I’m leaving you with a gift, peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives, so don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:26-28
I remember the day I first noticed the patchy, red, scaly raised area on my lower left shin. It was about the size of a dime. I had just read an article in the local newspaper about skin cancer, and was more than a little alarmed over this new discovery. I booked an appointment with my dermatologist for the next day and made a quick journey to his office for a diagnosis. Dr. Kane studied the area with intensity and told me with absolute certainty that the spot was not cancer, but a far less frightening proposition- psoriasis. Relieved that I would live and not require an invasive surgical procedure, I purchased the prescription for a topical steroid at my local pharmacy and put the intrusion out of my mind. Little did I know this quiet invader would become a constant and deliberate stalker over the years; one that would steal peace and erode confidence.
It’s almost funny how something that begins so innocuously can over time evolve into an overwhelming and pre-occupying tyrant. Since the birth of my daughter nearly 22 years ago, I’ve been plagued with psoriasis and have observed its gradual victory over my once clear and unblemished skin. Stress brings out the worst in the monster and since the last few years have been inordinately stressful to put it mildly, I’m beginning to feel like Job in the Old Testament Bible story- covered from head to toe in unsightly red itchy, painful sores. Long- sleeved blouses and long pants are anything but comfortable in the humidity and heat of Florida. But, we girls are experts at hiding the unsightly, aren’t we?
Since psoriasis has become my constant and undesirable companion, I find myself looking on other women with jealousy. I see their smooth, clear skin exposed under flirty dresses that skim the knee with beauty and elegance and I imagine the horrified looks on the faces of those who happen to catch sight of my condition. On occasion, I have been caught without the proper coverage and on those unfortunate instances come to the painful realization that it’s better to hide than answer the questions of curious onlookers. People are frightened by what they don’t understand. I’ve become an anomaly-something I never expected to deal with in my life. In our society beauty is defined by exacting criteria and I’ve spent my life in front of cameras, working on television and on the public stage. Now that my definition of beauty has been drastically altered, I’ve been forced to look inward to discover the essence of a splendor not defined by human criteria. This is a journey I didn’t want, or expect to take.
The truth, and I hate to admit it, is that I’ve been deeply depressed over the necessary changes in my life. There are days when I can occupy my mind with more worthy thoughts. There are other days when I simply want to hide in the corner of my closet and wallow in self -pity. I’m fully aware which of these is the more virtuous. To heck with virtue! I just want to be normal again.
I’ve asked God on many occasions over the years to take the psoriasis away, and to relieve me of this unfortunate ailment. I’ve seen God heal people of far more serious disorders. But as Paul said in Second Corinthians chapter 12 in the New Testament, “I was given a thorn in my flesh…and three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.’ And so, what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger and certainly more compassionate, not to mention humble.
Maybe that’s the point. Perhaps God desires to teach me humility and the heart of compassion. Both attributes I really felt I possessed. I now know with absolute certainly that I was lacking in both departments. Having never walked in the shoes of those plagued with such maladies, how could I have a genuine and deep- seated compassion for their pain? I couldn’t. I had merely a dismissing and superficial sympathy, rather than genuine empathy birthed from personal experience. I now know the embarrassment and the feelings of shame associated with physical problems that are beyond my control.
I know this sounds completely nuts and I’m shaking my head as I write it, but I’m actually thankful for this challenge. I’m learning to see others the way God sees them, to look on their hearts rather than outward appearances. I’m learning to accept what I can’t change and to be grateful for the things I can. I’m learning to appreciate the beauty in life that supersedes worldly viewpoints of magnificence- and I’m discovering things about myself I would never have known had I not been forced to endure this hardship.
God has really interesting ways of developing our character. When we journey to a place of true intimacy with Him, He sometimes takes us down roads that are extremely uncomfortable. He shakes our definitions of faith and stretches our boundaries. In these times we question who we really are in Christ, and what holds us to our faith. Is it mere tradition and religious expectation? Do we live the Word, or do we simply know it by learned rhetoric and rote memorization?
Psoriasis is teaching me what it means to walk in peace and to trust God on a very personal level. I’ve read this particular passage over a thousand times and applied it to the various trials I’ve endured over the years. But never has it been as poignant to me as it is at this juncture in my life. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6&7
You know what? It’s true. His peace does keep us in the midst of the storm. His contentment is our comfort and our constant. It defies human reason and explanation. I haven’t given up hope that I will one day be healed, but in the meantime I’m gleaning new insights in my spiritual journey and learning to walk the path of serenity in the presence and mercy of the Lord.
- Tamra Nashman
- Florida, United States
- I'm a mother of two children, an inspirational and motivational Author and Minister. My greatest joy is to see people gain new insight and understanding about the amazing possibilities that life holds when we put put our faith to action. 'Shoes For The Spirit, is a book filled with real-life stories of people who have walked through great difficulty and have found the right pair of shoes for their personal journey. Whether or not you are a person of faith, there is something uplifting, guiding and compelling in this little book, for everyone. The accompanying CD, 'Songs For the Soul,' is a compliation of original orchestrated tunes, with voice-over verse layered on top of the music. This CD has great encouragement for all who take the time to listen. I hope all of you bloggers will read the new sequel to 'Shoes For The Spirit,' listed in the blog posts below, and if you're so inclined, will purchase my book and CD. You won't be sorry! Be blessed. Love, Tamra
- ▼ 2008 (11)