Using Spirituality to Navigate Chronic Disease
In 1998, I contracted Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease is a tick-borne infection that when left untreated can cause neurological problems and chronic symptoms. In 2006, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. In both scenarios, I was sick long-term and learned how to use spirituality to propel me through the physical onslaught of chronic disease.
God Does NOT Make People Sick
So many people who are given difficult diagnoses wonder why God is punishing them. This spiritual notion must be smashed. If God gave people cancer or disease, then every murderous criminal, rapist, and despot the world has ever known would be a tumor-ridden, disease-carrying mess.
I got sick because my body was built to fail. Bacteria can deteriorate it, cancer can ravage it, the environment can influence its behavior, and so can my lifestyle. None of us were given bodies that will stand the test of eternal time.
Separating the Spiritual Experience from the Human Experience
Ok, now we’ve established that disease is merely a part of the human experience. It is a tragic and unpleasant one, but it is inexorably linked to being a human being. We also have souls.
Your soul holds your spirt. Is is your essence. It holds your feelings and serves a different purpose than your body. Your body’s job is to operate. Your soul’s job is to live well and love.
Your soul was created by a power that does not make mistakes. It was designed with goodness, love, and joy in mind, and has a minute-to-minute chance to bend itself upward toward its maker. It can do miraculous things, but it cannot catch a cold, get a fever, be bitten by a tick, or proliferate into a tumor.
There is such a thing as “soul sickness,” and I’ll address that in another blog. For now, let’s concentrate on the spirituality of healthy souls.
Let’s recap. Human beings are like “two for the price of one.” We have a body and a soul that are conjoined. But, like conjoined twins, they can be separated. To navigate illness, learning to separate the two offers incredible healing.
Welcoming In Spiritual Love
Here’s why it’s so important to smash the concept that God makes us sick. If we believe we are being punished, we don’t feel loved. By blaming ourselves and God or the universe, we literally block our spiritual channel. Why hurt our souls when only our bodies need to suffer?
Please…forgive yourself for whatever you feel you did to warrant an illness. Open a teeny tiny window of forgiveness and let some light and love shine in.
Love always triumphs. Nobody needs love more than the sick. I drank love like an alcoholic swigs whiskey when I was sick. I lived off the stuff.
Now is the time to draw a bath, sit quietly by the ocean, look at the moon, or just close your eyes in bed. You can cry, you can scream, you can do anything you want. Before you’re done, do one more thing. Ask God (or whatever you believe in), to walk beside you or carry you through whatever your body may face next. Ask for WHATEVER YOU NEED.
I have asked for love, comfort, courage, peace, joy, sleep, separation from my body, entrance into the divine (if only for a moment), trust, friendship, support, competent doctors, mental toughness, and a zillion other things. I was given everything I asked for. My body ached, I was a nervous wreck, I was sick, but interspersed with all of that was the gift of Grace.
You Know You’ve Arrived Spiritually When…
If you are reading this and going through chronic disease or any problematic experience, you may wonder if your spiritual journey is working.
Think back to one of your worst days. Really think about the horror of it. Have you said to yourself, “I have no idea how I got through that?”
Here’s the answer. You didn’t get through it. You were carried through. And if that can happen once, it can happen twice, three times, and forever.
Arrival Only Means You Have Reached a Destination
We never entirely spiritually arrive. Our souls continue to journey as our lives ebb and flow.
Once you’ve felt Grace, though, you won’t be able to forget it. That’s the beauty of belief and faith. Once it lives and breathes in you, it stays embedded in your soul like a seed.
Water it daily and let it grow. It can do what the body cannot.
I hope this post offers comfort. I also wish you well. If you are walking through a chronic disease, I pray that you find joy and happiness in spite of it and AT IT.