Seeing a young child newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes try to hide in the corner of the room and scream, “NO MORE SHOTS!” absolutely breaks my heart. Seeing the parents try to comfort their child with tears in their own eyes is even worse. Seeing the fight that ensues to make sure the child stays healthy and receives his/her life sustaining medication is filled with a certain kind of gravity. I watch the scene before me and know that it is going to get better in some ways, but also knowing that it will be a lifelong struggle for the child and parents.
That all is filled with a gravity because I also know what is going through every person’s head in the room. There is anger, there is fear, there is exhaustion. I could certainly go on and describe those feelings to you, but I think you get the gist of it.
Yes, these things are heart-wrenching. Seeing a teenager roll his/her eyes at a parent during a visit. Seeing a middle-schooler look terrified at the thought of an insulin pump and all the insecurities that will bring. Sometimes people ask me, why would you want to be a part of that, it’s so sad! Or, how could you be around that day after day? My answer is simple: God has equipped me to be a part of that. However, I smile because I know exactly why I’m there. I know what is going through those kids’ heads. And, I am in a position to offer help. I have the tools to give them answers. I can give them hope. My own experience with type 1 diabetes is valuable to these kids and their parents.
Think about your own life experiences. What do you feel passionate about? Maybe you aren’t passionate about medicine, maybe you are passionate about counseling people through things. Maybe you enjoy speaking to people through art. Maybe you like to photograph those perfect moments so others can treasure them forever. Maybe you are passionate about seeing children get adopted. Maybe you want to lead the younger generation to Jesus. Maybe you’ve been through something where you can offer hope to those who are going through the same thing. Maybe you don’t quite know what that is yet, and that’s okay!
My point is this: God equips us all differently for whatever calling we have. I’m passionate about many things, and I’ve considered doing other things besides medicine. I’ve considered going into church ministry, I’ve wanted to be a writer, I’ve thought about counseling, I’ve wanted to do other things related to chronic illness like advocacy. But, I’ll tell you this much, every time I walk into the door of this clinic, I immediately don’t feel like I’m doing clinicals for school. I feel my purpose so strongly. I see the opportunities left and right to offer encouragement and solidarity to the families that attend.
And, I leave at the end of the day sometimes with a heavy heart due to drawing parallels to my own struggle, but with peace knowing that I made a difference in someone’s life that day. Maybe I offered the parents some encouragement. Maybe someone was reassured by how long I’ve had diabetes and seeing where I am now. Maybe a child felt more comfortable because he gave me a high-five and he’s now in the “cool club.” Maybe a teenager saw me wearing my sensor and insulin pump and felt a little bit less like an oddity. Knowing that I have the opportunity this semester to be at this clinic and help provide any measure of comfort and empathy to these families/patients is the most rewarding thing that has ever come out of my experience with type 1. God has provided healing for me with my diabetes in an emotional way. I do still have my frustrating days, but I pray that every child who grows up with type 1 experiences the same type of healing. I feel it in my heart that this is where I’m meant to be, that it’s where God wants me to be, and I pray that as my schooling comes to an end in a couple of short years that God will continue to open those doors.
I’d encourage you to sit and explore what kind of life experiences you have and how God has equipped you to use those for the good of someone else. Your greatest struggle may become your greatest purpose. Your experiences may differ vastly from mine, but I don’t doubt that you have a story behind it! Following God’s prompts and guidelines, praying that you use your gifts the way God wants you to, and being in prayer about it are amazing ways to try and find your purpose. I encourage you to try and be receptive to what God is trying to teach you through your difficulties. Whatever it is, be intentional with your life.
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”
-1 Corinthians 12:4-11