I have never been very good about going to doctors. I usually have to be pretty miserable to be motivated to make an appointment. I had this experience back in 2009. We were getting ready to drive the Alcan Highway from Alaska down to Arizona. I had an out of control rash that was driving me crazy. I decided that my best choice was to go to a dermatologist. The doctor was a bit concerned when he saw my situation. He decided to do a biopsy to make sure that it wasn’t anything serious with our long trip coming up fast. I received a phone call later telling me that the result was that I had general food allergies. That started an eight year search trying to figure out what foods were causing my problems.
I determined that I was really having hives as opposed to a rash. My daughter was the one to suggest that annatto might be the culprit for my reactions. Annatto is a “natural” yellow coloring used in many foods, including yellow cheese, Butterfinger candy bars, and most vanilla icecream. From trial and error I was convinced that annatto was at least a part of my issue. I went from having no known food allergies to having to be extremely careful every time that I ate. Potlucks were one of my biggest challenges. People love to sneak yellow cheese into recipes!
My frustration was that even when I was careful I had hives break out at unexpected moments. Since annatto is a “natural” ingredient, it doesn’t have to be listed in the ingredients by name. I thought that I must be eating something containing this ingredient, or that I had additional food allergies yet to be discovered. As I continued to break out in hives, I knew that I had to find answers. After years of hesitation, I was ready to go to an allergist.
My allergist was the one who told me (after tests) that I don’t have any apparent food allergies. She said that it is impossible to make the conclusion that there are food allergies from a biopsy. It was a bit of a shock that for all of those years I had been looking for answers in the wrong places! I was diagnosed with Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria. In English, chronic hives caused by unknown reasons. The allergist said that there were internal factors, and not external factors (like food), causing the hives. Even though she didn’t know what was causing the hives, she knew how to treat me. She believed with two pills a day my problem could be cured. If that didn’t work, she was positive that she had a monthly shot that would take care of my hives. As it turned out, the pills have been enough. In the past six months I have had only had eight break-outs, and in the last three months I haven’t had any.
It is fascinating to me to watch people try to find the answers to the problems in their lives. Usually what they know is that they are not happy, and that they are not at peace. This motivates them to search for answers. The most common conclusions that I see people reach is that they need more money, or they need a new relationship. Although these are the most common from my perspective, there are also many other answers that are reached. What surprises me is how rarely spirituality is determined to be part of the solution.
In my own life, I have found that the answers to many of my issues are rooted in Christianity. Some examples are worry, being judgmental, and anger. I don’t think that these issues are completely handled in my life, but great progress has been made due to Christianity.
As Christians, we get to help direct people to God as they struggle with life. For many people they have been searching in the wrong directions looking for answers. They might have never considered God as the answer that they have been looking for. We can’t force people to believe in God, but we can raise God as a possible solution. We can be a much better witness to this if we are transparent with our own lives, and willing to show how God makes a difference for us.
It is up to other people to determine what they believe, though I don’t want them to miss out on a relationship with God because I never told them about God! The transforming power of being a Christian has never been more relevant than it is right now. Let’s make sure that we share with others why God is important in our lives.
Your brother on the journey, Mark