Grief is not a tame emotion. It emerges at odd times, and there is often no rhyme or reason. What I thought was resolved, was not. Such is grief.
I didn’t want to be the sick mom, and I didn’t realize until recently that I already was. For years, I thought I merely had a bunch of weird “stuff,” and that I was fine. So I ignored my body, worked relentlessly, and never slowed my pace. Then my body knocked me flat.
A waterfall of catastrophes and years of hardship. An injury and two car accidents in 2011; mono and a family death in 2013. Together, these triggered my genetically-preprogrammed autoimmune disease. Typical scenario.
Because I kept going and pressed hard into my tasks, I didn’t recognize that my illness impacted my family negatively. Making a timeline for my diagnostic doctor was illuminating.
Recently, our youngest daughter reminisced about her childhood, recalling fun places we didn’t go and fun things we didn’t do. I’ve been sick and gradually worsening for nineteen years, the majority of her life. She is twenty-three.
- No road trips across the country to visit family.
- No camping trip to Yellowstone when we lived mere hours away.
- No trip to the upper peninsula since the first year here.
- Nothing that took us too far from indoor plumbing.
With all my energy, I strove to keep up the pace, to improve our lives, and to fulfill my responsibilities. I got things done! But, as she grew older, I grew sicker. I kept going, but the fun things weren’t possible as my energy vanished, and my body didn’t cooperate.
This breaks my heart. I’m grieving over her childhood, the impact on all six of our children’s lives, and my lost self, years eaten by the locusts of chronic illness.
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him'” (Lamentations 3:19-24).
God has not allowed us to be consumed. We love one another. We grow strong. He comforts me with this. I pray for His comfort for my family – all of them were impacted. I had no idea they were suffering because of me. No mother wants that.
I pushed myself so hard! But it wasn’t enough.
This is the fact I now face. My best efforts weren’t enough. Even when we’re healthy, they never are. We fall short. God’s grace must cover the disparity between what we wish we could be and what we are. All of us suffer, and all of us fall short. His compassion for our shortcomings is great comfort.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV).
I’m now trying to make sense of what I couldn’t recognize earlier. I’m not afraid. I can face the destruction, for the Father of compassion is with me, and He has promised to one day restore. Because the Lord upholds me, though I am weak, “I am a warrior” (Joel 3:10b). My eyes are on the not yet while still in the now.
One day, for all of His people, He will make it right.
We will be well and whole. He has promised.
I still have to chronicle everything for my doctors, but I’m living with more balance and care as God leads me. I’m “reconstructing and working through” my reality, learning to live more fully while sick, “accepting and hoping.” We’ve begun fun (carefully managed) adventures again. I’m learning to chronicle, but not fret.
I’m putting my grief in Jesus’ hands. He’s capable. He’s compassionate. I wait for Him. He is my comfort.
Encouragement: Hope When You Face More Than You Can Bear.