5 Things I’m Learning in a Relapse

1.) The objective is to nurture and care for body in its suffering, not to “fix” it

What I’m learning most of all is our need to be compassionate with ourselves. Our pains and illnesses are our body sharing with that there is something disruptive going on inside, and it hurts. We need to tend to that cry, not panic and desperately searching for ways to silence the pain immediately. It’s like a hurting friend who wants to share their burden with you. Sometimes they need you to listen and respond with love. Because much as we want to fix it, we often set expectations beyond our control, search tirelessly (or more accurately, tiring-ly!) for the right treatment plan and cure, and find ourselves hurt and disappointed when that treatment plan doesn’t completely restore us to a state of complete balance and restoration. We end us putting more stress on ourselves than we had before rather than taking care of ourselves and keeping on our attention on how to soothe, restore, and heal our bodies. And sometimes, we even believe the lie that there’s something wrong with us as people rather than seeing ourselves as a whole people who are suffering with something out of their control. The objective is never to give up, or to stop trying new things, but to nurture, care for, and gently uplift the body rather than mute the pain.

2.) Rest is productive

This is a big lesson for a little sentence. How can we rest when we feel that little voice telling us that we should be doing something, working on something, achieving something? I’m learning that sometimes all it takes is a deep breath and the voice of love to respond with a plain and simple, “Rest is productive”. Oh, it is well with our souls. When our bodies and our minds are exhausted, swimming in pain, and just can’t find the strength to “do” something, pushing it our of pride will only deteriorate our wellness and set us back even farther. Rest is productive. Rest restores us. Rest replenishes us. Rest gives us a break from the hurry and the lies of success and reminds us of what it truly means. Rest lets us recuperate so we can be of true service rather than pouring out a watered down and weary version of our love and light. Rest gives us a break from the noise of who we should be so we can be refreshed again and reminded of who we truly are. And rest, my friends, rest is sometimes the bravest thing you can do, because rest is faith that life can be beautiful and dreams can come true right here, without striving to be someone or somewhere else.

3.) Reflect on and celebrate improvements, even the tiniest of them

This lesson is a fun one! How sweet it is to stop and celebrate the tiny steps forward and see how far they’ve brought us. It can be easy to look ahead, seeing how far we have to go or all the places we wish to someday be, but oh, how very important it is that we stop and reflect on all the wonder and love and recovery happening right here, right now.

4.) Everyone has a breaking point

It’s easy to think we “should” be able to handle more. It’s easy to be hard on ourselves or begin to grieve when we feel old symptoms resurfacing, have an emotional breakdown, find ourselves in an unpleasant mood, or return to a bad habit long conquered. But the truth is, we all have a limit to what we can take, and we all have a breaking point. It’s part of being human. We can only be pushed so far, and the perfect combination of stress can deplete absolutely anyone, sick or well. We all have a breaking point, a point where our bodies crash on us and can take no more. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but certainly something to be tended to. It’s our bodies’ way of letting us know it needs some serious rest and recovery!

5.) Listen to your body lovingly

I think this last little lesson wraps the rest of them up. Listening to our bodies is key. Our symptoms will only get louder and louder until we listen to them, and we surely must do it with love and with a message of hope.

 

I hope these little lessons sit well with your soul if you, too, are in a harder time with your illness. Please feel free to comment and let me know what lessons you’re learning (or have learned)!

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Week 5: Your Hopes, Your Dreams, And Your Life Still Hold Purpose, Value, And Meaning

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.
He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

~Psalm 37:5-6

One of the most beautiful and remarkable things about hopes, dreams, and purposes is that they are so much more than a blossoming future, they have their roots secured in our present life. Often times when we look at our dreams, we see the blissfully blooming flowers of all we desire most. We see our plans, our expectations, our wishes and wants. But beneath those precious dreams are something deeper, sturdier, and stronger; our passion. If we think of a dream like a flower, we could imagine that the petals are our hopeful outcome, and the roots are what they grow and stem from. Or, maybe you could think of your dreams as the moon, and your passion as the sun; brilliantly illuminating it. Our passion is what gives life to our dreams. The exciting thing about passion rooting our dreams is that it means even if our dreams look a little different than we expected when they bloom, they still grew from our authentic, open hearts. If we can get to the root of our dreams, we’ll learn a lot about ourselves and may even come up with some new ideas on how to live out these callings in our hearts without over-extending our energy and burning out along the way.

