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A Christian’s View of Guilt in Chronic Illness

girl in snow

As the subtitle of my blog states, A Chronically Ill Christian, Challenged to be Content, it is a challenge to be content. Chronic Illness is a term that means longterm illness. I have illnesses with no cures. Being often non-functional, I admit that I suffer also with chronic guilt. But, guilt is a fraud and, as a Christian, I need to back up and change my view to that which is Biblical.

woman reading Bible

I’ve had to acknowledge that I feel guilty a huge part of everyday. I could blame my upbringing or Christian culture or anything else, but that isn’t quite good enough. My inner voice tells me that I’m guilty of not trying hard enough to get up and be productive. It tells me that I must be lazy or not care enough to sit in my recliner, instead of showering, dressing, and cleaning my house.

My inner voice accuses me of all the things that I should be doing instead of what I’m really doing….nothing. And, it’s not the only voice that I hear that blames me for my illnesses. I see the looks, rolled eyes, and questioning faces that doubt the severity of my sickness or blame me for not getting better. “She should just get up and exercise, lose weight, and do something” is what I hear by their judgemental tone.

Many times, as I’ve tried to explain the diseases that cause all my pain, the listener will just stare off into space or change the subject. Does this mean that they don’t believe me or do they think that I’m exaggerating? Maybe they do. Why do I let it bother me so? Because, it hurts. Often, those close to us, or those of faith can be cold to physical hurting.

What should a chronically-ill Christian feel guilt for? Should I feel guilty for hurting in my joints, fatigue that’s indescribable, nausea that hits me dozens of times each day? Should I feel guilty that my vision is blurry and my eyes hurt each night, so that I don’t feel like reading or paying bills? Should I feel guilty that when I experience a flare of worsening pain, I just can’t keep the laundry washed?

No. I should not feel guilty. As a Christian, I should feel guilty when I sin. Sin is easy to define. It’s breaking God’s laws. Sin is disobeying God and the Word of God.

Woman looking up

When I feel guilty for something that is not a sin, I must be listening to the voice of the wicked one. Even Satan can quote Scripture. He certainly tries to make me feel guilty for that which I cannot help. Being sick is not a sin. God loves me whether I’m sick or well. I know that He loves each soul and gives me life and a purpose.

In our culture, where Social Darwinism is so rampant, Christians should be careful to avoid a harsh outlook when they consider those who are disabled. Jesus was filled with compassion on those with disabilities. He showed them love and treated them in a way that showed that he saw value in them.

Because a person doesn’t appear to be outwardly productive, it shouldn’t take away the value they have as a person. Every person who has life is a person with value. We should see other’s through the eyes of Christ.

If I can remember how Christ sees me, I will be reminded that I don’t need to feel guilty. Even if I do nothing each day until I die, I’m still of worth to God. If you’re a Christian living with chronic illness, I hope that you can dwell on that truth and refuse the lie that you should feel guilty for doing less than those who have good health.

Matthew 25:34-40 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

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The Chronic Fight

fists

I love the days when I wake up and feel like I can fight. Those are the days when you have an inner drive that bursts out and gives you a fighting spirit. You’re ready to tackle that chronic illness and pain. You’re eager to try to live a normal life.

sunshine on girl

Some days are like that. They seem to be the best ones, because you’re filled with positive thoughts. You really aim to start afresh, as if your chronic pain didn’t exist. I don’t know if it’s a sign of mental illness or just wishful thinking.

If you struggle with chronic pain and sickness, you probably know what I mean. It seems almost foolish to imagine that you’ll be able to just go on with life as if you’re not sick. Maybe it’s a form of denial that keeps cropping up in my mind. Because, who wants to accept that your life is chronically painful…..forever?

Now, these feelings have never lasted a full day for me. You know why? Because, reality hits me in the face. Reality will show itself differently each time, but there is always a common theme. You. Are. Sick!

These happy-thought days are quickly blown up with a variety of things:

  • sudden pain
  • family crisis
  • flare
  • cold
  • weather changes
  • how I feel when I do a couple of chores….like a truck hit me
  • etc
fist fight

So, why do I let myself go through this again and again? Well, I’m a human. Humans want to be happy and live a productive, meaningful life. I wasn’t always non-functional and I remember the better health days.

No matter what I may go through to recover from one of these days, it’s probably worth it. Today, I feel like two trucks have hit me. It’s because, I feel like everything on the list has hit me (except the cold). What to do?

As I lay in bed this morning, I prayed a long time for my list. I may still feel the effects of that truck, but I know in my heart that I’ll be ok. I know that God works things for my good.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

@2020, copyright Lisa Ehrman

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Looking Upward And Forward

cold

It’s February, but I still feel like it’s the beginning of the year. I’m still having to remind myself that it’s 2020. I’m happy that A Chronic Voice has a new February Link Up. The words this month were a little tricky for me. I’ve sort of been living in a small bubble lately, and context was a bit unknown.

