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Should I Pray for Healing...Or Should I Carry My Cross?

It is ironic that, as a Catholic, the most difficult part of having a chronic health issue isn’t the health issue itself but is the big question: Should I pray for healing…or should I carry my cross?

And it is that question that often keeps us spiraling through a journey that is already burdensome and often overwhelming.

In my own journey, which has lasted for the better part of two decades, I know that I’ve gone through many different phases. There were times that I tried to take on St. Paul’s attitude of embracing the “thorn” of an illness while at other times I was on my knees praying—between sobs of anguish—for healing. I’ve attended Healing Masses where I’ve been prayed over by a team of healers and have hands laid upon me; I’ve had private healing prayers said over me.

I’ve done novenas and have sought alternative medical care—all at my own expense—when the established medical system failed me. I’ve been in bed unable to move from the dizziness that has enveloped me and ha…

Chronic Illness: A Gift from God?

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For years the only person who knew I suffered from a chronic illness was my husband. Over time, and out of necessity, a few more people were allowed into my world of health issues—and yet no one really knew the severity of what I went through, except my husband.

What I’ve come to realize is that I prefer my world be divided into two clear parts: the private, reclusive Cheryl and the author, writer, teacher, social Cheryl. Mostly, though, at the heart of who I am is the private, reclusive Cheryl.

My quiet, alone time is important to me—even more so since I began spiritual direction a few years ago and sought to understand the movements of God in my life and live accordingly. I need to be with God in a very real way and have learned how to respond to the ache for Him through my prayer life and “down time.”

As the years progressed and I understood that my physical suffering had value, I began sharing bits and pieces of what I was going through: severe joint problems, nights of diz…