Recently I wrote about being sick again, and this morning I woke up with the rumblings of another chest cold. Blurry eyed form a rough night with little sleep, I wandered downstairs for coffee, the nectar of life on mornings like this!
John was snuggled on the sofa with our sweet puppy Bella; I laid down next to him, put my head on his shoulder and with tears said, “I think I’m getting sick… again.” Hopeless words, thoughts and feelings.
Everyone hates being sick – Life interrupted and feeling lousy. Getting sick for me, usually means a month of battle. My body seems to be germ magnet and they all take up residence in my lungs, wreaking havoc, making it difficult to breathe, talk, walk up the stairs. Invariably this means a course of very strong antibiotics and steroids which yield insomnia and insanity. Hope not just deferred but crushed.
I have been wrestling with chronic illness for over 10 years. My hopes, dreams, lifestyle, plans cut short, put on hold, aborted – a strong word, yes, but sickness threatened to kill my dreams.
For a while, I gave up. I went from being an active wife, mom, counselor to a couch potato, with barely enough strength or breath to walk up the stairs.
Chronic illness creeps into life and strangles any hope of normalcy. Overtime, I stopped making plans, pulled out of all my commitments, and stopped engaging with people. Canceling plans, being unreliable, letting people down became unbearable, so I withdrew.
Over the past 5 years my health has slowly improved. A few years back, I thought I was “all better.” Filled with hope, I dove back into life, 110%, only to have a relapse.
Hope crushed. Shame ran rampant! Shame for thinking I was done with chronic illness, I played whack-a-mole for not being more moderated in my re-entry. The chaos in my head was scary: Why didn’t I know better, how could I be so foolish and not pace myself, would I be sick forever, and please God take all my dreams away since it hurts to have them and not see them come to pass.
God seemed silent.
I continued to battle, a bit less often with longer stretches of health between month long relapses.
Over time, I began to hope again…I am the girl who is sure “There is a pony in here somewhere!” and if we get to the end of the pile of poop, and the pony isn’t there… I am sure he just left!”
Hope? Optimism? Insanity? Or a bit of all three!
My reentry into life was a bit more cautious that time. Wisdom, maybe… I’d like to think so, and also fear… I had been here multiple times, and what made this time any different.
So at some level, my heart is afraid to hope, anticipating the inevitable crash. The onslaught of germs, the cancelled plans, weeks of rest, insomnia and depression.
After battling 8 weeks of illness in December & January, I had begun to hope again, so feeling sick this morning brought an onslaught of doubt, anger, fear and frustration.
Hope is a tricky thing. Necessary, vital to life, like oxygen for our souls. But fragile and uncertain as well.
Hope and I have a mixed martial arts kind of relationship.
Lamentations 3:40-41 says, “let us lift up our hearts -weary, hopeless, skeptical, uncertain, angry, disappointed and fearful hearts to God.”
Part of me says, seriously…!!??! What good does that do? God let me be sick! God doesn’t feel like my help. Right now, I feel like God is my “just wait, continue to hope, cling to me,” wilderness guide.
And I am angry… frustrated and sad.
I feel silly for being hopeful…for making plans and allowing my dreams to reawaken. And yet, I know that doing so is the only way to really live. So, today trying to hope, believe, trust and not think too much. This is the only way I know to move forward.
Honest, raw, fearful, yet hopeful.
Hope is an outgrowth of faith. It looks to God and says, “You are God and I am not, so I surrender and will choose to hope – not in what I see, know or can do – but in Who You are God, and what You say and can do.”
Lamentations 3:40-41 says, “let us lift up our hearts -weary, hopeless, skeptical, uncertain, angry, disappointed and fearful hearts to God.
Hope lifts our hearts to God. no matter how we feel or what condition our hearts are in. Hope believes, trusts and in utter weariness leans into the goodness and grace of God. Hope doesn’t make sense. Hope is an act of faith.
Hope does the next thing, takes the next step, tries again.
Choosing hope is one of the bravest things we can do.
What is your hope story? Are you battling to keep hope alive? Can you lift your weary heart to God and ask for help in choosing hope? Share your thoughts below in the comments and let’s chat.