Monday, May 20, 2013

Who am I, Really?

How do we view ourselves? What defines us? Family, friends, situations in life? I can have trouble finding the balance between what makes me "me" and having Celiac. I was at a event a couple days ago and saw some people I have not seen in a long time. Conversation can be a bit shaky because since my health does not let me go many places, I have almost zero to talk about. One thing I hate to do is bring up my illness. I never want it to define me or have it appear like I'm fishing for sympathy. But unfortunately, when I have nothing to report, talking about being sick is my fallback. It makes sense because that is what is foremost in my life right now. But, still, I get frustrated when that is the only thing I can talk about. Sometimes I wonder if when someone thinks about me or brings me up in conversation, if I am only recognized as "the girl with Celiac". There is so much more to me than that! Then again, sometimes I can think that is all I am. Most days I don't even feel like myself. A few weeks ago, I was able to go to town and see some friends. It was one of my better days and, for the first time in what seemed like ages, I felt like myself again. It was like I saw what my life would be like if I wasn't still struggling with being ill. Needless to say, that was one of the best days I have had in so long. Even though, when it was over, I was back to the daily trials, I had a glimmer of hope for my future. Kind of like a promise from the Lord that He hasn't forgotten me and that better days are ahead. That day the fact that I had Celiac was still present, but it was not consuming. It was a relief! I don't want to hide that I have it. Not in the least. I plan to use my story and situation to promote Celiac Awareness and show the world, if possible, the love of Jesus. I will, if I think I should, volunteer the information willingly; and, if you ask me, I will be more than happy to answer your questions or just talk. But, do I want to enter a room, stand on the table and yell, "Attention people! I just want you to know, I have a Autoimmune Disease called Celiac. Thank you." No!... not something I want to do. I am still working on the balance between the hiding my problem and transparency. One day, hopefully, I will have it perfected! 

I am missing a key factor in all this. There are obviously things that make me unique. We are all individuals after all, but what truly defines me is Jesus. He lives within me and the day I accepted His gift of Salvation I was made new! When I am going through any walk of life, it is not my own decisions or uniqueness that gets me on the right track. It's God's guidance and the gifts He has given me that get me through. It is Christ in me that makes all the good things about me shine. He can even turn having a Disease into a good thing! 

When I talk to people, I won't be able to tell them what amazing thing I will be doing this year or my big plans for the summer. Life isn't always a Disney movie. But, I am where the Lord wants me right now. That's still so hard for me to except. At this stage of my life, I would love nothing more than to be able to go and do whatever, but that's not how it is. At least not right now. Plus, being able to do those things does not make me a more valuable person. That can only come from God. I guess in the long run, I need to work on being discouraged and feeling lousy about what I'm "not" doing. I do not need to feel embarrassed or frustrated when people ask me what I'm doing. It's not like I am willingly choosing to still be sick, so why would I feel awkward about staying home? Most likely, because I am not satisfied with it, and that makes me automatically assume others question why I am not doing much. And maybe some are. I know that there are people who do not think I'm really sick... that I should just be able to get over it..... and that's okay. It bothers me to think about it sometimes, but they come from a place of not understanding.

 Anyway, back to the point!

Whether Celiac, or whatever else you might think describes me, I would hope that when you trace all the things back, that they lead you to Jesus. Because that is my core and if it is not evident, then I need to remedy that! When I am having weeks of sick days, I do not feel like myself and that is depressing to me. But what I tend to forget is that the biggest part of me, Jesus, is always there and that will never be taken away from me. How great is that! Without Him I'm nothing special, but with Him I am truly something unique! I'd rather have Celiac and have Jesus than perfect health without Him. I would not be me without my Savior and that is my identity. Jesus Christ.  

For in Christ the fullness of God lives in a human body, and you are complete through your union with Christ. He is the Lord over every ruler and authority in the universe. -Colossians 2:9-10

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Strangely Dim

The last few weeks have been a struggle for me. Not just physically, but emotionally. Mainly, emotional. Somehow, even though this happens a lot, it still get's to me. Having a chronic illness messes up everything. Typically I'm not one to have persisting thoughts or fears in my mind all the time. In fact, that is rarely a problem for me. But, every once in a while, usually relating to my illness, I feel like I'm plagued by them. This might sound silly to some, but it started to get bad a few weeks before I turned twenty and escalated after my birthday was over. Getting sick at the age of sixteen made me feel like I missed a big part of my life and I had to deal with acceptance early on. And believe me, throughout the years, it's been back and forth between surrendering and fighting it. It was very hard for me to see my friends go off to college or do other things and know that that was out of the question for me. I kept telling myself I had plenty of time to do the things I wanted to do as I was only eighteen and surely I would have the Celiac under control before too long. Without even realizing it,  I was holding onto the hope that I would be better within the next year and  I could start pursuing my dreams. Then it just hit me like a ton of bricks when I realized I was turning twenty and not any better. I always assumed my late teens and early twenties would be one of the most exciting times of my life. I never, not even after three years of being sick, thought I would be where I am right now. And it scares me. I will be lying in bed and I feel like time is running out. Celiac has already taken the last four years of my life and it's still taking time from me. Time that I am petrified of losing. I can hardly stand to think of all that I could of done and what I could be doing now.  

Those thoughts are such a dangerous road to go on. As if I need more reasons to be miserable. Unfortunately, because I am still ill and spend most of my time at home, I get a lot of thinking time and my thoughts tend to think about all that I wish my life was. I just hate not being in control. I have to deal with that daily. I wish that it was just a one time thing of surrendering, but that is not how it is. It's more like "Okay Lord, I surrender this to You" and then five minutes later my surrendered heart takes a vacation. Thank goodness we have a loving God who forgives us. Continually for me!

After quite a few weeks of discontentment and fear of not having enough time to act upon all my plans, I was struck with what I was doing. I was acting shamefully to my Savior. He has given me so much and what was I doing? Throwing my ungratefulness in His face. I was also "choosing" to make myself miserable and I don't have to be. Is my situation miserable? I sure think it is! But I do not want to let it control me. It cannot stop me from being happy or helpful, and most importantly, it cannot stop me from deepening my relationship with Jesus. Having Jesus as my Savior does not mean my life is going to be perfect, but it does mean I don't have to bear the burden of it alone. 

When I think about my plans for the future, I can get very dismal and I feel like they will never happen. Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future". He has a plan for me! Things may seen dark now, but I know that the Lord has a perfect plan for my life. Not a life that I've dreamed up, but one that is designed by my Savior. God has never made anything shabby, so if He has designed my life I know that my future is going to be beautiful and I am looking forward to it! For the meantime, I am just trying to take one day at a time. Trusting in Jesus to get me through the tough days and thanking Him for the life that I do have. Who knows what my future will hold! Oh wait,... God does!

I love when I find a song that I feel came from my own thoughts. This is one of those songs!