of 2012, everything changed. I was hospitalized for a week with a respiratory infection that no one could quite figure out. Looking back, I can see that this was just the beginning of the decline in my health. I was off work for a month at that point because I just couldn’t breathe, despite all the treatments they tried. I was always exhausted and experiencing extreme joint pain, more pain than I had ever experienced before. That July, I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus which explained so much of how I had been feeling and the symptoms I had experienced over many previous years. In the months and years following my Lupus diagnosis I was also diagnosed with many other life-altering diagnoses that it made it hard to see any kind of future for myself. After receiving my Lupus diagnosis, it became clear that I wasn't going to be able physically to continue working my current job. Due to my health I not only had to leave my job, I also had to step down from my teaching position with the nursing program simply because I wasn’t well enough to teach. I also had to drop out of the Masters program that I had just started. I was crushed to say the least. I just couldn’t understand why God would allow these things to happen and why I needed to live through so many trials. I couldn't see past the diagnosis. I couldn't understand why my abilities to do the things I dreamed, including my job, furthering my education, and having children, were being taken away. I was also diagnosed with endometriosis, which meant I will never be able to carry my own baby. This is something I have always wanted more than anything! I couldn't fathom what I could have possibly done to deserve what was happening.

In the months following my diagnosis, I really began to struggle with my faith. Even though I grew up in church and knew all the teachings, I still struggled. I stopped going to church and just couldn’t understand why a God who was supposed to be caring and loving would let all this happen! I couldn't see past the present to see what he was working on for my future.