Beliefnet
Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Image courtesy of graur codrin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of graur codrin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I was diagnosed with lupus, I lost many friends. Some simply did not undertand what chronic illness was all about, assumed I’d “get better” as soon as I was under a doctor’s care, and became impatient when the months stretched on and I was still tired, unable to go out in the sun, and had other disease-related symptoms that put a “cramp” on friendship activities.

Others’ reactions were more unfortunate. Some people just cannot be around anyone who is ill, no matter how healthy he or she might look. Old or young, for some people, being around a sick person reminds them of their own mortality. Lupus is not contagious, but sometimes the specter of illness can be, scaring away people who have a less-developed and mature sense of what it truly means to be human.

Of course, the loss of friends, people close to me, was very difficult to take. We like to think that the relationships we cultivate in “good” times will stand firm in “bad times.” But, alas, it is not always so.

The one thing I did not try to do, when friends began to peel off, was hang on too long. Convincing another, changing his or her heart, can really only be accomplished by God coupled with the personal experiences that help shape who we are and how we react. I am convinced that each person will, at some point in his or her life, experience profound sorrow and, probably, deep pain. That’s life on earth, an no one is immune. However, we will experience these things at different points in our lives, and sometimes, those friends who leave us when illness calls will not reach a more mature way of thinking until they have long moved out of our particular orbit.

I hold old friends in prayer. I especially pray that good people will be around them when they hit their “dark night of the soul.” But I cannot do anything to change their hearts about my situation or our relationship.  No, I have to move on and let God take over, completely and surely.

For all the crying and disappointment that happens when we lose people we’ve relied on and whose company we’ve enjoyed, there is a peace that covers us when we realize that God loves us and there are others who care about us, too (perhaps new friends who have the same illness and who understand even more profoundly what we’re going through).  Feeling this peace and acknowledging it are important steps to forging a good life with and in spite of difficult health challenges. And this peace, too, is part of that rainbow of promise that God holds for each of us – the promise that we will never be abandoned, no matter what!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

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