I had a good, long chat with my doctor last week. There is not much more that can be done for what ails me at this point other than what I try to continue to do. So I asked her for her wisdom and honest advice on how to move forward and live with this chronic illness. I go back and forth between acceptance and wanting desperately to be “fixed“! No matter how I try to take care of myself this simply isn’t going to go away. Yet I want to “fully live”, so I need to change some things.
My sweet dr. proceeded to remind me that I am fifty-five, almost fifty-six years old. I will never again have the energy I did when I was twenty-five (Gee….thanks for that reminder!). She encouraged me to continue with all I’m doing to feel the best I possibly can. She reminded me to not push past my limits and avoid stress as much as possible. Both flare up symptoms. Well, this I know all too well. But when you have a family…and grandbabies…you do what you have to do…or at least you try to. And if you’re alive and breathing you will have stress!
From the rest of our conversation, I gleaned some things that I know need to change and I am working on them. Things like not allowing myself to be fueled by others’ expectations of me, and not allowing guilt to run over me when I can’t live up to expectations…others’ or my own. I tend to get horribly down on myself when I cannot be the wife, mother (in-law), grandma, friend, housekeeper, or writer/blogger that I “should be” or long to be. I have even uttered the word “worthless” concerning myself when I can do no more than lie on the sofa because I am overwhelmed, in pain, and/or beyond exhausted. Big no-no! I need to “live more by faith and trust.” Yes, that was her words! She was right. Especially because I do know that in God’s eyes I am worth far more…than less. I can show I trust Him by humbly accepting those things that He allows into my life, and remembering He knows, and will provide all I need…for now, in this season.
I have to accept the fact that I will have “those days”. Days where I don’t feel well, am a weak and fatigued mess, and simply need to rest…and not stress over it. Those are the days I need to learn contentment like the Apostle Paul talked about in Philippians 4:11-13. I guess I am not always the best student. Those are also the days I need to live 1 Thessalonians 5:18….
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
A thankful heart changes everything.
I am asking God to help me learn to live graciously within the limits of this chronic illness, because I don’t want to continue to feel confined and so controlled by it.
Balance. It’s. Not. Easy.
I am learning that it is more important than ever for me to seek God’s direction for what He wants me to do each day. That means I need to be still and quiet much more these days, so I can actually hear His voice. I can’t afford to be wasting precious energy on things that are not His priorities for me on any given day.
Interestingly, a few days after the doctor visit, I was reading an issue of Mature Living. In one article, Mike Glenn was talking about how sunflowers always face, or turn towards the sun. He said: “The flower’s capacity to grow is related to its turning away from something and turning to something else. If we are going to keep growing, we will have to turn away from some things in our past and face some things God has planned for our future.”
That’s when it hit me. I’ve talked before about how I’ve had to give up many things over the years with this chronic illness. It seems as time marches on, I am having to give up more and more. That discourages and frustrates me. But I am coming to realize something….
God still promises, and wants for me…and you…abundant life.
Not only for eternity, but also a better quality of life here on earth. Not necessarily a life filled with bigger and better “things”. Definitely not a life without struggles and trials. But a life of abundance in Him. Through Him we see things differently. We have a deeper enjoyment of, and appreciation for life.
So maybe, just maybe, I have not been able to receive the abundance He’s had for me now, because I have no more capacity to receive it. I’m so full of “stuff”. Stuff like…
The desire to do things the way I’ve always done them;
- to have friends over and entertain…”like I used to do”.
- to be more organized, disciplined and scheduled…”like I used to be”.
- to be active in ministry…”like I used to be”
- to take and play with my grandchildren more than I’m physically able to do.
If I am so full of “used to be’s” and “want to be’s”, there is no room to receive anything new! I may have given up a lot…but I realized I have neglected to let go of it all. I keep hanging on, longing to have the health and energy to do all those “used to’s”. I’m pretty sure I have been missing out on some sparkling new things that God has waiting for me, because I need to let go of a bunch of old stuff…turn away from it…and turn to something new. Only then will I continue to grow.
“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
God wants us to enjoy the life He has given to us, and I want to fully enjoy this season of life He has placed me in. In doing so, I believe I will honor Him. It is spring here in North Carolina, with its clear blue skies, sun shining, and birds singing. In kind, there are days I feel well and can function almost normally and enjoy life. Then there are days of wind and rain and gray skies. Likewise, days of fatigue, pain, and brain fog where nothing gets accomplished. That makes consistency difficult, in writing or anything else. Many days are in between the extremes. Each and every one is a gift from God. I want to embrace each one…no matter how it may look…with a thankful heart.
So here is where I’m asking for your feedback…just like we’re sitting down having a cup of coffee together. If you are living with a chronic illness or any other disease that has changed the trajectory of your life the way you pictured it, please share in the comment section to encourage and help one another….
- What are some practical things that help you cope with it on a daily basis?
- What are some practical ways you have learned to live within your limitations without being discouraged by them?
- Time in God’s word and in prayer changes us…changes our perspective. How has God changed your perspective in your journey and / or what is a favorite Bible verse that you have clung to?
- If you have a prayer request, leave that in the comments as well and I would be honored to remember you in prayer.
I look forward to reading your thoughts. Remember, your comments can encourage others, as well as me!
This post is much longer than usual, as well as the kind I really don’t like to write. But it is part of this season I am in. We all need to know that when life gets difficult, we are not alone. God is with us first, and knows our every need. He also gives us “each other” to support and encourage one another.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by. I appreciate you! As always, if you know anyone that may benefit from this post, please share.
Still gazing toward the Son…He is our Hope.