When we get to the root of our desires, we can embrace creativity, expression, and ministry. In order to do this, we have to be willing to simplify and look at our goals more like a journey than a race. When we revisit our passion, we can channel it in new ways that move us closer to our dreams (and maybe even find some new dreams along the way). Here’s a few examples of how simplifying may look.

Maybe your dream is to be a counselor, but what’s really rooting it is your love of listening to others and offering them your empathy and support. Maybe being a counselor isn’t within your energy range right now, but hosting a small support group (in person or online) for chronically ill people is.

Maybe your dream is to have a family, and what’s really rooting that is your desire to love and care for others deeply and consistently. Maybe you aren’t well enough to nurture a child at this point in time, but maybe you are well enough to adopt an animal from your local animal shelter. Maybe you’re well enough to care for an animal that doesn’t need as much attention as a child but still needs a warm and loving home. Or, maybe you’re able to sponsor a child. Maybe you can help provide expenses for a child that needs financial stability in order to thrive.

Maybe your dream is to doing missions work in areas of poverty, and what’s truly rooting that is your desire to care for the broken and hurting in the world. Maybe you are not well enough to travel far and serve, but maybe you are well enough to join a prayer team or fund-raise for a charity or cause that’s important to you.

It can be hurtful to release dreams that are so dear to our hearts, but the truth is, there are so many ways that we can live out our unique purpose in life. We simply have to be willing to let go of forcing our dreams to look a certain way, and allow them to bud and blossom in God’s way and time. They will. And they never stop growing! If God has called you to a specific ministry, He will always provide a way to fulfill it, and many times our current circumstances are preparing us for our future ministry. If we are open and willing to learn, He will fill us deeply and guide us with love and intention.

Week 4: It’s Okay to Rest; It’s Okay to Need Care

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. ~1 Peter 5:7

In her book, “You’re Already Amazing”, Holley Gerth dedicates a chapter to why it’s okay for us to care for ourselves. She gives us permission to release the lie that “it’s selfish to care for ourselves” and instead, guides us to the truth that we need to care for ourselves so that we have the inner resources to care for those around us. She gives us the imagery of an “emotional bank account” and talks about how it’s so important to balance our deposits and withdrawals. I find her simple explanation so refreshing. It clicks in the way that lights up the eyes and an understanding “ohhhh!” escapes the lips (or, the more comical light-bulb flicking on above the head). When I took time to reflect on this, I noticed just how out of sync my “balance” was, and I fear that you may find the same. It is so easy to overextend our energy balance when each movement costs us valuable energy, but in a way, it is such a powerful little reminder about prioritizing, simplifying, and accepting the here and now so we can return to a state of balance.

I believe, with such joy, that spending time with Christ with an open heart and surrendered spirit leads to us finding true balance. He’s the God of radiant redemption. It’s time to let Him gently take off our masks that say, “I’m fine” and “I should be able to do more”, to let Him lovingly draw near to us and intimately look into the face of His child. Let Him see your authentic soul, He longs to. He knows you need care, and He isn’t disappointed. There is no shame in Christ. No guilt, no earning, no striving, and no condemnation. Especially not for the weak, for it’s the weak He came to rescue (Mark 2:17). We believe many lies that steal our rest and joy, and I believe this deeply saddens our Lord. Our all-loving Jesus knows just how to cleanse us from these lies. He knows how to help us see that it’s not selfish to rest (Matthew 11:28). He knows we don’t need to “do more” because He has already accomplished the true victory (Romans 5:6). He knows how to help us stop striving to please others so vigorously that it leaves us empty (Galatians 1:10-11), and He knows how to fill us up again (John 16:26). He knows how to remove our doubts, insecurities, and anxieties and replace them with peace (John 14:27). And the most beautiful thing He knows how to do is simply to care for you (Luke 12:6-7). I pray that you will let speak truth into your life and spread peace throughout your soul.

