Part 3 of a Three-Part series on Chronic Illness
My autoimmune disease is stripping me of airs, graces, and hubris. I used to feel professional, strong, and efficient. But now, no matter my outer appearance, I feel flattened by unrelenting fatigue. My daily life revolves around health maintenance, may include a nap, and must begin with Jesus.
Will my brain work today? I hope so. How long will I be able to concentrate? I don’t know. Will I meltdown with unfocused vision, migraine, and pain? I really hope not!
Before I got sick, I took my good health and high energy levels for granted. I was a perfectionistic high achiever whose sense of worth hinged on my productivity and reliability.
Now I am simply me, child of God, redeemed by Jesus, secure in him forever. What a relief! Jesus’s Spirit works the transformation!
I hail from pioneer stock, strong women from Oklahoma and Kansas who know how to get things done. Their lives and examples, particularly my maternal grandmother, prepared me to be the matriarch of a large family.
My mother is an organizer and achiever extraordinaire! I’ve never met anyone else like her. Her model has propelled me through life. Without her training, I doubt I could have successfully raised a large family or accomplished nearly three decades of homeschooling.
But now I’m learning the flip side. I’m turning a new direction.
All learning involves stumbles and back steps, clumsy forward progress, and falling flat. But I’m learning, faltering step by faltering step. My mistakes aren’t as catastrophic. My overstepping isn’t as frequent. My repentance is quicker.
I’m learning to step back from coordinating or otherwise having my way with family gatherings.
I’m learning to step away from my compunction to arrange or dictate.
I’m learning to release control and to simply enjoy my husband, children, and grandchildren.
I’m exhausted even thinking about trying to run the show or organize everything as was my former workaholic compulsion.
I’m learning at home and in my church.
My husband and I used to coordinate the small groups at our church. I wrote the bible study material for the adults and for the youth. I was also on the leadership team for the women’s ministry. I was a church lady. But my chronic illness made these tasks impossible.
In early 2014, after resigning from my duties, it irked me at first not knowing what was happening behind the scenes. Disgusted with my sinful self, I realized I liked being in control, important, and consulted. Yet this realization left me even more exhausted.
Aware of my brokenness, I repented. Who did I think I was anyway?
Then I realized what a gift the Lord has given me in allowing this illness.
What relief it brings!
I’m learning to pause, to loosen my grip, to sit back and breathe, to pray and believe.
I’m learning to trust family, service, and career into the Lord’s hands.
Confidently, my husband and adult children have taken over. Everything is much more fun and cooperative without a perfection-driven control freak making the plans. Imagine that!
Quickly, competent and capable men and women took my place at church. The church body flourished. My heart filled with joy at what God had done!
I now do what the Lord has given me to do. It’s such a relief to answer to the gentle Shepherd, rather than to my Taskmaster Self. It’s a blessing to step down from my role as hard-driven overcommitted Church Worker and into my role as Bride of Christ, cherished, seen, and nurtured by my Groom.
Having a chronic illness may be the best thing that ever happened to me!
I see more clearly God’s love for me, my worth in his eyes, the importance of the body of Christ, and the reality of my limitations. I’m enjoying my family more than ever.
Simultaneously, the Lord is opening doors and giving me the strength to write the fiction I love and to minister to the women in prison, whom I likewise love.
My heart is happy. I am truly blessed.
Might the One who works all things together for our good also be blessing you through your current suffering?
What do you think?