Most of us know our bodies pretty well. But what if something happened that made you feel like your body wasn’t actually yours?
That’s what happened to a woman named Taylor Muhl. She was born with a strange birthmark running down the center of her stomach that divided her body into perfect halves. As a teenager, she developed mysterious auto-immune issues, and a variety of strange allergies. For example, she would react to bug bites or body piercings on one side of her body, but not the other. It was as if two people were living in her body. Doctors couldn’t solve the mystery, so for years Taylor lived with her unique and frustrating condition, succeeding as a dancer and model despite it. Then, after years of testing, one doctor solved the mystery: Taylor is her own twin. She possesses an extremely rare genetic condition called chimerism: during pregnancy, two fertilized eggs fuse into one, creating one baby with two genetic codes. So, Taylor actually possesses two immune systems, two bloodstreams, and two sets of DNA, which explains her autoimmune issues: her body was fighting itself.
This story really is one where the truth really seems stranger than fiction. But it wasn’t the first time I’ve heard of a body fighting itself. Paul talks about it in Romans: “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18-19 NIV).
What Paul describes is something we’ve all experienced: our sinful nature. The reality of living with this nature day-to-day might even make us feel like Taylor did – as if there are two different people at war inside of us. Because in a world where we’re surrounded by sin, it can be difficult to remember this eternal reality: “For we know that our old self was crucified with [Christ] so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6 NIV).
In Christ, this war is settled. The mystery is solved. It is no longer we who live, but as Paul says, “Christ who lives in [us].” (Galatians 2:20). For Taylor, solving the mystery of her “other self” led to freedom and strength that were truly life-giving. How much more so for us, who are offered freedom and strength to live in Christ, unifying ourselves with his eternal resurrection life, for all of eternity!
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.