I was 14 when Type 1 diabetes interrupted my life.
Like many other girls my age, I was fun-loving, active, and completely in love with the world. A total of three weeks out of school, an overnight in ICU with a record-breaking glucose level, a week in the hospital, and a crash course in diabetes education later, all normalcy was struck with the abruptness of a foghorn.
Life got more complicated, but I got more determined.
Areas I thought would hold certain limitations turned out to be just the same old things with more to think about. Meals and blood-sugar levels had to be recorded. Insulin was self-injected three times daily. Away softball games now required packing a bag of supplies and snacks. I was constantly, painstakingly aware of how my body was feeling.
But out of all the scary words I heard in those early days — “syringe,” “finger pricks,” “long-term complications,” “coma” — there was one I hated most.
I would be classified as “insulin-dependent” for the rest of my life.
When I allowed myself one good cry that first night, it was that one word that held a fist on my heart in the darkness below the glow of the monitors.
Surrender can be a slow and scary process.
I discovered back then that I was not inconvincible, and God — in His great love — has given me a physical reminder of my dependence on Him every single day. This awkward, cell-phone-resembling piece of battery-powered machinery that is attached to me through the skin on one end and sits bulkily in my pocket on the other: my insulin pump.
I can’t NOT see it or feel it.
It is always there as I navigate my days and type in various dosages, singing a strange electronic version of “Fur Elise” when the insulin level in the cartridge is low and forever causing trouble at airport security. (My husband has even mistaken it for the TV remote one night while asleep, although, thankfully, I was able to stop him before he tried tossing it, groggily, into a chair across the room.)
Each time I visit a group of kids I’ve come to know and love in Kenya, and one hears about my “condition,” the reaction is always the same:
“But you smile so much! How can you be so happy?”
In America, I can practically throw a stone from my home to the hospital. How blessed I am to have all I need to survive. But with this tangible device, God does not allow me to live in a state of disillusioned control; He has granted me a daily reminder that my life is not my own. What a sweet blessing.
I’m not so sure we are often very physically aware of our dependence on God.
I’m not so sure we want to be.
How many times am I that frightened fourteen-year-old in a sterile hospital room, clinging to my plan for my life while God is quietly, calmly asking me to trust Him with His?
But that’s the thing about life with God. As believers we must realize that our lives are not just interrupted by Jesus — made more complicated, perhaps, by a decision to believe and even more so by a commitment to follow — but that we are called to a higher purpose, blessed to be a blessing, through weaknesses that display His glory and strength. That life is a precious gift.
I’m so thankful that in God’s tenacious pursuit of our hearts, nothing is wasted.
Not even a “useless” pancreas.