define: living within limits doesn’t define who we are

How do you define a life lived with M.E and chronic illness? Is there such a thing as a typical day? And what sets the boundaries and perimeters needful for sufficient sleep and rest? They’re not always easy questions to answer.

I experience ever- fluctuating symptoms within a day, made worse by stress, lack of rest and repeated activity, colliding with a strong drive and desire to do more and be more than sickness allows, or wisdom would dictate is helpful.

Pacing is a necessity with M.E, as is rest and recuperation after any activity. And we’re talking about tasks such as making it out of bed, getting washed and dressed, (not always achievable), engaging with social media, reading, writing or watching TV.

Pacing is a necessity with M.E, as is rest and recuperation after any activity Click To Tweet

For those who have M.E, everything we do has a price to pay in terms of energy expended and a subsequent rise in pain and fatigue. I’ve been avoiding the PC for a while, my eyes unable to focus on a bright screen, resting in a darkened room for hours to try to recoup some strength.

Those times of yielding to rest still make me feel like I am missing out, but they are also some of the sweetest seasons of communion with God. He doesn’t define our days in quite the same way. We are just as worthy and loved by Him, whether we are active or slain by sickness or disease. 

We are just as worthy and loved by God, whether we're active or slain by sickness or disease. Click To Tweet


You’re not defined by the tasks you do

but by who you are listening to

Being busy isn’t a badge of honour

but a call to rest and pray and ponder


Your titles, diplomas and degrees

are not the hallmark of following me

Education has its limits when it’s

pursued with pride wrapped within it


I grant you gifts of wisdom and grace

enough to see you through each day

I define a life well lived when it’s

Christ-dependent and surrendered


Let Holy Spirit define your deeds

as you welcome and receive

his gracious infilling from above

of poured out heavenly love


You tend to define others framed by your own

parameters—try to see each and every one

as my own beloved daughter or son

who needs compassion and help to change


Although our days may be constrained and confined by chronic illness, our lives are shaped and defined by our faith in Christ. He defines the boundary—one of unlimited love, mercy and grace for whatever situation we may find ourselves in.

God defines the boundary—one of unlimited love, mercy and grace for whatever situation we're in Click To Tweet

I’m grateful for words coming today and being able to link my five-minute-friday poem with the lovely FMF crew at Kate Motaung’s site. Just click here to join us there and read the great posts being shared.

20 thoughts on “define: living within limits doesn’t define who we are”

  1. Beautiful words of comfort today, Joy! “Although our days may be constrained and confined by chronic illness, our lives are shaped and defined by our faith in Christ.” This is something we all need to remind ourselves when the tendency to compare creeps in. Thank you for sharing this today, sweet Joy. I hope you are feeling well today.

    Blessings to you, dear sister/poet/friend! xoxo

    1. Gayl, I’m so grateful you found comfort in those words today. The “tendency to compare” seems intrinsic to humans, doesn’t it? And oh how it steals our joy away! I’m feeling a bit better than I did a few days ago, thank you, sweet friend. Though I know I need to stay vigilant in resting and pacing, as I pray for the grace to remain like this. It’s a delight to be well enough to face a big, bright screen and write! Long may it last. I appreciate your concern and kindness. Blessings and hugs to you, dear writer/poet/sister/friend! xoxo

    1. Hi Nicole, it’s lovely to meet you! Thank you for being here. I enjoyed stopping by your place as well. Such inspiring, truth filled words you shared! Have a blessed weekend, friend. 🙂

  2. Dear Joy,
    Oh these are such beautiful words today! This resonates so deeply in my heart:

    “You’re not defined by the tasks you do
    but by who you are listening to”

    Oh, if I could just remember that, and hold it to my heart throughout the day! Why do we listen to those voices that tell us we must be more and do more! Even within the Body of Christ we succumb to those false ideas of what it means to be a Christ-follower. He truly will define the boundaries for us, and longs to do so! You are daily in my prayers, Dear Friend, as I ask our Father to restore sweet rest to you. Love & Hugs across the miles! xoxo

    1. Dear Bettie, those words hit home to me too. Our times of stillness and rest really help us to listen better to God, yet we still resist. It was while I was resting in bed, mourning my inability to engage like I wanted to, that God dropped these thoughts into my head. I still need reminders that it’s not about what we have or haven’t done, it’s all about what Jesus has done for us! We are meant to rest in our Lord’s finished work on the cross and take our worth and value from being in Him alone. Yes, our deeds are important and can be vital in helping others, but they need to flow from a heart overflowing with His love, rather than a heart bent on success for its own sake.I so appreciate (and need) your faithful prayers, sweet friend! Your love and hugs are also cherished and returned to you across the miles. xoxo

  3. Your words reflect much of my own chronic mood disorder which also affects me physically, Joy… this post just truly resonates with me for so many reasons. Cheering you on in this battle, my fellow sister-warrior, and finding our strength in the One who really matters! 🙂 Thanks for being real and therefore being a blessing today!
    Visiting from #46 at the #fmf! Blessings!

    1. Hello Christine, fellow sister-warrior! By the way, I like the sound of that. It’s fighting talk for times when we feel dispirited, weak and weary. I can relate to your chronic mood disorder too, because not only does chronic physical illness affect me emotionally, I have also had depression in the past and have to fight for joy most days. This is a space for keeping it real, which you’ll discover if you dip into the archives here or follow along via email. It’s good to meet you, my friend. Your words here and on your own blog have blessed and encouraged me. I love being able to make a heart to heart connection with others. Thank you! Have a blessed weekend. 🙂 x

  4. Wow, this was wonderful! I cannot possibly fully understand the inner strength that it must take to drive you forward from day to day, but I do understand exactly where you derive that loving strength. Thank you for opening a window to your life. The poem was wonderful to read as well as the rest of your post!

