When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I asked “why me.” I was confused, and I was angry. So angry, I even quit praying for several months. All my life I’d been taught about this amazing Savior who loved me so much He died for me and my sins. He would always guide me and protect me and love me. So how could such a loving God give me diabetes? I didn’t do anything wrong. I was 11.
But as the years have gone on, I no longer ask “why me.” I do question God’s purpose for my life regarding diabetes. I don’t completely understand the why, but I have faith, and with that faith I don’t need all the answers. Do I still cry when a child is diagnosed? Yes, of course I do. Do I still wonder why it happens to young children? Yes, I do. But I believe there is a greater purpose for my life than anything I can comprehend or could dream — and I have a big imagination.
In the song “Blessings” by Laura Story (which won a Grammy, might I add), she sings,
“‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re near?
And what if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?”
I’ve seen these song lyrics related to so many different things, but today, it’s related to my diabetes. I hate diabetes. Some days, I consider it a curse. Some days, I’m tired of fighting the same battle repeatedly. But then I read a blog post. Or I see a tweet from a friend. Or I get a phone call from someone in a different time zone. Or I video chat with a friend halfway around the world. Then I remember, diabetes is not a curse. It’s a blessing. It’s one of God’s blessings. I would love a world without disease and suffering, but I don’t want a world without you. And chances are, I know you because you have a connection to diabetes, or I met you because I have diabetes.
Some of my very best friends I know solely because of diabetes. (Hi Sarah. Hi Christie.) I don’t want to live in a world where I don’t know them. So no, it’s not a curse, it’s a blessing. It’s one of God’s mercies in my life. It’s just another way for me to look at this complex world and see God’s hand in everything. He has this detailed, intricate plan, and my having diabetes is a specific part of that plan. I’ve been very blessed to see parts of that plan already, so I can’t imagine what He’s doing with the parts I can’t see.
For the first time, I don’t resent having diabetes. That doesn’t mean I don’t have tough days or that I don’t experience burnout, but it does mean I’ve accepted this disease for what it is, and I plan to use it for His glory. Diabetes isn’t about me at all. Too bad it took me 18 years to realize it.
Each time I think about the upcoming Friends for Life conference in July, I become overwhelmed with happiness and pure joy. Honestly, I get downright giddy. So many of you I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. And the rest I’m hoping to meet in July. Last night, one of my church leaders talked about being connected to people through a shared experience or through a common suffering. He shared how complete strangers can become instant friends because of something shared.
I laughed out loud because the DOC immediately came to mind. We are so incredibly different. Some are Christians, some are not. Some are tall, some are short. Some are married, some are single. Some are parents, some are not. Some are old, some are young. Some live in New York City, some live in Ireland. Some live in Australia, some live in towns I’d never heard of. Some of us are priests, some of us are not. (OK, most of us are not). Some of us have type 1, some type 2. None of it matters because we all share diabetes. I may not be as talkative online these days, but I am thankful on a daily basis for the friends I have because of diabetes — for you reading this post. I wish I could share all of my friends in this post. Oh wait, that’s why my blogroll is for.
But seriously, how can you call having this extended family a curse? I don’t know about you, but I cannot imagine a life without this girl or this girl or this guy or this guy or this girl … I’ve had diabetes for so long, I don’t really remember life before it. And I’ve had so much joy and so many blessings from the DOC, I can’t really remember life before them either. And I don’t want to.
Next time you have a rough patch, get online. Read a blog, laugh at a tweet and try to imagine your life without this dude or this dudette. We’re all in this together, and we are always here for one another.