{If you’d like to read the original post 5 Truths Your Heart Needs to be Reminded, please click here!)

Week Three: Your Illness is Not Your Fault

A few years ago, I came across a prayer blog for a captivating little girl named Daisy. Simply looking at her freckly little face instantly revealed what a bubbly, intelligent, unique soul was dancing around inside of her. It took one peak at a post about her to fall in love with that sweet little kindergartener. Heart warmed, spirits lifted, mind refreshed.

With great sorrow but even greater faith, her family shared that Daisy had been diagnosed with cancer. They shared updates about her grueling battles with the illness, along with very cheerful and touching stories about her life and vivacious personality; a personality as charming as they come! If Daisy’s life could speak for itself, I imagine it would speak with bravery and tenderness as it said, “Cancer is horrible, but life isn’t.”

Just a few days after Daisy was first diagnosed with cancer, her father gave a sermon at his home church entitled, “When My Heart Is Overwhelmed.”  This was the first time I had heard Britt Merrick speak, and it touched me in a way that I haven’t been able to forget since that day. He said many things in that sermon, but I felt one of the most powerful and influential things was this:

I will tell you that it takes more faith to endure Christ not healing your daughter than it does to see Him heal your daughter.

This is a truth that I pray warms and ignites in your heart in a way that changes your blame forever. Illness is not a punishment for a lack of faith. Illness brings an endurance, courage, hope, and belief in Christ that far extends the kind of faith that is only present when things are going okay. It surpasses that faith in lavish ways. When you face agonizing circumstances, God is not turning His back on you. God is reaching His hand and His pure heart out to you.

It heavies my heart to share that this year, Daisy passed away. Her family shared her memorial service on their blog, and it was a service of such deep faith and celebration of God that I cannot speak of it without tears of admiration. Daisy’s mother, Kate, walked onto the stage full of daisies with tears and courage both filling her eyes and shared words that I have held deeply in my heart ever since. She said that “Daisy’s faith in God was like a covenant, not a contract.” These words captivate me. A covenant faith; a faith based on promise rather than circumstance. This is what our illnesses give us an opportunity for, the opportunity to grow with God in a way that isn’t shaken by the sorrows of the world, but endures all things safely wrapped in His embrace.

I pray that this story will help you see that illness doesn’t fall upon us because we’re unworthy of good health. Illness touches the hearts and lives of people without consideration of what they believe or how they’ll handle it. Illness comes, and it breaks, and it steals, and it overwhelms, and it even kills, but it does not punish. We are under grace, and filled with it as well. Our gracious God doesn’t strike us down, but lifts us up. I pray that you will accept this bold truth, and let it dissolve the lies you’ve been pierced with for too long.

Your illness is not your fault.

{If you’d like to read the original post 5 Truths Your Heart Needs to be Reminded, please click here!)

Week Two: Your Pain is Significant

As we wake in the morning, open our eyes to the sunshine peaking through the cracks of the blinds, and are embraced by a fresh new day, it doesn’t take long for pain to slip in. You may awaken beaming with hope and feel your soul dancing with joy, but somehow, pain still creeps into the shadows. There are so very many ways it can. Maybe it’s aches all over your body, crashing as strongly today as they did the day before. Or maybe it’s the tender wounds that a broken relationship inflicted on your heart. Perhaps it’s the loneliness in the midst of a loss you haven’t been able to fill. If none of these things, perhaps what you feel is the exhaustion of being downtrodden by emotions that you’ve battled day in and day out–feeling oppressed by their weight and conquered by their power. No matter what you feel or how deeply it’s affected your heart, these pains are so very real, and they matter. These pains may have stolen your gaze and slipped lies into your heart. They may have taken the serenity of the morning and twisted it into the sorrow of mourning. There is such a vast sea of sorrow, and yet, every drop of it matters.

