Life in LADA land

Living Philippians 1:6 with type 1.5 diabetes

About me, five years later

Testimony- Given during the worship service at Evangelical Community Church on May 8, 2016

Good morning. I’m Colleen Grogan.  One day about five and a half years ago, with no warning, I started having symptoms of extreme, unquenchable thirst, blurry vision and physical weakness. Within a month I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease usually diagnosed in children or young adults. However, it turns out that there is a form of it that strikes much later in life. There is no cure for Type 1 diabetes, and no way to reverse it. I will be dependent on an outside source of insulin for the rest of my life.

As distressing as this diagnosis was, I was very aware of God’s provision from the beginning. The medical practice we had chosen 15 years earlier from the list provided by our insurance company turned out to be one of the best places I could be as a type 1 diabetic. My doctor and my diabetic educator have been a huge source of care and encouragement to me. My diagnosis of type 1 diabetes was no surprise to God.

For the first few months after I was diagnosed, I felt pretty awful physically and was often very discouraged. I struggled to deal with the new reality that I could not control this part of my life. I felt like an unwilling victim of a trial that would never end. But God continued to provide for me, through His Word and through family and friends who prayed for me and encouraged me.  I attended my first Biblical counseling training course in that first year, and ended up BEING counseled myself, especially through Scriptures like 2 Corinthians 12:7-9. Here, Paul is speaking to the Corinthians about how God is working in him through suffering:

“a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

God showed me that in my weakness, and really, because of my weakness, He had to be my strength, and that even more, He intended to use me in new and different ways. This did not result in a sudden transformation from discouragement to joy, but it did cause me to begin looking at what I perceived as a trial through new eyes and to look for the ways God was going to work in and through me. This was a turning point in my perspective and I can now see that God is using diabetes to change me.

One of the ways He is changing me is to teach me that my identity is found in Christ, not in how well I control my blood sugar. Diabetes is all about numbers – blood sugar level, insulin doses and carbohydrate counting.  Every time I test my blood sugar, I fight the urge to see the number on my meter as an assessment of my ability to control this disease.  My sense of self-worth can get very tied up in trying to control these numbers, so that when my blood sugar is a roller coaster of highs and lows and the physical effects of this interfere with my plans, I feel worthless and hopeless.  But God reminds me that my value is that He has chosen me as His child and that HE is in control, not me.  In Christ, I have everything I could possibly need or want, no matter how well or how badly I think I am doing in that moment at controlling my blood sugar. I am learning to rest in that truth and not to grasp for the control that will never satisfy me.

I see many evidences of grace in my life with diabetes.  First of all, the prayers of many of you, and your encouragement from the very beginning, has been a beautiful gift.  In addition, God’s steadfast love for me has become much more real. My reaction to an unexpected low or high blood sugar that messes up my plans is often not the reaction that pleases God – I react in anger or frustration and not with trust. But because I am His, I know I can repent – over and over again.  These opportunities to experience the love of God despite my sin are building a deeper appreciation for Christ’s suffering and death on the Cross for my sin.   The good news is that He is changing my heart so that those reactions of anger and frustration come less often.

Lastly, I have learned that I must be able to admit weakness and that at times I need help. This has allowed others the opportunity to encourage and pray for me, and has in turn freed others up to admit their own struggles, allowing me to minister to them. I would encourage you that if you feel anything like I do, you will reach out to someone for support – to me or Rich, or anyone on staff or an Elder. The Body of Christ is a beautiful thing.

God is using diabetes to teach me things I could not have learned any other way. He has grown my faith and my dependence on Him for strength, patience and peace.  Because of what God has done and what I know He will continue to do in and through me, I can honestly say that I am thankful that He has trusted me to live with type 1 diabetes and look forward to what God will continue to teach me in the coming days.  To God be the glory.

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