I wish I were more holy.
Having Crohns disease for most of my adult life, I have, from the beginning, offered my sufferings up to the Lord. For the majority of that existence, I had little choice but to suffer. Multiple surgeries, numerous life threatening situations and horrendous side effects of medication were just the way life unfolded for me.
About ten years ago I was started on a new medication (Remicade) and it has made my life tolerable and my disease manageable. It gave me my life back. It’s allowed me to participate in my children’s lives and connect further with my wife. It has been a blessing.
Sunday, at Mass, the Gospel spoke of the story of the blind man who cried out to Jesus for healing. Instead of asking for clothes, or food, or shelter or better social standing, he asked for the impossible… healing. He asked for his sight to be restored.
I have prayed often for my healing. I have 100% faith that Jesus could, at any minute, heal me if he wanted to. I have asked God to do so many times, but only if healing me would not impede my entry into heaven. If being healed would somehow lead me down a path where I would not live a holy life and not enter heaven, then leave me sick.
Better to enter heaven with one eye, one hand, or, in my case, bad intestines, than not enter heaven at all.
As I near my third intestinal surgery, I struggle with fear. I struggle with a lack of faith. I struggle with the upcoming change. No matter the outcome of this surgery, my life will be different simply because I had the surgery at all. And that unknown scares me.
I wish I were more holy.
When Mary appears to people or Jesus healed the sick, they were pure people. They were faithful people. They were often outcasts. And they were often uncorrupted by the temptations of this world.
I am corrupted. I am not an outcast. I am selfish.
When I pray for healing, I pray because I tire of my illness, because I long for options that I wish were available to me but which my health precludes me from attaining. I pray for healing because I’m worn out and getting older and my discipline and strength are a greater struggle.
And that is why I am not holy. If I were saintly, I would welcome my suffering. I would embrace my cross as Jesus embraced his. I would joyously hope to offer my suffering with the Lord’s.
My sinfulness, my selfishness, will alway preclude me from miraculous healing. There are far better souls out there that deserve to have their burdens lifted more than I.
To show how flawed I am, I both pray for the healing of my selfishness while, at the same time, am fearful of what that might entail. I remember how exhausted I was before, how much pain I felt, how limited my life was before Remicade. This upcoming surgery and the change it necessitates has boiled up all of these old feelings that I had long since stored away as the past, but now know some may again be my future.
I don’t believe the Lord is done with me yet. I don’t believe I’ve completed everything on his to do list. I just hope and pray that, whatever he has in store for me, that he gives me his divine strength to embrace it selflessly.
Then, just maybe, I can get a glimpse at what it means to be holy.