Friday, August 10, 2012

I Can Strengthen

When I first got so tired that I went to bed for a year and a half, I kept thinking it would get better.  I kept waiting to feel better so I could get back to my life.  While it did improve, it never went away.

And when I got my headache it was much the same.  I kept expecting it to go away so that I could get back to being productive.  So that I could do all the things I wanted to do.

The fatigue has been with me for eleven years now.  The headache for seven.  There are days that are a little better and days that send me to bed.  Mostly I'm tired and hurt all the time.

If you'd told me at the beginning of either of these that I'd have them for the rest of my life, I'm not sure what I would have done.  Having hope that they'd get better helped me go on.  Having hope that I'd get my old life back made it worth trying.

But I'm at a point now where I don't think I'll get better.  I think these will be with me forever.  And even if they won't, they are now.  This is my life now.  And I can't just sit around waiting to get better before I do something with my life.

That's been a tough one.  What can I do?  There are so many things I used to do that I can't anymore.  And there are so many things I wanted to do that I never got the chance for.  It would be really easy to get angry or depressed at my situation.  And sometimes I do.

But mostly, I am grateful.  I have learned so much.  I have learned to slow down.  I have learned to say no.  I have learned to do the important things and let the other things go.  I have learned to listen to my body and take better care of it.

But that's not the best part.  The best part is I've learned that I am more than just what I can produce.  I am more than what I have to offer physically.  I have other things to give, other ways to serve, other ways to be of value.

And one of the best things is, I've learned how to better strengthen others.

In the past my service to others was always physical:  make them dinner, help them clean, take care of their yard,  take some of their work upon myself to ease their burdens.  It was good service; it was heartfelt.  I am glad I could do all those things.

My service now is different.  Now I listen.  I spend time with people.  I share my heart.  It's less obvious service.  You can't see something I cleaned or made.  But I can feel their burdens lighten.  I can see them ready to go back into the fray.  They are stronger when our visit is over.  And so am I.

There is great power in being able to do something for someone that lifts their physical burdens.  It matters.  But there is also divine power in strengthening them so they can lift their burdens themselves.  I'm so grateful I've had the opportunity to do both.

30 comments:

Lynn said...

You are the living essence of The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

--Reinhold Niebuhr

Mothering From Scratch said...

{Melinda} Love your writing and insights, Robin. You cut right to the heart of the matter with such honesty.

I can relate to what you said so much. I have several chronic illnesses -- migraines (so debilitating) and other autoimmune disorders than suck the life out of me. I've learned to be grateful for them too (some days more than others). I don't think I would have any depth of compassion for others if I hadn't been so desperate at times. I wish I was healed. I know God can do it. But after 15 years of living with this, I just don't know if that's in the plan. I pray for healing, but also ask for the strength to get through each day and be victorious. Thanks for the reminder to be thankful for the hard things.

Birdie said...

I had been tired for over 20 years. So tired that at times I could not work or care for my children properly. So tired that I slept more that I was awake. I had tried everything and went to every doctor and nothing ever changed. In desperation I asked to go to a sleep clinic to get tested for sleep apnea even though I did not fit the diagnostic criteria. (Snoring, obesity etc.) When I finally got my appointment I was too scared to tell the doctor that if this didn't help me find out what was wrong that I was considering suicide because I could not take it any longer. When you are sleeping 18 - 20 hours a day and are still tired there is not much to live for. When the diagnosis came back with severe sleep apnea (I was waking up on average every 45 seconds) I couldn't believe it. How could I have sleep apnea?? Long story short I now have a machine that keeps me breathing when my body does not remember. For the first time in my adult life I wake and am clear headed and am no longer walking around in a fog. The greatest gift I have received is compassion for other people who deal with debilitating fatigue and are called "lazy". We live in a world that goes 24/7 and it is hard to be tired all the time.

Kacey said...

Oh wow,this was a great post. My initial reaction was to feel sorry for you but when I kept reading to see how you are choosing to live a full life in spite of your circumstances, I was then in awe of you. It was a good kick in the pants reminder to me that I should be more grateful for what I have and not let my minor inconveniences affect me so much. Thanks for sharing. Stopping by from SITS.

agapewoman said...

Robin, I love your writing and how you encourage others through your life. You are surviving and will prevail. Take care and thanks for the encouragement.

