Do the phrases, “suck it up buttercup” or “you can do anything if you put your mind to it” sound familiar? Maybe these are things you say to yourself when you are struggling with your mobility, pain, and symptoms on any given day? Feelings of personal or perceived failure in letting yourself or others down often accompany these phases.
The things we tell ourselves when we are chronically ill have the power to hurt as surely as the insensitive phrases uttered by loved ones. In a recent Bible study*, I learned about how destructive the words we play over and over in our head because when we tie those phrases with strong emotion, physical pain, and mental anguish it creates a “memory trace” in our cerebral cortex which means every time we experience that situation again, our minds immediately go to that phasing and those feelings which reinforces it again causing it to become a belief.
God wired our brains. We do have the power through Him to change those destructive thought patterns. Scripture says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, perfect will” (Romans 12:2). God also gave us the ability to accept or refuse thoughts. We can always call on God for his perspective in any given situation when we are unsure about our circumstances.
There was a time early in my disease process where I could power through my symptomology at a price of being confined to home for a day or two afterward. No longer. Disease has disabled me to the point I’m not able to function in a normal manner physically or mentally for any length of time without chest pressure caused by cardiac disease secondary to rheumatoid arthritis. When I hit my invisible disease wall, I must rest and take care of myself regardless of what I think or what anyone else thinks. It’s not easy. I still mess up and test the boundaries which sends me to my bed; however, I no longer beat myself up and put those memory traces into beliefs that are influenced by the enemy.
God has a purpose to work everything in my life to His glory and I don’t have to understand the reasons why. I replace defeating thoughts with scripture. For example, instead believing “you can’t do anything,” I replace it with scripture that says “With Christ, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26) or “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) With that said, those things that are possible with Christ are in His will, not mine. God isn’t a Jeanie in a bottle. God may not intend for me to keep a shopping date with a friend or to be able to go away for a weekend out of state but involving Him in the process keeps me from becoming discouraged and bogged down in thinking influenced by the enemy. Having God in my life gives me peace when I am dealing with struggles.
Do not let the enemy make you feel like your life is over because you are sick. That is a lie that will be perpetuated in your life to disable you spiritually! Instead, take time to write down Bible verses that pertain to your particular season in life. Read them frequently so when you feel particularly vulnerable, you can replace lies with God’s truth.
If you are hurting spiritually, please reach out to God. He made you. He knows everything about you. I would encourage you to pick up a easy to read version of the Bible and start reading about Jesus in the book of John. Will putting Christ in your life make you well? Not likely, but it will bring you peace as you go through this life.
Father, I pray that you will reach out to the one reading this blog and let them feel your presence. Please ease their physical, emotional, and mental suffering as they deal with being chronically ill. Heal their broken body if it is your will, for your glory. Please give them your peace, that your Word promises surpasses all understanding. Please give them a desire to know you. Amen.
*Unglued by Lysa Terkeurst