Pain really and truly sucks.
If that offends you or makes you feel uncomfortable I’m sorry. It doesn’t matter whether it’s physical pain or emotional pain. Either one can become overwhelming and drown out everything else around you. I know because I’ve had way too much of both in my life.
However, in life, we seldom get to do what we really want, and unfortunately, you don’t get a day off from Lupus. So, when faced with the potential of debilitating pain—pain that would consume me if I let it. In those moments, what I actually do is bare down, grit my teeth, and become a first class actress who is an expert at manipulating her audience into seeing only what she wants them to see.
You may not realize this unless you’ve lived with chronic pain, but pain, all to often, makes other people uncomfortable. So, I have learned that the way to handle it is to put on a plastic smile and just endure. My closest friends can usually see through my facade, but I’m pretty good at fooling the rest of the world.
I made the decision years ago I wasn’t going to let Lupus stop me from living my life. Sometimes I pay for that decision when it causes my lupus to flare, but I don’t regret the decision.
I don’t know what it is you may be facing today. Maybe it's chronic pain like me, or maybe it’s emotional pain from personal tragedy or trauma, or maybe it’s something else. I want to encourage you to keep going, keep holding on, keep taking the next step. I don’t type those words lightly. I know from personal experience, that sometimes, it might seem easier to surrender—to give in. But on my most difficult days I’ve had two things that have given me strength: the love of family and friends and the hope of a great God.
In Joshua 1:9 it says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” NASB
With love, strength, and God given courage, you and I can continue to embrace life even on the really hard days. Don’t give up my dear friend.
I often feel inadequate about so many things. Like many others, I am my own worst critic. It is so easy to be unkind and harsh with myself. Much of the time I feel like my flaws and shortcomings stick out like a green neon shirt. I definitely can’t miss them, so they must be glaringly bright to all those around me.
What is it in my life that I need to accept? The longer I’ve focused in on the word, the more I found myself looking inward. I came to realize that before I can truly accept anyone or anything else, I need to learn to accept myself. This should be my starting place. How incredibly wise to make this the first word on a list of meaningful words.
I could almost instantaneously start a list of all the things I don’t like about myself or the areas where I believe I fall short. If I’m honest with myself, I often feel inadequate or that I’m a failure.
I feel so flawed and cracked.
My life has been filled with scars and hurts for so long. It’s hard to believe that I can become anything useful and beautiful in God’s sight again. Instead of embracing who I am and choosing to accept myself, I tell myself that “I’m a failure” and “I’m not enough.”
I am coming to realize that I need to clean house and exterminate these destructive thoughts from my life. In dwelling on these negative opinions, I have come to see how detrimental these messages are. I have allowed them to dwell in my heart and mind. Because of this, I view everything in my world through the filters of failure and self-disapproval. None of these thoughts bring glory to God or reflect His truths. Neither do they honor myself or who God made me to be.
The truth is, however, I can be so quick to be overly critical and harsh with myself, when in the same instances or circumstances, I wouldn’t hesitate to extend grace to someone else. Grace is such a beautiful thing. It should be freely given when the need arises, but I am oh so quick to withhold it from myself.
But how would my life look different if I truly could learn to accept myself?
Accept all my imperfections and shortcomings. If, and it’s a big if, if I can resolutely choose to accept myself, if I can choose to show myself grace and choose to receive the Grace that God so freely gives, well, then, God can take the dried, cracked vessel of my life; he can rework and remake it into something completely new.
You see, for a long time I have prayed, “God please make me that girl I used to be. The girl who could be used by you.” But now I’m beginning to wonder if maybe I was praying the wrong thing. Maybe I should be praying for God to remake me into something new. A new, more mature woman with scars that are healed. Scars that might allow me to help someone else along the journey.
Our pastor once told us about an ancient Japanese art of fixing broken pottery called Kintsugi. It is when an artist takes broken pottery and repairs it. Instead of camouflaging the cracks, the repairs are made with gold, silver, or platinum. The artist intentionally calls attention to the cracks by filling them with precious metals. Through this process, the piece often becomes even more beautiful than it once was, while still honoring the history of the piece. What a beautiful picture I can take for my life. God can take all the flaws and difficult pieces of my life. He can put them back together and make me whole again and more beautiful than I was before.