Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Chronic Illness: Faith and the Future

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicFifty years ago, or perhaps even less, someone with a diagnosis of lupus could not expect a “normal”  lifespan. There was so little understanding of the disease, and few ways to treat the symptoms and flares, proctively or otherwise.

Today is a bit of a different story, as it is for other chronic illnesses. People still do die from lupus and lupus complications “before their time,” but, as one rheumatologist said, lupus patients today can expect a relatively “normal” lifespan, albeit an uncomfortable one.

So, with that in mind, it’s a good idea, periodically, to reflect upon the future. And, actually, to envision the kind of life you hope to lead, even with a serious chronic health condition. To put your hopes to prayer, and to work today at being as strong as possible so that your hopes might, with God’s help and your medical team’s support, become reality.

Often, we color our thoughts of the future with the darkness that is ongoing, painful illness. We might think, “I don’t know…if I have to live with this disease for years, it’s not going to be fun/easy/enjoyable/purposeful.” Or, we might lose sight of the trust we have in God to bring us from today to tomorrow with more than a little bit of solace, comfort, and joy. We might not take steps today that can help us in the future (preparing for “retirement,” for example, or thinking about the care we might need as we age).

But, God has a purpose for each of us, and a love for us that transcends the pain that clouds our minds and dims our spirits. As we reach to him now, and renew our trust in him, we can lift ourselves out of today and point toward a future that, yes, might still be punctuated with illness, but will also be filled with many good blessings.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Chronic illness: If you think you cannot believe

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicI’ve said many times that I cannot imagine facing my health challenges without faith. Many other people I know feel the same way; they rely on God throughout every trial, and every praiseful moment, too.

But, what if you cannot believe? Or, more to the point, what if you think you cannot believe?

Perhaps you think that, if you have a physical problem, there has to be a scientific answer for it. You cannot believe in “divine intervention,” because it is not quantifiable, nor can it, sometimes, even be seen.

Or, perhaps you are angry with God, angry about your physical situation, and you refuse to acknowledge that He is a kind, loving, caring Father.

Maybe the trials you face are the worst ever, and you believe that, although God has brought you through all the others, this one might just be too big, too serious, even for God.

Yes, there are many reasons people doubt, or refuse to believe at all.  But, I still contend that, in order to live purposefully and productively with and in spite of chronic illness and pain, faith needs to be present. After all, we are physical beings, yes, and emotional, too. But we also have a spirit, and that spirit needs to be in balance with all the rest of who we are in order for us to be strong enough to weather life’s challenges and be lifted up by life’s joys.

There are a few things to consider if you think you cannot believe. First, consider that the thinking part of you is only one part – the conscious part. Belief is a whole other matter, and it speaks to the part of you that is spirit, the part you cannot see but know is there and, moreover, the part that yearns for balance, love, reaching beyond what you can acknowledge with your other senses. Visit with that part of you, your spirit side, and ask that you might be guided to what is best and most healthful for you in your totality.

Second, we humans tend to get in our own way when it comes to believing in God. Either we think we have all the answers (or are afraid to acknowledge we don’t), or we believe that someone else does – someone just as human as we are. Modern medicine has made great strides, of course, and we who are patients need to work closely with our doctors. But they cannot control how we respond to our life circumstances, nor can they know what is deep within our souls (and sometimes, we don’t know, either). But God does, and we can be guided by Him, we believe, when we get out of our own way and acknowledge that human beings do not “know it all,” nor will they ever.  Lupus is the perfect disease for understanding this – I cannot “control” my disease – so often it seems to have a mind and a schedule of its own. Scientists and doctors don’t even know what causes it, let alone what can completely, effectively control or cure it. So, what does that leave? It leaves me with believing and trusting in God, who can at all times bring me comfort in the midst of the unknown.

Third, I can say this from experience: Believing relieves a great deal of the stress that comes with chronic illness and pain. Railing against God is stressful. Refusing to acknowledge the spirit within ourselves is stressful. Waiting and waiting for a cure that may or may not come and not moving ahead with a purposeful, healthful life in the meantime is stressful. Holding upon your – and only your- shoulders the complete burden of pain, illness, and other life storms is stressful.

And these stresses are not positive ones.

Opening up to the spirit, letting God in and speak, lifting up at least some of our burdens to Him and knowing that he wants for each of us comfort and peace of heart and soul – these actions are part of belief, and they can start on the road to belief, too, and all the wonderful things and joy that come from it, yes, even with serious illness and pain.

You might not think right now that you can believe. You might not even want to give it a try. But your spirit is yearning, and important to your overall life. A little openness, a little, lifted word to God, can start a wondrous conversation and truly lead to a new and shining life, with and in spite of the health burdens you carry.

Belief helps. Really, it does.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

 

Prayer for When You See the Storm Coming

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Some storms hit us without warning, and they can be devastating, to be sure. But when we see the storms looming, coming at us, even before we feel their physical effects, we can sense our stress mounting. Here is a prayer for when you know you are facing a health “storm,” when you see it coming, and before it actually hits:

Oh, Lord, most loving and gracious Father,

the storm has not hit me, yet,

but I already feel my body tensing,

my heart aching,

my soul fearful.

Please, Father, wrap your love and comfort around me.

Cover my worry with your peace.

Help me to focus on the strength I will need,

the resolve and the wisdom,

to weather this storm.

For I know that you will bring me through,

Lord.

And you will be with me all the way.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen.

To Be Encouraged, Encourage Someone Else

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicTime and again, I’ve seen the amazing transformation in someone who is deeply suffering (whether with pain, illness, or other pressures), when they receive a kind, uplifting, or unexpectedly positive remark from someone else. Part of this is, I think, because kindness is fundamentally, well, kind, and the response to it is of like tenor.

But another reason is, I think, a bit more complicated. If you live with chronic illness or pain, you take that with you everywhere, and it has a habit of reflecting in gestures, words, or expressions. So, when you met someone who is similarly suffering, your pain joins with theirs, in a sense, and soon your interaction can become just one, big, glopping swirl of pain. But it need not be; just as pain ampilfies pain, so too can kindness or an extension of encouragement defuse it.

A simple way to test this is in conversation with a friend. Here’s the first version:

“How are you?”

“Horrible. And life is just getting harder.”

“Oh, I know what you mean. I can’t believe the way my stress is just getting worse.”

“Yeah, and there’s no end in sight.”

“No. None.”

Heavens, it makes me feel weighed down just be typing it! Now, here’s the second version:

“How are you?”

“Oh, the pain is terrible. But I’m glad you called.”

“I’m happy to hear that. I didn’t know if I’d be disturbing you, or if you were resting.”

“I was, but that’s okay. It’s always nice to hear from you.”

“Well, I was thinking of you. I really respect how you cope.”

“Thanks! It isn’t easy, but friends make it easier. ”

See how, right away, the caller and the called are acknowledging pain, but they also find a ray of encouragement for each other.  A caring friend. An appreciative patient.

Yes, it can be as simple as that, and it can work with strangers, too. Smiling, holding the elevator,  slowing down for someone who is moving more slowly than you are – these and other things are subtle but powerful ways of encouraging someone else. And in so doing, you can be encouraged that you’re living out your Christian walk and, perhaps, giving someone else the spark they need to ignite within them renewed hope.

Despite our pain and other health challenges, the more we seek to encourage others, the more we ourselves will be encouraged. We might not be able to banish our physical problems, but we can certainly lighten the load on our [emotional] hearts!

Blessings for the day,
Maureen

 

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