” Yes, we who deal with chronic illness have some pretty great reasons why we wouldn’t want to take risks in life, but we need to step out of our fears if we want to experience the greatness of the purposes God has for us.”
Like many of you I’m a wife and a mother, but I’m also a small business owner. My business, Wreaths By Liz, creates customized burlap, floral and vintage wreaths.
In addition to all of that, I deal with an auto-immune disease called Multiple Sclerosis (MS) which attacks my neurological system.
MS can cause serious short term and/or long term physical disability. Itʼs a difﬁcult and unpredictable disease, and it has personally been an intimidating one for me to deal with at times, especially considering how it has affected my brain and spinal cord. One month I may feel like a normal, healthy person. The next, I may be lying in bed without full use of one or more parts of my body. I have now had 5 major flare-ups involving pain and physical impairment since becoming diagnosed in 2007.
During my flare-ups, I have lost much of the ability to walk and use my legs due to loss of feeling and weakness. My right hand and arm have also been completely paralyzed and unusable, and I’ve lost most of my vision in one eye. Even now I’m dealing with some issues. The vision in my right eye is still impaired and I’m struggling to walk well due to weakness, numbness and pain in my legs.
Each flare-up is unique in how long it lasts, but normally they are 1-2 months in duration. I deal with each as long as I can before submitting to a 3-day IV of steroids as a last resort with the hope of getting back to “normal” quickly.
In my current flare-up I’m doing a mix of natural things like working with my doctor to help me monitor my diet carefully and taking supplements. Both help reduce inflammation. I believe the most powerful thing I’ve done is find an amazing Physical Therapist to help me regain strength and functionality. I highly recommend this as we have seen amazing results already. I only wish I had known about this effective practice sooner!
MS has also effected me mentally. I have gone through an array of emotions since my diagnosis: fear of what was happening to my body, terror that my condition would force me into a wheelchair, and desperation is my quest to recover. I often struggle to ﬁnd the balance between hope and reality.
At times over the last 9 years I have experienced such a sense of hopelessness dealing with the awfulness of this neurological auto-immune disease and all of the setbacks and disabilities I have endured. In the midst of all the hardship, I began to believe the lie that I’ve missed the boat and that it’s too late to dream, it’s too late to accomplish anything, and that I’m not going to have much to offer anyone. It sounds awful to even put that on paper, but that is the truth of the struggles I have felt. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this feeling.
If we allow it to, disability and sickness can cause us to become easily isolated, trapped in our own fears, and feeling like an outsider. I had a picture once of a parade walking by, and while most of the world was participating so many who deal with illness were standing on the sidelines. While their lives moved on, ours were at a standstill.
I am now realizing the lie of not having a lot of worth due to my sickness. For a long time I tucked away dreams and desires in a corner of my heart. I believed that I was doomed to a life of battling this disease in a reactive position without ever moving ahead in life. I now see that those believes were not founded on truth. It was a lie designed to hold me back from my potential and to keep me from accomplishing everything God wanted me to accomplish in my lifetime. It was meant to make me feel stuck in my circumstances, like damaged goods, and not good for much.
I have been challenged in my thoughts and forced to rethink what I really believe. Through recent circumstances I have realized how much I have devalued who I am, and I am now beginning to understand that God has placed gifts and talents in me with which I have a responsibility to do something!
The truth is: I have been created with purpose and destiny. I have been called. I have been chosen. God is redeeming my circumstances and giving me beauty for the ashes of my life. And I want to share that message with anyone else who battles mental and physical illness. They should not journey through life without hope.
I know sometimes it’s easier to make excuses for why we can’t do something, and we feel like we just don’t have what it takes. It can be a lot less challenging to stay isolated in our own little space and not push ourselves. We’re scared to take a risk on doing something that we have always dreamed or desired to do fearing that we could fall flat on our faces! It definitely takes less effort to minimize our risks and stay away from places where we could face rejection and find out that we don’t really have what it takes!
I’m beginning to realize that I would rather take that risk instead of sitting around. I couldn’t experience hope if I never seize an opportunity to experience the amazing ways that God could show up with His grace and enable me to do more than I could ever have dreamed!
My challenge to all of you is this… Start dreaming again. Stop making excuses why you can’t try something new and take a risk in an area of life where you’ve imagined goals that you’ve dreamed about chasing.
Yes, we who deal with chronic illness have some pretty great reasons why we wouldn’t want to take risks in life, but we need to step out of our fears if we want to experience the greatness of the purposes God has for us.
The more we know our value in who God has created us to be, the more I believe we will be compelled to take a step into the dreams and desires of our hearts, and I know for certain God will meet us there and take us further than we could go alone.
DREAM BIG! TAKE RISKS! YOU ARE WORTH IT!