This week has been hard. There’s no way around it and no way to sugarcoat it.
I have been wrestling with the changes I’ve had to make in my life to accommodate life with POTS.
I never wanted to be someone who let an illness dictate my life, unless it was an obvious and big deal. Living with an invisible illness makes me want to justify my actions and my feelings because what is going on inside me isn’t readily visible.
I’ve never been one to say “no” to a lot of invitations, to cancel on friends, or to keep my evenings after school free. I’ve boasted in my ability to fill my schedule day in and day out with friends, ministry, and work. But lately I’ve had to say “no” when I wanted to say “yes.”
There is so much pressure to be in constant control of our lives. To be who we want to be and work hard every day to be that person. I so desperately want to be in control of how my home looks and functions, what my marriage looks like, how fit and healthy I am, how I’m handling this illness emotionally and physically. But it’s so tiring! Isn’t it? I think it’s important to set goals and strive for who we want to be, but what happens when we can’t be that? Do we know grace well enough to live under that authority instead?
The other day I just cried all morning because everything felt like too much. I was physically exhausted, feeling behind and inadequate at work, dropping the ball on simple responsibilities at home, and I saw no real rest in sight. The only way I could make it through the day was to be apathetic about it all. If I thought about all of my responsibilities, it began to feel like too much. I realized I couldn’t keep up.
Learning how to implement a new curriculum at work is hard enough, and I don’t have the energy to spend the extra hours planning and grading like it requires. I know what it takes to be a good teacher, yet I see all of the things I don’t have the time or energy to do.
I think about my friends, especially my high school small group at church. I can’t give the time I used to give or want to give. It all feels too overwhelming to give away my extra time after work because work is so exhausting.
I come home and just want to sit down and rest, but I’m not mentally or emotionally present to love my husband and engage in meaningful conversation. I don’t plan ahead for meals and I let cleaning and organizing sit on the back burner.
I think we’ve all faced this season of our lives where we feel like every area of our lives that we touch becomes so inadequate because we’re always falling short. It’s that feeling you get that you can’t get anything right. It’s the anxiety that you know you’re letting things slip through the cracks because you had to say “no.”
The problem with wanting control over our lives is that we will always fall short. And when we do fall short, what do we do? Usually we spiral into stress, anxiety, apathy, depression.
I’m learning to let go of the control. I can’t control how I feel or what my body needs. I can’t control the fact that I have POTS. I can’t control the symptoms that show up each day. I can control what I do each day, but I fail at it a lot. I try to control what I eat, but sometimes I can’t plan well enough or I get overwhelmed or I’m too tired. I try to control what I do to feel better, but sometimes I forget or I’m too tired. I try to control my attitude but sometimes I can’t or I’m too tired.
Most of our pain comes from our desire and efforts to control our lives, because we will always experience failure. And sometimes it’s hard to control how we react to failure.
So how do we experience real joy and peace in all circumstances that we can and can’t control? We hold onto Jesus, who wept and grieved over the loss of a friend. Jesus, who offered the deepest grace to those who were drenched in failure. Jesus, who let himself experience the weight of going to the cross by praying, weeping, sweating and pleading. He went anyways.
I give up control of my life to live in the grace of Christ. I will not find enough grace in myself to continue, but Jesus offers never-ending grace.
I can breathe and rest and trust because I’m not in control, I don’t have to have it together, I don’t have to be who people expect me to be, and I can learn a new way to live.
When I’m in control I think I’m always falling short of my own expectations. When Jesus is in control, I am marked by grace and not my failures.
This season of my life is a gift, and I’m learning how to see it that way.