Today I spent several hours on the couch.
When this happens (and it happens often) I’m not just resting or laying down. Usually, my oxygen levels drop (several times to as low as 41–“corpse levels,” my doctor said) but not always. Sometimes, my body shuts down-I can’t talk, can’t move. My body feels hot and cold at the same time. I’m dehydrated but I don’t feel thirsty. Or I’m thirsty but too nauseated to drink. I have to put my feet up, drink water, and hope I’ll feel better soon, but knowing it could be hours.
Inevitably this occurs when we need to leave the house. We’ve been in our current house for several months. I’ve left maybe four times.
I find it hard to describe the feeling of defeat, not able to even communicate that I need someone to help me put my feet up or fetch a glass of water. We’re not sure why it happens-am I just anxious about going out? Then, it tends to happen more often when I’ve been exposed to various toxins. And there’s a time frame-most attacks occur about 11:00 AM.
It’s never been diagnosed-it’s just somewhere between Lyme disease, Bartonella, mold toxicity, POTS, hypoxemia…shall I go on? I used to be able to count my illnesses on one hand, then two. Now I might be able to fit them on toes and fingers.
This is my battle. Actually, it’s just one of my battles. Please don’t pretend you know exactly what I’m going through. Please don’t imply that it’s not that bad. Please don’t ask me if I’d like to take this or that supplement to fix it.
I don’t know your battle. I won’t pretend to know exactly what you’re going through. I won’t imply that I’ve experienced something similar and minimize your pain. I won’t try to fix your problem.
One thing that this illness has taught me is that we all face great hurdles. People tend to make assumptions and try to fix your problems. Whenever I open up and share about my illness, I wait to see if you’ll cut my words down with, “Oh, everyone’s tired sometimes.” I promise everyone isn’t tired like I am.
I used to try to fix everyone’s problems, to dismiss them with a quick, “Oh, if they only did _______, they’d be fine.” Now, I’m slowly learning that when people share their struggle, most times they don’t want your help.
They want your compassion. They want your love. And they want a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.
What a fool I was to think I could fix people. But it’s not foolish to try to love someone.
If your pain has ever been dismissed, I’m so sorry. If you face challenges that threaten to drown you, I’m so sorry. If you find yourself alone in a world of people who think you should buck up and bear it, don’t let yourself think the same way.
It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to mourn the life you couldn’t or didn’t or won’t live. It’s okay to voice your struggles without saying, “The Lord is good.” It’s okay to cry.
It’s okay to not have the right answer. It’s okay to simply be there for a friend. It’s okay to cry with them and leave without offering advice.
This pain is not okay. It’s not the way God designed our world. Yes, God does work through Satan’s evil. But that doesn’t make evil good. It just shows how awesome God is, to be able to redeem the worst of situations and bring blessings out of blackness.
The next time you feel you shouldn’t show your heart in front of a friend or the next time you can see judgment and “Why can’t she just live with it?” in someone’s eyes, remember: you don’t have to waste breath explaining how you feel to someone who doesn’t care.
I’m not suggesting you drown yourself in sensibility or let your emotions control you. But don’t be afraid of grief.
The next time a friend shares some hardship in their life, please don’t compare it to your battle. You don’t know what they are facing. To some a molehill is a mountain. Don’t compare. Give advice if you sense they’d appreciate it. Say the hard things when you have to. But please don’t minimize their pain.
Grief is not wrong. It is natural. In your rush for joy and peace, remember that while God did command us to rejoice, He also said we are “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” (2 Cor 6:10)
Rejoice in His continued love, even when you can’t feel it. But don’t be afraid to have a good old-fashioned cry.
I’ve found them to be relieving. And when I’m honest about my feelings, the people who truly love me can help me.
Don’t bottle it all up inside and try to move on.
It’s okay to cry.
How do you feel about crying? Does it help you?
Has someone ever blessed you with their words when you were struggling? Have you ever been wounded by dismissal? How can we learn to encourage the suffering better? Share your thoughts in the comments below!