Have you ever clicked the ‘publish’ button and immediately wondered if you should have said such a thing?
Unfortunately, once your thoughts are out in cyberspace, you can’t take them back and be certain that no one saw them, so you must live with the consequences. There have been many times that I have published a blog or written a comment on Facebook and stressed about how it would be perceived by others. Sometimes my daytime self has more of an ‘edit’ button than my late-night self! Also, since I’ve been so sick for so long, my ‘edit’ button is getting very tired and sometimes malfunctions. Then, I wake up in the morning and wonder if people will pity me, be angry with me, or think of me as an attention-seeker. None of those things appeal to me very much.
So, why am I so public with my struggles?
There are some very practical reasons. The first is that I am trying to earn an income with my writing (not yet successfully because I don’t know what I’m doing) and the reality is, no one reads unless you are deeply personal. The second practical reason is that having two ‘homes’ that are 500 miles apart means that there are many people near and far who want to know how I am doing. Social media makes a mass update much easier and more efficient.
One of the more significant reasons for my public presence is that I am terrified and need an army of pray-ers behind me. There are days when chronic illness comes with crippling anxiety. I am so afraid that I will never get better and I know that I cannot handle it much longer. I also know that God can do anything and I need as many people mentioning my name to him as possible! Speaking of the body of Christ, 1 Corinthians 12:26 says, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (NIV). So, thank you all from the bottom of my heart for suffering with me!
Sometimes I have trouble praying for myself. The mental state that results from constant pain, fear, nausea, or other discomfort is difficult to describe. It’s as if the nausea is all there ever was and all there ever will be. It doesn’t feel like I will get better during those stretches of time. My prayers often sound a little like, “Oh, God. Oh, God. Oh, God. Please help me.” And that’s all I can muster. I need people in better states of mind to help form prayers for me. I’ve asked God to take me home to him enough times to know I need my people to tell me that I’m still needed here. I know the Holy Spirit communicates for me, but having others pray for me is a great source of comfort.
Probably the biggest reason I am so “out there” with my problems is the “ME TOO” factor. I cannot tell you how reassuring it is to bear your soul to someone and have them say, “me too”. The ones who share their stories because they have been there, or are currently going through the same struggles, are so precious to me. Since I have gone public with my illness, many people have come forward and shared their personal stories with me. Each one has deeply touched me and I feel very blessed that others would be willing to share their journeys with me. It comforts me to know that others have been this ill and conquered. I feel solidarity with those who are still struggling along with me. It is so much less isolating. I will quote Close to the Bone: Life-Threatening Illness as a Soul Journey by Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D. again, because her book has so many great tidbits.
“In order to keep on keeping on, anyone with an illness that has a long course needs the soul support of others. The daily difficulties and humiliations to do with the wear and tear of physical aches and pains, the mundane and inelegant concern for nutrition and elimination, the fatigue and discouragement that accompanies ill health, the constriction of interests and the limitations that are reminders that you are no longer your old self take their toll on the spirit.” And, “When there is no protective holding back, the soul-to-soul connection that grows is beautiful and tender.”
When I opened up, I discovered my true soul-sisters and brothers. Relationships that had drifted due to distance or life grew much stronger in a solidarity of shared pain and prayer.
I’ve been thinking that perhaps the reason for my struggles is so that I can be the “me too” factor for someone. If my story helps just one person who may be on the verge of giving up, it is worth every agonizing moment. If I can somehow help another get through her/his agony, my agony is worth it. I was very struck by this statement from Dr. Bolen,
“…nothing in my life goes to waste, that anything that has ever affected me deeply might someday be an empathic connection… it meant that there was meaning in my own suffering, that anything that I have lived through might someday be redeemed if it enabled me to help someone else.”
Oh, how I long for my suffering to be redeemed! I want to make a difference in someone else’s pain, like so many others have made in my pain.
I’m not saying everyone needs to be so open with their suffering. You need to do you according to your comfort level. Some people are terrified by the thought of being so public and it can be just as healing to have their own intimate circle of people to share in their pain. To each his/her own. I’m just not strong enough to do this life without an army. So, while some of you may think I am crazy, or may be annoyed at what seems like constant complaining or negativity coming from my corner of the world, I’m probably not going to stop. I need the “me too” people more than I care about what the others think of me. The deeper relationships I have cultivated through my vulnerability are much more important to me than my privacy. Public love does my heart so much more good than private suffering. And the thought of being the “me too” person for someone else helps me get through each day. God may have led me to my purpose in this suffering. Use me, Lord.
Use me, Lord.
If you would like to listen to the newest song God gave me, click here.
Some days I fight control of my weary soul
A constant game of tug-of-war I know I cannot win
You hold my life’s plan in your steady hands
The constant in my whirlwind, the peace within my storm.
Make my life yours, Lord. My heart is in your hands.
I offer every fleeting breath to carry out our plan
But who am I, Lord that you would use me?
I’m weak, but you’re strong so use me, Lord.
The waiting and the longing for your healing
Keeps my eyes fixed on you and yearning for my home
But until this life is through, I’ll hold tight to you
I’ll sing you my heart’s song. May you be glorified.