Ya gotta have faith...
Wonderful. Now I am going to be humming that George Michael tune during this entire post. Dang it.
For those of you who are not “religious” don’t panic, this will not be a bible-thumpin’, hallelujah-praisin’ type of post. This will be more of a reflection on how I have used my faith in a higher power to pull me through some of the darkest days of my life and how without that blind faith, I don’t think that I would be able to face what I do on a daily basis. Whether you choose to see that as a faith in God or some other being, that is your choice.
I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church. I was baptized, went to Catholic school, had my First Communion, my Confirmation and went to church on Sundays until I got so sick that I couldn’t leave the house. Of course there were times in my life where I wasn’t so “devout” and I didn’t always go to church but who hasn’t had periods of time where they strayed from the strict confines of their religion? Regardless, I still believe that I have lived life as an average Catholic and I am not ashamed to say that I am “religious.” As a matter of fact, I believe that my faith has played a major role in pulling me through many difficult times in my life.
I think that faith is an inner thing. You have to believe in your heart and soul that you are not on this planet alone and that a higher being is guiding your every step. Don’t get me wrong, you still make your own decisions and you have the power to choose right from wrong but there will be consequences in the long run if you make the wrong choice. I think that most people know when they are choosing poorly, hurting someone, lying, stealing, cheating, or simply being selfish. Being a kind person to everyone, all the time takes work. You really have to put forth some effort if you want to be a person that truly lives the word of faith. First of all, you have to learn how to live a life of faith so I credit my parents for bringing me up in an environment where I could learn those skills that it turns out I would desperately need. Then once you know how you are supposed to live, it is up to you to make it happen.
Chronic Lyme Disease has tested my faith. Many people will ask, “If your God is so great, why would he make you suffer like this?” My reply is actually very simple. What makes you think he ever said that your life was going to be easy? It is through your challenges in life and how you handle them that you are given the opportunity for the greatest amount of grace and faith. It is when you are suffering, that if you turn to him and say, “Please HELP me because I believe in you and I cannot take anymore. I cannot do this alone” that you show your faith. If you are willing to do that, I have found that something usually happens to alleviate your suffering. No person is omnipotent. No single individual can make it through this life completely on their own. At some point, everyone will need to reach out and ask for help. Why not reach out and ask HIM when you can’t take anymore?
When I said that my faith has been tested, I didn’t mean that my “belief” has been tested. I still believe that I am being guided by God. I still believe wholeheartedly that I was given this illness for a reason. I don’t know what that reason is right now and I may never know. My job in this life is to take whatever is given to me and make the most of it. My job is to be an example of how to live with a chronic illness so that others can see it is possible to carry on with life reaching out to try to help those around them. Everyone suffers with something in their lives, mine happens to be Chronic Lyme Disease.
I have spent my entire life watching people suffer with injury and illness. Throughout the years as a Paramedic and then as a Physician Assistant, I always knew that if they were supposed to die there was nothing that I could do to save them. I always gave it 100% but I knew that if it was their “time” and God was calling them home, then they were going to die no matter how hard I tried. I witnessed the hand of God so many times both taking them home and leaving them here to live another day. So many people were left here so that they could make good on their sins of the past and become better people. They were spared their life and they went on to do great things with the time they had left here on earth. That was their true purpose. To survive their traumatic event so they could have a wake-up call. Maybe this illness is my wake-up call?
I have had plenty of time to think about faith, religion, God, purpose in life and the possibility of my death as I have been lying in bed over the past three years. These are subjects that people either don’t like to talk about or they do it behind closed doors. It’s a shame really because it often takes a serious illness like Chronic Lyme Disease before people find their faith. When things are going well, no one thinks to say thank you. No one ever praises what a wonderful day it is or how well things are going in their life. But when the you-know-what hits the fan, then they are begging God for mercy and promising the moon if their lives will just be spared. That’s ok, every one does it. I am sure that he is used to it. Maybe we ought to work on that though.
Fortunately, the big guy upstairs never seems to turn his back on us. Every time that I have ever turned my face up and said, “I can’t handle anymore, please help me” he has always either sent someone or something into my path to lighten my load. That’s why I believe. It’s not because I was raised in the Catholic Church, it’s not because I feel obligated to my religion and it’s not because I am sick. I believe because he has never let me down. So, it doesn’t matter who or what you believe in that is guiding your path in life. I just hope that everyone out there who is suffering with a chronic illness has someone or something to believe in. You are not alone in your struggle. Because ya gotta have faith-a, faith-a, faith-ah…