Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29)

 

Come to me,
all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
(Matthew 11:28-29)

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Being a mom is difficult; being a mom with chronic illness is even more challenging.

In my early twenties, I had a car wreck which led to chronic neck and back pain. Two years later, I suffered a severe bout of mononucleosis. During that time, I met, dated, and married my soulmate, and three years later we had our first son, Jordan. When I was in my late twenties, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid disease called Hashimoto’s. Six years after Jordan’s birth, we welcomed Jackson — and six years after that, unrelenting back pain with no apparent cause led to a second autoimmune diagnosis: fibromyalgia.

Now that my sons are 23 and 17, there are decisions I wish I had made when they were small, as well as choices I’m glad I made. If you’re a mom with chronic illness, I want to encourage you with hard-won wisdom from my experience–and let you know you’re not alone.

 

MY ADVICE TO THE MOM WITH CHRONIC ILLNESS

Here is what I would say to my younger self – and to all of you:

 

GIVE YOURSELF GRACE

In this age of social media, comparisons, and experts who tout the best way to do just about anything, it’s hard to find and maintain your rhythm as a mom. When you’re a mother with an unrelenting disease, it’s even easier to feel guilty about undone housework or your body’s inability to keep a busy schedule.

I’m a recovering perfectionist and overachiever. When my boys were little, I spent way too much time bemoaning my lack of energy and beating myself up about dirty floors and my inability to chase after them as much as I wanted. Honestly? I wish I had given myself more grace. My sons knew they were loved, and I spent a lot of time playing video games, reading, and doing other quiet, fun things with them. Our house might not have been spotless, but it was peaceful and full of laughter.

 

ASK FOR HELP

One regret I have is trying to “go it alone” as a young mom. We had sitters who kept the kids when I worked various part-time jobs, and we belonged to a loving church family, but I didn’t let my close friends or people in my Bible study class know how much I struggled with fatigue, pain, and depression. I’m sure they would have been compassionate and offered to help me out. It would have brought us closer and allowed them to bless my family with acts of service, meals, or just a hug.

Now, I’m much more open with my struggles. Living with chronic pain and disease does not make up my entire identity, but it does affect every area of my life. In the years since my second autoimmune disease was diagnosed, I’ve begun talking, writing, and speaking more about chronic illness.  When I need help, I ask, and my friends and church family are glad to help. It’s the way the Church is supposed to work – and it’s beautiful.

 

BE HONEST WITH YOUR FAMILY

When Jordan and Jackson were little, I asked my friend Judy (whose three daughters grew into mature, godly, and Kingdom-minded young women) what parenting advice she could offer. She smiled and said, “Talk about anything and everything with the boys. It really makes a difference in the relationship you develop with your kids, and they’ll feel comfortable coming to you when upsetting things happen.”

Judy was right. Now that my sons are young adults, I’m grateful I never hid my struggles from them. They know I have bad days (and weeks), and they developed a strong work ethic because I had them help around the house from a very young age. All of us have had many conversations about the experience of living with illness, and they have also seen my sweet husband love and serve me well for two and a half decades. Looking back, I’m grateful for the life lessons and empathy they gained.

 

LEAN INTO JESUS

One of the things I treasure about our Lord is that He was fully human as well as fully divine — which means He knew all too well the daily struggle to keep hope afloat while dealing with weariness, pain, and suffering.

Because He knew weakness, I am drawn to Him when I keenly feel my frailty. I cry out honestly to Him when I feel like I can’t go on, and He gives me strength to be the patient mom my children need. Even as I pray for earthly healing of my issues, I bow to His will. As I parent my sons while experiencing physical flare-ups, He teaches me endurance and shows me the purpose behind my trials. Day by day, He builds my faith in His sovereignty.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,”
He implores, “and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls”
(Matthew 11:28–29)

For all mothers, but especially moms with chronic illness, leaning into Jesus is the key that unlocks soul-deep rest. As we cling to Him in faith, our children witness our journey towards acceptance and surrender. Who knows how their lives will be changed as a result?


First published at Mom Mentor, October, 2021. Published with permission.

Dena Dyer

Dena Dyer

Author

Dena loves Jesus, her family, all things literary, coffee, and British television. She’s an author of eleven books and many articles, a professional speaker, and a Bible teacher who’s been married to her hubby Carey for 25 wonderful years (and a couple they don’t talk about). Her passion is sharing words of humor and hope with wounded and weary people, and she enjoys singing on the praise team at the church where her husband is the worship pastor. She spends too much time online or in the fast food drive-through--but she and the Lord are working on it. Connect with her: website, Instagram, or Facebook.

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