A NEW NORMAL
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
You may struggle with or no longer be able to do tasks like cooking, cleaning, laundry, or shopping for basic necessities. You may not be able to do your own personal care anymore. Perhaps you find it demanding, or even impossible, to attend church, family functions, or social events. It isn’t easy to accept and manage such changes, so be kind to yourself as you adjust and figure out ways to manage your new normal.
GET RID OF THE SHOULDS
You may find yourself saying things like, I should be able to do more physically, cope better, be there for others more, and the like. You may have this self-talk even though you’re doing the best you can in spite of physical limitations. When you have a case of the shoulds, it’s like criticizing yourself for things that you can’t help. You wouldn’t beat yourself up physically, so try not to beat yourself up mentally, either. When you feel a should coming on, try to stop it and redirect your thoughts to what you can do and are doing. Celebrate what you are able to accomplish. Think of that celebration as medicine to eradicate a case of the shoulds.
ACCEPT CHANGES AND WORK FROM THERE
Acknowledge that your abilities have changed. Then respect your body by adjusting expectations of yourself to what is realistic, given your altered capabilities. For example, consider how you might better organize your home and how you can find alternative or more efficient ways to do things. Give yourself time to figure out how to make the necessary changes.
Remember that it’s okay to say no to things that will push you beyond your limits. Others may not understand, but their understanding isn’t required for you to make good decisions for your health.
Be assured that there is nothing wrong with needing help. It isn’t your fault that your body can’t do what you wish it could. You know deep down that you’d do more if you were able.
Learn to celebrate small victories. For example, when you’re able to do something, you haven’t done for a while, no matter how small, make the most of it.
Determine to make the best of your situation. While it’s less than ideal, and it isn’t what you chose or envisioned, you can still make the most of it. Try to focus more on what you can do than what you can’t.
Understand that having limitations doesn’t diminish your value as a person. Maybe your body can’t keep the same pace you wish it could, but the real you still lives inside. Remind yourself of this over and over again if need be.
THE NEW SPIRITUAL NORMAL
Take a good look at your relationship with God. Has it changed? Perhaps you’re leaning on Him in a way you never have before, spending more time in prayer, or growing in your faith. If so, embrace that closeness.
Given what has happened with your health, you may be struggling with God. Whatever you’re thinking and feeling, take it to Him. Whether you’re sad, angry, confused, feeling hopeless or in despair, He has the broadest shoulders in the world, and He can take it. You can’t hide anything from Him anyway, and it’s important to be honest with yourself and release troublesome thoughts and difficult emotions. Then listen, sit in His presence, worship Him, and watch for ways He may speak to you. This may be through His Word, others, music, your own mind, or any other way He knows He can reach you.
If you’re so upset with the Lord that you can’t do any of this yet, consider journaling or talking with someone you trust, or asking others to pray for you. It’s a start. Then go from there and take one step at a time. When you get to the point where you can resolve things with the Lord, you might find yourself with a new spiritual normal.
Once you’ve had the opportunity to grieve what you’ve lost and accept that your life has changed, you can begin to move forward. Your new normal likely will be difficult to adjust to, so make the most of any support you have. If you’re struggling in your relationship with the Lord, do whatever you need to do in order to get in step with Him. When you experience His peace and presence in the midst of your challenging situation, you’ll be glad you did.
As you adjust to your new normal and consider what’s next for you, you may find it helpful to use the Biblical Purpose printable. Your physical limitations don’t limit who you are on the inside, and they don’t have to stand in the way of God’s purpose for you.
Chronic Joy® Staff Writer
Laurie has a Master's Degree in Christian Counseling. She is the author of Coping with ME/CFS and has had many poems and articles published in both print and online publications. She won the Open Medicine Foundation poetry contest in 2019. Laurie loves to use her gift of writing to encourage others.
YOUR Biblical Purpose
Purpose is the reason something exists or was created. It is the reason we act or choose not to act and encompasses intentions and objectives.