Christian Minimalism

A Life-Changing Diagnosis

Do not fear, for I am with you,
    do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

After 4 years of seeing many doctors and having WAY too many medical tests to count, I was finally diagnosed this past week with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, or MCAS. You can read a brief description of MCAS here. Honestly, my husband Will and I did research on our own and knew I had this disorder for about a year and a half, but because it is a barely understood disorder (most doctors don’t even know it exists) and the testing for it is less than ideal, we didn’t have laboratory evidence until this past week. Now, I can officially say that I have MCAS, since it has been confirmed and diagnosed by the leading expert in mast cell disease, Dr. Lawrence Afrin.

MCAS is a chronic illness, not a terminal one (although a very small percentage of folks die from MCAS due to anaphylaxis, since reactions to triggers can range from mild to severe), but it is still a life-changing diagnosis. It means that there are things in life that I have to stay away from, because those things or activities trigger my MCAS. My personal triggers include high-histamine foods/leftovers, extreme temperatures, exercise/exertion, smoke/smells, and stress.

Living with chronic illness is not easy. It means that I am limited by my illness in ways that healthy people are not. It means that my energy is much more finite; the Spoon Theory explains what it is like to live with chronic illness really well. I’m lucky in that my MCAS is moderate, and I am not severely disabled. But it does mean that my life looks very different than most peoples’ lives.

Honestly, being chronically ill meant choosing to live as a Christian minimalist was a no-brainer. Having a chronic illness mean I have to be very intentional about what I spend my energy on anyway, so focusing on what truly matters (and getting rid of things that don’t) makes a ton of sense.

And as I figure out how to best spend my finite energy on what matters, I am very aware of God’s movement in my life. The fact that I even got a diagnosis is a miracle in itself. And as I continue to try different medicines to find the right combination for my body, I know that (as the prophet Isaiah reminds us all) God will strengthen me, help me, and uphold me.

I am realistic enough to know that God may not decide to completely heal me (although I am not ruling that out, it does happen!), but God will hopefully work through medications and lifestyle changes so that I can manage my chronic illness better. And– my hope is that God will continue to guide me in how I allocate my energy, so I can continue to live as a Christian minimalist and focus on what matters most.


Becca Ehrlich, AKA The Christian Minimalist, is striving to be a Christian minimalist in a consumer society. She currently lives in Upstate New York with her husband Will and their son Theo. You can read more about her story and how her blog came to exist by clicking the website link above.


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