I never thought it could happen to me.
I knew people who were sick. I knew people who had chronic illnesses with names that were sometimes hard to even pronounce. I knew people who struggled to be healthy.
But me? I never thought that could be me.
I never thought that at twenty-one years old I would struggle with having the energy to walk outside. I never thought that at twenty-one I would keep a calendar simply to check off the days when I felt good...the days that were few and far between. I never thought that at twenty-one my purse would sound like I carried around a pharmacy because of the medicines I had to make sure I kept with me always.
I never thought that at twenty-one I would spend more days sick than healthy.
I remember one of the first times it felt so unfair. I remember how it felt when my family asked me if I wanted to go with them on a walk down the street. And oh, how I wanted to go.
But my body just couldn't. I just didn't have the strength in my body to walk out the door or handle the ache in my legs when I walked.
I remember opening a text my sister sent me saying that she wished I had come along. And I wished I could've come along too. I remember the way I cried. I remember the way I asked God that day: "Why me? I'm so young. Why can't I live my life?"
I'm not sure if I'll ever know why, but I really don't think that's the point anyway. I don't need to be concerned with why because the how is so much more important.
How am I going to use this sickness for His glory? How am I going to live my one life for Him regardless of my physical circumstances?
Isn't that the point after all? To not become so consumed with why we must suffer a certain trial or why He chose us for this path, but instead how we can glorify Him through it?
I'm certainly not an expert at this and I certainly have my days where all I want to do is curl up with a blanket and hide from the world and the pain, but I've learned some things along this journey of chronic pain and sickness. Oh, yes, how I've learned things.
First, I have learned that His grace is sufficient for all of my needs.
The Lord is my Shepherd. I have no need for anything. He meets every one. In the pain, He is my Healer. In the weakness, He is my strength. In the discouragement, He is the Lifter of my head. I don't have to do everything on my own because I can't. But with my God I can scale any wall or sickness I ever face. (Psalm 18:29, Psalm 23:1, 2 Corinthians 12:9)
But I have also learned that it is okay to rest.
When I look at the story of Mary and Martha in the later part of Luke chapter 10, I can certainly identify with Martha. I seemed to always be doing for Jesus, that I didn't take as much time to be with Jesus. I didn't slow down. I didn't rest at the feet of Jesus as Mary did.
And then I got sick. Being sick makes you rest a whole lot more than you would sometimes like. I felt ashamed. I felt like a failure. I felt like there was so much I could be doing and I wasn't able to do it. And that's when I knew: Being with Jesus is just as important as working for Jesus. It is one hundred percent okay to rest.
Finally, chronic illness taught me that life is precious and I should cherish every moment.
Every moment may not be easy to embrace, but every moment can be faced with courage, because the God I serve? The God I serve is good. He is good to me and He is good always. Maybe some days it's harder to feel the goodness, but I will never stop believing it.
All of those moments--the hard and the good--go so fast and life passes by before I know it. This past February, my life consisted of coming home from work and then laying down in a dark room in so much pain that I couldn't get up. So many times I would say to myself, "I don't want to cherish these moments. I just want these moments of pain to go by really fast."
I felt like I was wishing my life away. So I tried doing something new. I would search for the good moments in even the pain. Like the moments when a family member would bring me home a favorite snack to help me feel better. Or when I would feel the embrace of God in those moments when I couldn't lift my head on my own.
With all of this said, yes, I never thought this would be my story. And no, I don't know why.
Maybe you feel the same.
Maybe you don't know why either and maybe you don't understand why this is your story. I stand with you in this, friend. I want to look into your eyes and tell you to keep going. To never give up. To keep fighting this battle bravely every day. And as I cup your face in my hands and look into your eyes I want you to forget the question of why and I just want to know...
How are you going to glorify Him through it?