The Complexity of Chronic Illness
Imagine trying to live your life as normally as possible between daily life and death struggles. Imagine you’re the spouse with complex medical symptoms just trying not to be a burden and feeling overridden by complex feelings of guilt and shame. Imagine you’re the other partner trying to hold it all together while maintaining employment, trying to be a good husband, a father, and whatever else might be demanded of you. Imagine trying to console the mental, physical, and emotional needs of your kids as you’re trying to hold yourself together.
You can start to feel very lonely. That’s been my life.
I am not complaining. Every day I wake up and thank God that I have a family, a wonderful wife, and two amazing daughters. I also wake up every day praying that today my family would be free of yesterday’s conflict. I know my prayers aren’t falling on deaf ears, I also know that God isn’t indifferent to my pain. Talking to God in my prayers doesn’t always change my circumstances, but it seems to change me. That’ll do.
Life doesn’t always go the way you planned it. People get sick, and people die….every day. Somedays you wonder where you’re going to get the energy to face the inevitable challenges a new day brings.
Apart from dealing with your own chronic anxiety, symptoms of PTSD, or anticipatory grief...life can leave you feeling exhausted and lonely.
I know that I hide my pain really well. I don’t usually give it voice in my life or relationships. Have you ever started sharing your struggle with a person and then watch them literally check out on you? There aren’t many listeners out there who are willing to hear you, unless a paycheck is involved. Paying someone for their empathy and psychological insight doesn’t appeal to me. I’ve done that to many times already.
How long can a person live this way? How do you hold a marriage together when it’s under so much strain and stress? How do you instill hope in your kids when you struggle to find it within yourself?
As complex as everything has become in my life over the last three years, I choose to follow the teachings and the wisdom of Christ. The Beatitudes have been a true blessing to me.
3 “What wealth is offered to you when you feel your spiritual poverty! For there is no charge to enter the realm of heaven’s kingdom. 4 What delight comes to you when you wait upon the Lord! For you will find what you long for. 5 What blessing comes to you when gentleness lives in you! For you will inherit the earth. 6 How enriched you are when you crave righteousness! For you will be surrounded with fruitfulness. 7 How satisfied you are when you demonstrate tender mercy! For tender mercy will be demonstrated to you. 8 What bliss you experience when your heart is pure! For then your eyes will open to see more and more of God. 9 How blessed you are when you make peace! For then you will be recognized as a true child of God. 10 How enriched you are when you bear the wounds of being persecuted for doing what is right! For that is when you experience the realm of heaven’s kingdom. 11 How ecstatic you can be when people insult and persecute you and speak all kinds of cruel lies about you because of your love for me! 12 So leap for joy—since your heavenly reward is great. For you are being rejected the same way the prophets were before you.”
Waiting upon the Lord has helped me to develop patience and perseverance. It helps me to quiet my mind and to encounter His love for me on His terms, not mine. When I am able to look at my life through the eyes of Christ, my entire outlook changes. I go from feeling hopeless and despondent to hopeful and grateful.
I hope you can follow my tangential train of random and abstract thoughts. Thank you again for your prayers.
Much love to you from a Dusty Disciple,
Pastor Jeremy E.