These words may look like a small statement to offer such a big wound; somewhat like a band-aid offered to a life-threatening wound. But please don’t let the simplicity of this statement fool you; these words have a great power to them. Neatly packed within that statement are two beautiful, strong, soothing, and inspiring truths. Will you take a closer look with me as we unpack them, one by one?

The first garment of truth is comforting and cozy and just what it sounds like: your pain is noticed; your pain matters. You may have grown used to your pain. You may have accepted it as a companion, even though you’ve longed to be freed from it. But there is still hope, and there is still peace, and there is still freedom for each and every one of your wounds. Your pain matters. If you’ve felt it for an hour or you’ve felt it for many years, it’s still a terrible pain that you do not have to simply adjust to and overlook. It matters. You don’t have to hide it or push through it. You can show your heart, your wounds, your tears, and your desire for restoration. You do not have to be ashamed; not ashamed in front of God or in front of me, because we both understand what pain feels like.

In Psalm 56, as David cries out to God, he shares a verse that roots the truth that our pain is significant. He says:

You keep track of all my sorrows.
    You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
    You have recorded each one in your book.

God pays special attention to us. He sees your tears, your sorrows, your pain, your worries, your doubts, and all those broken pieces you’re trying to put back together. He doesn’t simply see them, but comes along side you and offers His comfort, understanding, and redemption. This means that He knows not only the wounds, but how to heal them, and how to protect you from worsening them. As we open our precious Bibles, we are introduced to a God who was involved with and empathetic toward His children in every pain and sorrow. He’s a rescuer and a comforter. Please allow Him to come along side you, to cleanse your wounds and tenderly wipe the tears away from your eyes. Allow Him to tell you that He has a plan and a purpose for you, and you don’t have to hopelessly endure pain. He is with you. Allow Him to talk to you about your pain and to bring you His rest. He longs to be near you and share this burden with you. He doesn’t want you to try to bear this on your own; He longs to be your faithful companion.

The second garment of truth is bold and graceful and has deep meaning. This truth is that your pain has purpose. Pain itself is a terrible, awful, and entirely dreadful thing, but we learn a great deal from it. It isn’t the pain itself that is so significant as what it teaches us and how we let it form us. It’s not the fact that we need pain, but that we need the lessons that pain sobers us to. Pain reveals a divine hope that is independent of earthly comfort. When we let go of earthly safety nets, here are a few of the lessons and virtues we learn and grow in: gratitude, mercy, empathy, true friendship and companionship, patience, endurance, healing, hope, redemption, compassion, appreciation, depth, deliverance, purpose, joy, faith.

If you’re stuck in the midst of sorrow, wondering how pain and heartache can shape your heart and soul into something more beautiful than it was before this grief every touched you, let me remind you of how sweet little snowflakes are formed. As the rain falls down from the sky–that gloomy, formless rain slipping from grey clouds–the bitter air touches it. The bitterness stills each and every motion of that falling drop of water. The drop stretches and falls and the bitterness freezes its every motion into a masterpiece. And that’s certainly what a snowflake is, a piece of irreplaceable art that is tiny in size yet immense in God’s craftsmanship. And these lovely snowflakes are never the same, but always unique. The form, the artistry, the beauty, and the unique design of every little snowflake is a direct result of the bitterness it came through to fall upon your shoulder, stick to your coat, and bring a smile to your face.

So take heart, and be courageous, because God even redeems the rain. And as the sweet, beautiful snow reflects the sunlight, so His love shines upon us.

{If you’d like to read the original post 5 Truths Your Heart Needs to be Reminded, please click here!)

