Living with a chronic illness has changed my life in so many ways. Surprisingly not all of the changes have been bad. It has taught some important life lessons and helped me to grow and mature as a person. Here are a few of the many things I have learned along the way living with Rheumatoid Arthritis:
1. I have a chronic disease, it does not have me.
It doesn’t change who I am as a person or make me any less than who I was before it came into my life.
2. Find beauty in the small things.
Having to slow my life down has taught me to enjoy those little daily graces that I might have otherwise missed because I was in such a hurry before. The beauty of the sunrise as it peaks in from my bedroom window. Hearing the birds that sing so sweetly from the trees in the back yard. Or just listening to the symphony that is in a gentle rainfall. Take the time to stop and find the beauty of small things.
3. Chronic Illness is no respecter of persons.
Chronic illness can, and does strike anyone. When I am waiting to see the rheumatologist I am reminded of this as I share moments with both the young and old, the affluent and the those who like myself struggle to make ends meet. The one thing we all have in common is our chronic illness. I have seen how graciously we serve each other, by opening doors, giving up a seat or simply listening to each others cares and concerns. We are in this together and together we can help and support each other.
4. Know my limitations and accept help when I need it.
I have come to realize this disease has placed certain limitations on me. For one thing I do not have the strength and energy I once had; so I have learned to accommodate and make the changes needed to make it through each day. This illness has taught me that it is not a sign of weakness to need help and to graciously accept help when I need it.
5. Gods love and care for me is immense:
Rheumatoid Arthritis has shown me just how profoundly God’s love for me is. It has helped me treasure my faith even more and has made the things I believe in so much more real and personal to me. The hardest struggles with pain or insurance company battles have only strengthened me and have reminded me of the words of Corrie ten Boom “No pit is so deep that His love is not deeper still.” No mater how awful things have gotten God’s love and care for me has been bigger and greater still.
6. I will have challenges…
…but I can meet them head on. I am a warrior, I am a fighter. Challenges can not stop me.
7. Some people will never understand.
Even with all of my best efforts to help others understand the chronic illness I live with there will always be some who will never get it, and I have learned to deal with that. No one can truly know what you are going through unless they are living it themselves. I have learned that even those who are afflicted with a chronic illness like myself may not be able to comprehend my unique and individual struggles.
8. Everyone has bad days…
…even those who aren’t struggling with a chronic illness. Be kind and understanding.
9. I have a good life.
Even with all of the health struggles and chronic pain. Even though there are days when life gets to be a burden, I know I have a good life. I know I am blessed beyond anything I deserve.
10. Life isn’t over until I take my last breath.
Until that time I want to live every moment to the fullest that I can. I want to enjoy it! Live it! I want to treasure every moment whether good or bad and learn from it, grow from it. I want my life to make a positive difference right up until that last breath.