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

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)!

When You Feel Lonely

As September unfolds and brings a new season, and the chill of Autumn begins to touch our towns,

I hope you find yourself warmed by the sweet embrace of loving company.

And if your days feel cold with loneliness and isolation, I pray that you will nestle into hope.

I hope you find a moment of courage to lift your eyes and your heart just a little higher, in order that you may see the loving heart of our Lord, outstretched for you.

I hope you’re reminded that our lonely times aren’t really barrenempty, untouched times but pruned ones.

I hope you’re reminded that there is a coming Love more abundant than any we can imagine,

A Home where He will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4).

If we can lift our eyes and our hearts a little higher than our hurts, even for just a moment, and look into the face of our Savior, we can trust He will comfort us with His mercy and teach us of His harvest.

Our gracious Savior is with us, Our God who places the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6).

I pray you will let Him draw near and whisper healing truth into your aching heart.

There’s so much joy ahead, friends. There’s so much joy around.

I hope this Fall season leaves you with little reminders of how all seasons will be redeemed;

I hope you let your worries fall away like the leaves of the trees.

You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. ~John 16:20-22