The Lessons Of Chronic Illness

With pain, fatigue and brain fog as constant companions, it’s often difficult for me to see the blessings of illness. But I’ve realized that the ability to do so is vital for peace and finding contentment in my current circumstances.
I have started to make it a habit to say to myself every morning before I get out of bed, “God, I thank you for this day, and I trust that I am in this situation of illness for a reason, and that you will bring good things to my life through my suffering.”
One day, I actually made a list of the great lessons that I’ve learned through Lyme. (There were about forty or fifty of them!). Here I’ve condensed the list for the sake of my sanity and yours 🙂

1) How to slow down–There is no way I would have stopped my breakneck pace of life if it weren’t for being broadsided by illness. Life isn’t about doing as much as it is about being.

2) Give the body nutrition, not garbage–The healthy and sick alike know this, but being sick, you learn that there’s more to it than just eating a few greens. For me, the difference between depression and peace of mind, being bedridden or being functional, is in what I eat.

3) Our food supply and environment are heavily contaminated. By being aware of this on a deep level, I can make well-informed choices for my habits and lifestyle.

4) Joy is not in circumstances, it is a state of mind. I can be sofa-bound and still have peace and purpose in my life. This has been, and continues to be, the hardest lesson to learn. Joy is not as much in the external factors of life as the internal.

5) Compassion towards others–Yes, I now know what it’s like to be really disabled and poor, and my heart goes out without judgment to the ill, handicapped, homeless and forsaken.

6) Let go of worldly things—There’s a ceiling on happiness when it comes to satisfaction through ambition, stimulating activity and material possessions. Yes, I wish I could make greater use of my ambition, and have more recreation in my life–but internal peace really comes from a higher place. To get to that higher place, I’ve needed solitude and time with God, and illness has allowed me this space.

7) Focus on God as my reason for being–Sometimes we don’t go there unless we have no other choice. I once told God I wanted to know Him more than anything else in the world. He might just have taken me seriously.

8) Cultivate new talents and hobbies–I may be a sofa spud and my brain like mashed potatoes much of the time, but the neurons are still plodding along, and my fingers still moving. So maybe I’ll start writing again. Hmmm…

9) Learn about medicine and teach others- I’d never had a passion for health before Lyme but I suddenly find it intriguing. Maybe it’s for a good reason that I’m here.

10) Financial Security in God–When my condo, job, and savings were swept from me, I had to lean on God for help. Before, these “things” remained as strong crutches for me to avoid giving God the full weight of my trust. But when it was all taken away, and as stuff continues to be taken away, I remind myself that what I have in Him is enough.