This spring, the biology lab unit on rat anatomy almost altered my view of life in an alarming way.
Our lab group used colored pencils to draw a rat’s anatomy on a worksheet—kidneys, liver, spleen, etc. We drew the organ network, so complex and impossible to remember that I failed the midterm, which demanded recall of each part. How fearfully and wonderfully God made the rat. And yet—how frightening that its life, upon inspection and detailed rendering in colored pencil, could be reduced to the mechanical functions of an organ shish-kebab with a spine for a skewer. If rats looked this way inside, I guessed people did, too. Though our instructor certainly intended otherwise, the lesson tempted me to reduce people to mere physical beings. That mindset, as you might imagine, soon becomes frightening and dismal.
After a long season of illness that began in November, I’ve started to worry a good deal about my own insides. I have visited many doctors, chiropractors, and the Emergency room. Everyone has a different take on what troubles me. I sometimes become so discouraged by uncertainty and my own weakness that I cry myself to sleep.
I think my tears prove the dissimilarity between myself and the rat. My soul wants so badly to live in a perfect world without a sick body, because I have not just a body but also a soul. Paul put it this way: “Our outer self is wasting away.”
But to this he added hope: “Our inner self is being renewed day by day.”
My sickness has helped me realize that I really do not resemble the rat we examined in Biology lab. I have a much higher experiential view of my dignity. I am not my body or what happens in my organs. I am not the pains, pressures, fatigues, or imbalances. I am not the confusions, the lateral disagreements, the skeletal misalignments, the symptom list, the blood work, the systemic rash, the rate of viral contraction, the speech difficulty, or the food intolerance.
On the contrary, God made me in his image with a soul that will live forever in his company.
And even better—the God who made me shows me constant kindness. He renews my soul, even while I worry about my body. He helps me put my treasure in heaven and identifies every capacity and breath I receive not as an entitlement but as a good gift. He places people around me who take care of me, and thus show me His face. And don’t I need to see God’s face more than I need a healthy body?
I love the Healer and the Healer loves me. He knows how to help me, keeps my tears in a bottle, and writes all my days in a book before one of them comes to be. He gives and takes. To him, I am not a shish-kebab. I am precious.