We often wonder how our illness can impact our children and our spouse. Guest writer, Jennifer Slattery, shares some of the blessings we may not see.
Being a wife and mother, with all the expectations that come with it, is hard enough: Raise perfect, smiling, respectful, honor-roll kids. Cook the best, healthiest, cheapest meal possible.
I could go on.
But managing those things with chronic illness?
You can’t. So toss your SuperMom cape in the shredder and celebrate–not your illness but rather, what God will do for your family through it.
For God uses all things for good (Romans 8:28). Here’s how:
To increase our compassion
It’s easy to make our children the center of our world, because, well, they are. But children treated like royalty grow into immature and self-centered adults. Compassion rarely arises in the human heart naturally, and it’s hard to be compassionate regarding something one’s never experienced.
Add to that the fact that American culture idolizes strength, and it’s easy to see why so many with chronic illness hide their struggles. We can muster up strength and a smile for a while, but eventually, we crash. And our family sees it.
This in turn reminds them great pain, sorrow, and need can hide behind a grin, and therefore, they’re less apt to accept surface-level responses.
To encourage deeper communication
Admitting you need help, that you’re not doing well, is hard. But there are days when we’re forced to do just that. Early in my illness, this really bothered me. I felt insufficient, like a burden.
But then I noticed something—by honestly sharing my struggles, I allowed my loved ones to do the same. It’s helped us focus on what’s most important—one another.
Before I got sick, I prided myself in keeping an impeccable house. Floors cleaned, furniture dusted, fancy meals made from scratch. I allowed my value as a mom and wife to become tied to the amount of clutter on our counter.
Now there are days when it’s a fight just to get out of bed. My family helps. . . a lot. But even so, laundry goes unfolded and floors unswept. Which is okay, because most often, I’d rather them let the dust bunnies nap and sit beside me on the couch instead.
To bring unity to your home
We moms love to do it all, don’t we? Without help! (They might mess something up!) For years, this was the message I unknowingly communicated to my family. It seemed I was always correcting or redoing something, in essence communication two things: This task is more important than you, and, you’re not doing good enough.
But then I got sick and expecting perfection took too much energy. So I let those things go. The result? Their confidence grew, the tension abated, and our family began to function more like a team.
To love deeper
Early in our marriage I believed the lie that says each spouse must pull equal weight. This left me feeling one of two ways: entitled or guilty.
Fibromyalgia shattered any sense of entitlement, but I held on to the guilt. So much so that I wondered if perhaps my family would be better off without me. But then my husband had surgery, and suddenly, he was the one in need of care. It felt wonderful to be on the giving end for a change!
That event helped me realize how much we needed each other.
So I threw out the guilt and focused on being there for my husband in whatever way I could.
When sick, I looked for new, unique ways to show him love: a surprise text, a Facebook shout-out, words of encouragement for his day. A funny thing happened–I learned those were the things he needs from me most.
I believe God uses everything for our good and the good of our families. Sometimes it’s just hard to see that, when I’m in the muck of it all. But when I pause to watch our family from afar, I can see that God indeed has brought much good from my chronic illness. And for that, I praise Him.
About the author:
Author of “Beyond I Do”, Jennifer Slattery writes Missional Romance for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. She also writes Christian living articles for Crosswalk.com and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com