Illness gives us a chance to appreciate life in a new way, but are you taking advantage of it? Lisa reminds us today how our outlook makes a difference.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2a)
Do you appreciate life in a new way now that you live with illness?
Living with an invisible illness can sometimes feel as though we have turned the exclamation points in our life into ellipses. What is an ellipsis? You may know it as a triple-dot punctuation (it look like this . . . ), or a “suspension point.” It represents an intentional omission or unfinished thought.
Yep. Sometimes life feels like we have fewer exclamation marks and a whole lot more suspension points or intentional omissions. And yet, it is during the . . . (ellipses) we can learn to appreciate life.
It seems cliche to say that chronic illness or invisible disease can help you appreciate life is ways you never thought of before. And yet, I have to admit it is true. Rather than waiting for life to bring memories and happiness to me, I must look around from where I am at–whether it be from my patio in the morning with coffee, or the wheelchair watching my son play at an amusement park. I have to intentionally find ways to appreciate life and what I have, instead of what it can bring to me.
To a certain degree, illness gives us an easy opportunity to “not conform to the pattern of the world.” So much of what the world values–health, status, class status–is turned upside down when we are diagnosed with an illness. Yet, the spiritual growth is not automatic. We must be “transformed by the renewing of our mind.”
When we are with someone who is healthy, it is an opportunity to share the gift we have been given by allowing them to see how we appreciate life, how we find joy in any circumstance. Rather than stomping our feet and saying, “No one understands! I can’t walk that far!” we have the choice to say, “You go run around at the park while I sit over here in the shade with my iced tea.” As we grow closer to Christ, and surrender over our instinctive desires to be empowered by our own strength, our mind has a chance to be renewed.
We have all been around people who do not appreciate life. Regardless of their circumstances they can find something to complain about. Simply taking them to lunch can result in a long list of things they don’t like from the parking to the wait, from the seating to the waitress, and the list goes on. It is just not any fun to hang out with them.
Resist the urge you may have to be this way. There are times I have gotten together with a friend, and I have too much “spillage.” I have even apologized for monopolizing the conversation and making it all about me. When this occurs it is a symptom of not talking to God about it first. I need to be renewing my mind by spending even more time in the Word, because what I am doing obviously isn’t cutting it.
Rather than leaving friends drained, I want my friends asking, “How is it you appreciate life so much even though you are in constant pain?” Not only will it encourage them today, it may inspire them in the future when they start to feel bitter about their own circumstances. When you practice this, they will remember you, your attitude, and what it is that you share about how you have found the ability to appreciate life.
Prayer: Lord, there are times when I understand a little piece of why Youmallowd this illness to happen in my life. It is not a punishment but a tool to mold me to be more like You. Give me the resources I need to appreciate life, regardless of my circumstances. Amen.
About the author:
Lisa Copen is the founder of Rest Ministries and she lives in San Diego with her husband and son. She invites you to join the virtual conference this week for Invisible Illness Awareness Week. You can see the books she has written, including, Why Can’t I Make People Understand? at the Rest Ministries shop.
How do your conversations reflect where you are at in the “renewing of your mind”? Do you think friends leave your presence wondering how you can appreciate life so much, or are they simply exhausted by you?
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Things TO SAY to an ill person #16 It is amazing how U appreciate the little things in life. How do U do that? #iiwk12
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