My body has been one of my greatest teachers.
When I was a teenager, I used to wish I could have a miracle, so I could see 20/20 and no longer need glasses, which I had worn since I was 10 years old.
Then one day when I was around 18 or 19 years old, I woke up in my U of Oregon dorm room from a short night's sleep after a late night studying. Oh, shoot! I had fallen asleep with my contact lenses in. I removed them and discovered I could see perfectly. Wow! I walked to lunch, looking around the cafeteria and was amazed to see clearly all the way across the room. (My contact lenses prescription was around 20/800, meaning usually I couldn't see clearly even a foot from my face.)
At the time, I had a rather cynical roommate, and I was embarrassed to believe that I really could've had a miracle. I knew that near-sightedness involves an elongation of the eye, so there was part of me thinking that maybe my contacts being left in had caused my eye length to shorten in those few hours of sleep. I was vacillating between REALLY?? and Naw, it couldn't be... And, after a few hours of perfect sight, my vision slowly faded back to 20/800.
I was disappointed, and now I was embarrassed to think that I might have rejected a miracle from God. I'll never know what really happened to my eyes on that day, but that doesn't even matter now because my first teaching had begun. I said I was sorry (to God and myself) if I had rejected a miracle and that if I ever experienced another miracle, I would accept it.
* * *
Around a year later I was able to make good on that promise.
I'd been enjoying playing soccer on the U of O club sports team. This was a really big deal to me because all my life I had been bad at sports, was picked last on P.E. teams, sometimes even ending my day in tears, believing I'd made the whole team lose. I wasn't great at soccer, but I could play, I loved it, and thanks to Title IX equalizing females in sports, I was welcomed onto the women's team.
In a year and a half, I managed to sprain both ankles, one of them twice, as well as the more serious injury of a pulled ham string. Every time I was injured, I had that nagging thought that God wanted to take this away from me. (This was my interpretation of something I heard in my Catholic upbringing.)
I spent months recovering from the pulled ham string, following the sports doc's guidance of adding 1/4 mile each week to my walking. Finally, with spring try-outs only a week away, I was able to start running, dribbling, shooting, all the moves I needed to play on the team. And then it happened. Owww! Oh no! I had pulled my ham string again. The feeling was unmistakable.
I got ice, feeling very dejected. (Playing soccer was the greatest joy in my life back then.) I sat at my dorm room desk and pulled my Bible off my shelf, opening it randomly, hoping for some support in this difficult time. I read Genesis 22, the story of Abraham being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac. Suddenly I realized! God didn't want to "take soccer away from me." He knew I was clutching soccer to myself with a "You can't have this!" attitude. This attitude was standing between me and God, preventing me from trusting and welcoming God's truly loving graceful care and comfort into my life. I said, "OK, God, if you want me to play, I'll play for you," and I stood up, threw the ice in the garbage, and the unmistakable feeling in my ham string was gone.
My ham string was fully healed in an instant! I made it onto the team, and with my coach's suggestion and support, I started a Eugene City League team "Book and Tea" which I player-coached. Instead of playing with my ego on the line with every dribble, pass, and shot, God's grace shown through me as I supported and coached the girls on my team. We weren't a winning team. For us, we had something much more: camaraderie and fun, creativity and laughter. This was what it felt like to play for God. And this was what it felt like to feel God's loving delight welcomed into my life, rather than feeling fear of Him held at bay.
* * *
Five and a half years later my body escorted me through another healing adventure.
Starting almost three years before that, I'd had some very weird symptoms: waking up shaking inside, so weak I could hardly lift my alarm clock to turn it off, sometimes spacey cotton-headed, occasionally seeing the words on the page shimmer, feeling dizzy, and mid afternoons irritable and agitated. After months of this, I saw my doctor, who suggested a four-hour glucose tolerance test to check for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Sure enough, my blood sugar dropped down to below 50.
To handle the hypoglycemia, I learned to avoid eating sugar, which was known to create a spike and then a rapid drop in my blood sugar. To sustain functional levels, every two to three hours I faithfully ate protein, including cardboard tasting soy nuts. Yuck!
In a way, it felt like this hypoglycemia was my savior. I had dealt with sugar cravings my whole life. My earliest childhood memories were of food, including a sneaky ritual of getting a spoon, moving a chair to the cabinet, climbing up to reach the brown sugar from the top shelf, where I ate it by the spoonful out of the box, putting the chair back, washing the spoon, and stashing the evidence back in the drawer. So the fear of how miserable and non-functional I felt when I delved into the sugar habit "helped me" to avoid sugar, at least most of the time.
Then one day two and a half years later a friend came to visit. He said, "You sure have a lot of problems! You don't need to have so many problems." The day after he left was Thanksgiving Day 1980. I sat down and prayed, "OK, God. If you want to heal me from this hypoglycemia, I know You can, and I'm willing." I went on about my life, still eating protein every few hours, until eight days later. I was sick with the stomach flu and went all day without eating. That night I realized I had gone the entire day without even one symptom of hypoglycemia: no dizziness, fuzzy thinking, exhaustion, shimmering pages, irritability. Oh my gosh! I was healed!
I was so grateful to be free of the confines of this hypoglycemic life. Out of appreciation for this healing and a desire to maintain this blessing of health, I vowed I would stay away from sugar. But honestly, I still had the cravings, so my success was hit or miss. Six months later I discovered a spiritual program that helped me deal with the emotional aspects of overeating, sugar bingeing, and the guilt I felt when I didn't treat my body respectfully after being so grace-fully healed. I found these spiritual tools far more nourishing, supportive, and transformative than the fear of symptoms following a sugar binge. Again I was being shown the love and guidance God has for me, rather than the useless path of fear.
More chronicles forthcoming
Thank you for celebrating with me the blessings of Life!
~ Jeanine DuBois