Modern-Day Leper

My mother has a form of an autoimmune disease called Lupus that affects her skin in a very public way. When she is exposed to sunlight she breaks out into sores all over her body that look like large scabs. Then when her breakouts heal, she is left with tan patches on her fair skin, especially on her arms and hands that have the spacing and pattern of a giraffe’s hide. So far only her face has been spared.

She has dealt with it like a real trooper. She often jokes that she is a “leper” and takes it very well when little kids ask why her skin looks weird and when tactless adults bluntly ask what’s wrong with her.  

I know she has days that her condition can be very painful and has serious symptoms that are steadily encroaching on her daily comfort. But she is more bubbly and happy than anyone I know, sick or not. You would never know that her prognosis is not good: doctors tell her to expect further deterioration of her immune system, arthritis, possible kidney failure and more and more discomfort. Worst of all there is no cure and many of her prescriptions border on experimental.

I try not to think about it too much. I lost my dad to cancer when I was sixteen and I don’t want to think about losing my mom. And it’s not so much the number of years left that worries me; it’s the quality of her life. How much longer can she stand being a freak?

In church we’ve been talking about the leper in Luke chapter five that against biblical rules and tradition, Jesus touched before he was healed. In that account there was very little time that passed between when he was touched and when he was healed.

But what about when a lifetime passes between when Jesus touches and when Jesus heals a person? What about the awkwardness in between?

I know Jesus has touched my mother. I know without a doubt that he gave her all the faith, energy and strength she needed to get through the heartache of being a young widow and the challenges of being a single mother of five. I know she wants to be healed and still believes, even though she stood in faith for my father’s healing and watched him die, that Jesus can heal her. Jesus has given her so much proof of his love and character that despite her losses, she still waits for her own healing.

My mom isn’t the only life Jesus has touched that is still waiting for healing and change. I know people marked by severe acne, disease, depression, loneliness and many other conditions that could threaten to become our identity when we become weary of waiting for a cure. It would be very easy to take on the identity of an outcast rather than a child of God.

I believe what’s kept my mother from giving up and walking away is that she’s not concerned about when her healing happens; whether it’s in this life or the life to come. She is not occupying her time with self-pity or anger she is enjoying her status as a child of God. She knows even though the world sees a “leper” and she has pain and scars that could cause deep embarrassment, she gladly worships the one that was bruised and crushed for her sins and shame. Unlike the lepers of the past, she is free to receive Jesus’ touch, worship him and fellowship with him uncovered and unashamed. She will let nothing, not even her skin, be a barrier.

Angie Derrick 11/11/11 ©


  • I believe in Jesus, loving people, living fully and creating good things. Whether it's art, food or finding solutions, I am always in "creative mode". With this blog I hope to encourage and help others to live in whatever "mode" God has called them to.

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