There are many different sides of Jesus. Some of this is evident in the list of qualities I made a while back, but there are other ways to look at Jesus too. Jesus can be thought of as a real man that took charge of every situation and fought back evil whenever it presented itself. Another side is the great, wise sage who taught people the true faith and set in motion the eternal Catholic Church. I have found that I most represent “the suffering servant” (Isa 53) in Jesus. As Messiah, Jesus had to suffer for the sake of others. While all Catholics are called to suffer for others, I feel like I have had to suffer a lot more than average.
From a young age (maybe age 14), I had lower energy than others. Whenever I was in a group, I usually became exhausted after just a few hours while everyone else had tons of energy. Most people were stronger than me too. I got really tired from what should have been easy things like a short bike ride. My muscles became weak and sore easily, and I would need a few hours to rest. Other than these minor problems, I was pretty healthy until shortly after college.
I developed social anxiety based on a false belief that strangers were all out to make fun of me. The anxiety was easy to ignore at first but eventually came to dominate my life. Anytime I was with other people I was nervous. The more people, the worse I felt. I was only comfortable with my parents, so I pretty much stayed at home. That same year, I developed digestive problems consisting of gas, bloating, stomach aches, diarrhea, and nausea. It started out just once a week but eventually became an almost daily problem.
Over the next five years, I developed a few more health problems each year until the present, where I have around 18 chronic problems. I typically have 4-5 problems each day. About half (52%) of my days I consider to be “good” with minimal suffering, 41% are “bad” days where the suffering is bad but I can push through it, and around 7% are “horrible” days where I’m just trying to get through the day. This means on average, I have 4 good days a week, 3 bad days a week, and a horrible day every two weeks. My health problems are pretty random each day, but I can go into “remission” and “flare-up” phases, sometimes feeling really good for several days in a row or feeling really bad for several days instead.
For the most part, the doctor doesn’t know why I have all these problems. They get worse with anxiety, but weren’t caused by anxiety. I’ve done all the tests for cancer and infections. Everything has come back negative. There is no explanation. It’s a mystery. All I can guess is that I have bad genes.
Because of the randomness of my problems, I never know how I will feel on any day. It’s hard to make plans with anyone, not knowing how I will feel on the day of the event. Working out of the house has become impossible. The Internet has become my way to socialize with others and work. I’m not able to make enough money to support myself, but I have been able to pay most of my personal bills like my student loan and health insurance. My parents help with the rest.
Obeying the call to serve others has been hard for me, so I had to be creative. I found that I could offer up my suffering to help others through the redemptive power of Jesus (CCC 618, 1502, 1505, 1521). I just offer it to Jesus to use as he sees fit. Many times I have offered suffering for loved ones in need, and it seems to help. There is no guarantee that this is happening, but sometimes it seems to be more than coincidence. That is enough for me. In addition to offering my suffering, I do a lot of praying for others. I also found the Internet to be a good way to communicate with others. One of the reasons I write this blog is to hopefully help the occasional person that happens across it online.
While my health problems caused me a lot of anger and sadness in the beginning, I’ve mostly learned to accept them. I can still have negative emotions, such as after a dream where I had perfect health, but I have learned to accept my bad health. I am really happy about my ability to help others through my suffering though. Everyone can pray and write about the faith — I’m not the only one — but very few people suffer as much as I do. Other people are stronger than me, make more money than me, get married, and countless other things, but I get to suffer more. It’s what makes me unique.
Sometimes I wonder if bearing my suffering patiently and offering it up is actually my calling. So far God has not given me any answer, so I will continue to work on treating my health problems and finding a way to support myself. I haven’t found success yet, but I won’t give up. During my free time, I can pray, write things on this blog, and most importantly, offer up my suffering. That is enough for now. I greatly look forward to the end of suffering in heaven and my just reward for all I have endured.
Still, I suffer many days and ask if you can find it in your heart to pray for me. Some days I feel absolutely horrible. My suffering is a constant reminder that I will die one day. Some nights after getting into bed, I tell Jesus I am ready to go to heaven if he wills it, but I always wake up the next morning. It must be a sign that my suffering has purpose. I need the help of your prayers. God can work through you to give me the grace of patience in suffering. You can make a real difference in my life. I am eternally grateful for any help you can provide and will remember your aid when we meet in heaven. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
May God bless you with his abundant grace,