2020 has been a tremendous year of healing for me. I am celebrating that fact even in the midst of anxiety and grief over the strangeness of the world. I am deeply grateful for what God has done in my life through both the struggle of sickness and the process of recovery.
Some of you know my story, some don’t. The long version is written in other places. But part of the story is told in the pictures below, which were taken one year apart in the same place. What the second doesn’t show well is the scabbing malar rash, the jaundice, the severe bodily pain, the tear ducts that wouldn’t cry, the joints that wouldn’t bend, the nausea, the muscle spasms, the organ stress, the hypoxia, the hair loss, the lung inflammation, the failing will, and the broken heart.
It has been a long and painful journey and it isn’t over. But so filled with a depth of mercy that it seems wrong to complain. Easy for me to say since I am feeling well at the moment! But nonetheless true.
One of the blessings of my experience is that I am better prepared to face the COVID-panic with a rational mind. I am not more afraid of a high survival virus than I am of anything which can kill me (like highway driving or 1001 triggers for autoimmune crisis). In order to thrive in the midst of risk and fear, I have had to learn to embrace the reality of my death. And so my mind and soul are freer than they might otherwise be.
Living a happy and peaceful life in the midst of risk is only possible with a healthy acceptance of death. There is no reasonable hope of avoiding death. We can numb our fear. Ignore reality. Pretend that we will live forever (or to at least 90). But it is a futile effort to stave off the invariable outcome.
I can say with confidence that true healing and happiness does not come from avoiding viruses. Impossible. There will always be another threat. But we have forgotten…
Healing comes from honoring the design of the body and being prepared to face the inevitability of death. Avoiding risk is not possible. In fact, behaviors focused on avoidance of suffering instead of building of health often lead to pathology. For example, living a sedentary life to avoid pain or risk leads to more pain and disease. Chronic fear leads to immune-damaging stress and psychological problems.