The last two weeks have been very difficult. My dad has been in the ICU and hospital for over a week with heart failure. He’s home now and getting stronger, but I spent a week traveling daily to sit with him. I’m physically exhausted and mentally tired.

Looking

I’m looking forward to going home tomorrow and recuperating from all the wear and tear on this chronically painful body. I’m looking forward to controlling my diet. Staying with other people, even family, makes it impossible to eat what’s best for my body.

Playing

Playing is a word that I don’t use for myself, but for others. Becoming a person who is too disabled to participate in activities that are considered normal, takes play out of the picture. I once enjoyed playing tennis and musical instruments. These activities brought me much joy and excitement.

I now take enjoyment from watching other people play. I love watching professional tennis and other sports on tv. I love watching my grandchild play even more!

Joining

Joining groups hasn’t happened for me in a few years. Joining in social events and classes hasn’t happened either. I’ve joined online communities and found social interaction easier, since I don’t get out much.

I also don’t join in the fun like I used to. I get more quiet and a little bit withdrawn. With all the brain fog, I often join in a conversation and then wish that I hadn’t. More times than not, I will start to talk and the wrong words come out. It makes me feel stupid. After a few years of this, people in groups tend to just ignore me.

Invigorating

What do you find invigorating? I guess one thing that invigorates me is sudden changes. I love going from my warm house to the freezing cold outdoors and feel that sudden chill. I love to wake up to sunshine when I’ve spent a few days in dreary, wet weather. I also love when a season suddenly seems to change overnight.

Ditching

Ditching was one of the jobs that my dad performed. He had a construction business and used heavy machinery to grade land and move dirt. Building foundations and preparing lawns was one job, but most lots would need ditching, too.

Ditching is needed for many reasons, but especially to keep water moving. When there is no ditch, the road or lawn could hold water and lead to flooding. Ditches allow water to run off and flow away.

Even though ditches aren’t beautiful, and we often ignore them, we would certainly miss them if they weren’t there. If they’re clogged, the water in them becomes stagnant and dirty. There is an old saying, “dull as ditchwater”. I hope I’m not that dull.

Even though I’m not socially as active as I would like, I don’t want to become dull as ditchwater. Although I’m not joining in with lots of groups, I still want to feel useful and productive. I work hard every day to keep up with whatever goes on in the world. I love writing and interacting with my sweet readers and group followers.

@2020, copyright Lisa Ehrman

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National Wear Red Day 2020

Today is National Wear Red Day. You may have seen the ads and Facebook group showing women wearing bright red dresses or tops. The American Heart Association sponsors this day of awareness to help women learn how to prevent heart disease.

red dress

Cardiovascular disease is the number 1 killer of women and kills one in three. Women need to learn how heart disease may present itself differently in women than men. Research shows that 80% of heart disease can be prevented.

Go Red For Women has a wonderful website that is helpful to us all. We can learn the facts about cardiovascular disease and also ways to prevent heart disease and strokes.

It’s so important to have regular doctor exams to be screened for cardiovascular issues. Getting to the bottom of heart problems is not always easy, and regular exams are necessary. Women should also learn the signs of a heart attack or stroke: If you have any of these, you should call 911 and go to the hospital.

Heart Attack Signs:

  1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
  2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  4. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  5. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
red coat

Stroke Signs:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

If you’re ready to join in and wear red today, you can post your picture on the Go Red for Women facebook page.

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional. If you have a medical concern, please consult your personal physician.

@2020, copyright Lisa Ehrman

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My Wish

Yesterday my father came home from the hospital. This was a relief, as I had spent seven days driving to and sitting in the hospital. It’s been an exhausting time for my body and my pain has grown.

As I struggle with back, knee, and sciatic pain, I’ve struggled with my medication. I’m not supposed to take ibuprofen, but the Tylenol just doesn’t help much. So, I’ve had to endure more pain and walked while trying not to audibly groan.

As I rest with heat on my back, I continue to pray that I can endure this difficult time. I hope to go home to my family this weekend, and I really miss them. It’s hard to leave a sick parent, but he does seem to be out of danger.

When you live a life of chronic pain, there are always choices to make. As I look for immediate relief of pain, there is also the future health of my kidneys to consider. Do I want to stop hurting today or do I want to try and prevent kidney failure.

It’s really not fair to be forced into making these types of decisions. There should be pain relief alternatives that are available to everyone who needs them. I wish that there were.

@2020, copyright Lisa Ehrman

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Chronic Illness Day

I’m sitting in the ICU waiting room waiting for visiting hours. My dad has been admitted for three days and is in bad shape. He’s a man who has numerous chronic diseases. At his advanced age, his heart problems are serious.

He’s had a pacemaker/defibrillator implanted years ago. There have been occasional periods where he had adjustments. This time has been the worst. Numerous times his pacemaker has been failing or reacting too slow.

As he passes out he gets injured. There is now a wound that is in awful shape. So many times the nurses have rushed in as he has pre heart attack events. The exterior defibrillator has to be used. What a scary thing!

I’m a little slower to respond to comments but I’ll be able to soon. If you can, please say a prayer for him. God bless.