Week One: You Are Not Alone in Your Illness

I was so touched by the opportunity to connect with some of you through my post, 5 Truths Your Heart Needs to be Reminded. Your kind words and inspirational stories were so moving. Since there was such a meaningful response, I decided to dig deeper into that post and share more with you. For the next few weeks, let’s take another look at why these truths are so significant. Please join me as we discuss one truth each week for the next few weeks! I look forward to sharing this journey with you 🙂

~Week One: You Are Not Alone in Your Illness~

John 16 that has been one of the most comforting Bible chapters for me in my pain. During this chapter, Jesus has been ministering to His disciples about the coming terror of His crucifixion, and preparing them for the overwhelming sorrow they will experience. But in the midst of that, He is promising them His authority to overcome even this horrific death, and reassuring them of the unshakable joy that will thrill their hearts when He returns for them. As I read His words, “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I feel hope ignite in my heart and peace soothe my soul. Though I’ve never seen His gentle face, I can vividly imagine the expressions upon it as He spoke. Empathy, hope, loyalty, humility, victory. After sharing His heart with them, offering them His peace, He says,

“But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.” (John 16:32)

These words have touched and resonated with my aching heart, and I imagine that they must with yours, too. Although we feel truth in this statement for a different reason, many of our hearts can still feel the sting of the pain. You have scattered, each one going your own way, leaving me alone. We have experienced heart-wrenching times of feeling abandoned during our illnesses. But it is not this part of the statement that is so bold, so powerful, so timelessly true as what Jesus says next.

But I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

I truly believe this is one of the greatest truths we can delight our hearts with. I believe this is one of the most powerful truths we can accept in our trials of illness. Let our hearts reflect and hold tightly to this truth. For we are designed to share relationships with other humans, but we are sustained by a relationship with God. Although fellowship delights us and thrills our soul, it is but a taste of what unity with Christ is.

So what does it mean that God is with you in your struggles?

It means that He understands the agony of the pain you are enduring, because He felt these very things.

It means that He hears the cries of your heart as you suffer and is there to soothe you with His peace.

It means He understands the warfare your body is immersed in and has designed a rescue plan for you.

It means that He came before you to conquer death before it could ever touch your precious existence.

It means He has counted each tear that has flowed from your beautiful eyes, and that He knows the day that He will wipe them away and bring you to His eternal sanctuary where there will be no more pain or sorrow or tears.

It means He holds the seeds of faith you have planted in Him and will blossom them into blessings more beautiful than an endless field of fresh flowers.

The sustaining truth of “God with us” is a firm promise that God is able to fill our hearts, minds, bodies and souls with a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). To feel the spirit of His joy dwelling in your heart, despite any circumstance, must be one of the most magical and refreshing feeling known to a believer’s heart. It is positively divine! It’s so awe-striking to be lifted from gloom and sorrow into the shining hope Christ illuminates into our souls.

There are moments when we cannot see or feel or even imagine hope, but it is still alive and active and ready to lift us out of these lonely places. God is ready to wrap you up in His loving kindness. Community exists, companionship exists, family exists, and there is hope for all of these even in the most grueling of illnesses. I cannot word it any more lovely than Jamie Tworkowski has in his vision statement for the movement To Write Love On Her Arms, so I will gratefully share his words with you:

We live in a difficult world, a broken world. We believe everyone can relate to pain, all of us live with questions, and all of us get stuck in moments. You need to know you’re not alone in the places you feel stuck.

We all wake to the human condition. We wake to mystery and beauty, but also to tragedy and loss. Millions of people live with problems of pain. Millions of homes are filled with questions—moments, and seasons, and cycles that come as thieves and aim to stay. We know pain is very real. It is our privilege to suggest that hope is real and help is real.

You need to know rescue is possible, freedom is possible, God is still in the business of redemption. We’re seeing it happen.

