I’ve blogged before about knowing who you are in Christ. I find that it is so easy for us, as humans, to find our identity in earthly things, rather than in our Savior. God has recently revealed to me just how easy it has become for me, and I’d like to share it with you.
If you’ve seen me (whether in pictures or in person), you know that I don’t look sick. Sure, I’m a little on the thin side, but overall I look like a normal healthy young adult (although if you don’t know me, you probably think I’m fifteen). But you might question my health status when I start to cough and I have to pull out my inhaler. You might question my health status when I have to take 5-8 pills before I can eat a meal (when I remember to do that…). When I’m winded from walking up one flight of stairs, you might just think I’m out of shape (which is actually probably true). But in reality, I am sick. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably read a few of my other blogs, and you know that I have cystic fibrosis.
I have always viewed CF as just part of me. I have lived with it for 21 years now, and I really don’t know who I would be without it. I can’t imagine going through life as someone who is healthy, and then receiving a diagnosis that says you have a terminal illness. I feel that if that had happened to me, my personality would have completely changed. How do you go from living a healthy life, to being sick with a disease that will most likely take your life? I’m not sure. But for me, I only remember knowing that I was sick. I grew up knowing my life expectancy was 18. It only pushed me to be more and do more.
Growing up with CF wasn’t hard. I owe that to my parents who made sure that I was taking my pills and doing my treatments. I was very healthy compared to every other CFer. However, as I got older and started to take on more responsibility with my own health, my health started to go downhill. Unfortunately, taking 20-30 pills a day and making time for an hour to 2 hours of breathing treatments is not my cup of tea. My health started to decline my freshman year of high school-almost 7 years ago. Since then, I have struggled with staying completely healthy. I know that it is no one’s fault but my own. Once I struggled with staying healthy, I also began to struggle with finding my identity in my disease. Let me explain…
I noticed that when I started to get sick, I got attention. The first time that I was put into the hospital my sophomore year of high school, I received cards, goody baskets, and flowers. I was overwhelmed with all of the “stuff” I was getting. Today, I see those things as blessings from people that know me and care for me. But back then, I saw it as “stuff”; earthly treasures, if you will.
As life continued on for me, I got sick occasionally. I was only put back in the hospital once-the summer before my sophomore year of college. But still, whenever I was sick, I got attention from loved ones. I began to see getting sick as something that I actually liked and enjoyed. I took so much pride in having CF and I wanted to tell everyone I knew (and didn’t know) that I had a deadly disease. It was like I wanted to scream to the world, “Hi! My name is Jordan and I have cystic fibrosis-the number one genetic killer of all children!”
I began to look down on those that suffered with any other disease because mine was “worse”. I had no empathy, only a prideful heart. Many other “side effects” came from finding my identity in CF-pride and apathy just being two of them.
“The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; He who watches his way preserves his life. Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.” -Proverbs 16:17-18
Fortunately for me and everyone around me, The Lord got a hold of me the same summer that I was put into the hospital for the second time. I learned that it’s not all fun and games to just be sick. It sucks. I hate not being able to breathe normally. I hate every single side effect from every medication that I have ever put into my body. I hate having the burden of needing to eat so much all of the time (Yes that may sound like pure joy, but it’s hard work!).
Praise The Lord for teaching me how to be empathetic! I now believe that one of the reasons I have a disease is so I can understand what others go through with their own trials. I am someone that can be there for them and hopefully shed the same light on their situation that Jesus shed for me.
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” -1 Peter 3:8
Finally, I come to the point of this post. The most important thing that Jesus has taught me through my struggles is who I am. Though I have a disease, I am NOT cystic fibrosis. My disease does not define me in any way, shape, or form. I am Jordan. I am a daughter of the Most High King. I am His beloved.
I have learned to find my identity in Christ and not in my disease. When I die, I do not want to be known as “Jordan with cystic fibrosis”; I want to be known as “Jordan with the sweetest smile” or “Jordan with the kind heart” or something of that nature. I want to be known for what I brought to the world, not what the world brought upon me. I want others to see Jesus in my life, so that they, in turn, may know Him like I do.
So, I say all of this to say: Don’t let your trials, temptations, past/present/future sins define you. Let Christ define you. He is the only One that matters.