I didn’t expect to become chronically ill. I didn’t expect my ability to walk and care for myself to come to a screeching halt… but it did. Overnight, my life changed. Our family dynamic shifted. My identity was shattered and is being rebuilt.
A few days after Christmas, I became weak and dizzy. I would sit on the floor to rest while walking across the house; and we have a very small house. I thought it was a virus, but it never went away. Instead, it got worse and I started losing mobility. I bought a cane, then a walker, then a wheelchair. After weeks of tests, we discovered that I have POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome), a form of dysautonomia. Basically, my automatic nervous system is not working correctly. Example, when you stand up, your blood vessels automatically contract to keep your blood from pooling in your feet. Mine don’t do that, so my blood pools in my lower extremities. This means that a lot of my body is not getting the blood and oxygen it needs so my heart works extra hard to compensate for this and I become very weak. Some people with dysautonomia are bedridden, some live “normal” lives. I hover in between.
My self-identity was built upon what I could accomplish, what I could earn. I played with my daughters, cooked for my family, worked, was a loving partner to my husband, cared for ailing family members, invested in my friendships… and somehow that made me worthy. It made me, me. When I became ill, so much of that came to a stop. I could give very little and needed so much. I needed help washing my hair and getting to the bathroom. I was trapped in a body that needed help and felt that I couldn’t earn the worthiness of the help I was receiving.
In those big and small moments of receiving unconditional love, I was slowly able to see how everyone around me was growing by helping me. I was not able to help them physically but I was helping their spirits. I could still share my heart and listen to their stories. My husband loved me independent of what I could do to make his life easier. My children were becoming more selfless and compassionate. My friends were happy to sit beside me. My illness brought beauty to all of us.
While my body recovers, my spirit is hard at work. I’m changing in so many ways and I’m grateful for what I’m learning. I see more clearly what’s important and what’s not. I see the small lies that have held me back: “you’re not worthy,” “your voice is not important,” “stay small and everything will be okay.” God is shedding light on the truth—my spirit will not be overtaken by illness. My heart is growing in humility and gratitude and I can see how I am deserving of love right where I am. We are all deserving of love right where we are. My prayer is for you to see how beautiful and worthy you are, in your good moments, but especially in your tough ones.
Guest Post Blog:
By Sara Gruber of Blessings of Chronic Illness