What Chronic Illness teaches me about Surrender

Oh friends, life is such a journey…. faith is such a journey. And I must admit that I get very weary at times. Like ground down to a fine powder kind of weary.

It is easy to say that God is in control. I know some who revert to that message like it is their refrain between sentences. We continue to push and plan and overcome, and then get angry at Him when WE fail.

When I was diagnosed with chronic pain in 2004, I felt like my adult life was just getting rolling, and I had big dreams. No matter how bad my pain, how bad the swelling or fatigue, I would keep focused on my own plans. My body was deteriorating from pain, I was taking so many medications to keep up, and all of my spare time I spent sleeping. No matter what walking aids I needed, I wouldn’t be diverted from achieving my original goals. I was in control. Though my body lashed back at me, I fought and squirmed and raged to keep going on my path.

Surrendering is a big one. I definitely struggle to relinquish control, so everything about the idea of surrender goes against my nature. Years ago, when I was having ketamine infusions to try to tame my RSD/CRPS pain, I would interfere with the nurses vitals setup. In my mind I was helping, but to them I was getting in the way, of course. “Do you want to do this yourself?” one of the nurses once snapped at me. Oops, I thought. But then, I knew my answer would have been “yes”.

Why? Why do I think I can do the best job for myself, even when others have my best interest in mind? Surely, my creator and giver of salvation has my very best for me, yet fully trusting that can be so tough.

Then 4 years ago, I suddenly developed a condition called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome which has changed my life dramatically. In combination with Intracranial Hypertension, my autonomic nervous system has stopped cooperating. I have not been able to lift my head without passing out. My bladder, gastrointestinal system, metabolism are out of my control. The pain in my body was never so debilitating as it is with this never-ending migraine, facial nerve pain, vision changes, and other damage caused by the abnormal csf pressure the last 4 years.

They say, don’t let chronic illness take over your life. But when your life becomes about: Breathing. Eating. Drinking. There is no “let” only “become”.

You don’t fight POTS, you don’t fight through it. You endure it. It changes your body, and you adapt. It isn’t like pain. You can push through pain- at least to an extent.

Surrender is the choice my body made for me. It tells me I don’t have a choice but to bow to its wishes. I lay here still and unspeaking, careful not to sway the already offset balance of illness. But the moment I move or eat or make a sound, my flesh laughs at me. My already swirling, screaming, breath-begging body will burst into flames and melt into nothingness. The world tells me to push, to fight, to Just. Keep. Going.

But I learn quickly that there is no push in this game. Only tricks, and cheats, and strategy. Illness owns my body. There is no free will flesh. There is no- push for one more minute.  There is no- if I just take this pill. This body and brain have been exchanged, kidnapped, swapped for a rag doll.

Once, asking for help seemed an impossible exception. Now, all of my physical and earthly necessities most selflessly come from the hands of those I most admire. My body gives me no choice but to surrender to their hands, but my heart is ever humble and grateful to receive the gifts of their bottomless compassion. What better picture of mercy than this?

Control freak (of nature). My natural systems are out of control. And nothing can be done, but wait. But pray. To give into the illness and seek inner peace.

Miss plan for tomorrow. Plan for your dreams. Dream big. Don’t give up. Your body gives up.

My body forces surrender on its own schedule. Though my creator waits patiently. While my body may act as a prison, forcing the white flag of my systems, my spirit goes of its own fruition. The more I relinquish control, the more grace is endowed.

God is in control, they say. They say it like an empty cliche. Like a jack in the box toy that popped out and saw the light- once. Control is something I have owned. And something that has owned me. And God doesn’t control my will. I surrender it to Him. Child to Father. Tired, weak soul to loving Savior. In this broken body, I see freedom.

