I have a lot of hard days. And I don’t like to talk about them. Dealing with weakness doesn’t come easy for me. I despise it. Despite knowing that my weaknesses turn me into a broken pot for God’s glory and work to shine through, it often still makes me feel like the crisped, curling edges of burnt paper on the inside. I can’t escape it. I’m not done untangling what this new chronic condition is going to be like. I don’t know what the new normal is going to be, but I’m going to have to figure it out.
One of the hardest parts about it is feeling alone. Feeling older in my body than I should be and not having too many souls in my circle that can relate to any of this. One of the leaders of my online writing group had an excellent post about it on her blog: What Sick People Wish Healthy People Knew. There was so much to relate to. She got a plethora of supportive comments. And one that made my skin crawl.
You said it; you are NOT going to get better. As long as you keep being negative, you will never. get. better…. You are your biggest enemy if you're negative about your health …. Try doing this: look at yourself in the mirror every day for two weeks. You need to tell yourself that you are healing and getting better. You need to tell yourself at least 3-4 affirmations a day. If you are too sick to do this, I feel really bad for you because you are trapped in your own misery.Just breathe. You can’t fix ignorance. You can’t gift empathy. You just have to feel sorry for someone like that as they squelch in their self-righteousness and hope that when they’re in need of grace, people around them will be far more giving than they were here.
The writer’s response was so smart and full of grace. I can only aspire to respond half that kindly. I’m still in the realm of – well, to be honest – I’m not going to write it out here because it’s that bad. But I’m working on it. Thank you for grace.
What wasn’t bad, in fact, what was overwhelmingly amazing, was the email I got from a new friend - another member of this online writing group. We met through the (in)courage community that I’ve enjoyed talking about here on my blog – home for the hearts of women – and have cheered each other on through Five Minute Fridays and other blog posts. We’re discovering we have a lot of things in common; chronic conditions being one of them. I reached out – a little tentatively – asking basically, “how do you do it?”
A hug, encouragement, a list, sprinkles of love, experience, grace, and prayer, traveled one thousand, six hundred, and seventy four miles over the Internet to land on my desk via Facebook and forced me to spin my chair around at work for a moment so no one would see the tears that threatened.
You have to have walked a path like this – anything where someone says, “I know what you’re going through,” and you know they really mean it, to know how very much this message meant. To hear someone else who shares my faith, my love of writing, and other things dear to my heart talk about understanding the daily pain, frustration with insurance companies, and that horrible feeling in the grocery store where you have to pull over to the side so an elderly shopper can get by you because you can barely walk? That is lifesaving.
Lifesaving is important. As is patience. With myself – and with those around me because I don’t seem to have any right now. And clinging willingly and desperately to a God who knows each pain and wound as if it were His own.
He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.Nothing soothes a battered soul like the calm of someone who has walked the path and truly understands. It’s one of the things that our trials and struggles do for us; teaching us compassion and empathy for others. The ones for whom we can come alongside. I hope that as I come to terms with this new normal, that I’ll be able to take my lessons and be that compassionate voice and shoulder for the next someone I meet who’s struggling with hardship.
Wherever we are today, it’s likely that we are the small percent of the world with more resources than most; more blessings than most; and more fortunate times than most. What can we do with all of that abundance? Whether it's something as simple as using our experience to come alongside someone who is hurting; who needs our compassion, or stretching to a grander scale and making an impact on our world, we can do it.
We can reach out.
One person at a time.
We can bring the healing.
We can be the miracle.
What will you do today?