Rest in God alone, my soul,
for my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I will not be shaken.
It’s distressing to cope with a chronic illness, so try to be gentle with yourself as you find ways to manage this troublesome life. You likely have a lot of challenging thoughts and emotions to process, losses to grieve, and difficult decisions to make. This isn’t the time to judge or put undue pressure on yourself. It’s a lot to deal with, so please try to be gentle instead.
BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF
Getting sick brings about big changes that affect your life in significant ways. It will take time to accept and adjust to it all. Remind yourself that there’s no deadline for learning your best ways to cope.
Dealing with a chronic illness may happen in layers. You might be able to handle one way it has affected your life, but not others. This is understandable. It doesn’t mean you aren’t trying. Keep working at it as you are able and ask the Lord for the wisdom and strength you need to navigate this process. He understands what you’re facing and knows what you need. Open your heart to His love and leading.
If you find you’re doing too much, resist the temptation to beat yourself up. There’s no need for self-condemnation. It takes time to adapt to limitations and figure out what is and isn’t feasible. If you push too far, learn from the experience and move forward — a little wiser and a little more prepared to manage within your changed capabilities.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF
- Practice self-care. This can be anything that alleviates a symptom, feels relaxing to you, or refreshes you in some way. This isn’t being selfish. In the midst of dealing with an overwhelming situation, it’s a way to treat yourself well and catch your breath. If you struggle in this area, it might help to remind yourself that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Think of self-care as an act of stewardship.
- Have realistic expectations. Even when you’re doing your best to handle this changed life, realize that your best may vary. You might feel you’re managing well one day, but not the next. It’s all right if you’re up and down. Be kind to yourself as you ride out the fluctuations.
- Write a letter to yourself. Include Bible verses and encouraging words you have read or that someone has shared with you. Add understanding and uplifting comments that you would tell someone else facing a debilitating illness or that you wish someone would say to you. Keep the letter handy and refer to it when you need some compassion.
Whether you’re new to chronic illness or you’ve lived with one for several years, any stage in this process is a good time to be patient with yourself. There can be difficult changes to accept, harsh realities to face, and ongoing issues to handle, so treat yourself with kindness to help you through the challenges. With every step, know that you can go to the Lord for whatever you need — rest in His presence, and let Him be your soft place to land.
Chronic Joy Contributing 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. In addition, she won the Open Medicine Foundation poetry contest in 2019. Laurie loves to use her gift of writing to encourage others.
When we are kind and generous with ourselves, we can pour kindness and love overflowing into others. Take time and take care of you, because you are God’s beloved.