Being ill changes you. It lights a fire in your soul. More clearly than ever before, you see what’s important, what kind of life you want to live, and who you want to be with. For me, I have very limited energy so I have to be purposeful with it.
What surprised me was how being sick made me long to serve others. I don’t believe this is me, but God moving in me. I know what suffering is and I don’t want anyone else to feel like this. I know how to care for people in a way that I didn’t before. My heart is ready; my body is not quite there yet.
So, I do what I can from home: send encouraging texts, pray for people in my support groups, write a blog, and dream of how I can care for others when I’m well again.
I have these comforting memories from when I volunteered at nursing homes in high school. They’d give me a list of residents who didn’t receive visitors and I’d go chat with them. More than 20 years later, their faces are flashing clearly in my mind as I write this. All they wanted was love. I may not have been good at geometry or foreign language—but I was really good at love. It was more than that though. They saw me—just me, who I was, right where I was. The sick have a way of doing that. I watched the end of their journeys and I was surprised to find that I was happy for them when they passed away. I knew they were free.
Well, life grew more chaotic with every year and I became more self focused. I was either overwhelmed by my to do list or I would sink into the numbing light of my phone. I was exhausted, distracted, and just staying afloat.
I was so busy: work, family, friends… “a full life…”
And then it stopped.
Becoming ill with Hyperadrenergic POTS, a form of dysautonomia, cleared my schedule and made my circle small again. As I lie here, I keep thinking that when I heal, I want to serve those whose spirits are hurting. I want to hug those who are alone. I want to pray with those who are scared.
I know that I will have better days—and I’m excited about that, but I don’t want to lose the fire for service that being ill has lit in my soul. I don’t want to go back to the routine of my adult life. I want to incorporate the kindness of my youth and the lessons of my struggle.
I’ve been so incredibly blessed to have support while being ill. I know others aren’t as lucky. And many suffer much more than I do. I’d like to find a way to spend my life serving them. I don’t know what that will look like but I’m praying about it. The answers will come and I need to make sure I’m ready.
We can tell people about God, but we also have to be His hands and feet to care for them when they are in need.
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Here’s a little more about my story and how I cope with chronic illness.