Friday, July 19, 2013

Hiding in Plain Sight

A variety of bottles, jars and tubes were lined up on the desk in front of me.  Last night, I was on a mission to find which ones contained the culprit causing my severe allergic reaction.  Thanks to the internet, it is a lot easier to examine the fine print.

I started with the store brands and the least expensive items.  Surprisingly, no matches.  I proceeded through moisturizers, one of which I have been using for almost twenty years.  Nothing there, nor in my sunscreen, foundation, or other likely makeup components.  My shampoo was fine.

I was getting a bit overwhelmed by all of the complicated-sounding chemicals that lurk within these products.  One particularly lethal sounding item --tocopherol -- appeared over and over.  What in the world?  Rather alarmed, I mentioned it to my chemical engineer-trained husband.  He looked up from his book, "That's just vitamin E," he said.   So much for the consumer sleuth in me!

It was getting late.  I was weary, feeling a bit like Samuel running through the seven sons of Jesse to anoint the new king of Israel.  I only had one item left, a very unlikely suspect in that it was a fresh tube of mascara, a brand that I rely on, known and labeled as "Hypo-allergenic, dermatologist and ophthalmologist-tested, safe for contact lens users."  As I now half-heartedly completed my research, I was most impressed by the manufacturer's website, which detailed the company's careful selection of materials in their products which were also inspected for purity and reliability.  I scrolled down through the company philosophy, its mission, and what compounds they avoid using.  I was pleased to see one of my top two allergens was listed in the company's banned list.  The website also included both the name and picture of each product to avoid any confusion.  And to the left of the picture, every ingredient was listed.


My mascara!  I had my culprit, the least likely of all, but there it was in plain type, the name of a substance which produced, during the allergist's patch test, a large welt on my back, even now still visible and very itchy.  I never would have guessed this product would have caused such turmoil and skin irritation.

I heartily respect my husband for encouraging me throughout this whole ordeal, including driving on our recent road trip while I was in a Benadryl stupor.  He is so gracious to me.  And this morning, as Bill was doing his daily reading, he chuckled.  "What's so funny?"  I asked him.  "I have a verse for you today," he said: 

Who has woe?  Who has sorrow?
Who has strife?  Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
                         Proverbs 23.29

(Obviously, my verse for the week!)

Two other of the elements also appeared in unlikely products.  One was a component in my daily multi-vitamin, and one oddly enough in our grand children's baby shampoo which is labeled "99.9 percent natural."  That .1 percent is what to be concerned about.

I am thankful for the allergist who proceeded with testing.  I am regretful that I was too stubborn to seek help sooner.  One of the things God desires is a teachable heart.  ("Listen to advice and accept insturction, that you may gain wisdom in the future."  Proverbs 19.20)  Self-diagnosis is tempting, but I need to remember that the internet is not a substitute for med school.  A teachable heart would have made A LOT of things much easier in my life.

Whether it is a physical health issue or a spiritual one, when I seek the LORD about it --"help me, LORD, how to navigate this situation" -- He reveals my path and what to do about it.  Sometimes it is just one tiny step at a time.  "Reveal to me, LORD, what to do and what not to do."  Redirect my life to Your purposes.  The path may not be obvious.  And the problem may be something totally invisible to me but a huge pothole in my spiritual well-being.  What trips me up is typically what I consider insignificant.  And what I think doesn't matter at all may indeed change the course of my life.

Read the fine print.  And follow Him fully.  God will reveal Himself to you.  Even in the "little" stuff.

Search me, O God,
     and know my heart!
Try me
     and know my thoughts!
And see if there be
     any grievous way in me,
 and lead me in the way everlasting.

                         Psalm 139.23-24

No comments: