When I was first diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, I asked myself this question many times. As a Catholic, I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around the fact that God would let me suffer so much by giving me this disease. Sometimes I scan over every part of my life and wonder what I did to deserve this type of punishment. I always considered myself a good person, just trying to live a life like Jesus, but never someone who did bad things (even though I know I am flawed and a sinner). So why me?
I think people with chronic illness find themselves asking this question all the time, and to be honest, the answer is not an easy pill to swallow. At the time of my diagnosis, life seemed so surreal. I didn’t feel like I was the same Christie as before – the same Christie with goals and dreams to live a full life. It was a huge setback. I went through the stages of denial, which I have talked about before, and it never felt like my real life. I was so worried that from that day on, I would watch the world flash before my eyes while I laid in bed sick.
For a time, I did do just that. I laid in bed without the energy to even get up. I considered for just a moment dropping out of school and finishing my degree at a later time, but I was so close to graduating that it seemed easier to finish it up and move on. Those were days when I constantly found myself asking “Why do bad things happen to good people?” When I asked my friends and family this question, they never had a solid answer for me. Probably because the answer is more abstract than we think.
Recently, I learned about the relationship between love and suffering. I learned that often times, love and suffering can happen at the same time. To love is to care for someone else more than yourself, which at times can cause suffering for you. Suffering is rooted in the human condition, but with love we can find hope in that. Jesus suffered when he died, but he rose again on the third day. So my conclusion is that God didn’t want to punish me with this disease, but rather to find hope in where it could lead me.
Three years later, and I find myself asking this question a lot less. My diagnosis led me down a path I otherwise would not have gone down. I’ve come to terms with where I am at and where I am headed. I finally feel comfortable in my own skin and confident in portraying what I have to offer outside of being chronically ill. Don’t get me wrong, I still have bad days. Just because I am in remission now doesn’t mean the work stops here, but I find comfort in knowing that God wouldn’t put something in my path if he knew I couldn’t handle it. I could be negative all I want, but I choose to look at this diagnosis in a positive light because life is too short to live with resentment.
The real question is: why not me?