I pray that these words will encourage your heart and sit well with your soul. May you always remember that hope and love are your faithful companions, and you are not alone.

{If you’d like to read the original post 5 Truths Your Heart Needs to be Reminded, please click here!)

5 Truths Your Heart Needs to Be Reminded

There are so many truths we can lose sight of in the midst of our struggles. With all the challenges grabbing our attention and all the pain wearing us down, sometimes we need to be reminded of hope and wrapped in tender encouragement and mercy. Sometimes we need someone to come along side us with a warm look of compassion and let us know how significant our struggles truly are. I hope that these five little truths will do just that. I pray that they will touch your heart and sit well with your soul.

1. You are not alone in your suffering.

“The Lord will not reject his people;

he will not abandon his special possession.” ~Psalm 94:1

One of the most heart-wrenching tragedies of chronic illness is the way it leaves patients feeling lonely and misunderstood. Opening up about the struggles of chronic pain is something very difficult, and sometimes even uncomfortable to do. It takes much courage and support to be so vulnerable, open, and transparent about the weight of the suffering. Many of us are blessed to have family members and friends that do their best to understand our suffering, but even with their beautiful love and encouragement, there are still many others around us that do not understand what it means to face chronic illness. This is not because your feelings are invalid, it’s simply because those who haven’t experienced this level of pain themselves can sometimes find it challenging to relate to our struggles. They may be able to imagine or sympathize with the idea of deep pain, but they rarely understand the way it touches our lives. Relationships can be so warm, uplifting, and rewarding, but they can also be exhausting and discouraging if the other person doesn’t understand your pain. It’s because of this that I want to remind you that despite the overwhelming pain of being misunderstood, you are not alone. There is a community of other sufferers out there who understand exactly what it means to feel the way you do. They know that you are not crazy, and they can understand even the most eclectic rambles you can spill out about pain. Christ’s love is the root of this community, because unity is one of His creations. He longs for us to live in unity and harmony with others who are aching. Not only are we blessed with relationships with other sufferers, we are blessed with relationship with God Himself. The miracle of Christ’s life is that He is living, breathing, and eternal empathy. Not only does He care that you are in pain, but He understands exactly what it means to feel that pain. He knows physical pain, He knows emotional pain, and He knows what it means to be rejected and misunderstood. He knows better than anyone what it feels like to carry this burden. He knows what it means to be left alone in time of need; He knows what it means to speak the truth and have people accuse Him of blasphemy; He understands what it means to suffer so deeply that it brought Him to death. And more than that, He knows what it means to conquer that. If there’s anyone who can relate to the struggles that you’re facing, it is Christ. Please take refuge in the fact that He is right beside you. He understands your struggles. He struggled long before you ever did and built an empathy and victory that is completely unshakable and unchangeable. He is with you, and He knows the hearts of His children. He can connect you with others. He can bring forth light in even the darkest of places. He loves you, and so do the rest of us battling beside you. You are not alone.

2. Your pain is significant.

He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. ~Revelation 21:3-6
Many of us have built such a pain tolerance through these trials that we often grin and bear it rather than stopping to tend our wounds and admit how deeply afflicted we truly are. We try to push through life and accomplish goals as if we were healthy, and we end up running ourselves right into the ground. We try to do things we know we are not well enough to do, and we suffer so greatly after trying. But the truth is, your pain matters. It matters that you’re hurting, and you don’t have to function as if it’s shameful to admit you are suffering. This pain is grueling and it’s okay to admit that. You were not left alone in your pain and God understands your grievance over it. He knows that pain is not right. It is not part of His design for His people and that is why He created a rescue plan for us. He is the God of redemption. He longs to bring us back to Himself where He can give us full healing. We may not know if we will feel healing this side of heaven or the next, but we know that it is coming. This pain is not something that you have to accept as if it were okay, because it isn’t. Yes, we try our best to make the very best of our circumstances and live our lives with positive attitudes, but it is okay to have moments, days, or even prolonged times where we need the empathy, encouragement, and care of God and those around us. Your pain matters, and you do not have to live in denial of it.