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About abodyofhope

I do not know why it is that we must wade through tragic circumstances to find truth. We nearly drown! But under the water, there are pearls. I hope in writing this blog, more will come to the surface. Over the past 11 years living with chronic pain, patient advocacy has affected my life through so many remarkable young people, women and men: SURVIVORS. These individuals are HOPE personified. I wish to honor them in the same spirit they have encouraged me to press on. Four years ago, I became bed-bound from a variety of chronic illnesses after a procedure meant to help the pain condition I had been managing for several years- went bust #BIGTIME. In the last 4 years, my entire life has changed. I have changed, but I am still striving to live my best life possible. Along with sharing inspiring pieces, medical/holistic research, and awareness articles, this blog is also an attempt to put my own pieces back together. Welcome to A Body of Hope, and thank you for visiting. [Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/ RSD, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), Dysautonomia, Chronic Intractable Migraine, Cluster headache, Trigeminal Neuralgia, Occipital Neuralgia, Hypersensitivity to Sound & Light, Fibromyalgia, Cerebrospinal Fluid Imbalance......blah, blah, blah] >>> P.S. My headgear is protective for pain. I just rock it hard.

Posted on April 22, 2015, in Spiritual Journey and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I can picture God with tears of joy at this post and your amazing spirit. What a powerful witness you are! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sweetheart, wow. I’m so glad you wrote this, for your sake and for so many out there who are in similar situations. Though your body may have deserted you for this period, you continue to love and endure and yes, surrender. Those things are choices. The ability to maintain those core aspects of yourself is one of the things that drew me to you right away. I know that illness is absolutely not about “giving up” or any of the other inane things that people call it when your body refuses to function, but I think surrender is a better word than “accept” too. Accepting is what a smart person does when faced with unshakable truth. At some point (to some degree) we all learn to accept what is happening, unless delusion is involved, but acceptance is really the beginning of the journey, one of the first mile markers along the road. It’s important that you show people that. It’s important because once people get to the acceptance stage and are standing there, confused, because no one handed them a plaque, and it’s not any better, really, they need to know that feeling like you can accept your illness is not the same thing as being well again, and it isn’t some permanent state of being, and it doesn’t mean that we suddenly learn how to “love our illness” or “see the gift in our pain” or anything else that well-meaning people would like us to learn how to do. Also, you may accept it one day only to have five new symptoms crash down on you the next, and then the process of acceptance begins again. As it will every time. Surrendering is different and deeper and a higher level of being in tune with yourself and what it means to be alive in a body that doesn’t obey commands. [People who are able-bodied could use that knowledge too]. My lack of religion means I can’t comment as above, but my spiritual side is touched by what your faith means to you and what messages you are able to find therein. Again, I’m really glad you wrote this, and I’m really glad you wrote it like you did. I took a day to think about your words, trying to come up with something meaningful to say back, but I kept coming back to this big sense of relief that you felt comfortable enough here to say more about your own struggles. You don’t have to keep everything happy and light all the time, because that’s not how life works even for those who are gifted with good health. And congrats on the theme change, I know that’s always stressful and everything looks so clean and is easy to find already!
    lots of love and spoons, darling! and hugs! those too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jess. I always appreciate your responses so much. You have a gentle way of showing me new perspectives, and I’m so thankful for that- and for you.
      You have been on my heart so much this week especially. It’s so good to hear from you. I hope we can connect more soon. Love and soft hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So good. Thanks for writing this ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  4. How I wish I had the right words to say that could ease your pain. Sending prayers and a gentle hug.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You are such a gift to all of us… you writings are so full of the emotions all of us feel at some time or another but just don’t know how to explain them.. I agree we have to surrender our will freely to God but it isn’t always easy especially for those of us who have a tendency to be controlling(wink).. You have an amazing spirit and have endure way more than you should have to. You still continue to fight the fight but on the days you can’t it is ok to surrender. You have earned some peaceful time… Love you

    Like

    • Thank you for always being an encouragement. You are absolutely right that surrender feels like the most unnatural thing in the world. That’s how God made us! That’s one of the great challenges of faith, of course.
      I pray you also find some peace in your body and spirit. ❤ u 2

      Like

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