Every day is a struggle.
That statement is something that anyone can apply to their lives. Whether it is challenges of work, home life, money, friends and family, or health, there is often something difficult in our lives. In a sense, it is those universal hardships that really define who we are becoming in our lives. Do we act out in anger? Do you wallow in self pity? Do you put on a smile and fake it until you make it? Do you stay cool and calm?
Everyone is different, but I personally tend to get irate and short tempered. I won’t necessarily get angry, but I will most definitely lose all of my patience. In my case, as I deal with the painful signals that erupt throughout my nervous system in response to, well… anything… I normally lose what little patience I have. Pain flairs would leave me feeling broken and upset. Chemically, my nervous system shuts down my emotions and leaves me overwhelmed. Yet, here over the last few days I have been in excruciating pain with nothing but a profound sense of peace.
It isn’t easy living with fibromyalgia, and though I have been finding things to improve my condition, my pain never goes away. For a very long time I felt resent for this pain, but now I have come to find peace in uniting my pain with Christ. I know I am not the only one who has health problems or is in chronic pain, I especially know to never compare one person’s struggles to another. I can tell you though that living with constant pain for years (10 years that I can actively remember) you hit rough times emotionally. You want to give up and not face another day.
Yet, my God experienced agonizing torture before being put to death on the cross (a punishment reserved for the worst criminals) for me. He died for an intimate and infinite love with each and every human beyond the constraints of space and time. He stared off into the crowd and saw my smile, He stared and saw yours too. His heart is so large that He would have died for each of us individually. It is a profound thing to really realize that the creator of everything, the creator of heaven and earth, the creator of space and time, life and evolution, would have died a horrible and agonizing death for the likes of me. A broken and unworthy human in the pangs of illness. He died to save me, and to give me the chance at something great and glorious: an eternity in heaven with Him.
I have struggled so much with finding my own worth, with becoming comfortable in my own skin, with growing in myself. I focused on me, and found myself getting more and more lost. What I should have been focusing on was letting God love me in spite of and for all of my faults. Letting God mold me into the ideal me that He created and envisioned.
I have decided to take my illness for what it is: a cross. It does not define me, it is not who I am. Yet, like our Lord taking his cross and accepting his death for the sake of the glory of His resurrection, it is something that has shaped me and continues to work good works in my heart. Because of my pain I am more empathetic, I am more careful with others and try my hardest to relate to everyone around me. I have learned to be strong and resilient, and have learned that life is not something to be rushed. I have learned that it is ok to make mistakes and that what matters most is your integrity. I have learned that pain can actually bring out your most authentic self if you allow your suffering to be joined in Christ.
I wouldn’t say that my life is any easier with this new sense of interior peace, but I will say that it is much more fulfilling. I would also say that emotionally, giving my pain a purpose (a purpose for pre-existing pain, not a purpose to cause pain) has lifted the burden of questioning my own dignity as a human being. I may not be able to do everything that would be considered normal, I may not be able to get my chores done without pain spiking, but I can offer up my pain that I will endure anyway to help save souls.
For me, it has been my saving grace to know that I can really help others in and through my suffering. My pain is needless and unfortunate, but through God I am able to transform it into a beautiful Grace. I hope that any who reads this may be blessed with experiencing the profound peace that is only found in the heart of Christ, and that we all can allow Christ to take the hardships in our lives so that He may transform them into something amazing.