I have a general tendency to make myself do hard things even when there are easier ways just because I like to see if I can do them. I once (rather proudly) hand beat meringue instead of going out and buying or borrowing a mixer. When my car broke down and I needed to go to the post office, I (somewhat stupidly) walked three miles there and three miles back when there were rides readily available. I participated in and completed NaNoWriMo during my senior year of high school which was by far the most academically demanding year of my life (it involved writing for 8+ hours a day during nearly every day of Thanksgiving break, but I did it). I’ve (absolutely stupidly considering the number of people who got malaria on our team) slept tentless while in Mozambique, tried everything that was fed to me in India, and forced myself to eat foods that my eating disorder deemed frightening. If a friend is in need in some form or fashion, I’m accustomed to doing whatever I can for them and still managing to get most everything I need to get done accomplished by staying up late or getting up early (this is not so much something done for the sake of doing hard things, but more because I love my friends dearly).
I’m used to focusing on something and willing myself to complete it.
I can’t do that any more.
So, about 18 months ago I was diagnosed with this autoimmune disorder that runs in my family. It basically causes my body to attack my thyroid. Theoretically, if I’m given the proper medications, I’ll be fine: my hair won’t fall out by the handful, I’ll actually want to eat food, and, best of all, I’ll have energy. The dosage of medicine I was on worked really well until about March of this year and then things started to go awry.
It may have been stress, it may have been my body just deciding (as you do) to launch a massive attack on my thyroid, it may have been some other third thing that I don’t know anything about. Regardless, I have been just exhausted for months, excluding some short-lived energy spikes I had a few weeks ago.
I’m not sure how to explain it to people who have never experienced an autoimmune disorder. Basically, imagine that you are getting adequate nutrition and sleep and you wake up every single day feeling as if you’re about to get the flu. And sometimes, you wake up and want to cry because you’re so tired and you can’t get out of bed but, unfortunately, laying in bed all day doesn’t pay the rent, so you have to. And other times, you have to choose between being there for a friend and being even 80% present at work the next day. And still other times, you have to decide if you will be social or have a clean house this week because you really can’t do both.
Quite frankly, I’ve had a really sucky attitude about all of this the past few weeks. I just want to be able to do everything I was able to do before, but I really can’t. I like being independent, I like being able to feel like I can accomplish things and, most of all, I really like thinking that I can will myself to do anything and everything I like as long as I’m determined enough. That this has taken such a high priority in my life is not okay.
I’m realizing more and more how much of my worth I place in how much I do. I like the idea of always having a clean house, visiting with everyone I love, and helping out my friends who are having a rough time — and in the past, I’ve been able to do all of that. But, now that I can’t (at least until I hit some sort of sweet spot with my medication)…I’ve felt entirely helpless and sort of worthless.
I’m reminded often by dear friends that Christ loves me no matter what and desires my sanctification. I know that what I’m going through is neither out of His plan or His grasp. And I know that this whole thing may very well be the answer to some pleading prayers asking to be further sanctified. It’s really hard, and I really haven’t even been trying to keep focused on the Lord. This is totally wrong of me and I want to change that. I know that what I’m going through or what my friends or family are going through are all apart of God’s plan…and I know that both myself and my fellow believers are being sanctified through circumstances and His Word.
I just want to be able to keep that perspective when things are hard.