Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What Doesn't Kill Me Makes Me Stronger

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

I looked around me at the women in the pool, watching as their gray-haired heads bobbed up and down to the beat of the loud music. Their wrinkled, sagging skin told me they had at least 10 or 20 years on me, and yet I was the one struggling to keep up.

When we finally got to the end of class, I commented to one lady, “Wow, this water aerobics isn’t for sissies, is it?” She just shrugged and smiled. She was there every day. To her, it was no biggie. To me, this was more than a struggle. It was a matter of life and death.

We live in an age of modern medicine that often causes us to take life for granted. Even serious, life threatening illnesses are often treated casually. “Oh, my sister had that and she’s just fine now,” someone will say. Another friend may comment, “They have so many new treatments for that now. Really, it’s not as bad as it used to be.” And let’s not forget the well-meaning people who tout natural cures and “mindful meditation” as the way to handle any type of medical malady that comes our way.

As annoying as it may be to encounter others who don’t take chronic illness seriously, it is a much bigger problem when we ourselves aren’t willing to tackle our diseases head on. Denial is a powerful coping mechanism, but it can also be deadly. I saw that firsthand this past month, as I attended memorial services for several friends who left this world too soon, a direct result of their diseases that went untreated for many years. They just thought they could “handle it.” Unfortunately, no matter how much they wanted to believe it, that just wasn’t the case.

With multiple chronic illnesses, I know what I need to do to take care of myself. From diet and exercise to support groups, there are ways to ensure a healthier me. They won’t cure my diseases, but they help me manage them, and in some cases, I may even be lucky enough to go into remission. Nevertheless, I won’t stay there unless I’m willing to stay on top of my self-care routine. It isn’t selfish; it’s self-preservation.

When you find yourself face-to-face with death – whether it’s a close call of your own or the loss of a loved one – you suddenly get a new perspective. You realize that all you have is today. What you do with that day is up to you. Will you live in denial about the unmanageability of your life, or will you get help with that out-of-control habit? Will you let a conflict fester or will you find a way to make up? Will you let those words of love go unsaid or will you speak up? Will you continue to ignore the needs of others, or will you reach out and help? It’s amazing how different our lives look when we consider we may only have today.

Death also brings with it a sense of profound gratitude. It is easy to become discouraged when dealing with multiple health issues, not just of my own, but also those of family members. I can find myself angry that I can’t do all that I used to, or despairing over a new set of symptoms that won’t go away. And yet, I am still here.

On days when I have a hard time getting going, I am profoundly grateful for the love of my sweet husband and the cup of coffee he brings me every morning. Even though I can’t do all the physical activities I would like to with my daughter, we can still take time to snuggle on the couch and watch our favorite TV show together. And while I initially felt “too young” to go to a water aerobics class, I’m finding that it’s actually a lot of fun and a decent workout too! Even picking up the phone to call a friend can sometimes feel like work, when I'm more prone to isolating, but wow, how good it feels when that connection is made. I become grateful all over again.

Life is too short to live it being miserable. Yes, it can be hard. It really can be! Whether we are struggling with health issues, financial struggles, relationship woes … there will be times of trouble in life. But when we fill our hearts with love and gratitude, fear and resentment don’t have room to grow. And when we face those trials with confidence that God has our back, we don’t have to live in denial. Just as David didn’t beat Goliath by running away, so we can be victorious by facing up to the giants in our lives.

Today, I am committed to living the best life I can, for as long as I can. That means I don’t take my diseases for granted. Why should I let them rob me of my best years that have yet to come? As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. As long as I have breath, I will fight for my life! Yes, no matter how much effort it requires, it is worth it.

Wherever I am today, I will make the most of every day. I will do what needs to be done, carrying an attitude of gratitude and a heart full of love – not just for others, but for myself.

Life is short. Make it count.

Do you live with an attitude of gratitude, or do you take life for granted, letting fear or resentment rob you of joy? Are you willing to do what it takes to live a healthier, happier life? Ask God to show you what steps you may need to take in order to successfully tackle the challenges in your life.

