Chronic Illness and Surrender
Oh friends, life is such a journey…. faith is such a journey. And I must admit that I get very weary. 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. I had big dreams, and I was determined to keep moving forward with my own plans.
My body was deteriorating quickly, however. I was taking so many medications, doing bizarre and worsening treatments as an attempt to keep up with family, home, work, college, church, small group, and any of my spare time I spent in a zombified pain daze on the couch.
No matter what walking aids I needed, no matter the sickening treatment, no matter what the doctors said about “progression,” I WOULD NOT be diverted from achieving my original goals.
I was in control.
Though my body lashed back at me, I fought and squirmed and raged against it- to keep going on my path.
Surrender is a difficult topic or act for most of us to comprehend.
I have always struggled to relinquish control, so everything about the idea of surrender goes against my nature. I wonder if anyone else reading this can relate to the word perfectionist as much as I could?
Years ago, when I was having ketamine infusions to try to tame my RSD/CRPS pain, I would interfere with the nurse’s vitals setup. In my mind I was helping, but to them I was only getting in the way, of course.
“Do you want to do this yourself?” a nurse once snapped at me.
Oops, I thought. But then…I knew my answer would have been, “yes.”
Why? Why do I think I’m the one who will always be most effective at doing for myself, even when others have my very best interest in mind?
Then 6 years ago, after an experimental treatment they tried on me failed, I suddenly developed several comorbidities which have changed my life dramatically. My pain condition progressed far faster and worse than I ever imagined possible.
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.”
Illness can become your life if survival becomes your new goal.
There are some conditions you can’t fight through. You endure them. They change your body, and you are forced to adapt. You hit your “wall” every time you open your eyes.
Surrender is the choice that my body made for me. It tells me I don’t have another option but to bow to its wishes.
I lay here still and unspeaking, careful not to sway the already offset balance. But the moment I move or eat or swallow 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.
It’s a chess match on a board I’ve never seen before, and my opponent is the only one with the rulebook.
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 has been exchanged, kidnapped, swapped for a rag doll.
Once, asking for help seemed an impossible exception only made in the most dire of circumstances.
Now, all of my physical and earthly necessities selflessly come from the hands of those I most admire. The eyes I have always looked up to- now see me at my worst. My body gives me no choice but to surrender to their gentle hands, but my heart is humbled and grateful to receive the gifts of their bottomless compassion. What better picture of mercy than this?
What better picture of grace?
Control freak. Feeling like a freak of nature. My natural systems are out of control. And nothing can be done, but wait. But pray.
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.
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, strength-lending Savior.
In this broken body, I see freedom.
(Re-posted from 2015)
No Spoon for you! Graphic
It’s “Wordless Wednesday” again, and here I am cheating (how can I resist you, words?).
If you’re confused about the spoon reference, those of us with chronic illness measure our energy with “spoons” ( See more here on: 10,000 Spoons, If Only: Why the chronically ill love Spoons). If life were the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld, this month, he would be yelling out his classic line at me, chronic illness style: “No Spoon for you!”
Not even one??
I hope you’ll have better luck.
10,000 Spoons, If Only! Why the Chronically Ill Love Spoons
Why do the chronically ill call ourselves “Spoonies?” Why do we give one another additional metaphorical spoons? And why had I JUST previous to typing this, posted an image of a boring old spoon to my Twitter feed? Answer: “The Spoon Theory.”
In a WordPress blogging assignment, for fun we are asked to post an entry which expresses something ironic. Harkening back to Alanis Morissette’s song “Isn’t it Ironic,” they called the assignment “10,000 Spoons.” As a chronically ill individual, I found some irony in this, and I would be hard pressed if I did not represent here.
The Spoon Theory was an invention of a young Lupus sufferer named Christine Miserandino. When she was in college, she came up with a clever way to explain to her best friend how she managed her energy by shelling out one representative spoon at a time. Getting out of bed=Spoon. Mascara=Spoon. Putting on shoes=Spoon. Once the spoons were gone, her body was 100% DONE. And that’s how we with chronic illness roll. Her easy to swallow (hehehe, spoons…) explanation caught on quickly when it was published on http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/ and now it is an easy and popular way to explain chronic illness to friends and family.
“Saving spoons” is the best way to try to juggle things, but spoons go out like confetti when you are having a good time. So, we Spoonies crash and burn A LOT, don’t you know?
It’s like having 10,000 extra knives when all you need are those spoons, Alanis!
Find more Hammered Spoons and awareness jewelry at http://hammeredspoons.weebly.com/.
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