    1. Hi Kirsten, it’s lovely to meet you! How kind of you to visit and leave such a sweet, encouraging comment. As you might imagine, I have very little physical strength of my own, but I do have access to God’s unlimited, loving strength and energy available to me just when I need it, (especially to write) and His inner strenghtening to give me the resilience I need to live well with chronic illness. Thanks for stopping by. I’m so glad you were touched by what you read here. Please feel free to return any time, or consider subscribing for future updates and a quarterly(ish) newsletter. Blessed to see you here, my friend! 🙂 x

  5. I needed to hear this today, Joy. It’s a comfort to know God doesn’t define us by our actions but by who we listen to. That we are just as worthy and loved by Him! I’ve been kind of down on myself today. Satan is whispering that I am selfish and I don’t do enough for others. But in Christ we are always enough, no matter how insignificant Satan tries to make us feel! Thank you for this encouragement, my friend! Love and hugs to you!

    1. Yes, that thought brings hope and encouragement to me too, though we may have to challenge ourselves at times as to which voice we are primarily listening to and which one is speaking most into our lives. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been attacked in such a vicious way by the enemy. It’s so patently untrue. I’ve rarely met such a kind, caring, loving, compassionate, unselfish soul as you are. You are not only hugely significant to God but also to all who know and love you and who read your words (me included!). Your real character shines through so beautifully on your site and is one of the many reasons you befriend, encourage and touch so many lives. Dear God, please give my dear friend, Trudy, a fresh infusion of faith and a gift of grace to combat the hissed lies of the enemy. May she know just how much she is loved and valued by you and by others, and how brightly you shine through her to touch their lives with hope and healing. I ask you to shower her with blessings and visible, tangible signs of encouragement in the week ahead. Amen. Blessings, love and hugs to you, lovely one! xox <3

    1. Oh yes, June, “hard to live by at times” is such an apt description for these truths we need to pay attention to. Thank you so much for your prayers, dear friend. We’ve actually had a busier weekend than usual, managing to have a belated celebratory lunch with our son and daughter-in-law today. We were catching up with my man’s birthday in early March and Mothers Day from last weekend. It was lovely to make it out of the house and eat together as a family, and enjoy being in their garden when spring flowers were blooming brightly and the air was warm and mild. So we had restoration and a change of scenery more than rest, maybe, but it was lovely just the same! 🙂 xo

  6. This is beautiful Joy! Your heart for sharing about your challenges has helped me to understand chronic illness on a different level. Thank you for reminding us we are defined by God and not anything else. Happy restful weekend!

    1. Thank you, Mary, it means a lot for you to say this post has helped you to see things differently. I hope your eyes have been opened most to God’s sustaining power and daily strengthening in my weakness, rather than the debilitating effects of living with M.E and chronic illness. My goal and prayer is to be able to share in such a way that Jesus is magnified more than my illness. Although, due to my painful past, I am still a work in progress in fully identifying myself as God’s beloved child, I am very aware of how much I depend on His mercy and grace and need His help each day. This weekend has been happy, yet busier than most, with a family lunch outing! Thank you for thinking of me, sweet friend. I always appreciate you being here. Blessings and love. xo <3

  7. What a beautiful poem! And THIS: “Those times of yielding to rest still make me feel like I am missing out, but they are also some of the sweetest seasons of communion with God.” I think we all can learn from this when we surrender and take time for rest. It’s a beautiful thing to be in communion with God. I’m in the 55 spot this week.

    1. Thank you, Tara! I loved your post and the way you majored most on defining our lives in relationship to Christ. Great stuff! Those seasons of greater stillness and rest I need to take are ones I often fight against to start with, until God speaks to me more, offering His peace and the reassurance of His continual, loving care. So I agree, it is “a beautiful thing to be in communion with God.” Bless you, friend. xo

  8. Than you again for sharing what is on our hearts. I really needed the truths spoken in your poem. I have been struggling a lot with feeling inadequate, not good enough because of no hands on ministry. Thank you for your encouragement and ministry. Much needed for a hurting soul. Hugs xx

    1. Tanya, I hope to speak for all who suffer likewise, so I am pleased you feel I have shared what is also on your heart. But my own heart dipped with sadness at the thought of you struggling a lot with feeling inadequate, especially when you definitely DO have a very significant hands on ministry on Facebook and beyond. Though it may be via images and words, rather than being physically active with your hands and feet, it is no less vital or valid. Not only is what you so faithfully do within the confines of serious health problems significant in itself, it also has value beyond what eyes can see. Nuggets of encouragement are something we can all do with, and you provide them plentifully on a daily basis. They feed souls, stir courage, nurture fragile faith and help keep the flame of hope alive. If that isn’t being a shepherdess for the King, then I don’t know what is. Please take heart, sweet sister. You are not what the enemy suggests you are. He’s trying to get you rattled, because you are a strong sister of faith, a woman of valour living well with chronic illness, and a staunch prayer warrior who storms heaven’s courts to intercede mightily on behalf of others. God sees and cheers you on, as do I and many others, in awe of your gifts. Stay strong, my friend. Praying for you to rally soon. Sending gentle hugs, blessings and love. xo <3

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