I’ve battled chronic illness for 3 consistent years now (though I first started experiencing problems more like eight years ago). This journey has been incredibly difficult, painful and exhausting.
But I wouldn’t trade it.
Life is hard.
SO STINKING HARD.
But it’s precious and it’s worth it.
Over the duration of my war on illness, I’ve learned somethings about myself. In the grand scheme of things, these are the thoughts that get me through what I’m facing. I’m sharing them in hopes that they might help you, too.
These are in no particular order.. unless you count the random progression of my thoughts as an order. Basically I’m disclaimering that they’re all important life realizations.
#1- This can’t kill me, so I can beat it.
Illness is soooooo scary. When you’re fading to black on a bright day, lying in bed with absolutely zero ability to lift your head, or puking your guts out into a toilet bowl (shout out to listerine!), it’s easy to think the end must be near. But here’s the God honest truth: it hasn’t killed you yet, and according to the doctors it 99% probably most likely won’t. If it can’t kill you, then you can definitely beat it. You can get better or learn to thrive whilst not being better. In any case: there is hope. Remind yourself of it.
#2 – I am stronger when I rely on Christ.
When I first started battling illness I was extremely depressed. I was so depressed that I started being okay with being depressed (only depressed people will get that). Depression was almost like a blankie that kept me safe: as long as I was miserable about life, life couldn’t bother me when it worsened.
But here’s the thing: Jesus wants us to have joy in our trials (which is something I fail at being consistent in). So much so that He wants us to consider trials joyful things!
Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. -James 1:2-4
Trials are a joyful thing because they grow our strength and ability to endure life. Which is a strange thought..
There isn’t a cure for FMS, but someday there may be one. Better yet! Maybe God will heal me. But I have to endure to get that point! And the one thing I know is that Christ will give me the strength to endure anything that happens in my life: all I have to do is just ask.
#3 – It’s okay to cry.
I hate crying. Ugh. It makes me feel weak and powerless and pitiful. But lately I’ve been doing a lot of it (exhibit a), and I have to be okay with that. Crying is just another method for the body to release stress and overwhelming emotion. It stinks because it makes your face all puffy and your eyes terribly bloodshot, but a good cry will make anyone feel better. Why else do girls choose the saddest of the sad movies to watch on their monthlies (sorry for the TMI, gents)? If all you need to do is cry, so you can vent that upset-ness out of your system, then tell yourself it’s okay and by golly-goodness, cry.
Still feeling guilty about it? Well here: the Bible says to weep!
There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven…… a time to weep and a time to laugh. -Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 4
#4 – I can do without.
I’m trying to learn to say no, to both experiences and stuff. Primarily stuff, which is a huge stressor on my mind. Sometimes we just can’t do as much as we’d like to. I can’t travel more than once a month of I’m completely and utterly dead (but alive). I can’t eat all the delightful foods that happen to cross my path. I just can’t. And that’s okay. I don’t need to. I can be happy without all the extras in life.
In fact, having less frees me to focus on what I actually want. Doing without makes doing with that much more special.
#5 – Life is a gift.
We all take life for granted. No matter how rough it is, someone has it worse. No matter how great it is, someone has it better. But for each and every one of us, life is a gift that we need to appreciate. At the risk of being cliché, I’ll remind you that there are countless people who do not wake up in the morning, who do not survive infancy, who do not survive their stay in the womb.
We did. So let’s be thankful for it.
And if you’re having a hard time thanking God for what you’ve got, it never hurts to be reminded that there are many with literally nothing.
In the end, it all boils down to this thing that I told a friend who interviewed me about FMS:
I keep fighting because in spite of my body telling me no, I still have eyes that want to see the world, a heart that wants to love people and ears that want to hear the Word. That’s all I need. Who cares if the rest of my body is broken?
What mantras do you repeat to get through the day?