Emily said...

This is a beautiful reflection thatI think we can all learn from. This definitely gave me some food for thought on this Saturday Sharefest, Thanks!

Michelle said...

You have a positive but realistic outlook! Good for you for focusing on the positives.(I will still pray for your healing!)

Michelle
ps. I know you have probably tried and heard about lot of things to try and make you feel better...did you ever research lyme disease? or a gluten free diet?

noworries said...

Very encouraging post. You are truly strong!

Anne said...

You're so on the right path, Robin. Happy for you :)

Nicole @ Busy Mom in the Kitchen said...

We each have abilities and talents. I love how you are embracing your new talents, for they are strong and worthy, and make so much of a difference in others. Thank you for continuing to share, as you grow and change.

Blond Duck said...

I think it's hard for all of us to learn to slow down as we get older!

denisemalloy.com said...

Bravo to you for taking a negative situation and turning it into a powerful tool to help others and a learning opportunity for yourself. It takes a strong person to be able to see this and you are an inspiration. Thank you for this heartfelt post.

Alison said...

What a wonderful, positive way to look at things. The people around you are lucky to have you - there aren't many of us who have someone we can open our hearts to and know they're truly listening.

Great post, Robin!

Stopping by from Sharefest.

Libby said...

I think your blog and your beautiful voice that comes through in your writing strengthens others as well. At least it does for me.

jamie said...

Love how you're en(reach)ing lives with your utmost capabilities ;)

Tanya said...

Thank you so much for posting this. Boy, how I can relate! I have had chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia for twenty years. Like you said it has gotten better, but has not gone away. The hardest part is not being able to do all the things you'd like. I have learned that I just had to change my dreams a bit. The other is family members not understanding about your limitations. I was just curious if you had chronic fatigue syndrome.

Tanya said...

i forgot to mention that I'm visiting from Sits. I also have another blog that deals with my chronic illness. It can be found at www.motheringfromdaytoday.blogspot.com.

Raquel said...

While I am sorry to hear that your are not as physically active as maybe you once were, what a blessing that you have found another way to be there to support others. I am grateful that you are sharing your wonderful gifts!

BusyMomofTwins said...

A beautifully honest post. You are a remarkable woman that has so much to offer. Thank you for writing about something that many will not speak about. Thinking of you and hoping today is one of the 'good' days.

http://familyfoodtravel.blogspot.ca

doseofreality said...

Thank you for sharing your honesty and your heart. Sometimes I come by to read stuff from SITS and I just know it was exactly what I needed to read right then. This was one of those times. :)

Pam said...

A wonderful post. Both of my kids have chronic autoimmune diseases, and, at their young ages, have learned some of this too. The trials bring such growth, don't they? I'm so sorry you are not well though. Thanks for sharing the good side of trials.

Ginny Marie said...

The service you do now for people is so much more important than the first, although both are good. :) Wonderful post, as always!

Visiting from SITS.

Kristi said...

May you be blessed with the strength to overcome your set backs. It is amazing how sometimes we are forced to reevaluate our lives and forced to challenge ourselves in ways we might not otherwise have done. Kudos to you for serving as an inspiration to others. While you body may be unable to move mountains, your soul certainly has!

darcie said...

a good reminder for all of us...say no, slow down...
seems like you know what you want, and what you need -

visiting from SITS - xxoo

Felicia said...

You are so strong and inspirational, Robin. I think that a lot of people, including myself, could learn a lot from you. Best wishes.

bloggingwhilenursing said...

Such a very honest and heartfelt post. I can understand that life has changed for you, and you can no longer do the things that used to, but I love the way you reshape that and do what you can do.

Even though your services are not the same as they used to, they still come from the heart, and that is what matters most.

Ugochi said...

Sorry about your health Robin, and thank God He sustains you.
Thanks for not getting bitter and cranky, thanks for still being a blessing to others..deliberately.
God bless!
Have a super blessed week!

Nellie said...

Your writing is so beautiful!! I am so sorry about your health and tiredness. I think its amazing that you have learned to strengthen others regardless of what you are going through. Thank you for sharing your story with us, it is truly inspiring and motivating. Have a great weekend.

viviene said...

Hi, thanks for dropping by my blog on my SITS day! =)

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