“Who Am I Now?”
Preparation: Read Chapter Nine This Week
After reading, begin answering the questions at the end of the chapter. I will list the questions at the end of this post. We invite you to share your insights and experiences, and how you responded to the questions. We will encourage one another in the process. You may have chronic illness(es), but you do not have to bear them alone. Let’s be here for one another.
Note: Except for quotes in italics, words in the post are Marie’s.
This week’s lesson will speak to all of us who have been profoundly changed by chronic illness. Today I read a great article called Six Ways in Which Chronic Illness Changes Your Body Image. The author of the article, Jenna Downes, lives with Chrohn’s Disease. She maintains that long-term disease can completely change the way we see our body. I could certainly identify with her points. (My responses are in parentheses.)
1. Style goes out of the window.
(I can no longer wear fashionable shoes, for example.
I live in Clarks clogs and sandals.)
2. You stop thinking about the aesthetics.
(It’s way too much trouble to bother with mascara,
when I stay home most of the time.)
3. We can’t trust our bodies.
(Just when some important activity is scheduled,
my body decides it’s time for a MS relapse.)
4. You up your supplement game.
(Truth. I’m now allergic to 23 prescription meds,
so I look for natural alternatives to deal with symptoms.)
5. The way you see food totally changes.
(It’s not easy to live with no sugar, no dairy, and no gluten.)
6. You celebrate the good times.
(It’s important to enjoy the good days.
I just have to be aware that too much activity can cause another relapse.)
Just a few months ago I made the comment that I don’t even look like myself anymore. Almost forty years of unrelenting MS fatigue and physical decline have changed my appearance, my self-image, my clothing style, my activities, my self-confidence, my social life, my ministry service, my housekeeping, my diet, my daily schedules, and even my speech and handwriting.
Author Kimberly Rae speaks to these issues. She lives with 6 health conditions: Addison’s, Hypoglycemia, Asthma, Scoliosis, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and Chiari Malformation. Here are some of Kimberly’s thoughts about how chronic illness changes us:
“How is it possible that health problems could not only change my body so much, but my personality and preferences too?…Even my mind has changed, because what used to be fun now has such unpleasant ramifications, those things don’t appeal to me anymore.”
“Even though I change, God does not. My identity is not in who I was or who I am, but in who God declares me to be. And when He declared me worth dying for, He did that knowing every stage of me – the healthy and the unhealthy. My worth to Him has not changed.”
“We have been ushered into a new world where so many things are unfamiliar. And change is scary. But even if everything changes, God has not changed, and He will equip this new you just as He equipped and helped the you that you used to be.”
So how do we respond to these changes? Share your thoughts with us as you respond to our group study questions.
Group Study Questions
1. What has had to change about you because of your illness?
2. Do you feel like a stranger to yourself because of the changes that have come from having an illness?
3. What do you miss about who you used to be or what you used to be able to do?
4. Before, when you were healthy, did you ever dedicate yourself – your life and your body – to God, for whatever purpose He had for you?
5. Do you believe God could have a purpose for your life still, even in your illness?
Either alone or before witnesses, dedicate your life – the life you have now, who you are right now – to God for whatever His purpose is. Verbally accept that God has allowed even this illness in your life, so He will work it for good.