It’s easy to think you understand someone else’s life. Social media can be a mirage. The chronically ill young adult must carefully choose what he/she shares. Do you share all of your sick moments? All of your happy moments? 50/50? But what about the fact that your happy moments aren’t always quite as bright-shiny, picture-perfect happy? How could your day ever compare to your friend’s day of water skiing at the lake AND making fresh ice cream? Regarding the sick moments… which ones? Am I being honest if I post pictures I took of my dogs, during the only twenty minutes I felt okay, but spent the rest of the day with an ice pack on my head, in a dark bedroom, full-on migraine mode?
Then comes the REAL headache… you realize that you can’t possibly be a normal person AND share your life with your friends without someone judging the percentages of content material and time frames in which it was posted. And you can’t just stop being yourself because your truest friends deserve to have the real you. (So do you. But it feels secondary by this point.) I’ve found that my friends in the support group get quiet on their personal page when they are going through major league health or emotional crises. I don’t blame them. It can get exhausting - trying to word things perfectly and still managing to upset someone.
It’s hard for anyone to have their life criticized, especially if it’s something about themselves that they can’t change. The chronically ill young adult is often holding onto a singular hope: independence. We hope our life will improve or stabilize enough so we may be able live a relatively normal life, with a career that accommodates limitations, and a loving, supportive relationship. All anybody wants is to be normal. Settle down with that special someone who doesn’t mind doing that chore you hate and makes you dinner when you come home from work. It’s picturesque for a reason.
You might not realize it, but each time you question or criticize that young, hopeful, sick person, you carve away at his or her ability to see themselves living that kind of life one day. If you, a friend or loved one, argue with him or her about their ability to work in a professional setting, how could they possibly muster up enough courage to walk into a corporate office for an interview? Suddenly, it doesn’t matter how well their current treatment is working or what accomodating university they are enrolled in. If you, the person who loves and believes in them, doesn’t think they have a chance, they won’t even try.
There’s a lot of opportunity for God to work within this situation.
First, the person speaking into the chronically ill person’s life thinks he or she knows how it is. That’s not true. I never know exactly how Sophie or Emily or Daniel’s life is. And I spoke too harshly once. I thought I knew best, and I ended up really hurting that person and our friendship. For those like me…. actually, I think everyone needs this verse…
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way.”
Secondly, the chronically ill person is allowing himself or herself to be swayed and greatly affected by what the friend or family member says. It’s important that we stand on our own and that we stand for the Lord. This is hard to do when friends and family are all swept up into things, but it’s going to be worth it. God put you here, with these conditions and these people. He will use you. Exactly the way you are. As backwards as 2 Corinthians 12 sounds, I swear, it is THE chapter for this life. The next time you are ripped to shreds by someone who is relying on what they think they know… ask yourself if you are fully committed to being content with insults... Persecutions. Calamities. Hardships. And weaknesses.
For when you are weak… then you are strong.
“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:10