I Chronicles 16:9 – “Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; meditate on and talk of all His wondrous works and devoutly praise them! (AMP)
Today as I was meditating on what God has done, I immediately thought of my recent, and serious, bout with eczema. I had a terrible flare up, which I’ve never had before. I waited to get help for a lot of reasons I won’t expand on here, (see my blog in franklyfabulousoils.com,) and by then I had an infection and had to be admitted to the hospital. I know God healed me. I responded to the treatment very quickly and was in the hospital only three days, when the doctors had predicted a longer stay.
Prior to my hospital admission, I was essentially helpless. I spent several weeks doing nothing but sitting. It was uncomfortable to move, and eventually, my husband was caring for me and couldn’t even go to work.
As I meditated on God’s healing of my skin and the overwhelming thankfulness and gratitude I feel to be healthy now, I heard myself saying, “You made me comfortable in my skin, Lord, literally and physically.”
God’s response was, “You have to be who you are; I created you the way I did for a reason and a purpose.”
Those words prompted this blog. As a retired English teacher, I couldn’t miss the metaphor for life. Add to that the fact that in my business book club we are reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, which is all about showing vulnerability and being yourself, and you have a recipe for a life lesson.
I warn you that the rest of this isn’t pretty. You may be uncomfortable with the descriptions of what happened to me. But if you dare to keep reading, perhaps you will be reminded of your own uniqueness in the Kingdom.
An eczema flare, I now know, is a serious thing. It affects your skin, the largest organ in your body. And though it may begin in a small area, it can eventually spread to every area if left untreated. At first, my skin was just red and occasionally itchy. I had a few small areas on my hands that began to fester and became open wounds. These then crusted over, making them hard. But they were still open, and anything I put on my hands burned them. They also became stiff and hard to move. These symptoms progressed. Here is an overall picture.
1. My skin was red.
2. My skin was itchy.
3. My skin was flaking and shedding.
4. My skin had open wounds.
5. My skin was oozing liquid protein.
6. My skin was swollen and inflamed.
7. My skin eventually became infected.
I had to depend on others for everything. I didn’t have any strength. (The oozing causes you to lose protein, plus I didn’t have much of an appetite.) I was literally and physically extremely uncomfortable in my own skin. These physical symptoms had physical consequences.
- My clothes didn’t fit right. Not only was I swollen, but everything stuck to me because of the oozing.
- I couldn’t move around. Standing increased the pain in my legs. My arms swelled to the point that I couldn’t bend my arm at the elbow comfortably. This made it hard to even reach for a drink or pull the covers up over my shoulders in bed at night.
- I had to take medicine and use creams, which weren’t really relieving the symptoms as much as I hoped.
- I was unable to keep commitments I had made. I basically had to withdraw from society because I was confined to my recliner.
- I couldn’t plan or catch a vision for my future because I had no idea when I would be well. I hadn’t experienced this before.
- Doctors had to intervene. They had the right medicine to cure me.
Let’s examine the metaphor here. What happens when we are not comfortable in our own skin, figuratively speaking?
Redness and itching. The “itching” distracts us from what we should be doing. We are constantly moving from one “itch” to another, trying to bring comfort; but we are only aggravating the problem. If we aren’t being ourselves, who are we trying to be? If we are trying to emulate others, or do what others think we should be doing, we may be working on things that God never intended for us to do. We jump from one ministry, job, or goal to another and never accomplish a thing. We can’t find contentment, satisfaction, or peace. We are “itchy” because we aren’t in the place we are supposed to be, doing what God intended for us. When we aren’t doing what God intended for us, chances are pretty good that we won’t do the job well. This causes “redness” in the sense of embarrassment or never feeling like we are enough. We feel we don’t measure up to others.
Skin that sheds. Our skin is flaking. We shed the layers of who we really are and try to repair those layers by using remedies that don’t work. When those remedies don’t work, we continue to pick at ourselves and scratch ourselves because we aren’t satisfied with what we see on the outside. The more we scratch the more damage we cause. When we are trying to be what someone else wants us to be, we are putting off who we really are and who God means us to be.
Open wounds. This should be an obvious metaphor. When we are not comfortable with ourselves, we get hurt. We allow what others think and say to hurt us and we aggravate those wounds with more scratching. Or, we try to heal those wounds with remedies like addictions.
Oozing protein. Our lifeblood and energy escape because, again, we are trying to do things or be things we were never meant to be. It takes a lot more effort and self-motivation to do things we aren’t equipped to do. And we usually end up resenting what we are doing because we don’t love it. We are doing it out of obligation or because it is what others expect.
Hard and crusty skin. We become hardened and closed off to love and relationships. We develop an “I don’t care” attitude toward the world, our family, and our friends because we try to protect ourselves from hurt. It’s ironic. We do things we shouldn’t because we think others expect them, and then we turn around and try to say we don’t care what others think.
Inflamed and swollen skin. We become angry with ourselves, our lives, others, God, or all of these because we are never comfortable. Or perhaps we become swollen with pride because we focus on all that we are doing rather than who we are. Many people become caught up in works or doing good deeds to cover a sense of unworthiness. We really need to do these deeds from the heart.
Infection. Our lives become so infected with resentment, fear, disappointment, and frustration, that we are sick. This may manifest in physical sickness, mental depression, lack of joy, or a combination of issues.
Trying to be people we are not meant to be or trying to do things we are not called to do—being uncomfortable in our own skin—is a spiritual disease. And notice that this doesn’t only affect our own lives, but it affects the lives of all those around us. Like my eczema, the flare may begin in one small area of life, but if left untreated or unaddressed, it can spread to every area of life.
When I was physically sick, my family had to do what I would ordinarily do, plus they had to take care of me because I couldn’t take care of myself. If we do not do what God has called us to do, if we do not project who we really are as God’s unique creation, we keep others from doing all that they are created to do because they have to step in and care of us, as well as do our work.
So how do we overcome this spiritual sickness? We need a Healer. God is the only one who can fill whatever needs and desires we have. We need to comprehend, as fully as we can, how much God loves us just the way we are. After all, He created us. He designed each of us for a specific purpose. He does not want us to be unhappy with who we are. He wants us to pursue our passions and our dreams—the things He designed us specifically to do.
And that means being you. That means doing what God has planned for you to do, not what others think you should do.
I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin these days—both literally and figuratively. However, I am in a transitional phase of my life, having recently retired. So I am seeking God’s direction anew. Who am I going to be now that I’m not a full-time teacher? What passions, desires, and talents has God given me, and how does He want me to use them for Him? Finding out who we are in Christ is a continual journey. But who we are in Christ is who we are meant to be.
If you’ve been uncomfortable in your own skin, go to the Healer and find His remedy for your skin condition. He will heal you, and you will find your heart filled with thankfulness and gratitude as you “meditate on and talk of His wondrous works.”