An Itch I Should Not Scratch

What does it mean to be thankful?

I find it interesting that most of us take most of what we have for granted until a certain thing is taken away from us. It’s terrible that we can’t appreciate something or someone until that thing or person is gone.

We don’t appreciate our eyesight until we need glasses. We don’t appreciate our friends until they are strangers to us. We don’t appreciate our families until they are painfully broken apart. We don’t appreciate our “college years” until they are behind us. We don’t appreciate our singleness until we hit road bumps in our relationships.

There are so many things that we fail to realize are important until it is too late.

The story behind the title of my blog: Live Intentionally, stems from the concept that we have to be present and engage with life that is happening right now. Let’s put down our smart phones for a minute and just be in one place at one time for ten minutes.

Alas, I digress.

Eczema.

If you have never heard of it, let me attempt to communicate what it is to you.

It’s basically a condition in which, certain patches of skin on your body tend to dry out more easily, which in turn leads to cracking, which in turn leads to the releasing of inflammatory chemicals by your own body, which in turn leads to very intense itching, which in turn leads to scratching, which in turn returns to skin cracking, which repeats itself for however long it takes for the skin to heal.

It’s most commonly seen in babies and young children. It appears as a red rash and generally it tends to be located in areas of the body where sweat is secreted, or where your body is capable of bending: behind your knee, on your fingers, between your fingers, behind your elbow, the neck, etc.

Why am I giving you a health lesson?

When I was a young child I had very severe eczema. I am well versed in all kinds of oils, lotions, creams, cortisone creams, and steroid creams. I’ve been prayed over by elders of churches, my family, and friends. By the grace of God, the eczema became something of the past a little bit after I began grade school. It only made appearances in stories I would tell my friends and empathetic comments I would make to fellow sufferers.

That is.. until I came to college.

Maybe it was the stress or maybe it was the new environment. By the end of my freshmen year, the eczema made a mild reappearance on my fingers and on my arms. Luckily, I managed to fend it off within a couple of weeks with Eucerin and steroid creams and so I thought that I had a handle on the situation.

I thought wrong. My eczema has gone berserk over the past few months. Four of the ten fingers I have are covered in the all too familiar pink rash. I’ve become immune to most steroid creams. Most moisturizers only agitate my skin even more when I apply them. And the itching..

The itching is the worst part.

The best way to explain what goes through my head when the itching begins is to say that it consumes all of my thoughts. I cannot focus on anything but the places where I am itching. If you have ever had a mosquito bite, the feeling is similar but magnified. Mosquito bites generally itch, but applying some ice, or momentarily scratching it, usually makes the itching stop. This is where eczema differs from bites. It’s truly disturbing.

As you scratch the affected area, you get this weird false relief. You feel the relief that comes from scratching it, but it does not decrease the itchiness at all. So you watch your skin go from pink and rash covered, to cracked and bleeding all while the itchy sensation does not lessen at all.

How is this relevant to living intentionally at all?

I asked myself the same question numerous times.

I’ve begged God to let me be rid of this. I’ve taken all kinds of allergy medications, used all kinds of ointments and oils, and gone through who knows how many ice cubes to try to numb the affected areas, and yet, even as I write this, I am afflicted with this strange condition.

While I am thankful that it is not anything even more serious than an itchy rash, I would be lying if I said that I do not resent the fact that I have eczema.

My life has been a story of me attempting to control all the elements in my life.

Success would come if I worked hard, right?

Opportunities would arise if I put myself out there, right?

My eczema would could go away if I treated it properly, right?

See, I wish that I could ascribe the comeback of my eczema to mere chance. But ultimately, the timing is a little too perfect. What are the odds that right after I finish school and find a job that it comes back? (stress can also cause flare-ups just FYI).

I think that every trial we face has a specific purpose in our lives. When we choose what to do to in the face of that trial, I think we can either choose to harp on the struggles and uncomfortable nature of the situation (as I have been doing for the last 950 words), or we can see what it is that we can learn through it.

In my case I think God is trying to remind me of how I am not in control of anything.

Yes, I do work hard. And no, I don’t think God is maliciously letting me have eczema to put me in my place.

But I do think, that especially at this beginning point in my career, He does want to remind me that He will provide me with all that I need, because only He has absolute control over everything. Knowing that I easily forget things, He’s using the eczema as a daily reminder of how broken I am and how much I need Him to make it through the day. Thanks to Him, regardless of whether or not eczema ever leaves my body here on earth, I have sweet victory.

And nobody can take that from me.

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