By Melanie Kauffman
Every time I sit down to write something for this blog, a big question looms over me: Should I write about my illness? If I do, what do I even say? What if people start to worry about me? But I feel that God has called me to write about this, so here it is.
I’ve had digestive problems for the past 17 years, and not one test or dietary change has confirmed what may be wrong. I have some other smaller problems on top of that, but we don’t yet know if they’re symptoms of something bigger or separate illnesses on their own. One thing we do know is that my condition is not life-threatening. I live a relatively normal life, and I’m able to hold down a full-time job that I love. Rather than rambling on about the various ways my health has impacted my faith and vice versa, I’m going to share with you some things that I’ve decided throughout this journey.
At the age of 9, I decided that God loves me, and he wasn’t making me sick to punish me for something I’d done. I remember saying to myself, “God doesn’t work like that.” He already took the punishment for me, and when I leave this broken world, I will be given a new body in heaven.
At the age of 13, I decided that I loved the sound of my laugh, and no matter how sick I was feeling on any given day, I would smile and laugh as much as I wanted. Not to hide my pain, but so that others might see my joy.
At the age of 16, I decided that giving into the hopelessness of depression would be letting the devil win. God was walking with me even in the valley, and with Him strengthening me, I fought my way out of the darkness and into the light.
Now at the age of 25, I was recently posed with a question: “Do you see yourself as a chronically ill Christian, or a Christian who is chronically ill?” I didn’t know how to answer this at first. I’ve always identified as a Christian, but I’ve been sick for most of my life. Both of these things define me in different ways, does it matter which comes first? And that leads me to my latest decision: What matters is that my faith can overcome my illness, but my illness can never overcome my faith.
I don’t know what God has in store for my future. I could get better, I could get worse, I could remain in this condition for the rest of my life, or I could even be cured one day. But no matter what, I hold on to Psalm 73:26. “My flesh and my heart my fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”