August 10, 2008

Lessons from a chronic illness....

For seven years in the 1990's, I battled Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, also known as CFIDS or more commonly, CFS. My husband and I refer to that season of our life together as "the dark years." The disease was triggered by sleep deprivation, a long-term undiagnosed thyroid deficiency and stress (including 3 moves in 18 months). This insidious illness deprived me of emotional and physical energy, and left me with very little to give my family, let alone those outside our four walls. My confidence took a downward spiral. Our sons were affected, our oldest, dramatically so. God's immeasurable grace, my husband's steadfastness, medical help, my determination to get better, and the loving support of a few friends, got us through..

I was left with a less-than-normal capacity and a voice disorder that had its beginnings during those dark years. But my immune system returned to normal, and my outlook on life improved. Losing my health lessened my grip on the "have-to's" of life. The following are the lessons I learned.

I do not "have to" understand what my Heavenly Father is doing in my life to trust Him.
He is God, and I am not.
He does not owe me any explanations.

I don't have to have my own way.
I don't have to be understood.
Being misunderstood is part of life.

I will not die from crying.

My worth is not related to my health; it is intrinsic and unchangeable. It is not based on what I can offer or accomplish, but simply on the fact of who my Maker is.
My feelings matter, but they're an indicator, not the sum total of reality.

It is possible for a marriage to survive a chronic illness, though most don't. The divorce rate is 75%.

It takes five years or longer to recover from CFS.... that's years, not months or weeks.

All of life was hard when I was sick.
I would rather be healthy than sick.

God's grace was and is sufficient.