Have you ever done something–or not done something you should have–as a little power trip that you are playing with yourself and your illness? Let me explain. I confess, there have been times I have remembered that I needed to take a certain medication, and yet, I have just not gone and done it and then it has slipped my mind. Though I I have known that a certain action, like using a heating pad or an ice bag, may very well alleviate some of the pain and yet I have resisted. Sometimes I am in so much pain that the day seems like it is wasted already, so a part of me figures, “why bother?” I have procrastinated on preventative test, I have put off others.
I have heard from diabetics who have not taken a needed dose of insulin, to those who have digestive problems who have eaten something they knew would likely make them sick, so I know I am not alone.
Why do we do that? My theory is that our illness constantly controls us. It controls what we do each day, what we eat, how we feel, how far we walk, who we may even talk to. It threatens to control our entire life. And not doing what we should be doing, is, in some ways, like a growing teenager who is testing the limits of separating himself from his family and gaining his own independence. Some people call this “rebellion,” and others simply see it as a natural state of becoming an adult.
Our illness can feel like a hovering parent who never lets us out of the house without doing all our chores first. Did you take your medication? Did you find comfortable shoes? Did you pack the cane just in case? Don’t stay out late . . . you know you need your sleep.
There are a variety of studies done about how patients do and do not follow “doctors’ orders” but this has nothing to do with our physician’s expectations. We simply are making an independent, rebellious, and sometime dangerous decision to choose to assert ourselves. I control this illness! It doesn’t control me! we want to shout from the mountaintops.
Despite the fact that I understand this, and am guilty of it myself at times, it’s not a healthy choice. Sometimes our pain level may just be on a higher level, but for some people their actions can be life-threatening. We all need to find another way of being rebellious about living with a chronic illness. And so, as Proverbs 28:13 reminds us, we must confess this sinful desire to be in control of our body. Instead, give it over to God. Your body is His and He has provided tools to assist you in coping with your disease. Don’t try to be stubborn (“I don’t need that pain pill!”) or the martyr (“You all go have fun while I just sit here and moan now. No, really, I am joking–sort of.”)
Although those actions and that attitude may be human it is not Godly, and that is what we need to strive to be in this lifetime. One step at a time.
Prayer: God, there are times when I am in enough pain that I just feel like giving into it. Other times, I get so mad I have to take 20+ pills a day! I just want to skip a few and see what happens! But I confess these human desires to You and ask that You provide me with wisdom to take care of myself and common-sense to use that wisdom. Amen.
About the Author:
Lisa Copen is an author, speaker, and the founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill. She lives in San Diego with her husband and 9-year-old son. She has been cleaning her office and trying to work on ministry-related things, but her body keeps slowing her down!
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Have you ever not taken care of yourself as well as you should have? Have you skipped a dose of medicine, or procrastinated on getting a medical test done that was recommended for you? Want to confess? You are in good company here and no one will judge!