Self love is something I have struggled with for a very long time. Chronic illness has a way of chipping away at every bit of self love and self worth you once had for yourself. It happens so slowly that sometimes you don’t realize it’s happened until you’re hit in the face with it one day. I’ve had a few of those moments in my life, the moments that are seared into your brain forever. Some more recent, some a long time ago.
I used to be more confident. Maybe not as confident as others I know, but it used to be easier to accept compliments or to walk in a room and be able to look people in the eye. But now, I feel like I am not as worthy as I once was. I look different, feel different, I can’t do the things I once did. I’m not the same person I was before.
Having to park in a disabled spot despite the glares from others, or using a wheelchair while people watch, being unable to read, or wash myself, all these things feel like a blow to the self esteem I once had. I used to never be seen without makeup. Now I could care less because the makeup doesn’t cover the sickness. You can see it in the darkness under my eyes that concealer doesn’t cover, or the 15 pounds I’ve lost that my clothes can’t hide.
And don’t forget the constant guilt I feel. Guilt for not being able to do much for myself, guilt for not being able to contribute to my household, guilt for having my family do everything for me on a daily basis, guilt that I can’t go on dates with my husband, or shopping with my sister, and all the other things I used to enjoy.
Some days its hard to watch others forge ahead in their lives, as they lay the foundation for their careers and start families of their own, while I make a career out of blending green smoothies and popping hundreds of pills. But everyone has their set of challenges too. They may not involve endless doctor visits and medical anomalies, but I think we’re all given a set of obstacles that shape us into who we’re meant to be.
I’m sure everyone is tired of hearing me apologize to them everyday just for being me. But I don’t need to apologize for who I am. I didn’t choose this body, I didn’t choose this illness. I must acknowledge my limitations and work with them, not fight them. God loves us for who we are and doesn’t expect us to put our value in our accomplishments. Eph 2:10 says “…we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God prepared me in advance for this time my life. When God said we are to do good works, He isn’t saying “Get yourself out there and get to work!” Rather, He is emphasizing that He has planned for this time in my life, even if it seems a bit quiet and unproductive. So I must continue to do the work He has called me to do, even if it’s as simple as writing a blog post.
I must try to forget what is behind and look to what is ahead (Phil 3:13). God has great things in store and knows my limitations. He works all things together for good. It doesn’t mean that what I’m going through is good, but He will make good come from it whether it’s a blessing to myself or others.
Lyme disease is my teacher. Though it’s weakened my body and sucked some of the life out of my organs, it’s taught me where my true strength lies and it breathed new life into my world. It’s taught me the value of gratitude, the true definition of courage, and the importance of unconditional self love. Because of Lyme disease, I know how to find the light switch when things have gone impossibly dark, and how to laugh when life doesn’t seem very funny. Though it’s been a hard lesson to learn, I’m learning to allow this disease to continue to shape me each and every day.
In the mean time, I’ll just wait for the glorious day that I get to exchange my body for the one that Jesus Christ has in store for me in Heaven. I will pray daily that God will help me learn to love a body that I do not feel pride in, a body which causes me daily frustrations, and that He will restore my self image and self esteem. We are after all made in His image, and if He loves me, why can’t I love myself? I will no longer hold myself to the standard of the world, but to the standard that God has set for me. I will not let hard circumstances harden my heart and closed doors won’t close my mind. My body may be somewhat unreliable but my spirit isn’t.
So I’ll still make the hard walk from my couch to the backyard to sit outside and enjoy the beauty God made, to feel the warm sun on my skin and the breeze in my hair. I’ll still smile when I don’t feel like smiling. I will still laugh and yet allow myself to cry. I will still be thankful for what I have no matter how big or small because this is the life God has blessed me with. I may be healed one day, or I may not. I will maintain hope though. Because this is just a moment. It may feel like a lifetime, but there will be something good from this one day. This is where I’m at right now and that’s ok. I’m doing my part, now I’ll just wait for God to do His.
I am worthy. I am loved. And so are you.