(This post was penned four years ago. I’d been sick for about fifteen months, and we still had no idea what was wrong with me. For all of you chronic illness sufferers, I am one of you. I know how you feel.)

They bundled up to head out for coffee and shopping. Huddled on the couch, I sat in comfy sweats, uninvited. Did I want to go? No. Not really. And everyone knows that. But at that moment loneliness, isolation, and sadness swept over me. I am no longer what I once was.

This past Thanksgiving holiday, the fact that I’ve been sick long enough that no one invited me along was cause for self-pity. Everyone knows I feel awful and probably don’t want to come, or that I’ll go merely to please the inviter and end up wiped out afterward. They don’t ask out of kindness, sparing me having to turn them down.

But, in that moment, I felt forgotten.

For me, self-pity is evidence that I’ve taken my eyes off Jesus and serving others and have turned my focus inward. When you feel awful most of the time, that’s a recipe for making yourself and everyone around you miserable.

And I did.

I kept pulling inward toward my dark thoughts, realizing my mistake, apologizing, and trying again. But I kept failing.

Failing for me doesn’t look like it used to, but the momentary selfishness, the resultant crying, the lack of desire to really attentively listen to someone who needed my ear was enough to make me acutely aware of how desperately I need to stay focused on Jesus.

I’m sure everyone in my family would agree.

Chronic illness is a very personal relationship issue between the sufferer and the Savior. The good he is working in my life through this is a hard lesson. My weak point has been and probably always will be prideful self-reliance. This illness strikes right at the root of that sin.

If I don’t rely on Jesus, we’re all sunk. I don’t want my family to live with a whining, self-pitying, martyr-like matriarch. For the sake of the people I love, for the sake of my soul, I must continue to praise, to trust, and to rely on the Lord.

How about you? Where are you this Christmas season? 

If you’re also struggling, this should soothe your heart. It did mine!