illustration of a woman's face by the author

When People Say Your Health Trials Will Be Valuable 'Someday'


As people with chronic illness, we are so often reminded of something that I believe is of great detriment to our well-being: when well people tell us our health struggles, our personal challenges, the great storms of our lives “will someday be useful.”

I’ve grown to loathe this idea. I realize it is meant to be an encouragement; however, it causes myself and my brothers and sisters in pain deeper despair.

“Someday?” It’s as though they are reminding us that we don’t have as much to give until we are restored to health like them. I completely reject anything of the sort! It’s not only ableism, it’s spiritual degradation.

I believe you and I are worthy and valuable just as we are. Yes, right now. You were no more “special” when your nervous system was functioning properly, but I can attest that the memory of wellness certainly has a shining halo around it.

We feel so small and insignificant after illness devours our lives, and those we love in its wake. There is no “after the tsunami lifts” with chronic illness, as we are always seeking out cover, our safe places are constantly being destroyed, and the physical and emotional turmoil can feel endless. My personal peace rests in my faith, a relationship which has grown inside of my own tsunami.

This message of purpose is one I write on frequently, because I struggle so deeply with the whispers that my life isn’t enough, I should be doing more, and I wonder if I would be more valuable as a person if only my body worked again.

I realize this is my pride speaking, however.

In those moments when the whispers win, I have forgotten how many opportunities I’m supplied with to have an impact, even in the very midst of my personal and physical battles. Maybe, and probably because of my struggles, I’ve been allowed these chances.

What seemingly small opportunities and connections might you be taking for granted in your own life?

The next time someone reminds you that all the pain and difficulty you’re battling will be worth “something” someday, please remind them that pain doesn’t have to stay hidden, and that your time traveling the path of illness is not a waste.

I don’t believe we have to wait until we’re perfect for our lives to have value. If that’s true, then I guess we will all be waiting forever!

Are we supposed to see the silver lining in every storm before we can learn from it? Even in the very middle of the battle, your experiences and your willingness to relate to and comfort others is so rare and valuable that it stands out among the noise and busy crowded world we live in.
It’s so easy to withdraw when the going gets tough. In time, however, we feel so marginalized and isolated. You do have a voice. Your story, your purpose, your personal gifts matter – and you are needed in this world. We greatly undervalue the quiet connections, asking others how they are and actually listening in return, sending a note by mail to a struggling friend or letting someone know they’ve been in your prayers.

Society does not measure these acts as successes, but what if you redefine what success means in your life? You may have very little energy to spare, but what you have to share is precious!

We become so focused on perfection, staying hidden until the right moment to present ourselves shiny and clean, having overcome our difficult and uncomfortable circumstances. This is what society applauds. But don’t we each have unique and valuable wisdom to share that comes with the daily perseverance of ongoing trials?

It’s one thing to be debilitated by a body that relentlessly fights against you, but please don’t believe the lie that you are less-than or it will hurt your spirit.

This post originally appeared on A Body of Hope.

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