Reflections on Faith through Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Three years ago today I took this photo of the sunrise and added the devotional message for the day. Today I’m sharing it as I remember the beautiful image painted in the devotional of how God lifts us up by His strength. On wings like eagles…
Today marks 18 months of this CFS. At least 18 months in this severe housebound state, we imagine I had it milder for at least 6 months before this.
I don’t believe God made me ill or that He is testing me. I don’t think God works like that. In my view, that would contradict His character of Love. I know this world is broken, sickness and evil are a part of that brokenness. It’s impossible to go through this life without inevitably running into it in some form or another. Whether I like it or not is irrelevant, how I choose to respond to it, though, that is up to me.
I never wonder why this has happened to me or what the cause is, I only know that God can take it away in an instant if it’s His will to do so (I’ve seen this done, so I know that I know that I know that He can), and I also know that not everybody is healed. And that’s OK too. My faith is completely in the will and timing of the Lord.
I was told (by patients I found in a support group online) from the first hour after diagnosis exactly what to expect and that some have this illness for life, recovering and relapsing in cycles or just never recovering.
I heard it, I accepted it, and I am OK with it. I know people who love me are praying for my complete healing, and I pray the Lord answer that prayer, but let it be His will to do so, not mine as I know that nothing in life is good if it is not in accordance to His plan. Nothing.
I have enough experience of life with and without God to know this fully.
For this reason I don’t dwell in self pity or questions of why… I don’t wallow or doubt Him, I don’t get down or worried about my health. In all honesty I think I’m healthier now than I’ve ever been.
I’m back at a healthy weight, I’m eating clean most of the time, I’m getting up daily and moving, no matter how I feel, I do what I can. It might just be a walk to the loo, but on that day, for me, it might be the equivalent of a jog around the block.
There have been tears. A few times. And those closest to me have witnessed those episodes and seen how, through prayer in those moments, the Lord has instantly brought me peace. He is faithful. Constant.
Most of the time I feel a bubbling joy inside. It’s hard to explain it, other than it doesn’t come from outside circumstances, it comes from Him.
I have peace and joy and excited anticipation for the future. Whether it be the next hour or next week or next year.
I plan ahead. I plan meticulously. Allowing rest before and after and during everything I do. And each thing I manage is celebrated. And each thing on the list I cannot do, I have learned to accept, it’s OK.
It would have bothered my old self so much to have failed at completing things! And initially, when bedridden, I found it so hard to rest and ‘do nothing’ – now I know that recovery is a full time job and that it includes a lot of rest.
I’m learning to let go, I’m learning to be less judgmental, I’m learning more patience and perseverance, I’m learning to trust in God for providing to the smallest detail for my needs.
I’m learning how people are, how they are afraid and uncomfortable with illness and things they cannot explain, and I’m learning just how many people out there care and how much power each of us has to impact and improve the lives of those around us in the most unusual and unexpected ways.
One thing I have learned completely is that there is always something to be grateful for.
As I reach this stage in my ME/CFS journey, I have learned the importance of listening to my body, that resting is necessary, and that less is more.
The new motto as I head toward the 2 year mark is: Don’t do your best, do less!
One might think this is a negative way to go through life, I certainly would have thought so before, until 2 weeks ago when I crashed and realised that pushing to do my best, in my condition, is not sustainable and does me harm. I cannot be consistent and I crash shortly after.
The ideal would be to stay below my best, well within the limits of my ability, so that I can consistently repeat that level of exertion, without payback, in order to build strength and stamina.
This is the hard work… Learning to sit when you feel good enough to walk, learning to say no when you want to say yes. Learning to rest when you really feel like you can manage doing something more. Don’t do your best, do less.
So here’s to the next chapter in this story… Thank you for walking through this with me.