Love Your Neighbor as Yourself – even if they are diseased

I have been progressively sick for over two years for no apparent reason.  At first, I was determined that it was because I was pregnant.  However, my baby came out and I haven’t stopped being sick.   A funny story throughout this is when I was pregnant  my older son often would imitate me when people would come into our home.  As soon as people would walk in, he would show off by demonstrating what mommy does all day long.  He would run into the bathroom, and make this awful noise and pretend to vomit.  Ha funny, – but not so funny after you have been dry heaving for over 2 years!

Often on the days when I spend more time in the bathroom then I would like, it really makes me sad.  One day, I was driving and asking, “God, why did You make me if I was going to end up with a disease?  I feel defective.”  I was so sad, and didn’t understand what purpose or value I had if I was going to be a person living with a disease.  Then God spoke to me, as I drove past these beautiful trees.  (Something you need to know about me is I LOVE TREES!  Seriously, I like them more than flowers!  I love trees!)   As I passed by these trees I was mesmerized by their beauty.  They were so big and beautiful.  It seemed like they could kiss the clouds.  They were simply majestic.   I happen to notice some of the trees had  moss growing on their trunks.  I wondered if the moss hurt the trees?  Then I thought even if the moss was hurting, or will hurt the trees they remain beautiful.  Truly, I think when people drive by these beautiful trees they don’t see the moss; they just see the trees magnificent beauty.  You can’t help but see it.  Seeing these amazing trees radiate with life and exuberance showed me that even though they might have a disease or a defect they are of great worth.  I was amazed to think that these trees still have purpose even though they might have a disease.  Driving by these beautiful trees gave me such a smile, and I’m sure they continue to bring smiles to onlookers alike.  That day I learned something meaningful.  Even lives that are flawed are still beautiful and valuable.

Tonight, I was reminded of that incident.  Again, I was driving asking God, “Why would you make me if I have a disease?   I don’t like diseases!”  Then I heard “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  The problem with that verse for me wasn’t: love my neighbor, I LOVE my neighbor!  Well do I?  Can I love my neighbor if I don’t love myself?

That verse sunk deep into my heart as I was thinking if I don’t love myself with a disease how am I going to be a chaplain and love people in a hospital who are sick and diseased.  I want to love them.  I think I do.  Something I do know is that I don’t love myself with a disease.  Therefore, how can I love my neighbor as myself?  I realized that I have some work to do!  If I have a disease, then I am going to be on a journey loving myself even in my sickest state because I want to love my neighbor!  I want to love each person I reach out to, and show them the hand of God.  I want to have compassion on all who are sick.  God help me.

So in writing this I stumbled on some great news.  Some trees “500 to 700 years old, support quantities of moss and are still healthy and thriving.”[1] I don’t want to live 500 to 700 years, but I would love to be 99 still healthy and thriving.  I think I can….

[1] Sprunt, Jr., Alexander “Sandy”. Emerald Kingdom. January 1961. (accessed March 29, 2010).