It is something no one would ever be prepared for or want to hear and at the age of 16, I was no exception. Those were the words that I heard on the day when I was officially diagnosed with (a muscle disease called) muscular dystrophy. Devastation did not begin to describe how I felt during that time. So many questions flooded my head. How could this be? Why me? What did I do to deserve this? What about my future? Why would God allow this to happen? I just could not understand and I was in complete shock.
After some time had passed, the shock wore off and numerous emotions took hold of me…confusion, sadness, frustration, and even denial eventually led me to a state of anger. Not just any anger but I was angry with God. I felt that my life was over and just could not understand why. All the plans I had for my future just seemed irrelevant now. I was lost.
Growing up, I was very fortunate to have a loving grandmother who helped build a spiritual foundation in my life. At a young age, she told me about Jesus, showed me who Jesus was, took me to church, and even taught me how to pray. Although I knew who God was, at that point in my life, and honestly even before my diagnosis, God did not play a huge role in my life or at least that is what I thought. I really did not have a relationship with Him and I had already begun to distance myself from Him. So, when I received my shocking diagnosis, it was not hard to distance myself even more.
I blamed God and was so angry with Him, which led me to stop going to church altogether and I even came to a point that I stopped caring about myself. I wasted nearly four years of my life trying to run from God, but during that time my heart ached and deep down I knew I needed Him. It was definitely an internal conflict and thankfully I eventually surrendered myself to Him. By surrendering, I released the anger I had against God and the burden it carried. I was no longer imprisoned by the hurt, guilt, and shame of my own emotions. I was set free.
There is no doubt that this life is hard, but God has and continues to love, provide, guide, and give me undeserved grace each and every day. I can truly say that living with this disease has given me more compassion, understanding, awareness, and love for others that I am so thankful for. I may not have known what my future held back when I was 16 and I still may not know, but I trust God and He knows!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11