Another Side of Growth {Through Chronic Illness}

This week, I’ve happened across two posts from some very sweet bloggers, Kaylie and Kelly. Although the content of their posts were not meant to be connected, they came together as one very tender thought deep in my heart. Kaylie shared a powerful yet graceful call to people in their twenties to live intentionally. Kelly shared a tender confession via vlog of how painful it is to be chronically ill and unable to live out ambitions, laced with beautiful hope that our worth is so much more than our productivity. In their contrast, one ached over the burden of able-bodied young men and women who live immaturely and wastefully, and one ached over the burden of physically incapable young men and women who are spiritually and emotionally mature as well as very driven, but physically limited. Their words stirred up the question so familiar to anyone young with a severe chronic illness, “Why is it that we cannot do what we’d love to do, yet others waste the energy we would so dearly treasure?” There’s so many sayings out there that tell me others have faced similar questions. “Life is not fair”, an expression that can be both cold or caring depending on the tone. “Life is not a wish-granting factory”, Augustus Waters painfully says in The Fault in our Stars. And we know these things to be true, but they do not satisfy the aching question deep within. As I pondered the question, opening my heart to Christ’s companionship through the aching, a simplicity washed over my heart reminding me of what it truly means to grow, mature, and live independently — something truly nourishing to reflect on.

The truth is, we have so many opportunities to grow into adulthood, even with the physical limitations and tremendous pain. Some of the most important parts of being an adult are the things that come within. It’s the drive that matters, at the end of the day. Anyone of reasonable age can accomplish physical tasks. It’s something that can be done almost automatically. But truly growing into an adult, embracing the person you are, and living intentionally — that’s something that takes work. And the good news is, it’s work that we can do!

Quite a few things spilled into my mind last night. The more I thought about it, the more that kept flooding in! Continue reading

10 Spoonie-Themed Gifts for The Holiday Season

I thought I’d put together a little something for those of you who are shopping for a spoonie this holiday season (or those of you who want to treat yourself to a little spoonie something!) It’s all in good fun! Here are a few spoonie themed gifts I’ve stumbled across 🙂

P.S. If you are wondering what the term “spoonie” means or where it came from, please check out “The Spoon Theory”

Continue reading

When You Need A Little Courage to Share Your Struggles

I hope this week you are touched by the freedom of being honest about your struggles,

And feel the value in sharing your heart and all its beauty, vulnerability, and authenticity.

I hope your openness is met with genuine comfort, support, and acceptance from those dearest to you,

And you are offered listening ears and open arms and that your heart is greeted with the soft but powerful whisper,

“Your story is significant.”

I hope that whisper casts a ripple effect that reaches each part of your being, refreshing it with the truth of your worth.

I hope you feel no shame in your pain,

But feel the triumph of grace overwhelm even the shadowiest valleys of your soul.

For you may walk through the valley with no fear of danger, for He is with you.

I hope you find relief from the burden you’re carrying, and feel how honesty alleviates suffering.

Sometimes all it takes is a listening ear.

I pray we find the courage to be open, and the grace to meet others with the same compassion we wish for in return.

“For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones.” ~Isaiah 49:13

When You Feel Like You Can’t Make A Decision

When you feel overwhelmed by simple decisions,

When you can’t make up your mind on even the tiniest of troubles,

When the clock ticks and the minutes pass and you’re still no closer to a decision,

May you feel His gentle peace calm your soul.

May you understand your body’s message that it is exhausted and in pain with so little energy to spare for mental activity like decisions.

May you know there isn’t a harsh consequence to that.

May you take a step back and give yourself a calm space to recollect your thoughts.

Make you take time to breathe deeply to nourish your body with fresh air and sweet grace.

May you take time to rest to recuperate.

May you take the pressure off.

May you feel no shame in asking for help.

If the tears well in your eyes, let them roll down your cheeks.

It’s okay to release.

Just know that there is hope to light the darkness, there is peace to calm the raging fear, and their is grace to redeem each moment.

Rest well, sweet friend.

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!)

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.

Welcome, friends!

It has been on my heart for quite some time to start a blog about chronic pain. Lately this idea has been tugging on my heart non-stop. It seems that I have been constantly presented with more and more people who are hurting, broken, and reaching out for hope despite the overwhelming option of despair. In my struggles and in the stories I’ve heard from my dearly loved friends, I’ve been reminded how rare Christ-like love is, and how much we are in need of it. In this generation, it seems more and more difficult to find self-sacrificial care, and it seems that many people are getting overlooked in their struggles because of it. In a world where illnesses are often misunderstood, and in a world very insensitive to the limitations of chronic illness, many patients find themselves feeling left out and overlooked. Those hurting need a place to feel God’s love, warmth, and peace. While I understand that is a magnificent task, if I can reveal even a sprinkle of His kindness through this blog, I would be humbled and thrilled beyond any possible description.

As I begin to write here, I’d love for you to know that with every post, I am aiming to meet you where you are and relate to your journey as well as share my own. These posts are here to encourage you to be honest about your story, even when it is most vulnerable to share. I hope that you will cozy up here as easily as you would in a nice, spacious couch with plenty of warm, fluffy blankets. I hope you will feel as soothed here as you are by a cup of herbal tea on a rainy day. I hope not only to write here myself, but to bring guest posts from my wonderful fellow-sufferers to expand the empathy and encouragement. It is therapeutic for me to write here, and I hope it is just as therapeutic for you to come here. So please, cozy in and know that you are welcome. Now, let us share our hearts on this journey!