My illness was one of the best gifts God ever gave to me.
Of course, I didn't see it that way at first, nor for a long time. Even if you consider yourself fairly healthy, take a moment to review my journey with me. I'd be willing to bet that what I have gone through is not so different from a number of things that you have experienced. And what I have learned--maybe they're things that you are learning too, in your own way.
The signs of illness began when I was a young teenager.
I was always tired, but I was a perfectionist and an over-achiever, and fatigue was just not something that I allowed to influence my schedule. I also tended to get sick randomly with nausea, dizziness, disorientation, and confusion.
Furthermore, I had chronic stomach issues. I woke up every morning with a bloated, painful belly (and other things I won't mention), and every so often, I spent an entire night vomiting for no apparent reason, crawling with flashes of heat and cold.
I was so used to this lifestyle that I thought it was normal until I was about 18 or 19. Then it came to my attention that most people did not live this way. So I set out to find answers. Thus followed a long string of visits with various specialists and test after test. Still, no diagnosis.
As my adult duties became more consuming, my health declined. More symptoms joined the first few: deep, aching pain that targeted joints, muscle, and bone; prickling, stabbing nerve pain all over my skin; hypersensitivity to sound, light, and touch; weakness and extreme fatigue.
My family watched my decline and finally forced me to see what I had deliberately ignored. I withdrew from several activities and obligations, and turned down many opportunities. Initially, I spent a lot of days in bed or at home. Even now, if I travel or work one day, I need one to three days to recover at home, or I face difficult consequences. The symptoms also come and go. Some days I am perfectly normal. Other days, I am quite sick.
So what have I learned from my illness?
I would need many more posts to enumerate all the ways in which I have grown through these last few years (and I will likely write them!), but here are three of the most profound lessons.
What has made your pain so valuable that you would say: "___________ is one of the greatest gifts God has given me"?
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.