When I was diagnosed with M.E. I was thrust into another world – challenging and scary. I was looking to God for the way forward. I knew He understood, but I wanted someone with ‘flesh on!’ to share my experience with. I am really blessed with an understanding wife, but I would have liked someone outside of family to listen.
If I met someone and was given more than the usual greeting and was actually asked “How are you?” I would often make the mistake of thinking they really wanted to know, so I’d tell them! There were notable exceptions, but often it was when eyes began to glaze over, that I realised I’d gone too far, and wished I hadn’t spoken.
Some even took the initiative and told me how well I was looking. “You do look well!” That left me wondering, what on earth I looked like before? I felt I was being kept at arms length, possibly because they couldn’t handle it. So I would thank God that I looked good, but inside I felt alone in my struggle.
I recognised this sort of talk of course, because I was just the same. I liked to think I knew better, but in actuality I was no different. In my ‘busyness’ and indifference I’d say similar things to stay aloof. The reality was that I was also keeping God at a distance to some extent. This surprised me, because I believed in a God who knew all about me and had all the answers. More than that, Father God was there for me with open arms to comfort and heal.
My response to Father’s open invitation was to reach out to Him daily, often in silence through a ‘fog’ of fatigue, but also sometimes in a flow of released expression. I was also learning more and more, to ‘nestle and not wrestle!’ What touched me so deeply, was the realisation that He not only understood, but that He actually felt my pain.
From time to time there would be an added bonus, often coming completely out of the blue. Two people tuning in, gelling together for that moment, precious sharing. They were times to be treasured.
The journey has had its ups and downs, and continues today. But I can look back over the last few years however and see where I have come from. The difference is, that although I have an illness, it does not have me! More importantly I know much more that I am understood and am learning to live with other people’s misunderstandings. Perhaps, little by little, I am beginning to put ‘me’ out of the picture and seek to understand, rather than be understood. I have also come to realise that I can only give out to the degree that I have received, otherwise I am in danger of giving out empty words.
One day I may even measure up to the prayer of Saint Francis: “O Lord …. grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand …”
I would now like to ask “How are you?”
PS: Don’t forget to read my ‘About’ page – see sidebar.