I probably sound pretty crazy, right? But it’s true. I’ve been blessed with a chronic illness.
My journey started years ago with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. I was young, newly married and had my entire life in front of me, so to say this was not in the plan is certainly an understatement.
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I learned to live my life with it knowing that I couldn’t run around like a crazy woman with endless energy. It was what it was.
Fast forward many years and two kids later and I was rocked by yet another challenge in my life. Chronic migraines. I’d had a couple migraines in the past, but truly nothing major or long lasting at all.
So when one hit me out of the blue about 8 years ago, I really didn’t think much of it. What I didn’t realize at the time was that my family and I were in for an incredibly difficult season.
My rarely occurring migraines turned into 3-5 times a week, lasting anywhere from hours to days. Followed by endless neurology appointments, trips to the local doc in a box, ER, and hospital stays.
Our life had completely changed and we were forced to live entirely around my migraines.
I’d miss days, and sometimes weeks, at a time from work.
Missed days for us meant going without pay. This meant very little groceries, difficulty paying bills, and barely enough money for gas to even get to work. As you can imagine, that only caused more stress, increasing my chances of yet another migraine.
Something happened in that valley
Something big happened in that valley we were living in!
I knew I was needing more in my life and that I couldn’t take on this illness on my own. Oh, I had (and, thankfully, still have) incredible friends and family who support me, but truthfully, it wasn’t enough.
I still needed more.
That’s when I went in search of a relationship with Jesus. I’d known Him and believed in Him my entire life, but I didn’t have a real relationship with him.
And then one Christmas, everything changed. I received the devotional, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. I knew Jesus had been calling me and when He put this in my hands, my life changed.
I vowed to spend as much time as I could with Him and even started a Prayer Journal. (which I highly recommend for everyone!)
My journey was not quick…….well not in my timing anyway. I was in the valley, my friend. I mean flat on my face on that valley floor.
It took all I had to put one foot in front of the other. To even be able to breathe through it.
I kept going because of my family, my job, and my friends, but I can honestly tell you there were times that I would’ve been at peace had the good Lord called me home.
He had big plans for me
But he didn’t. Instead, He stayed in that valley with me and gave me the life-sustaining breath I needed.
Although, in the beginning, I fought Him every step of the way, He showed me that I needed Him to get through it.
Jesus taught me how to trust Him, how to give up control, and showed me that He knew what I needed more than I did.
Jesus gave me life in that valley!
It wasn’t easy, in fact, that valley was downright hard.
I cried in that valley. I felt guilt and shame in that valley – guilt, and shame for not wanting to keep going, not being able to provide for my family financially, and missing a lot of games and school events – important events that meant the world to me.
However, I never stopped spending time alone with Him.
Something beautiful happened
- I started growing stronger and began to bloom.
- I started to understand that all I ever have to do is focus on the right now. Not tomorrow, not next week, but right here, right now with Jesus.
This took my focus off my challenges, off my pain, off my worries and turned them to Him.
- He showed me that I was going to be o.k.
I’m a chronic illness warrior, and I’m still standing!
- We had absolutely everything we needed in that valley, and they weren’t what I thought we needed – you know, winning the lottery so we could pay our bills and me not have the stress and exhaustion of having to work outside the home during this difficult time in my life.
He knew I needed my girls at the office and my patients to help me keep going rather than waste away in bed.
- I stopped worrying and learned to put my trust in Him and His provisions for me.
So, I say again. I’m blessed to have a chronic illness, because, without it, I wouldn’t have learned how to live in the moment – right here, right now – with Jesus. I wouldn’t have learned to trust Him so completely.
We’ve been through some very challenging times, but we made it, and I’m no longer afraid of what’s ahead for us. I know we’ll continue to have struggles, in fact, Jesus tells us we will. But I’m not worried anymore.
- Without my season of difficulty, I wouldn’t have learned how incredibly freeing it is to give up control and open my heart to His will for me.
I’m telling you, my friend, when I finally started to listen to Jesus, I honestly felt like the Grinch. I could physically feel my heart grow and see how incredibly full it was for the first time in my life!
- Without my chronic illness, I wouldn’t have learned how big my capacity is.
The fact that I can work outside the home, take care of my family, start and grow my own business, and make a difference in the lives of others completely around my chronic illness is absolutely amazing!
I had no idea I had that kind of fight and determination in me!
I’m doing it! I’m really doing it! And it’s the most glorious feeling that I’ve ever experienced!
For the first time in years, I’m coming out of that valley. My heart is so incredibly full with Jesus and all that I am capable of, even with a chronic illness!
Are you a chronic illness warrior too?
So my friend, if you’re a chronic illness warrior like me, I say embrace it!
Learn to focus on Jesus and what He’s teaching you right now because I promise you He is teaching you something big and beautiful!
It’s not going to be an easy journey, and you’ll most likely stumble along the way, but with Jesus by your side, you can do it! You can still find joy in that valley. You can still accomplish your dreams!
So start a prayer journal, turn your focus to Jesus, and be open to what He’s teaching you in that valley! Because, you too, can feel blessed with a chronic illness.
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I’d love to hear from you! Comment below and tell me how you’ve coped in the valley.
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Until next, time, my friend………
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Learning how to put our complete trust in God isn’t easy. We say we trust God, but what we really mean is that we trust Him for what we want, when we want it. At Footprints of Inspiration we uncover who you are and why you were created; how to walk in healing through forgiveness; and how to go before the Lord with confidence. Through this journey, you’ll discover that it truly is possible to experience peace, even in the hardest times in your life.
Tammy Rotzoll is the founder and owner of Footprints of Inspiration and podcast host at A Faithful God Podcast (which can be found on your favorite podcast player). She lives in Virginia with her husband and together they’re learning how to navigate their fun, new adventure as empty nesters.
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