What Doesn't Kill Me Makes Me Stronger originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins. Click here for more posts. Get even more encouragement by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter

Many of Spring Sight's posts can also be found each week on Crystal Storms' #IntentionalTuesday,  Kelly Balarie's #RaRaLinkUp, Holly Barrett's Testimony Tuesday, Arabah Joy's Grace & Truth, Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart, and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday. This week, I am also linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Dawn at Journeys in Grace, as well as with Lori Schumaker.


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16 comments:

  1. We all have giants to face. And with God's power within us, we can do it. Thankful to stop by from the #RaRalinkup today. Thank you for the encouragement.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Stephanie! May you have a blessed day, full of abundance and grace.

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  2. I really enjoyed water aerobics. And yes, they were all better than me. I miss it. The place i could go and enjoyed gets a little upset when I start coughing to the point they want to call an ambulance. I thin the chemicals get to my breathing.
    Continue to go. Make friends. Enjoy.

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    1. Thank so much! I'm sorry you weren't able to enjoy it longer. Yes, the chemicals can be an issue. I was recently diagnosed with psoriasis and I don't know if the dermatologist will love me being in chlorinated water for extended periods of time, but we will cross that bridge when we get to it! Be well and God bless.

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  3. Yes, life is too short to spend it being miserable! Love your perspective and your mindset. Crystal

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    1. Thank you, Crystal! Yes, we just need to remember that God is good ALL the time and we can find joy if we just look for it in Him.

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  4. We do all have to face big issues. The thing is I know I cannot overcome those issues by myself. Thankfully I do not have too.

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    1. Amen! Take care and God bless you, Rick!

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  5. When you can be an encourager in the midst of your struggle, Linda, it is a testimony faith and trust in the One who carries you through that struggle. I can appreciate your point of view. I have a daughter with a chronic illness and I myself have an auto-immune disease that means every day comes with pain. And like your water aerobics, moving helps me feel better. Praying for healing and for the joy of the Lord to be your strength today. Thanks for linking up #GraceMoments Link up last week. So glad you are here.

    Blessings!
    Dawn

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    1. Thank you so much, Dawn. I am so blessed to get to know you! Be well.

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  6. Such good stuff here, friend! This chronic illness life is so complicated. I don't look sick. My daughter doesn't look sick. Now I've found out my son has an autoimmune condition and he doesn't look sick. Most people do not get it. At all. I just had a situation at church that really saddened me. But, I can't push and push and push to where I don't take care of myself. I want to do life for the long haul and I want my children to, as well! We are learning what self care looks like and standing strong in the world's push to overachieve! I always love coming by here for a dose of encouragement and hope, Linda! Are you still going to Declare? I am, too! I can't wait to meet in real life!!!
    Thank you so much for sharing hope with me at #MomentsofHope!
    Hugs,
    Lori

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    1. And you are such an encouragement to me, Lori! Yes, I will be at Declare! I'm so glad you will be there as well. I'll ping you privately and we can arrange to meet up! :-)

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  7. Linda, I have several friends who struggle with chronic illness and I've seen the pain caused by people who don't take it seriously. It is very real! Thank you for sharing on such an important topic and inspiring us with your dedication to continue pursuing the full life God has for you.

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    1. Thank you, Abby. It's hard to explain what people with chronic illness go through on a daily basis. Thank you for understanding and for your encouragement to my ministry!

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  8. Thank you, Linda, for such an inspiring and encouraging post. I'm so glad I visited. Following a bout of chikungunya, I was left with pain for months. Pain that others couldn't understand. It gave me just a glimpse into what others with chronic illnesses must face every day. I was reminded that in illness, I must choose to take care of myself and focus on gratitude. Then when my dad died, I was reminded that all we have is now and filling my heart with love and gratitude is the only way to go. But sometimes, we forget. Thank you for the reminder and for sharing your heart; I pray God's richest blessings for you as you continue to shine for Him.

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    1. Thank you so much, Carlie. I hope you are well now and that your heart is healing from your loss. I know how hard that is, as I lost my father a couple of years ago, just before I was diagnosed with RA. It was a tough time, but yes, we CAN get through it with some help from our Heavenly Father! Have a blessed day. Thanks for your sweet words.

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