Remaining Positive While Facing a Chronic Disease
Do you ever feel like you are frozen with fear?
Do you feel like anxiety or fear can overtake your thoughts and paralyze you?
I have struggled with these feelings in my life.
Before my diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis, I knew there was something wrong with me and I would sometimes lay in bed at night worrying about what it could be. Once I was diagnosed, there were new concerns. I was worried about the outcome Cystic Fibrosis would have on my long term health.
Once both of my children, Tate and Layla, were diagnosed, I worried for their future.
There are moments it is hard for me to stay positive. Days that CF overwhelms me and frankly freezes me in my path. Fear can easily take over and settle into my every thought.
What if I pass this pseudomonas to my children? What if their latest virus decreases their lung function? What if I don't live long enough to see my children graduate high school?
These thoughts are just the tip of the iceberg if I let myself think long and hard about the brutal reality of Cystic Fibrosis.
It is no wonder that many CF patients report high levels of depression and anxiety. (1) And depression and anxiety are known to decrease the quality and length of life in a person, making this a vicious circle.
However, I REFUSE to let Cystic Fibrosis paralyze me. I intend to live a life---long or short, full of joy and happiness.
How is this possible?
I have to say it is through my faith and ways God whispers to me throughout my journey. I cling to the promises from His word and the positive words others have shared with me.
My mom has told me since I was a little child that God will never give you more than you can handle.
After my diagnosis, I screamed at God that CF was more than I could handle. But the truth was it was more than I WANTED to handle.
As I have surrendered to the fact that this disease is my reality, I have felt peace, power, and courage like I could never imagine. I know that is from God. I believe through him I do have the power to deal with Cystic Fibrosis and everything that comes along with it and I have seen this in action.
Moments I thought I would never be able to face, God gave me the grace and courage to face head on.
Take when I was waiting for my children's CF test results.
Logically, there was no way that BOTH my children would have the disease that took doctors over 3 decades to discover in me.
God sent a sweet messenger into my life days before I received the news that Tate and Layla both had Cystic Fibrosis.
It was an older man whom had CF himself.
He said to me, Have you given much thought to what you will do if your children are diagnosed with CF? Please remember--do NOT let CF define them or hold them back from following their dreams. Look at me--I am heathy and thriving. Believe in them and let them believe they can accomplish anything.
I hold those words from that man near to my heart. I live them out day in and day out. Tate and Layla are never told that they can't be something because of CF. They believe in their ability to live a normal life and I believe in that too.
Another moment that God spoke loud and clear to me, was through Tate.
It was the day that a serious lung infection was discovered in my lungs and happened to be the same day we put our house up for sale to move to a new state.
I was a wreck to say the least. I walked into my son's room that night to tuck him in. He was reading the Bible and looked up and said, This is a lot Mom, but we are gonna be diamonds. God is refining us.
Out of the mouth of babes. He got it.
We are all refined through this life. Each battle is different but we all have the chance to shine like diamonds. And that is my prayer. That I shine like a diamond, despite what I am going through.
As this disease has beat me down at times, I have become weak. In this weakness, I have needed to rely on my faith in ways I never have before.
I truly have learned to appreciate 2 Corinthians 12:10, That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships,in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.I am stronger today than I was before I knew I had Cystic Fibrosis. I am stronger because I have to be.
Just like my sweet Layla says, we are fighters. This is our fight. She claims the song, Fight Song, by Rachel Platten is OUR song. That we have to live these words out:
This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I'm alright song
My power's turned on
Starting right now I'll be strong
I'll play my fight song
And I don't really care if nobody else believes
'Cause I've still got a lot of fight left in me
I know regardless of what my life holds, God knows. My life may be long, it may be short. But God knows and in my future, he will use if for good and for others as Jeremiah 29: 11 states, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. I just have to surrender my future and my plans to him. I take comfort in that promise and I trust that God will use this thing called CF to bless others.
Regardless of the cross you bear in your life, be it a disease, financial struggles, loneliness, etc, I pray that you surrender it over to God. Let him make you strong in your weakness.