3. Your illness is not your fault.

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”

“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” ~John 9:1-4

One of the most heartbreaking lies we can believe about our illnesses is that we are to blame for them. Whether you have blamed yourself or received blame from others, blame leaves very deep wounds. It grieves my heart terribly to know that many of you have felt guilt or responsibility over your illness. If you have believed that you are not healed because of a lack of faith, please know that you do not have to believe that any more. I offer you my deepest sorrow and wish I could give you my most caring hug. This illness is not a punishment from God. God absolutely cherishes you, and it deeply pains His heart to see you suffering in this fallen world. As I said before, suffering is not His will for mankind. A pastor I dearly respect once pointed out that illness itself may be a result of sin, but it is not a result of personal sin. In other words, illness exists because of the fallen nature of this world, not because you did something to deserve this burden. You are not being punished because of a defect in your faith. God is not withholding His healing touch because you don’t have “enough” faith. He is so full of mercy that He could never entertain such an evil thought. He told us the parable of the mustard seed in His teachings, and through that illustration we see how attentive He is to even the tiniest drops of faith. He knows you long to be healed, and He longs to bring that healing to you. Blame is completely opposite of the character of God. God is so genuine, gentle, caring, and kind. I know that it must break His heart to see us blaming ourselves for something that is completely out of our control. He has a rescue plan and you are a part of it. You are not left alone to battle this illness, and He will conquer it for you. Please do not believe that He wills for you to hurt; He cares more deeply than you can imagine. He loves you, and your illness is not your fault.

4. It’s okay to rest; it’s okay to need care.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. ~Matthew 11:28-29

Sometimes we feel guilty over resting. There are so many things we’d like to accomplish, so many things we need to take care of, and so many opportunities we’d love to explore. There are many things we need others to help us with that we wish could do for ourselves. With all of those things dancing around in our minds, we can find it hard to devote time simply to rest. But beyond our desire to do more is our need for healing. Our bodies are constantly burdened and strained under the weight of illness. We are carrying such heavy loads and sometimes, we need to take time to care for ourselves. It’s okay to accept help from your loved ones. It’s okay to need their support. It’s okay to need their care. It’s okay to need much longer periods of time to accomplish tasks than someone healthy. It’s okay to accept help. It’s okay that your life doesn’t look the same way as someone else your age. Your worth is not based upon your performance, but on your identity, and your identity is a dearly loved, precious son or daughter of God. It’s okay to rest in that truth.

5. Your hopes, your dreams, and your life still hold purpose, value, and meaning.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. ~Jeremiah 29:11-13

We have had to give up many things because of our illnesses. We have had to let go of many hopes and plans that we cherished. I am so sorry for your losses and your sorrows. I am so sorry for the days you have felt that your life has been stolen for you and that your dreams have been crushed. But the truth is, your hopes, your dreams, and your life still hold purpose, value, and meaning. Your dreams may not look exactly the way you had always pictured them to be, but that doesn’t mean they can’t exist. Sometimes we have to simplify, but that doesn’t mean we have to let go altogether. The truth is, many of our goals are external while what drives them is internal. You may be focused on a task, but that task comes from who you are as a person. As Holley Gerth said, “We have strengths and skills.” Strengths are the qualities that make you who you are, skills are what you do with those qualities. Who you are as a person is something very rare, beautiful, and special to this world. You can bring your gifts and talents out into the light and let them sparkle. They may not always look the way you thought they would, but you may be surprised at how much you have to offer the world. Who you are as a person has a vast sea of qualities and visions to pour out into the world in a way that has never been done before. Perhaps one of the greatest things we can do is see the root of our dreams and allow God to blossom them from there. We serve a God who is known for bringing hope, adventure, and redemption to unsuspecting places. It is His sheer delight to continue that in our lives today.