Disclaimer about the pictures: I usually prefer to share images that are more beautiful or uplifting than this (*cough, cough*), not because I wish to hide the hard parts of my life, but because I don’t usually feel compelled to share about them on the internet. My hives are ugly and unwelcome but God is using them to reveal good things to me. I decided to share the pictures because they are a reminder that God can teach us beautiful truths out of ugly things.
It all started with my itchy arms, but I didn’t think too much of it until a few hours later when I noticed that I was kind of itchy…everywhere. Soon enough, my entire body was covered in hives. Huge, red, irritated hives. What did I eat that was different? What touched my skin? I kept running through questions in mind to figure out what caused the allergic reaction, but couldn’t think of anything out of the ordinary.
Despite the discomfort, I was still able to find humor in the situation. I laughed with Nathan about the crazy hives engulfing my body. He picked up some Benadryl for me and I figured I’d be better by the morning. No big deal, I assured myself, just a fluke.
But I wasn’t better by the morning. In fact, by that evening, I had to go to urgent care to get some more serious medication to control the hives. Surely, after a dose or two of these stronger medications, the hives will disappear.
But they didn’t.
The following day, I skyped with Nathan (he was traveling for work) and completely broke down. The hives weren’t funny anymore. They were scary, out-of-control, and consuming all of me. The scariest part, I said to Nathan between tears, is not knowing what caused them. Is this my future? Randomly breaking out in extreme hives? Hopelessness set in.
I realized through that conversation with Nathan and through material I’ve been learning with my small group at church that there were a lot of lies I was believing. And let me be clear: the hives didn’t cause me to believe lies; they just exposed the lies I was already believing.
Here are a few I discovered:
Lie: I can control my future.
Truth: While my actions (and inaction) can have a profound impact on my future, I simply cannot control what happens tomorrow. God invites me find my deepest security in him. I can look to Jesus and pour out the desires of my heart—fully trusting that God holds tomorrow in his hand and he will be there with me no matter what the circumstances bring. Maybe I’ll have a reaction to the mystery allergen tomorrow or maybe I’ll never experience hives again—either way, I don’t have to be anxious about my inability to control tomorrow.
Lie: I can control my appearance.
Truth: Controlling my appearance is such an elusive endeavor. I cannot control my appearance and trying to do so will wreak havoc in my life. Hives are ugly. It was one thing when they were on my legs and arms, but it was quite another when they were on my forehead and mouth. I felt like a monster was taking over me. (Sorry for the drama, but it’s true.) I do believe that we can make wise choices about our health—eating plenty of fruits and veggies, getting enough sleep, etc.—and these choices often do lead to a healthier looking appearance, but ultimately, I cannot control the outcome of what happens to my body. For as much as I know right now, these hives are completely out of my control. I have no clue what caused them. In moments when I cannot control what’s happening, I need to trust that God is watching over me and that he isn’t about to abandon me. God will be with me if I get crazy hives again. And while God doesn’t desire brokenness, I can rejoice in the truth that he can use it for good in my life.
Lie: I am strong on my own.
Truth: I am so very fragile. In a mere three days, I went from laughing at my hives to crying over them. My heart is fickle. My flesh is weak. But God is strong in my weakness. Second Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” That brings so my joy to my heart. Because God is strong, I can just be his child. I don’t have to be everything. I don’t have to be enough. I don’t have to pretend I can handle this life on my own. I can just relax, take a deep breath, and look at my heavenly father. He is more than I’ll ever need.