Hating Your Body for Betraying You
Diabetes – a chronic health condition. We don’t have the cure. It won’t go away. People with diabetes are at a 6x greater risk for heart disease. The two run hand in hand.
Before entering the patients room, the nurses had warned me that this patient probably wouldn’t want to be educated. “He’s a type 1 diabetic who does hardly anything besides taking his shots. His blood sugars are out of control, so I don’t think he’s going to want to hear anything.”
Well, I like to give my patients the benefit of the doubt. I put my smile on my face and walked in to introduce myself.
Sure enough, he didn’t feel like he needed to be educated. “Honey, I’ve had diabetes since I was 11 months old. I’m 47 years old now. What do you think you’re going to be able to teach me that I haven’t heard already?” An interesting question. I countered with this, “If you know everything you’re supposed to know, can you tell me why your blood sugars are so high?”
“Because I don’t give a damn.”
I left his room that day, but I didn’t forget about him. Two weeks later, he was admitted again… for open heart surgery.
This time, when I walked into the room, I could tell his bravado was wounded. Every time he took a breath he was reminded of the foot long incision from cracking his chest open in surgery.
I took this opportunity to talk to him about his diabetes again. He acknowledged that he probably needed help and asked me what I wanted to teach him. I told him that I remembered he had been educated before. His claim was that he “knew it all.” I started to quiz him on a few things – and sure enough, he answered appropriately. As he talked, I began to understand what might be his problem…
“Are you just really angry that God made you a person with diabetes?”
Yes. He was.
As I asked the question, I saw his face crack. All of his bravado washed away and he began to cry. “Why did this happen to me? Why do I have to deal with this day after day?”
I looked at him with compassion and asked him another question, “Have you ever considered forgiving your body for being broken? Have you ever considered forgiving God for making you a person with diabetes?”
I can tell that brought him up short. He hadn’t realized that the solution was such a simple, yet hard, one.
We spent the rest of the time talking about what his life might be like if he were able to accept his body’s condition and begin to make adjustments needed in order to love and take care of it. We examined how his attitude was affecting the entire household where he lived. His son was also diabetic – and regularly drinking soda, skipping his insulin. So many things in his life were falling apart – all because he wouldn’t forgive himself, accept himself, love himself.
I think he was going to try and I’m proud of him for being willing.
Something Worse than “Bad Things Happening to Good People”
None of us are given a free pass in life. It’s hard to see someone you love in pain, but suffering and obstacles are how we learn and grow. I am thankful for the “bad times” I’ve had in my 27 years. I know that they helped shape me. What’s worse than “bad things happening to good people” is when people start to hate themselves and hate others.
If you’re looking for a reason to hate, you can find it. Imperfection is all around us. The only perfect choices, perfect insight, or perfect being is in God. So, if you can’t accept what’s imperfect in other people around you and love them despite these “flaws,” how are you going to accept your own imperfections? Will you also neglect to love yourself?
You and I cannot afford to live like that.
I tell you, a life where you spend most of your time wishing you were someone you’re not is WORSE than “bad things happening to good people.” You are who you are for a reason. Certain things about you are not going to just go away because they’re inconvenient. You have to embrace those parts of you, LOVE those parts of you, and then go from there.
Example: A Recovering Drug Addict
A few months ago, I watched a health workshop series on ways to gain back the positivity in your life. A well established yogi spoke on the healing aspects of yoga and her journey to becoming a healer. She spoke about her youth when she was addicted to several hard drugs and found herself quickly going down a scary path.
She said something I want to always remember, “When I was trying to recover from my drug addiction, I thought the answer would be to cut that part of me out. It was dark, it was ugly, it was killing me. Surely, I needed it gone. So, I tried to cut and cut and cut.
But you know what? You can’t cut a part of yourself out.
Instead of condemning myself and hating myself, I realized that this was a part of myself that was passionate. I was a personality that was all in, 100%. This part of me was presenting in a bad light, but only doing so because I needed to nurture it forward.
I started to love this part of myself that was an addict, an extremist, a try-er of things, and I began to heal. Now I have a different, healthier addiction. It’s called yoga.”
Philomena – A Bigger Forgiveness
My ideas for blogging are inspired by events in my life. It could be an experience, a conversation, or a book I read. This week, I was struck by the power of forgiveness when I watched the film, Philomena. It’s a story of forgiveness that most people could not even imagine. (I won’t go into great detail, in case you want to go see it).
As I was walking out of the movie I was convicted by my own struggle with forgiveness. I struggle to forgive others that “hurt me.” But, I also struggle to forgive myself for the darkness involved in “wanting to hurt them back,” and the pathetic realization that I “allowed them to have that power over me.”
I thought to myself, if Philomena (based a true story) can forgive something that big, surely I can forgive for something smaller.
Do you have those people in your life that show you the way?
Big acts of forgiveness can happen right away, but it’s more likely something you might have to cultivate slowly over time. It’s a skill. You have to work on it.
If you’re holding onto something big, the first step is to acknowledge it’s there. So many people lie to themselves and – as an educator – this can be the most frustrating self-preservation method. These people are not even aware that they hate themselves, hate a situation, or hate another person – but they are. It’s just latent in it’s expression.
I’m trained to look for this as a dietitian. Several people are abusing themselves because they don’t love/value themselves. So since we are all prone to this, start by asking yourself some questions:
- Can I start by being honest with myself on the small things? Can I work up from there?
- If I find myself thinking thoughts of destruction about myself or another person, can I identify that it’s happening? Figure out why it’s presenting?
- Can I address the issue head on? Can I forgive them for their imperfections like I have forgiven myself for my own imperfections?
- Can I appreciate the path God has set me on?
We are called to be brave. But, it’s not by our own power that we’ll achieve this. Too much in this world can be overwhelming or scary. We’re called to be a people who know that we don’t stand alone. Our God walks with us and looks over us, and NOTHING will be too great for Him to help you (and me) through.
Time is limited. Run a good race. Stay focused and don’t forget to forgive.
Disclaimer: The picture is a generic patient from a google image search on “open heart surgery scar.” Many of you are not familiar with disease or corrective surgery and I thought this would probably help you understand. Also, the story of my “patient” was altered in order to maintain patient confidentiality.