How to Avoid the Guilt of Chronic Illness

Growing up we are taught many things that help to shape our character. These ideas and beliefs make us who we are and how we’re known to others. We take pride in our strengths and abilities to get things done.
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Some of the things we were taught served us well as we made our way in the world, and helped us to be successful. They shaped the way people thought of us and how they talked about us. I bet you’ve heard these things and know what I mean:
She is such a hard worker.
She is so diligent, and always finishes what she started.
She works fast!
I can always count on her.
She throws the best parties.
Her house is so organized!
I always wanted to hear these things said about me and took pride in my work. Whether my work was at home or on a job, I wanted to do my best and succeed. For most of my young years I was able to push through the minor pain that I experienced. Most people didn’t even know that I had any pain.
Although I knew that I had some pain in my back, I rarely told others. I truly believed that everyone had some pain. My drive to be successful was strong. After my children were born, I wanted to be a great mother and worked hard.
When my pain started to shut down my ability to function, I soon felt the guilt of not doing enough. As the pain caused more and more pain, I was unable to do more and more of my to-do list. This downward drift was bringing me guilt that was strong.
It took me years to fight back from the guilt. I think this was partly because of my pride. It’s hard to consider yourself as a failure. But, I was going to slowly learn and believe that being “successful” wasn’t only based on my productivity. Maybe many of you already learned this lesson, but it was so difficult for me.
I’ve learned that the above statements are not what I need to focus on. We are worthy just because we’re human beings. Focusing on relationships brings new importance. Doing what I can is going to be good enough. When the feelings of guilt creep into my mind, I remind myself that guilt is pointless and doesn’t belong in my life.
I believe that no matter my health, God has a purpose for my life. He wants me to help others and show love and care to those around me. I’m thankful that He has a plan and I don’t have to feel guilty for the things that I can not control.
@2019, copyright Lisa Ehrman

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