On the day that America celebrates freedom, I was handcuffed with the diagnosis of Alopecia Areata (a stress-induced autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss). You’d think that finding two bald spots the size of baseballs on my scalp would be troubling enough, but it was actually the list of “mights” streaming from the doctor’s mouth that created my ocean of fear:
“You might only have these two spots and nothing more. You might develop more spots. You might lose all of your hair… and your eyebrows, eyelashes, and all of your body hair. This might be for a season of life; it might be forever—or it might come and go throughout your life. Really the only predictable thing about Alopecia is that it’s simply unpredictable. The best thing that you can do is de-stress.”
Gee, thanks Doc. How the heck am I supposed to “de-stress” when you’re telling me I could go bald at 21 years old?
I began to drown in all of my fear of what the “mights” could bring.
“I’m going to look so weird… No one will be able to fall in love with me… What if I have to wear a wig?”
Thankfully, I have a great support system in my family. I have strong, kind people in my life—and they did a darn good job of loving me. But still, I was suffocating.
I knew I needed help. I reached for the daily devotional that my mother had given me years prior, and I opened it up to that day—July 9. I read the three short paragraphs written by a Christian author—and I realized that God provided the exact message that I needed to hear. The author referenced a section of the Bible that caused a different kind of sinking-feeling, like comfort pressed down deep within me—the feeling that “everything is going to be okay” without me fully understanding why. Looking back, it’s easy to recognize what God gave me that day—it was hope.
With a new-found energy surging through me, I searched for a Bible. Although I grew up “in the church” I had never actually sat down and read the Bible before. But those words that I read were so inspiring, I had to read them straight from the source. And it didn’t disappoint. It was beautiful.
Looking back, it’s easy to recognize what God gave me that day—it was hope.
God made me two unbreakable promises that day:
1. He has given me a Helper (the Holy Spirit) (John 14:16) and
2. He will never leave me or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Do those promises sound beautiful to you? To have God Himself helping you and promising you that He will never, ever abandon you?
May I encourage you to start reading your Bible today? Like me, you may not know where to begin. That’s okay! I’ve provided a few tips I discovered when I first started:
1. Sit down with three things: a good daily devotional, a Bible and a journal.
3. Next, read the Scripture reference(s) in the Bible. You might not know that there are many different versions of the Bible. I like the English Standard Version (ESV), New International Version (NIV), or a parallel bible containing both the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and The Message Paraphrase as a helpful tool for understanding passages because it uses more culturally-relevant language next to the original text.
(If you don’t know how to look up a Bible verse, there is a Table of Contents at the beginning of each Bible. It lists all 66 books in the Bible with the page number that they start on. Each book (usually) has multiple chapters. Each chapter has multiple verses. Let’s say you are looking for John 14:16. John is the book, 14 is the chapter, and 16 is the verse.)
4. Write out any thoughts, questions and prayers in your journal. If you do have questions, I recommend connecting with your local church to speak with someone. As a former church staff member, this is one of their greatest joys, so please don’t hesitate to take this step!
New to your faith? Here’s more about beginning in faith!