Years ago, when our son was barely two years old, he was stung by a bee while playing in a wading pool. It hurt horribly. And through his tears, he asked, “Why did it sting me, Mommy?” Try explaining the aggressive actions of a bee to a toddler. I had no plausible explanation that a child his age could understand. So, I focused my son’s attention on the stinger and making sure that it was out.
Over the years, in our family, that little episode became a teaching experience for how to avoid hurting someone. If you came through the door with an attitude, someone would tell you to “Pull your stinger in”. It didn’t matter how old you were, or who you were. This became the warning-shot across the bow of emotions that we all used. We all knew what it meant. In some way, someone was close to hurting someone else. Perhaps, they were angry? Tired. Frustrated. Maybe, they were just feeling too big for their britches? But causing more pain wasn’t the answer.
These days, as I strive to juggle multiple Chronic Illnesses and lead a productive life, I seem to be hearing that warning more than anyone else. There are times when the pain is just all-consuming and it takes every ounce of strength to deal with it. Days when the symptoms are far worse, than in weeks or months past.
If you have a Chronic Illness, then you know what I mean. The setbacks are so frustrating that you resort to tears and foul language. Medications must be added, or changed. Or, perhaps, you manage to pick-up whatever virus is going around? You feel like hell, to be blunt. The world around you is marching on, but you seem to be getting further behind. Whatever the reason, you are a grumpy soul. A short fuse. And your stinger is out … just waiting to zap someone. I make no excuses for my shortcomings. This is part of life with a Chronic illness.
Once that stinger has inflicted pain, you don’t feel any better. I know that I don’t. In fact, you probably find yourself feeling worse. Guilt-ridden. Maybe, even depressed? Living with a Chronic Illness is a lesson in many things, including patience and forgiveness. The sooner that you embrace this idea, the better you will feel emotionally. And you may find that it helps you to avoid a few negative situations, in the future.
Your life was hectic, before your diagnosis. So was mine. That isn’t going to change. There will always be something to irritate you … upset you … frustrate you. Chronic illnesses magnify these problems. If you get stressed out, you usually worsen your condition. And keep in mind, your Chronic Illness affects those around you too. It stresses them — scares them. We all have our limits.
When the pain, setbacks and frustration of Chronic Illness overwhelm you … take a breath. Our bodies are not what they once were, like it or not. And none of us were given a vote, on the matter. Still, you can learn to be patient with yourself and others. Think about it. With patience, you will be able to achieve your goals. You’ll have healthier relationships. And that equates to a better, happier life.
Will patience solve all of your problems? No. But it will provide a healthier approach to dealing with them. Think of it as a “coping skill”. Because that’s exactly what it is. So, pull your stinger in and slow down. It isn’t worth inflicting hurt upon your loved ones. It isn’t necessary. They don’t deserve the grief. And you really don’t need the added stress. Yet, it will happen from time to time. The illness will get the best of you.
When it does, seek the forgiveness that heals. Go to whoever you have hurt, i.e. your spouse, children, neighbor, etc., and apologize. Make amends. It is what they need to hear. It is the burden of guilt that you need to shed. Humility is a healthy thing. Don’t be afraid to exercise a little of it. Always deal with the hurt that you’ve caused, in an expeditious way. Don’t allow it to fester. That will only cause more pain … involve more loved ones, etc. Your family and friends are your support system. And you are part of theirs. Lean on each other. Talk. Forgive. Love. Savor every day that you have together. Life is too precious for anything less.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” — Colossians 3:13 (NIV)