Wow. These past couple weeks have been a whirlwind. We were fourteen days away from our wedding, then thirteen, then twelve, eleven, ten.... Four. Now three. We'd been putting in the daily 12 hours expected from our respective graduate programs and spending what time we had on evenings and weekends running last minute errands.
Amidst all the busyness, I learned from a dear friend that he had been diagnosed with a chronic illness. I was shocked. Then overwhelmed with grief. Images associated with learning the news of my own diagnosis flashed in my mind. I remembered very vividly a particular moment in time when I was sitting comfortably on our living room couch, cross-legged with the Bible in my lap. I was doing my daily devotional and, right in the middle, I paused and considered what was going on inside my body.
Sitting there peacefully on a still summer day, sunlight streaming in through our patio doors, I felt a profound sadness at the fact that my very own cells were turning against themselves. That my pancreas was becoming less and less proficient at doing what it was intricately designed to do. And that there was absolutely nothing I could do to change this or slow this down. I wasn't working. I remember very vividly being directed to Psalm 139. As I read, I felt the prick of tears, the warm traces that sadness left on my cheeks as my eyes welled up and overflowed. I had never read anything so beautiful. Or anything so timely. I felt so comforted.
Listening to my dear friend speak last night about his experience led me to reflect on my own experience. Where was I? I realized that my anxiety had all but disappeared. Since July, I had managed to work full time, attend class, spend evenings at the clinic seeing clients and receiving supervision, prepare for and pass my licensing exam, learn to manage diabetes and implement lifestyle modifications, and plan a wedding. All with minimal distress. There were times that I would become saddened by my lack of free time, but I worried very little about getting it all done. I think in part because it became less important to me that everything be done perfectly. Things could be done well enough. What merited my energy was my health and relationships.
I've also grown in my compassion for others. I had once believed in the just world fallacy. That things happened to people as a result of choices they had made. When I learned that Type 1 diabetes happened to me for no reason at all, I came to appreciate that sometimes things just happen. Even those things we often associate with lifestyle choices. Some of those things are so much bigger than us. There's a larger context within which we all make choices, a context that limits some of our freedom.
Maybe there is some gratitude to be had for this diagnosis after all.
Much love to all of you. Will update once I'm back from our honeymoon!