A lot of people don’t understand.
They don’t get that someone can be chronically ill for so long. They don’t see how being chronically fatigued and in pain can severely disrupt your daily life. They don’t actually know how it feels to experience a sensation of a train hitting you, but you having nothing to show for the misery. They don’t take the time to see how you’re hurting, simply because your condition is considered invisible. They don’t know how to care for you, because they never took the time to empathize with you. They’re in disbelief of your condition.
Some people do understand.
They realize that just because you’re not in a hospital, you’re still very sick. They know that showering on a regular basis is quite unrealistic. They see how sick you really are, because they sit with you through the physical trauma you experience. They speak to you with grace and love, from deep within their hearts. They take time out of their day to make sure you’re okay. They know what to say and do, because they’ve tried putting themselves in your place. They know they’ll never know exactly how you’re feeling, but at least they’re trying. They send you uplifting messages, just because. They accept you for who you are, right now.
It’s difficult dealing with those people who are mean and heartless. You can’t attack them because you know they’ve got no idea. All you want is for them to try, just try, to empathize. You’re stronger because of what you’ve dealt with, and you hope, that one day they’ll realize that life is bigger than themselves. Sometimes, it is just easier to shut it out, to ignore the cold. But other times, it’s impossible to keep that wall up; their words pierce right through it, and all you can do is pray for their souls.
To those who accept you, you’re forever grateful. You don’t know what you’d do without their encouragement, their unexpected humor, and their love. Their kind hearts are full of joy and understanding, and they don’t pity you. They treat you in a humane way, and they seek the remaining you. They remind you of how lovely you are and how strong your spirit is. They keep you in their prayers, and they truly pray for you. Your appreciation for them is more than you can fathom and your heart is full because of them. They let you be the strong one sometimes, just for a taste of normal. They remind you of how much more compassion your heart will be filled with once life begins to plane out. They plan future adventures with you, because they know that looking forward to something always makes the hard days go by faster.
Acceptance is more than just acknowledging someone. It’s believing in them, it’s showing compassion and empathy. It’s loving them unconditionally, just as Jesus loves you and me. It’s having faith in them and their future. It’s being there for them, no matter the physical distance. It’s knowing that they’re stronger than what they’re going through, and reminding them of that strength. Acceptance is seeing how they benefit you, rather than finding how they could drag you down. Acceptance is welcoming more than just their physical being, but their God-given qualities too. It’s knowing that they are different from you, but God made them in His perfect image.
Having a chronic illness is real, it’s hard, it’s destructive, and it’s demeaning. Being someone with a strong faith and a positive attitude about life, fighting Lyme Disease has been, no doubt, the single-handedly hardest thing of my 19 years on this planet. I’ve had the physical challenges, the emotional battles, and the social struggles that come with a chronic illness; and I’m eternally grateful for the people who stuck by side and accepted me for who I am, no matter the season of life. Having negative words fed into my mind was, and still is tough, but knowing I have friends and family that will dish out feasts of love, encouragement and positivity is more than I could’ve ever asked for.
I thank God for these blessings, and I encourage you to seek the uplifting influences in your life and thank them, no matter your season of life. I also hope that you find a little light in your heart to be more accepting of that someone who’s hurting or struggling. Be a little kinder with your words and a little more gracious with your actions. Having a positive outlook on everyone isn’t always easy, but it’s not impossible. Reminding yourself that God made them with intention, just as He made you is a good place to start.
Knowing that I’ve finally got a handle on my fight against Lyme, I’m making it a priority to accept and love everyone who comes across my path. It’s not my job to judge and exclude. My job is simply to love as Jesus loved. I’m bigger than myself, my life has an impact on more than just me, so I’m going to start acting like it.
As Jesus commands us, “A new command I give you: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another.” ~ Psalm 13:34
“She is tossed by the waves, but does not sink.”