Thursday, May 23, 2013

How To Keep Going When Your World Turns Upside Down

Have you ever noticed that children know exactly
what to do when they are worn out?  Our grandson
came into go potty;  and then, he sacked out in the
bed, wet bathing suit and all.  I love this picture.

Do you ever have a week or two that seems to turn your safe little world around?  Your routine is upside down and your body is gasping for energy.  Your brain is working, but it has slowed down to a 20 minute lag.  Everything seems to be painfully slow, and you know you need to take life at an easier pace.

Even now after years of illness, I get these guilty,  nagging, little feelings when I don't do everything I consider to be my work, my calling, my responsibility.  Does this happen to you, and what do you do about it?  Are you backed into an "I have to do it corner", whether it is detrimental to your health or not?  I have been there, and I ended up getting more ill, because I have never liked giving in to my illness.  At least, that is how I saw it.  I had to be stronger than that.  If my body was not going to cooperate, then I would trust in will over matter.  

I am not saying that I stopped praying.  I still trusted in God, but I also thought I had to push through to be well and to please Him.  However, at that point, I chalked most of my problems up to my liver, depression, fibromyalgia, and gaining weight.  I did not realize that my thyroid was compromised and I had multiple things going on in my body that added up to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  Actually, now when I look back at the onset of my illness, probably most of my problems were Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, including the depression.  It took total collapse to finally find out what was wrong with me.

Some people think they are weak because they cannot get well or work through these diseases/syndromes.  I would like to suggest most people are stronger than they realize.
 They have hung on to life, trying to work  with bodies that fight their every effort to contribute to the lives of their family and community.  The people I know with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are not layabouts.  They are participators and leaders, who have fought to take care of their families, do their jobs, volunteer in their communities, and minister in and out of their churches.  Time after time, they have fought to push past their limits, because they are strong in spirit, and perhaps a little stubborn about giving into a inconvenient, pesky illness that is in the way of their duties.
Do you get tired of fighting, of trying to act well when you are ill, ill, ill?  Yes, I do too, but that is normal.   Is there a better way?  I think so, but I did not come to this frame of mind instantaneously.  And I have to admit to growing tired of the facts of my life, especially when it keeps me from so many things I consider important or enjoyable.  I have to look at my illness in the light of God's love for me, and His call on my life. 

In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul speaks of "a thorn in the flesh."  I recently read an excellent article in gotquestions?org.  What I have always believed about this passage was elaborated on in a fashion that I fully agree with.  It has always been my belief that even though God was fully able to heal Paul, He did not do so for a reason.  However, we do not know what this thorn in the flesh was.  It could have been disease, pain, his failing eyes, or a person.  We know that Paul endured the harsh elements of nature and stonings.  For all we know, his past could have been a psychological torment to him, even though He knew he had been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.  I agree with the answer I read in gotquestions?org.  We do not know what his torment was, because the generations following needed to know that there is a truth here for whatever our weaknesses are.

 In 2 Corinthians 12:8, we are told that Paul sought God to release him from this thorn in the flesh three times.  But God did not release him, so for all of you who believe God still heals and you think you  have not been faithful in believing strongly enough, let go of that thought.  Could God have another purpose in letting you suffer?  Could it be He has not answered this particular prayer for a reason?  Do you need to learn contentment?  I ask that, because that is one of the things I have learned.  

Be assured, I am not suggesting that God afflicts us with pain and disease.  I believe pain and disease is in this world, because it is a sinful and fallen world.  There are no men or women in this world that have not fallen short of God's glory.  Only Jesus is perfect, and He is the Son of God.

So why did God let Paul continue to suffer?   God said to him, My grace is sufficient for thee:  for my strength is made perfect in weakness (KJV, 1 Corinthians 12: 9a).   And what was Paul's reaction to that?  Read what he said, Most gladly will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me (KJV, 1 Cor. 12:9b).  So, is that a reason for living in contentment and knowing there can be a purpose in suffering?  Yes!  So why do we put ourselves down because our bodies are weak vessels?  Instead, why do we not look for a reason to live and rejoice in all things, even in suffering.

I know it sounds like a paradox.  Perhaps, it is.  However, I can tell you I have found my reason for living, and this it what keeps me going.  It has also kept me from the proverbial beating myself up that occurred, as I constantly battled the shoulds in life.  I always had shoulds that I thought were necessary to be the perfect wife and perfect daughter of God, not to mention the perfect daughter, student, teacher, mother, and grandmother.  Even though, I fully believe I am imperfect and only could come to Christ, believing in Him and the cleansing of his blood, because of his atonement for my sins -- even though I do not believe that I am saved through my works,  perfectionism was constantly a part of my striving.  It took being completely broken to the point I wanted to die, to be free of this;  and, I have continued to remember the foolishness and fallacy of perfectionism from that time forward.

Therefore, I no longer need to push myself to the point I cannot function.  If I do, it is not on purpose, but because I lost sight of how much energy I had to give.  Perhaps perfectionism, once it has been instilled in the brain since childhood, is also a thorn.  One has to tamp it down and deal with  it.  The thing I want you to know is that it is not wrong to rest, to take a day off,  to lie down in the bed because your body requires it.  A wonderful counselor told me that "resting is doing something."  I often have to remind myself of that, as my busy brain whirs around considering the intricacies of life and of course -- all the things that need to be done in my little corner of the world.  

I cannot even begin to tell you how long it took me to not feel like I was sinning, because I was a minister's wife that could not get up in the morning to go to church.  Never mind, that I felt like I had the flu everyday, and I could barely take a shower.  In fact, there are many days I have to skip the shower.  OK.  So I still have trouble with the church part, but I have tried to do things that I used to do, and I always end up back in the bed and the recliner.  If you don't agree with me, you are free to go to my facebook page and tell me why or comment here.  But I am through with comparing myself to other people.  I will tell you that in advance.  And if I think you say something contrary to God's word or you are unkind, I freely reserve the right to delete the comment.  Or, I might just tell you why I think you are right or wrong.

It was not my intention to be wordy here.  I am almost shocked I had so much to say about something I intended to be a short post.  But then again, I tend to be constantly amazed at my calling to write having come out of incubation from years of chronic illness and pain.  I rejoice in God, my Savior.  He is the completer of my soul, the comforter and Father that has been with me as long as I remember.  It is in Him that I am whole, even when my body is in broken pieces.  It is my prayer that you will know Him as the completer of your soul, for without Him, we are left to wander in confusion and loneliness.

For more information on how God will give your soul rest, click on this:  He Will Give You Rest.  For information on how God will make you complete in Him, read this: Our Hope:  Eternal Life  or Finding Eternal Peace.  God bless you.  If you are reading this, you are in my prayers -- even though I don't know your name, God does.

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It's always lovely hearing from you. xoxo, Deborah