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Archives YCV: Beauty in Conflict

July 18, 2012

By Tracy Leonard
Contributing Writer

When was the last time you thanked God that you could breathe freely, brush your hair, chew, or walk without pain? A lot of times we don’t really appreciate what we have until we lose it, especially our health. This is something you don’t often think about too much when you’re young and healthy or even old and healthy.When we lose something we often suffer, become despaired and sometimes even turn from the Lord. That lack of gratitude or full understanding that we are made in the image and likeness of Christ keeps us from uniting our sufferings with the sufferings of Jesus.

By His passion, death and resurrection, Jesus gives us new meaning to suffering. The trouble, frustration, hopelessness and fear brought about by the evil one becomes a means of healing and restoration through Christ Jesus. Just as a beautiful diamond, pearl or stone become what they are because of heat, pressure, time and continuous beatings, we too become beautiful through our trials. Our wounds and ailments do not hurt anymore; rather they become transfigured and glorified in the resurrection.

Over the past seven years, I’ve been blessed to witness the Lord take something objectively evil, scary and painful and transform it or bend it into something holy and good.God looked at my sister Katie and said, “This is very good.” He has taken her wounds and used them for a better plan. Sure, scripture, tradition, the sacraments and creation are means by which God reveals His mystery, His love and His presence, but it has been through Katie that His majesty has been clearly revealed to me most recently.

Since 2005, my sister has been battling Alopecia Areata, an autoimmune skin disease resulting in the loss of hair on the scalp and elsewhere on the body. It usually starts with one or more small, round, smooth patches but can progress, resulting in total scalp hair loss (Alopecia Totalis) or complete body hair loss (Alopecia Universalis). Katie is one of the approximate 2% from the population overall who has been affected by this terrible disease. This skin disease is highly unpredictable and cyclical, thus profoundly impacts the individual psychologically. Although not life threatening, it is most certainly life altering.

Alopecia affects all individuals and families differently, yet there are some common experiences among those affected: feelings of loss, grief, frustration, anger, hopelessness, embarrassment, guilt, self-blame, helplessness, sadness, depression or fear. Perhaps similar to others, yet very unique for Katie, this disease has also brought about feelings of trust, hope, faith, courage, confidence and receptiveness. Katie begins each day with a positive thought, often times inspired by a quote or scripture. This thought remains with her throughout the day as does her personal motto: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Because of Katie’s charisma and complete receptiveness to the Holy Spirit, the Lord has become master in her life and has transformed her battle with this disease into her trophy of victory and evangelization.Katie has prayed for the eye of her soul to see more clearly Jesus’ hand in this experience. In faith, God has led her one step at a time to cope with and share this personal struggle with others… the students she teaches at IHC, her co-workers, her friends, her husband, her family and the community in which she lives.

It has taken incredible courage, yet as Katie has shared, it is the same courage that was portrayed by David when facing Goliath. Like David, Katie has reached new levels of faith and has gained confidence and courage. This isn’t always easy, but it isn’t meant to be. If it was, we would never learn to recognize the seed of greatness God has placed inside of us. Our seeds would lie dormant and we would not grow.

Katie’s seed has surely grown! God has tapped into her and has begun to work in and through her and she with Him. He has transformed her trial into something beautiful and admirable. Because of Katie, many have come to know the healing powers of Christ and have been inspired to face their giants. Don’t think it can’t happen to you!

Next time you are faced with a giant, let the confidence and courage of Katie inspire you to turn to Christ; for God sometimes comes to us in the mystery of a masquerade which can prevent us from recognizing the mystery of His presence. Like Katie, pray for the eye of your soul to see right. Pray for Him to reveal His presence and holy masquerade. He will always put inside you whatever you need to move forward. If you need strength, it’s inside you. If you need hope, it’s inside you. If you need joy, determination, encouragement- God has placed them within you.

So tap into your God given resources by faith, because He will never ask you to do something that He hasn’t already prepared you to do. Be open handed and open minded to what God is doing in your life today and seek the beauty that is being revealed through your trials.

Tracy Leonard
Tracy Leonard, left, are her sister Katie

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