Living with M.E and chronic illness can feel like a see-saw act of creeping backwards and inching forward again as symptoms fluctuate throughout the day.
Having a shower (never mind a hair wash) feels like a major event, and days can pass when it’s easy to forget what fresh and clean means in a conventional western world sense.
Similarly, in the home, one may have to become accustomed to layers of stuff littering surfaces already covered in a patina of dust. Unless, of course, lots of help is available from family, friends or external sources.
It becomes a question of dropping standards or drooping with fatigue.
This isn’t laziness. It’s all about priorities and using up precious resources.
When every action uses up valuable energy it means deciding between sitting around in PJs typing away or instead getting oneself spruced up and presentable.
It becomes a daily tug of war between desire versus duty, reward over responsibility and balance against burn-out. Payback is always pervasively present.
Every activity, (physical or mental) however minor it may seem, causes a degree of reactivity. No pain, no gain, apparently.
And sometimes? Sometimes you will find me here because I have words God gives me that I ache to share.
And sometimes, yes, I spend more spoons/energy and time on social media than I should, because it’s a wonderful distraction from ever-present pain and physical limitations and a place where supportive friendships have been formed.
Yet even typing is no mean task when hands are cramped and stiff, arthritic, weakened by M.E.
But the rewards? Incalculable, if not easily definable.
What I do know is this:
Writing gives me a voice when my own is too weak to speak.
Writing is a wonderful creative outlet that helps me to express a side of myself that lay buried for years.
Writing is a gift that can be used to bless and encourage others and let them know they’re not alone with their struggles.
I’ve been creeping backwards and inching forwards since I’ve been blogging. Preparing this new site for Words of Joy has taken months, even with help, and is still very much a work in progress.
Because I can’t hurry. Everything takes much longer than anticipated.
Although I’ve been ill for over 20 years, the unpredictability of symptoms means that every day is different.
Some days cognitive function is poorer, on others pain is more pervasive, hypersensitivity is crippling or fatigue excessively high.
Aiming to have a life of purpose when you live with pain and incapacity requires an enormous amount of determination and patience.
I have heaps of the former and precious little of the latter, but I’m learning how to wait out the seasons and look for small signs of fruit appearing.
And my reason for sharing a snippet of my life with M.E and chronic illness is to say that you too can take heart in the little things, the green shoots barely there, the harvest still to come.
We all have periods, seasons even, where we feel stuck, stalled and slowed down, longing for forward momentum, to give birth to our dreams.
However, with God, nothing in our lives is ever wasted. Fallow or reaping times alike, it’s all useful for our growth and development, wisdom and learning.
It is manna to give away, to sow into the lives of others. It’s a means of grace.
We need to be aware that this life is not a race and not always given over to the swift and the strong either. Remember the hare and the tortoise story?
Keep on inching forward, my friend. You are still making progress, no matter how slow it seems.
Try not to worry when there’s a dip, a droop, a delay or derailment.
You may creep backwards sometimes, and that’s okay. God is still on the job, still working in and though all things for your ultimate good. And, inch by inch, you are still moving forward. Hang in there!
Over to you:
How do you cope with slow seasons in life?
What helps you to stay encouraged when progress is halted?
Please feel free to share in the comments below.