Spring peeked its head out to see if it was time to play this past week and decided that it was. The weather has been lovely but to be honest, I have only experienced it walking to the pharmacy or opening the windows of my apartment. Though I managed to make it through the winter completely unscathed when it came to illness, within the last month, I was sick twice. This last time (which I am still recovering from) took my voice completely for two full days. I felt like Ariel or a cool singer who was on vocal rest. I vacillated between pretending to be both and finally gave in and called the doctor.
Not feeling well is not a fun thing, not by any means. If for some reason I am not around this space, you can safely assume, unless there is a family emergency, that it is related to my health. Most of you probably do not know that I live every day with a chronic illness and while that does affect my every day, that is my reality, the truth I live with and it’s okay. Though it flairs up worse now and again, I have to tell everyone the truth of the matter: we are not promised health.
Health is a privilege, not a right. I learned this in the summer of 2008 when I had my first and last seizure in Rome, Italy. This event would set off an illness no one ever planned for me to have because who plans to have a chronic illness? Show me a pair of parents that ask for such a thing for their child. But it happened.
I never raged against it. Even now, my closest family and friends would tell you I was never angry at God. This is not a humble brag or bragging at all. It was totally the Holy Spirit at work within me in every way and this continues to be true even now. Whatever it was that stole my voice this week reminded me once again exactly how not entitled we are when it comes to our health. It’s a privilege that we each have to do everything we can to nurture (sometimes I am much better at this than others).
This is not to say that because health is not promised to us, illness is easy. It isn’t. But I cannot complain. Not when I see my aunt living with cancer. Sometimes, though I am not proud of it, when I see people complain consistently about their health, it makes me angry and this is mostly due to my aunt.
I want to say to people like that: you are not dying! Count your blessings! But I do not do this because in the end, I do know that living with a chronic illness is nothing if not challenging and navigating it emotionally can be even more difficult. It’s also nothing if not humbling. It’s not my place to judge. I pray for the empathy for the people who consistently complain. And then I talk with my aunt. I hear her struggles about the cancer that she lives with every single day. She would do anything to have a chronic illness instead of a terminal one.
Three times, Paul asked God to remove the thorn from his side. God did not remove the thorn. Instead, God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (read 2 Corinthians 11 and 12)
I have hung on to that verse since 2008, clinging to it during the worst of times, and even the best of times. If you met me, if we had dinner, you might never know that I live with a chronic illness unless I told you. A lot of that is my own pride. Asking for help continues to be the hardest thing for me. But the pain is there all the time. It’s this fine line for me. I do not want to be my illness. I refuse to allow it to define me. And yet their are boundaries in my life because of it, that I have to respect in order to feel my version of “good.” I don’t talk about it here, rarely if ever. I’m making an exception today because losing my voice and feeling so nasty on top of the normal every day ways I feel pain, reminded me again that His power is made perfect in my weakness.
I missed you guys and wanted to touch base. (What’s new? Fill me in! Let me know how I can be praying for you!) This was the only thing I could think to talk about (it’s Sunday evening) and hopefully when this is published I am closer to my body’s version of 100%.
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