Another guest post today! You are going to love what Kirsty shares with us today. I very much connected with her thoughts and she blessed me with her words. Take some time to visit her blog and if you like this post, encourage her and leave her some love in the comments. I am loving this guest blog thing!!! You all are amazing!
Kirsty is 28 and currently lives in New Zealand with her husband Matt. She grew up as a missionary’s daughter in Tanzania and has lived her life travelling between Australia, New Zealand and Africa. She has had serious problems with her health since she was 19, battling a myriad of tropical illnesses and currently deals with post-infectious (or chronic)-fatigue. She loves God and is so thankful for his faithfulness and grace to her through all the years of illness. She has recently started a blog at: http://howthelamerun.wordpress.com/ and would love to hear from you!
With This Breath…
Our life is but a breath…Psalm 39.5
With time, it seems that I understand more and more what this means. The days come, and go, so quickly. Soon, we will be standing at the end, and then, no more. At least of this world.
Sometimes when illness brings us close to death it gives a glimpse of this reality. We come so close to the end that we feel we might fall off it. Suddenly we remember that our days are a gift. Even filled with illness and darkness, our days are a gift.
It’s been two years now since I came so close to death that my family held their breath and prayed. No one else knew how sick I had become, but God woke friends in the night to pray for my safety. I was too sick to be really aware of the danger I was in, but remember having a sense that when I went to sleep, there was a chance that I just might not wake up.
God brought me through, and healed me of what threatened my life, but then, I went on living with the consequences of illness. Of course, anyone with chronic illness knows how hard this is, this day in, day out, struggle with feeling completely horrible. I don’t have to explain it to you, you know.
As time goes on, and illness continues, I began to lose the perspective gained through this experience. With illness, we can all lose perspective.
I know, deep down, how precious life is, and that I don’t want to waste a day, but then the symptoms come, and it seems impossible to see past the tiredness or the pain. This is a hard thing to live out. I want to make the most of everyday, but my head is in a blur, and my body just won’t co-operate. There is a fight to remain content, to make the most of this day, despite illness.
I am a lot better now than I was then, and maybe that has helped me get some perspective back, but also, I am learning to be thankful for the small things. Some days, I have lots of energy. Others, my energy comes in little bursts, up and down all day. I try to be thankful that I have little bursts. I feel like a box of sparklers, energy bursts lighting up one at a time, and then, gone. I try to be thankful for the beauty and the bursts of light, rather than looking at the burnt out stem of blackness left afterwards.
The days of having no energy at all are few now, for which I am very thankful, but they still come, and I still have weeks where I can hardly get out of bed.
Often, there is an intense frustration accompanying this, and the questions come. How do I make the most of my time?
How do we?
How do we treat our days like a gift, when we are sick? How do we make the most of them despite illness? How do we avoid feeling useless and use what we do have in a meaningful way?
I have been thinking about this, struggling with feelings of uselessness, unable to do what a ‘normal’ woman of my age would, I’m not earning money, and I don’t have a career or children.
I keep coming back to this same conclusion, or rather, God keeps reminding me of what is most important, he pulls me out of my discouragement, and says to me, “It’s not what you do, but how you love.” He tells me again the words Jesus said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind…and love your neighbour as yourself.” -Mark 12:30-31
We can love God…
I find it to be such an encouragement. The most encouraging thing I can hear, because no matter how illness limits me, I can do that. No matter how illness limits us we can love. He gives us the grace to. In the simple, in the little, he gives us the grace to love him. We can love our God by spending time with him, even if it is a desperate cry from a hospital bed, or with tears of frustration flowing down our cheeks. We can love him with thankfulness for a good day, or a beautiful sunset, or another milestone reached.
We can love him, not by doing, but by being with him. We can love him, by being loved by him. We can love him by accepting his grace, just to be. By coming to him like Jesus says. “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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” –Matt 11: 28-30
We can love others, and ourselves…
We can love others with the simplest gifts, maybe not with the energy many have, but with the little that we can do, we can love them. We can love with the grace God gives to us. We can love them by making a meal if we are strong enough, being present in a conversation, listening, or if we are all alone, with no energy to even move, we can love them by praying for them. God will show you how you can love your neighbour, and it won’t be something that is too much for you =) (Refer to verse in Matthew above =))
We can love ourselves by accepting our own limitations, not being too hard on ourselves, and accepting the grace God has given us.
I find this one the hardest personally. I have such high expectations for myself, but God will help us, and as we learn from God to love ourselves better, we will be able to love others better too.
“But love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your might, with all your strength… and love your neighbour as yourself.” -Mark 12:30-31
He gives us the answer. Our days are a gift, and they are to love. There are no wasted days with God. He loves us deeply, and he asks us also, to love.
P.S. Thank you for taking the time to read, and thank you so much to Ann for giving me this opportunity!