Lessons from a broken pancreas
Most of you are aware that five years ago I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. This means that my pancreas no longer produces insulin, and even if it did make any, I have a whole lot of antibodies swimming around that will inactivate it. I depend on an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor and my own wits to manage my blood sugar levels. It is a full time job, and a part of my brain is almost always engaged in thinking about it - Is my blood sugar in a good place? Do I need to dose with insulin or eat something to get it in a good place?, Does my pump need to be refilled?, When do I need to replace my glucose sensor? Why is that alarm going off on my pump? It has added a whole new dimension to my life that I did not expect (or welcome, for that matter).
Diabetes has had a big impact on my spiritual life and growth over the past 5 years. Living with a chronic disease, whatever it might be, is a challenge that both interupts and enriches lives. There are times when I can see it as the enriching thing, but all too often the interuptions discourage and exhaust me. But, I have learned some lessons as I live with a chronic disease. There are many of us who do this day in and day out, whether that disease is diabetes, arthritis, celiac disease, COPD, or whatever. I am hoping that if you are living with a chronic disease, or caring for someone who does, you too are learning from your experience. I would love to hear from you about that. In the meantime, here are some things God has taught me through life with diabetes.
I think my biggest growing edge is learning patience. The hardest part of living with diabetes is the unpredictability of it. I can do the same thing two days in a row and get two completely different results. One day I will have a great day with beautifully even blood sugars, and the next day, I will shoot high or low and not be able to manage it at all. I really don't like not being in control. And I am not patient when control is taken from me. God has been refining me, showing me that He is the One who is ALWAYS in control, whether I am having a good day or a day plagued with the foggy brain and sluggishness of persisting high blood sugar. God has not forgotten me. He is with me in the fog, just as He is with me on the good days. And knowing I am not alone is so incredibly comforting. He understands. He loves me. His love for me is not dependent on how well I manage my blood sugar (I know that sounds ridiculous, but it is a thought that plagues me). I am learning, slowly but surely, to let God minister to me in the frustrations of the high and low blood sugars, doing what I can to manage them, and not erupting in anger because I am not in control. This is not easy. I want to rant and rave about the unfairness of it all. But God calls me to trust Him, to be patient and let His agenda determine my days.
And here's the thing. When I am able to look clearly at what God has done in me since I have been diagnosed, I can actually see how He has used it to enrich my life. He has brought people into my life that I would not have known otherwise. He has given me an avenue of ministry that I never would have expected, and drawn me to want to become a better counselor to help others deal with the chronic problems in their lives, whether physical or otherwise. Knowing the weakness and vulnerability of my own body, and my inability to take over the functions of an organ in my body has made me appreciate even more the exquisite design He has created in our bodies and in our world. I can trust that my Creator has not made a mistake in me. He knew exactly when and how my pancreas would stop working to make insulin. It is not an accident. And I am grateful that He has enabled me to see Him work in my life as a result.