"I was bitter and heart-broken. I thought God didn’t want me to be healed."
Hi, I’m Gabbie Rehder! I love reading, laughing, and writing. I also love funny stories and hearing other people laugh. I love the simplicity of daisies and the beauty and smell of roses. I love potatoes! (And not just because I am from Idaho.) Sky blue has always been my favorite color, but I also love the color red, which makes me think of the Passion and heart of Jesus. I work with, serve lunch to, and visit the senior citizens in my community. My heart is moved and full of love for those I am privileged to serve. And there is nothing I enjoy more than being with my family in our home overlooking the prairie. I also love sharing my humor, heart, and love for Jesus in my blogs.
When I was 12 years old, I noticed that my left eye started to droop and my energy began to decline. I was sleeping 12 hours a night and taking three- to four-hour-long naps a day. I went to several doctors to determine what was going on. I was diagnosed with Kearns-Sayre Syndrome (KSS). KSS is a mitochondrial disease that affects my eyes, height, muscles, energy, and heart. My teenage years were difficult as I battled the burden of not being like everyone else. It was overwhelming.
I told my mom I wanted to go to Lourdes, France, to be healed. Lourdes is where Our Lady, under the title the Immaculate Conception, appeared to St. Bernadette in the year 1858. Many who pilgrimage there have been healed in the miraculous spring.
Our family of seven journeyed to France; however, I did not receive the instant healing I wanted. So much effort went into getting our family there, that I felt like I let everyone down when I was not physically healed. I was bitter and heart-broken. I thought God didn’t want me to be healed.
I tried giving Him the silent treatment. I took down all of my holy images of Jesus and stopped praying. I went to church with my family and prayed before meals, but I felt nothing. The way I saw it, God didn’t love me enough to heal me – to heal me how I wanted to be healed. I entered a dark place in my life, telling myself I was hopeless. Several times, I felt I did not want to carry on with my life; I wanted to end it. Little did I know at that time that I was being healed, just in a different way.
I can’t exactly tell you how I conquered my depression and anger. I wish I could remember the exact day, the exact moment my heart softened, but I can’t. I just know that my heart changed when I realized God didn’t want me to suffer. I started praying again and put my holy statues and pictures of Jesus back in their rightful places – back in my heart. I suppose that you can’t have light without darkness; I look back at this time in my life and thank God for never leaving me, even when I tried running from Him. I am grateful He had hope in me.
Even so, I definitely still had hard days when I wished and prayed for miraculous healing. In 2015, I experienced heart failure. It was the scariest day of my life when I heard those words, “Heart. Failure.” I had to prepare for serious heart surgery, and for the first time I was facing and fearing death. I was in the hospital for a month.
When I was in the hospital, Sr. Jordan Rose shared with me these two words: “Take Heart.” It says in Psalm 27: “Let your hope be in the Lord; take heart and be strong; yes, let your hope be in the Lord.” This means, “Have courage! Have hope!” I came to know that “my health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart. He is mine forever” (Ps 73:26) .
My experience of suffering has brought me closer to Jesus. I am strongly inspired and drawn to Blessed Chiara Luce Badano. Her words, “For You, Jesus … If You want it, I want it too,” remind me to trust and have hope in the Lord’s plan for me. When I look beyond myself, I can unite my suffering with that of others, and I can unite my heart with the heart of Jesus. I find myself praying throughout the day, “Jesus, I trust in You.” When I wake up, when I am anxious, when it’s quiet, in all things, I pray: “Jesus, I trust in You.”
This journey hasn’t been easy, but my family and friends have carried me through. In hard times, my family looks for the good. We are a family of hope.
Hope is believing something good is going to happen. If you are struggling to hope, I recommend reading Fr. Michael Gaitley’s book, 33 Days to Merciful Love. This book encourages you to hope as Mary did at the Cross, to believe in God no matter how dark life gets, and to praise God no matter what is happening.
Gabbie is the blood sister of Sr. Jordan Rose, S.V. and currently lives in Cottonwood, Idaho with her family.Visit Gabbie’s Blog at: www.gabberdella.blogspot.com
This article was originally printed in IMPRINT Magazine, Winter 2018.